Now I have started to use Adobe products for post production I have started to shoot predominantly in RAW.
A RAW file is the uncompressed data that has been captured by the sensor. Whatever the sampling rate of a partcular piece of hardware this is all (? mostly all the data). The file sizes are there large.
In comparison jpeg uses compression algorythms to reduce the size of the file.
As this not a lossless process some information is lost and some artifacts can be produced.
A TIFF image is also compressed but in a loss less process. RAW (sometimes referred to as digital negatives) come in various proprietal versions (CR2 -Canon, NEF-Nikon etc). They give the post-production operative huge scope not only to rescue errant exposures and white balance but flexibility to get the very best out of every pixel. Given enough skill and time!
12 or 14 bit RAW files can give up to 16,384 brightness levels in comparison to 8-bit jpegs with 256 (28) . This translates to 2 extra stops out of the shadows and the highlights.
In term of colours this equates to jpegs carrying 16 million while raw carries 68 billion!
Mark Bauer of MarkBauerphotography.com says
“Shooting jpegs is like taking your films to the lab and letting their machines make all the decisions about how your pictures will look. RAW is much more about going in to your own darkroom and making carefully crafted hand print.”
Definitely a rawelation as it might be said in German (oh dear me).