There’s a longstanding trade-off in digital pictures: If you need the liberty and adaptability of capturing in RAW, you need to cope with giant, unwieldy file sizes that take up numerous area. A typical RAW file is usually dozens of megabytes, which signifies that photographers who shoot in RAW must spend more cash on reminiscence playing cards, to not point out cupboard space and backup plans.
In fact, you possibly can all the time use the a lot smaller JPEG file format as an alternative, however the decreased file sizes typically aren’t well worth the lack of modifying flexibility. So if you wish to save on storage with out considerably lowering your picture high quality, what are you able to do?
That’s the place Rawsie is available in. It’s a program that goals to offer one of the best of each worlds: The flexibleness of RAW recordsdata with the dimensions of JPEG (and with no knowledge misplaced alongside the way in which). However can Rawsie dwell as much as these lofty objectives? Let’s discover out.
Decreasing RAW file measurement
I’ve shot in RAW for over ten years each personally and professionally, and I recognize the various benefits the format presents for each me and my shoppers. The flexibility to govern colours with pixel-perfect precision, elevate particulars from the shadows, get better overexposed highlights, and edit each doable factor of every picture is properly past what I might do with a JPEG. Nevertheless, the storage calls for of RAW do current an issue, particularly when you could have lots of of hundreds of pictures to handle.
Rawsie solves this through the use of complicated algorithms to cut back the file measurement of RAW recordsdata for particular cameras based mostly on processes which can be designed to make the most of the distinctive traits of every digicam sensor. It’s not the one-size-fits-all compression course of; as an alternative, Rawsie employs a extra refined, nuanced strategy the place the compression is utilized in a different way for every digicam mannequin. (Rawsie creates a mannequin of the picture based mostly on the properties of sunshine and the digicam sensor; this system detects info and noise, then compresses the data losslessly and the noise lossily.)
In consequence, not each digicam is supported, however should you do use a number of of the 50 cameras that Rawsie does work with, you can achieve unimaginable advantages on your general post-processing workflow and storage resolution.
Rawsie’s promise is easy: It is going to considerably cut back the dimensions of RAW recordsdata with none loss in high quality. This system follows the outdated adage of “Do one factor and do it properly,” and in my expertise, it fulfills that promise fairly properly. Whereas it’s inconceivable to check a program like Rawsie with each kind of picture created in each single digicam it helps, the outcomes I acquired have been spectacular. I shot and edited many pictures in quite a lot of difficult conditions, and in each state of affairs, the recordsdata processed in Rawsie confirmed nearly no variations from their unique counterparts.
Rawsie claims that it applies as much as 5:1 compression, and whereas I by no means acquired fairly that degree of measurement discount in my pictures, I did see an enormous enchancment over the unique RAW recordsdata. (In accordance with Rawsie, the bigger the unique file, the higher the compression; the Sony a1, for instance, creates 100 MB recordsdata, and Rawsie compresses them to round 20 MB).
The Rawsie workflow
I had a handful of reservations after I began utilizing Rawsie, principally as a result of I’m extremely resistant to vary in my pictures workflow. I exploit a course of I’ve refined over a few years, and I don’t like introducing new and unknown components, particularly when these components contain altering my unique RAW recordsdata.
Fortunately, most of my fears have been unfounded. Rawsie doesn’t delete any of your recordsdata; it merely strikes the unique RAWs to a different listing that you simply specify after the compression course of is full. It additionally backs up your Lightroom catalog so you possibly can revert the whole lot to its unique state any time you need.
Whereas Rawsie’s compression algorithm is proprietary, the outcomes aren’t. All of your compressed RAW recordsdata are saved in DNG format and might be opened, edited, copied, and shared with none extra software program. There aren’t any limitations in your newly-reduced RAW recordsdata, and even should you uninstall Rawsie, you possibly can nonetheless entry the compressed recordsdata with none worries or limitations.
Utilizing Rawsie is pretty easy, however upon launching this system for the primary time, you’ll be prompted to put in the Adobe DNG converter (should you don’t have already got it in your pc). The DNG converter is used to transform proprietary RAW recordsdata into DNGs earlier than Rawsie applies its distinctive set of compression algorithms. Rawsie handles your complete course of and it gained’t have an effect on your regular pictures workflow in any respect, but it surely may throw you for a little bit of a loop should you aren’t anticipating it. I promise that nothing nefarious is occurring; Rawsie is just ensuring your pc has the software program wanted to correctly carry out its conversion course of.
