Adobe has officially added lossy compression into the latest specification (1.4) for its Digital Negative (DNG) RAW file format. The new Lossy DNG, which first appeared as a feature in Lightroom 4 earlier this year, gives photographers a middle-ground between the quality of lossless DNG photos and the small file size of JPEG photos.
One of huge benefits of shooting in RAW is that RAW files usually have considerably more dynamic range than a JPG. This means that details in the shadows and highlights of an image that would otherwise be lost if shooting JPG are stored in the RAW file, and able to be recovered if needed during post-processing. Reddit user Jake Kelly shot the photo on the left of his friends in a dark movie theater, severely underexposing the image but avoiding hand-shake with a shutter speed of 1/60. A quick adjustment in Lightroom helped him recover a ton of detail that definitely wouldn’t be possible had he been shooting in JPG (try taking the JPG on the left and getting the result on the right).
For a more in-depth look at this topic, you should read the “Dynamic Range & Exposure Compensation” section of the RAW tutorial over on Cambridge in Colour.
Image credits: Photographs by Jake Kelly and used with permission