In another forum, a reader asked for the raw files associated with one of my Last Word posts. He wouldn’t tell me why he wanted them or what he was going to do with them, so it was a no-brainer to decline. He was not pleased. The incident did have an upside, though: it got me thinking about why I don’t routinely post raws of all my comparison images.
The first reason is logistical. I have posted tens of thousands of images here over the years, and storing that many raw images is beyond the capacity of any hosting company server for which I want to pay. The economics of hosting and storage are interesting: were I operating my own server, storing, say 20,000 raws would not be a terribly expensive proposition. If I were to post all the raws that I use to programmatically analyze cameras, that would amount to hundreds of thousands of files, perhaps millions, and storage, even on my own server, would be a problem.I do not normally retain those files.
The second reason is conservation of my time. If I posted raws, I’d still have to post the JPEGs that I post now. And, because WordPress doesn’t support any raw file types, I’d have to upload them with ftp, and link them manually to the posts. Life’s too short for that.
OK, so it’s not practical for me to post all the raws. But why not send them to anyone who asks for them?
There’s the time thing again. I wouldn’t expect a huge influx of such requests, so that’s hurdle, but not dispostive.
There’s a much more serious time problem, though. Raw development offers an opportunity for many decisions. Some of those decisions influence the results of comparisons. I have found it sometimes difficult myself to keep the playing field level when doing comparisons requiring raw development. To do that requires care, precision, and patience (the last is necessary when you have to go back and do everything over because you screwed it up the first time). In the distant past, when I have shared raw files with people I didn’t know well (we’ll get to the situations where I have and still share raw files at the end of this post) I have spent hours working remotely with folks whose raw development produced conclusions that they thought were at variance with mine. I have never failed to successfully drill down far enough to resolve things, but it is very time consuming.
Many of my images are not developed in black-box standard raw developers such as Lightroom or Capture One, but require RawDigger, dcraw or libraw to gain the necessary control. Most people seem to have trouble using those programs, and teaching folks how to use them remotely has taken, and would take a lot of my time.
The above paragraphs assume that the recipient of the raw files is teachable, meticulous, and has no agenda. If I don’t know that person, I am concerned about all those things, especially the last one. That final concern is exacerbated by the tenor of some of the requests for raw files.
I do share raws with some people, people who I have convinced myself are:
- willing to share results
- willing and able to collaborate on joint projects (I often share code with those)
- willing to share their raws with me
There aren’t a teeming multitude of those folks. It would take two hands to count them up, but I wouldn’t have to take off my shoes.