After you end putting in the Adobe DNG Converter, you will note the conventional Rawsie interface. You possibly can both have this system compress particular Lightroom catalogs, or you possibly can convert recordsdata manually by dragging and dropping particular person recordsdata or folders.
In case you’re a bit nervous on the considered handing your whole fastidiously culled RAW recordsdata over to Rawsie, you possibly can all the time take issues gradual and put the software program via its paces earlier than pulling the rip twine and compressing tens of hundreds of pictures. Simply do not forget that nothing is destroyed or deleted while you run Rawsie. All of your unique pictures are saved intact; they’re simply moved to a different location so that you can delete or hold backed up at your leisure.
The precise compression course of occurs pretty rapidly. Rawsie dealt with a number of hundred RAW recordsdata on my M1 iMac in beneath a minute, although if you’re compressing a complete Lightroom catalog with hundreds of pictures, you may wish to get your self a espresso and discover one thing else to do when you wait. (That stated, you possibly can pace issues alongside by deciding on the “medium-size previews” possibility!)
Modifying the pictures
Rawsie’s compression claims are admirable, however the modifying course of is the place the rubber meets the street. It’s not till you load your photos into Lightroom, Luminar, Photoshop, or one other modifying program which you can study if Rawsie is really as efficient because it sounds or if it is just too good to be true.
I took numerous pictures to see how Rawsie carried out in three particular modifying duties the place the RAW format is very helpful, and I got here away impressed. Although the Rawsie-compressed RAW recordsdata have been about 1/2 to 1/3 the dimensions of their uncompressed Nikon RAW counterparts, the outcomes have been fairly good. No matter secret sauce the Rawsie imaging specialists and builders are utilizing, it certain appears to work.
First, let’s check out how Rawsie handles a conventional modifying operation. For this instance, I took an image of a purple hat sitting on a desk, then I seemed carefully on the wonderful texture element within the cloth to see how Rawsie-compressed recordsdata would fare after present process refined edits that carefully resemble what most photographers do on a standard foundation.
The unique picture was wonderful however wanted a little bit of cleanup, and if Rawsie’s algorithm softened the textures within the cloth or misplaced essential colour info from the white and purple folds, it could be a deal-breaker.
Happily, Rawsie fared very properly. The unique Nikon RAW file was 21.9 megabytes, whereas its compressed counterpart clocked in at 9 megabytes (an area financial savings of greater than 50%). Regardless of such an excessive discount in file measurement, I didn’t detect any lack of knowledge that interfered with my edits.
A better take a look at the unique Nikon RAW file and the compressed Rawsie file, with the identical edits utilized to every one, reveals two pictures which can be nearly indistinguishable from each other:
I carried out related checks with different pictures and got here away with the identical outcomes every time. In truth, I by no means encountered a scenario wherein the Rawsie compression affected the feel element in any important approach – or a minimum of in any approach that I might detect. Texture element is crucial, particularly when capturing for shoppers, and if Rawsie is tossing out knowledge that degraded the pictures, it wasn’t something that I might discover.
Probably the most sensible causes for capturing RAW is that it permits for practically infinite flexibility when working with the colours of a picture. Since RAW provides you entry to actually all of the colour knowledge captured by your digicam’s picture sensor, you possibly can edit and manipulate that knowledge as a lot as you need. To check Rawsie’s effectiveness, I took a number of photos of a fundamental panorama scene, edited the unique Nikon RAW recordsdata, copied the identical edits to the compressed Rawsie recordsdata, and in contrast the outcomes.
The unique picture is ok however wants a whole lot of processing earlier than posting, sharing, or printing:
I used Lightroom to masks the sky and utilized a number of edits to the compressed Rawsie file, together with publicity and white steadiness changes. Then I inverted the masks to carry out extra edits on the foreground. I adjusted highlights and shadows, used the colour grading instruments to vary the colour steadiness of the midtones and shadows, adjusted the tone curve for a bit extra distinction, and elevated the saturation of your complete shot. That is the sort of modifying most photographers do each day (versus elevating the publicity by +5), and the outcomes have been precisely what I’d anticipate with any RAW file.
