I have a Pentax K100D Super and am just learning to shoot in RAW Format so far all my photos have come out very white lacking in colour particularly of water and surf

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    \$\begingroup\$ What's the question? Have you made JPEGs as well? With what software do you view the RAWs? \$\endgroup\$
    – flolilo
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 10:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not much point shooting in raw if you don't intend to spend significant time to extract the best picture possible from the raw file. Most cameras can do JPEG+RAW, in which case the raw file can be seen as a safety belt in case there was a bad setting for some image that makes the camera JPEG unusable (saved my ass a couple of times with pictures that were either underexposed or with a white balance way off). \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds more like an exposure problem than a raw problem. Can you link a sample image? \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


Anytime you open a raw file and look at it on your screen, you are not viewing "THE raw file."¹ You are viewing one among a near-countless number of possible interpretations of the data in the raw file. The raw data itself contains a single (monochrome) brightness value measure by each pixel well. With Bayer masked camera sensors (the vast majority of color digital cameras use Bayer filters) each pixel well has a color filter in front of it that is either 'red', 'green', or 'blue' (the actual 'colors' of the filters in most Bayer Masks are anywhere from a slightly yellowish-green to an orange-yellow for 'red", a slightly bluish-green for 'green' and a slightly bluish-violet for 'blue' - these colors more or less correspond to the center of sensitivity for the three types of cones in our retinas). For a more complete discussion of how we get color information out of the single brightness values measured at each pixel well, please see RAW files store 3 colors per pixel, or only one?

How the image you see on your monitor when you open a raw file will look is determined by how the application you used to open the file interprets the raw data in the file to produce a viewable image. But that is not the "only" way to display "THE original raw file." It's just the way your application - or the camera that produced the jpeg preview attached to the raw file - has processed the information in the raw file to display it on your screen.

¹ Please see: Why are my RAW images already in colour if debayering is not done yet?

For a more comprehensive answer that delves into this even further, and includes a multitude of links to other related questions and answer about raw image files, please see this answer to Why can software correct white balance more accurately for RAW files than it can with JPEGs?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Perfect short description of why. I have a suggestion for how I handle RAW files that does not answer the question but might be of value: Apply some default adjustments on import. What I did in LR and do now in C1 is apply a tweak to the white point, the black point and contrast on import. I do this not for some automatic final product but to help me when I am doing my first pass through the images - they just look better. After I pick the ones I want to work in they get more adjustments that are specific to what that image needs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Lelsie
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @IanLelsie Or you could just use an application that actually applies the in-camera settings at the time the photo was taken when it it first opened. Most of the manufacturers' in-house raw conversion applications do this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 16:17

Here's some background on RAW image processing:

When shooting non-RAW, the camera applies "filters" and performs color and white balance correction to the images. For instance, if you press the Info or the button right of OK, you can modify some of these settings.

RAW images get stored without applying any of these settings. The idea is that the software that reads the RAW images on your PC will apply them, under your control. RAW images include your preferences for the filters, white balance and other color settings, but it's up to the PC software to apply them, or not. In the end, you need to understand how to use the PC program to make it apply the colors the way you prefer them. How that's done depends on which program you use.

Please edit your question accordingly to tell us more details (i.e. do not add more comments).


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