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Monday, May 27, 2024

Google Photos will automatically back up as RAW images

RAW images hold the entirety of data captured by a camera's sensor, making them a treasure trove for photographers.

In the ever-evolving world of digital photography, the importance of RAW images is undeniable. These unprocessed files hold the entirety of data captured by a camera’s sensor, making them a treasure trove for photographers seeking to extract every ounce of quality from their shots. However, the generous size of RAW files can be a double-edged sword, especially if storage space is limited.

Marvel of RAW Photography

When a digital camera captures a photograph, it generates a RAW version that encapsulates all the sensor’s data at the moment of the shot. This means every ounce of detail, color information, and dynamic range is preserved in its purest form. It’s like having a digital negative, and for photographers, this is invaluable. RAW files give them the flexibility to fine-tune and enhance their images during post-processing, without sacrificing quality.

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RAW Dilemma

However, there’s a catch. RAW files tend to be substantial in size, often taking up a considerable amount of storage space. This poses a significant challenge in an era where cloud storage and device memory may be limited. Recognizing this issue, Google Photos decided to automatically back up RAW images for its users. While the intention behind this move is noble, it’s essential to consider the potential consequences.

Google Photos Approach

With the launch of the Pixel 8, Google has introduced a feature that automatically backs up RAW images when you enable RAW capture in the Camera app. When these images are uploaded, they are appropriately flagged as RAW files, and there’s even an option to toggle between viewing them as JPEGs instead. On the surface, this may seem like a thoughtful addition, but some photographers might find it somewhat troublesome.

Need for Choice

Photographers have diverse needs, and some might prefer to have more control over their RAW files. While automatic backup is undoubtedly convenient for many, it would have been wiser for Google Photos to provide users with the choice. Currently, even switching to the Storage Saver option in Photos preferences doesn’t prevent RAW files from being backed up. Whether this is a deliberate design decision or an oversight during the initial rollout remains uncertain. However, this feature could potentially become problematic for users with limited storage space, especially those relying on Google One storage.

Google’s Ongoing Commitment to Photos

In recent times, Google has been investing in its Photos app to enhance the user experience. For example, Android 14 brings a revamped share menu in Photos, allowing users to send images through the app, create albums, add images to albums, and share via links. Additionally, adjustments can be made to photos, such as cropping or applying various editing effects, before sending them.

Desktop Photo Editing Tools

In August 2023, Google introduced photo editing tools for desktop users, expanding availability beyond mobile devices. These tools include Dynamic, Portrait, and Color Pop options, catering to different types of photos. Moreover, there are various tabs that enable users to tweak settings like brightness, saturation, HDR levels, and contrast. Some of these features are exclusive to those with the premium version of Google One, offering added value to subscribers.

Pros and Cons

For photography enthusiasts and professionals alike, these changes made by Google Photos offer valuable tools for enhancing images. However, the mandatory automatic backup of RAW images may prove frustrating for some, especially those dealing with storage constraints. In such cases, relying on dedicated photo editing software might be a safer bet to maintain control over RAW files and prevent any unforeseen storage issues.

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Google Photos’ foray into automatically backing up RAW images is a mixed blessing. It provides convenience but lacks the flexibility that photographers often seek. The key lies in striking a balance that aligns with individual needs and preferences.