I then copied the edits to the unique Nikon RAW file and in contrast the 2. They seemed nearly equivalent in a side-by-side comparability:
To look at the pictures extra carefully, I zoomed in to 300% and in contrast a number of areas of each photographs. Even at this intense degree of comparability, I didn’t discover any situations the place the edits produced totally different outcomes. So far as I might inform, the whole lot was precisely the identical.
I didn’t see any compression artifacts, and these nature photographs are consultant of the sort of modifying I – and most photographers – seemingly do each day. On this regard, Rawsie basically carried out flawlessly.
I did wish to see how properly Rawsie dealt with one other modifying scenario that concerned quite a lot of colour. I took a close-up shot of an eye fixed to be able to see how properly the Rawsie file held up subsequent to its unique Nikon counterpart when doing a little intense colour grading.
I used the Brush in Lightroom to create a masks for the iris, after which I used a Hue adjustment to vary the iris from brown and hazel to an intense inexperienced. I additionally adjusted the sharpening, distinction, and texture to present the attention a extra visceral and impactful look.
As with the panorama scene, Rawsie’s compression algorithm left loads of room for modifying. At no level did I really feel just like the integrity of the picture had been compromised, and I used to be very happy with the sheer quantity of modifying headroom I had obtainable. After I copy/pasted my edits over to the unique Nikon RAW file, the outcomes have been mainly equivalent.
As earlier than, I zoomed in to see if I might detect any variations between the 2 recordsdata. If variations have been current, I actually couldn’t inform. Even upon very shut inspection, I discovered no points with the compressed Rawsie picture. Colours have been clear, eyelashes have been sharp, and the mirrored sky was clear with no seen compression artifacts.
My checks with colour grading the Rawsie pictures have been extraordinarily promising. At no level did I really feel as if the Rawsie recordsdata gave me much less modifying freedom than the conventional Nikon RAW recordsdata – regardless of their smaller measurement.
Probably the most difficult duties when modifying pictures is recovering shadow element. It’s the kind of operation that makes JPEG pictures cry, and it’s the place you possibly can actually see what the RAW format has to supply. It’s additionally the place you can begin to see the cracks within the basis of some compression algorithms, which are inclined to toss out shadow element to be able to save file area.
To learn how Rawsie fares in these conditions, I shot quite a lot of pictures with -5 EV publicity compensation, transformed them in Rawsie, and introduced them into Lightroom together with the unique RAW recordsdata. I then edited the unique RAW pictures, synced the edits to the Rawsie variations, and in contrast the outcomes.
My first check concerned a Christmas decoration, photographed with my Nikon D750 and 105mm macro lens. The unique picture was so darkish it was practically unusable, however that is the place RAW recordsdata actually shine.
I adjusted the publicity of the compressed Rawsie file in Lightroom and was pleasantly stunned to see the outcomes. The picture was clear and retained loads of usable knowledge within the shadows. I’m unsure I’d print this and grasp it on the wall, however it might work simply wonderful to share on-line.
Evaluating each the unique Nikon RAW file and the compressed Rawsie file aspect by aspect confirmed very related outcomes. Clearly, the Rawsie algorithm did a terrific job and didn’t toss out any knowledge wanted for this sort of excessive modifying scenario.
It wasn’t till I examined each pictures at 400% magnification that I observed something totally different in regards to the Rawsie file. In some areas, easy colour gradations have been changed with extra uniform swaths of pixels, reminiscent of on the cheek of the figurine (as you possibly can see within the comparability under). I additionally exported each pictures simply in case this was a problem with how Lightroom was rendering the picture previews, however the colour artifacts have been equivalent within the exported pictures, too. It would appear to be a deal-breaker, however bear in mind: That is an excessive modifying scenario, one that the majority photographers aren’t prone to encounter frequently.
One other comparability yielded related outcomes and reveals among the limitations of the algorithm utilized by Rawsie to shrink file sizes. For this shot, I used a jar of pencils shot at -5 EV, then lifted the publicity in Lightroom. Once more, the unique picture is sort of solely black, however due to the magic of RAW, there’s truly a wonderfully good picture. It simply takes a bit of labor to seek out it!
