I have been swearing to raw format since my switch from film to digital. In my past times I used to be a darkroom geek, so I soon considered raw as an extension of the old film developing procedure. Due to the quick digital imaging technology evolution, I bought and sold many cameras in the last seven years. And since manufacturers wouldn't agree on an universal raw format -as Adobe's dng, for instance- I had to upgrade to newer versions of Photoshop (Adobe doesn't allow the upgrade of its Camera Raw Module whithin the current version of Photoshop when a new one is released). Of course I could use the free raw developer bundled with every new camera (except Nikon). But I hate spending time getting used to new software, especially when the one I am already used to perfectly fulfills my needs. Moreover, some raw developers really suck, or their graphic interface seems to be designed by little green men coming from Mars.
Having recently adopted Micro 4/3, I quickly found out that if I wanted to get my new raw files developed I was obliged to upgrade to the last release of Photoshop. Which I don't want to do, considering the hassle to get used with a redesigned interface without the benefit -for my workflow, of course- of new interesting features.
So one morning I got into the "save" menu of my camera and switched to the "raw+jpg" option, took my bycicle and rode around a little taking photographs. Back home I checked my files at 100% in my calibrated 21" LaCie monitor: miracle! In terms of real world photography jpg and raw looked exactly the same. I know, some pixel peeper could object to this, but we are talking photography here, aren't we? Suddenly my workflow got simpler. And I could keep on using the Photoshop version I am familiar with until I'll decide it is no more fit for my needs.
As the best camera is the one not getting in the middle of your image capture, the best editing procedure is the one not getting in the middle of your image finishing process. Of course I keep on shooting "raw+jpg", as raw is a good parachute when lighting conditions are critical, or some minor mistake has been made when releasing the shutter. I'm not an enemy of technique, but I hate when unnecessary technique takes over the imaging process.
I read a very interesting post in Bill Lockhart's blog today. Commenting the beautiful picture opening his post, Bill says: "The photograph existed in my mind before it was made." I totally agree with him. That's why we must get rid of anything getting between our mind and our photographs. Time is on our side only if we don't waste it.