12 Replies Latest reply: Feb 9, 2011 6:36 AM by Keith Barkley
tshlok Level 1 (0 points)
I have just began shooting in RAW and don't see anyway in iPhoto to convert them. What am I missing?
Is it worth having iPhoto '11 ?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.4), have iPhoto '09
  • LarryHN Level 9 (77,015 points)
    the iPhoto help topic on RAW explains very well how iPhoto handles them

    Basically iPhoto stores the RAW images and anything you do with iPhoto is done on a JPEG - I do not believe that '11 handles RAW any differently

  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,940 points)
    Processing Raw in iPhoto

    When you import a Raw to iPhoto it automatically creates a jepg preview of the file. Why? Because you cannot do anything with a Raw: you cannot print it, use it a slideshow and so on. However, with this preview you can work with the photo immediately.

    You can, however, also process the Raw in iPhoto simply by editing it. The Raw processing engine in iPhoto the same one used in Aperture, but with less fine control. (Think of the differences between Word and TextEdit, iMovie and Final Cut). The output from the processing then replaces the preview. You can choose to save your output as either jpeg or tiff in the iPhoto Preferences.

    When you are processing Raw in iPhoto you will see the Raw badge on the bottom of the iPhoto Window

    Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

    Note: After you have processed a Raw, subsequent edits to the photo are carried out on the processed jpeg (or tiff) not the Raw. If you want to go back to the original then you need to use the Photos -> Reprocess Raw command.

    Processing Raw in a 3rd Party Application

    You can also process your Raw with a 3rd Party app like ACR or Photoshop. But iPhoto does not handle this gracefully and it's a bit of a kludge.

    First off set your preferred app as an external editor in iPhoto:

    You can set Photoshop (or any image editor) as an external editor in iPhoto. (Preferences -> General -> Edit Photo: Choose from the Drop Down Menu.) This way, when you double click a pic to edit in iPhoto it will open automatically in Photoshop or your Image Editor, and when you save it it's sent back to iPhoto automatically. This is the only way that edits made in another application will be displayed in iPhoto.

    Note that iPhoto sends a copy+ of the file to Photoshop, so when you save be sure to use the Save command, not Save As... If you use Save As then you're creating a new file and iPhoto has no way of knowing about this new file. iPhoto is preserving your original anyway.

    Next: In the iPhoto Preferences -> Advanced, elect to use Raw with your External editor:

    Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

    Now when you go to edit the Raw it will be sent to your external editor.

    Now for the kludge:

    You cannot save a Raw. The work you do must be output to a new file, in a new format (jepg, tiff, whatever). However, as the External Editor is making this new file iPhoto has no knowledge of its existence. Therefore you *must save it to the desktop and then import it back to iPhoto as a new file*.

    This means that you will have your Original Raw and the processed version in iPhoto but they will not be recognised as version and original. iPhoto will see them as two separate shots.


  • tshlok Level 1 (0 points)
    When I went to iPhoto Help Contents and saw no mention of RAW, I figured it was a no no. Now I know that we can type anything in there. Your answer is so very clear and precise that I will have no trouble from now on!
    I knew a little bit of this but not enough to solve the problem by myself in the wee hours of the morning when I should have been asleep like most folks!
    I have over 2300 images shot during my trip to Europe and they have just been sitting here!! Time to get to work!!
    Thanks again.
  • Stan in London Level 1 (15 points)
    Thanks for thorough explanation. If I may seek further guidance - My JPEG only camera has been broken and I am considering buying a camera that shoots RAW but would only do so if I could get better quality images for showing (e.g. on my TV) and printing. I only have iPhoto currently to process photos. I can process RAW with iPhoto but if it saves only to JPEG does that mean I forgo the quality improvement of RAW when I print and or view?
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,940 points)
    You need to read up on Raw a bit.

    Here are some of the things you can't do with Raw

    1. View it
    2. Use it in a Slideshow.
    3. Print it.

    Frankly the only thing you can do with Raw is Process it.

    A Raw is simply the sensor dump from your camera. It's analogous to an exposed film. To do anything you have to process it. As the Raw is just a sensor dump you can't save it. You have to save it +as an image+ - jpeg, tiff or whatever.

    Shooting in Raw allows you to manipulate more of the data in a shot - so, unlike Jpeg - you can change the White Balance and so on. As you have more data to work with you may be able to recover more from marginal shots. But it won't necessarily give you better quality images.

    For my money the most important thing for getting high quality images is a good quality lens.

  • Malibu Flyer Level 1 (10 points)
    Keep in mind that most new cameras update the RAW file format. Before iPhoto or Aperture can read the new RAW format Apple needs to adapt their software to read the new RAW format. I'm told this is always done for Nikon and Canon cameras but is usually takes 3 +/- months.

    For example, I have a new Canon s95 [released in Aug 2010] and Apple has yet to update either iPhoto or Aperture to work with the new RAW file format. I am hoping they will soon......
  • Stan in London Level 1 (15 points)
    Thanks to both of you above and I have taken your advice and read a lot more about RAW and think I understand your advice better. I was also looking at the Canon Powershot S95 as a reasonably priced entry RAW compact - and Apple has yet to update iPhoto for it but does for the S90. If I abandon the idea of RAW than there may be even lower prices, better lens and higher telephoto - so a few more weeks of reading. But I will keep in mind that the quality of lens generates the greatest impact on picture quality. Cheers
  • TheMacPhotog Level 1 (0 points)
    so is there any advantage to even shooting raw if i am going to use iphoto primarily to library and edit my photos?? i mean, if everything is doen in jpeg, then why not shoot in jpeg to get smaller file sizes and faster processing times??
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,940 points)
    I think you should read that again.

    Everything is not done in jpeg.


  • TheMacPhotog Level 1 (0 points)
    correct me if i am wrong, but even after reading it again, your line "you cannot do anything with raw" just keeps sticking out to me. you said you can't edit it, can't print it, etc. from what i understand from your explanation, the raw is kinda kept in the background as the "original" and a jpeg copy is made from which you edit, print, etc.

    so if this is true, then i ask once again what the point is of shooting in raw in the first place?
  • Terence Devlin Level 10 (137,940 points)

    If you shoot in Raw you have more control over the output when you process the image than you do when you shoot in Jpeg. You simply have more data to work with, more date to manipulate and change that you can with jpeg. On top of that, you have different data to work with - White Balance, for instance, than you have with jpeg.

    So, shoot Raw, process it. The result of the process is stored as a Jpeg. You can go back to the Raw at any time.

    But Google is immensely powerful and there are hundreds of sites that deal with just this question in more detail. A lot more detail.


  • Keith Barkley Level 5 (6,040 points)
    But there is room for JPEG, too.

    I usually leave my camera in JPEG mode and only shoot RAW when I feel that I might need more control over white balance and exposure.

    But for general family snaps, JPEG is fine.