Imagine it or not, the picture under is similar file because the apparently detailless picture above. I adjusted the publicity by +5 in Lightroom, and – lo and behold! – the jar of pencils appeared. This illustrates simply how a lot knowledge the RAW format data and why it’s so helpful for photographers who require essentially the most from their pictures. The image under is the Rawsie compressed file, so the algorithm clearly retained an enormous quantity of information for modifying.
Evaluating the edited Rawsie file and the edited Nikon RAW aspect by aspect reveals how properly Rawsie can maintain its personal when pitted in opposition to the unique uncompressed recordsdata. Each photographs, with the publicity lifted by +5, are practically equivalent. No matter knowledge Rawsie is discarding, it’s clearly not sufficient to have an effect on the outcome. Nearly.
Issues begin to look just a little totally different when zoomed in to 400%, nevertheless. The finer element is current in each pictures, however you possibly can see some compression points the place the purple transitions to purple and grey. As a substitute of a easy gradient, the colours are a bit mottled and washed out, which signifies that some knowledge has been misplaced within the Rawsie conversion. As soon as once more, I in contrast the exported pictures simply to ensure this was not a problem with the Lightroom previews, however the outcomes have been the identical.
Earlier than anybody decides to ditch Rawsie based mostly on this comparability, I feel it’s essential to take a step again and actually take into account the state of affairs at play. Most individuals won’t ever must push the publicity by 5 stops to get usable pictures. Even should you did want to do that to salvage some shadow element in your photographs, you’ll nonetheless must look actually onerous to seek out any points with the Rawsie compression course of. And within the meantime, the storage financial savings provided by Rawsie’s course of are unimaginable, which could make the trade-off value it for you.
Whereas there’s a lot to love about Rawsie, there are a few caveats to remember earlier than you rush to put in it. First – and maybe most significantly – Rawsie solely works on Macintosh computer systems. A Home windows model is being developed, however for photographers who wish to make the most of Rawsie’s options proper now, the Mac-only nature of this system is actually one thing to contemplate.
Moreover, Rawsie doesn’t have cell assist. There isn’t any cellphone or pill app, and none are at the moment deliberate for launch. This seemingly gained’t matter to most photographers who use DSLR or mirrorless cameras with a conventional desktop-based workflow, however it’s one thing to contemplate for these serious about what Rawsie has to supply.
Verdict: Who ought to use Rawsie?
Rawsie is an unimaginable piece of software program. It does a tremendous job of considerably lowering the dimensions of RAW recordsdata whereas retaining practically all the info required for all however essentially the most demanding modifying conditions. It’s easy, simple to make use of, and performs its compression operation rapidly and effectively.
In nearly each testing state of affairs I carried out, I couldn’t detect any notable variations between the Rawsie recordsdata and my unique Nikon RAW recordsdata. Even when examined aspect by aspect at very excessive magnification, the Rawsie pictures held their very own in opposition to their uncompressed counterparts very properly.
Nevertheless, for photographers who incessantly shoot in excessive situations and who recurrently carry out very demanding edits to their pictures, Rawsie won’t be one of the best resolution. Additionally, Home windows customers must wait till a appropriate model of the software program is on the market, and you must make sure that your digicam is among the many 50+ cameras that Rawsie helps (you possibly can see the complete record right here!).
Regardless of these limitations, Rawsie is properly value investigating, particularly for the value. The free model comprises no useful limitations by any means however is proscribed to 30 RAW conversions a day. That’s lots for informal photographers or those that simply wish to check out this system to see what it could do. The complete model is on the market for a $79/yr subscription and consists of limitless RAW conversions together with free updates and assist for brand spanking new cameras as they turn out to be obtainable.
I can simply advocate Rawsie to informal and hobbyist photographers in addition to fans and even some professionals, too. Space for storing is cheaper than ever, however each onerous drive, SSD, and cloud storage plan will refill finally; due to this fact, successfully rising your storage capability by as much as 5x is an enormous deal. This makes Rawsie a sensible and cost-effective resolution to a quite common drawback – an answer that I feel is well-suited to most photographers.
Rawsie is a paid companion of dPS.