The Art of RAW Conversion, by Uwe Steinmüller and Jürgen Gulbins, ISBN: 0596100833

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, November 2006
Published by: No Starch Press
Requires: N/A, sample chapter "Introduction to RAW Files or Digital Negatives" available here
MSRP: US$39.95 USD, UK£28.50, CAD$55.99

Uwe Steinmüller and Jürgen Gulbins are well known for professional work in their respective fields, so when they came together to produce this book it was no surprise that it would become one of the better volumes available on the subject of RAW Image handling and workflow. Steinmüller is a well known photographer and digital workflow specialist; Gulbins is a prolific author and technical translator. Steinmüller is also the founder of the Digital Outback Photo webzine, which has become one of the sites to visit for information on digital image workflow, RAW processing, and printing. He is also an accomplished photographer whose work has been exhibited worldwide. Gulbins' books include technical references and manuals on a variety of subjects, including CAD, UNIX, DTP, typography, Internet, document management, Linux, and digital photography.

The Art of RAW Conversion deals with the creation and manipulation of RAW images from digital cameras. RAW images are conceptually similar to exposed film negatives in that they contain the photographic data just as it has been captured by the digital camera sensor. The beauty of RAW is that you always have the unprocessed file to work and experiment to your heart's desire. RAW files are a pleasure to work with, but also have their pitfalls. The necessity for asset management become crucial when dealing with these files.


The book is delightful to behold. The choice of type, images, layout and even the media are all top class. The use of well chosen images and screen shots throughout, helps to illustrate individual topics very effectively. Each chapter and topic is well handled. With coverage of areas such as color management, RAW workflow, batch processing, digital negatives, metadata and camera profiling, and RAW conversion, configuration and calibration, you really can't go wrong.

The books takes you through basic concepts and then introduces you to a sampling of the available RAW solutions (digital image editing and processing programs which offer handling of RAW files). The selection of programs is excellent, with one categorical omission—there is little coverage of Linux-based solutions. The only weak area in the whole book is that the coverage of each digital image editing and processing program is a little on the short side. Given that the Art of RAW Conversion is not meant to be a reference manual for each of the featured programs, I can't really complain. Coverage includes Adobe Lightroom, the latest offering from the company which brought you Photoshop.

The final chapter is dedicated to the process of effectively converting color RAW files into black & white images. Although the process is covered briefly, taking you through the process with each of the featured programs, I actually found this last chapter a little on the weak side as the process is still not quite perfect. The chapter is however a good starting point.

Cons: Little or no coverage of Linux based solutions. Some programs need better coverage.

Pros: Beautifully laid out. Easy to follow. Broad coverage of many key issues. The Art of RAW conversion is a work of art in itself, beautifully designed and well written. The coverage of each topic is well handled and easy to follow. If you are looking for in-depth tutorials for your favorite digital imaging software then you need to look elsewhere. However, if you want an excellent introduction to RAW image handling and to many of the concepts involved, this is an excellent book with which to get started. It's well worth adding to your digital imaging and photography library. Highly Recommended.

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