RAW being a crutch seems to be a common misconception. The first task other than composition and light is a good exposure no matter what kind of file you shoot.
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There are many reasons to use a RAW file format and here are a few of them:
1. With RAW you can make your own tonal curves and do it after the shot, choosing the right finesse for a particular image. In JPG with my camera (the 20D), you get five choices of generic tonal curves and you must choose one before the shot, going into a menu. That takes time when you might want to be shooting and like I said, it is a generic curve. Also once you hit that shutter button in JPG, your curve is burned into the file. Only you know what the scene requires and it may be tweaking anywhere and in any direction on the curve. It is more than just setting black and white clip points and moving the midtones around but you can do those as well of course.
2. RAW is a good place to decide on many factors. As you know white balance is another good choice there that has not already been burned in. You get more than 1000 tonal values in RAW compared to about 250 in JPG.
3. The RAW file will stand up to more post processing before it is severely damaged. You can see that easily in the processing histogram. Simply, you can do more with it if you need to, convert to B&W better and such. You are left with much more valuable info and less chance of posterization.
4. If you work with Adobe Camera RAW, you can calibrate your particular camera/sensor to display fantastic, pure, clean, realistic colors. Bruce Frazer recommends Tom Fors script which used with a Greytag Macbeth color checker will do the job. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half for the script to run but you have that cameras info to save forever after that. You can saved as many as you like and one click will bring up the values. In my case, I have the one camera so I set its values as default. You can't do that with JPG.
5. If you shoot high ISO, noise removal is better with a high bit PSD or Tiff file created from the RAW.
Don't use RAW for poor technique, use it to be a photographer like the old darkroom artists like Ansel Adams.
Once you learn the software which is very important, and your workflow, the process will not bog you down.
I hope this educated you concerning some of the reasons to use RAW files.
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