15-June-2023 UPDATE:

DotPhoton have announced they have discontinued development of Rawsie – with its features to be amalgamated into its new software Jetraw. However this means Rawsie is no longer available to download. The original article remains below

If you’re like me, you know how important it is to keep your files organised and your storage space optimised. With the ever-increasing size of RAW files, it can be challenging to store your images without filling up your home with hard drives and going bankrupt in the process.

That’s where Rawsie comes in – a raw photo file compression software that can help you save up to 80% of your storage space without sacrificing image quality. Sounds too good to be true? That’s how I felt, but read on to learn why you should take this software seriously, and how it could save you a lot of money in storage costs. I’ve been using Rawsie for a couple of years now, and swear by it, and wanted to share why.

Background

Rawsie comes from the minds of Swiss company DotPhoton, who originally built software for use in the biomedical and aerospace industries, to help compress the huge amounts of image data industrial microscopes and telescopes create. Using a background in quantum mechanics to understand that a lot of raw image data is actually random and useless. By doing this they were able to identify which data they could discard from a raw image file in a visually lossless way, which helps massively compress the end file size compared to native compression, but maintains the flexibility of a full uncompressed raw file.

Compatibility

Rawsie is compatible with an impressive range of cameras, including most from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm and Leica, making it an incredible tool for almost all photographers. You can see a full list of compatible cameras here.

However Rawsie is only available on Mac computers, so if you are a PC user, unfortunately, this one might not be for you!

How to Use it

Rawsie is presented with a simple user interface, once downloaded, the software gives you three options on how to compress your files:

  • Select a Lightroom Catalog file
  • Browse through Finder to select a folder or group of files
  • Drag & Drop

If you use Lightroom for your cataloging, the ability to select an LRCAT file will mean that once Rawsie has compressed your files, all your edits will automatically be re-associated with the new files.

If, like me, you don’t use Lightroom, once you have selected a folder to compress, Rawsie gives you a few more options:

  • It gives you the option to either generate medium, or large size previews. Using medium preview means it can compress the file faster, however If you are using software such as Photo Mechanic it will result in a pixelated preview image, but it will have no impact on the raw file.
  • Rawsie then allows you to select where the new compressed DNG files will go, you can either set it to automatically create a subfolder in the source folder, or you can set a new destinations
  • Then you can choose where your original raw files go, similarly to the previous option, you can select that they be moved into a subfolder of the source folder, or you can choose a new location. I choose a new location, so that if I am compressing a batch of folders at the same time, once I have completed the compression, I can easily select and delete the original raw files from one location.

Once you have your settings sorted, simply hit start and the compression will begin. The speed of the software is dependent on your computer’s CPU power, the more cores you have, the quicker it will go. I recently made the jump from a 2017 Macbook Pro to a 2023 M2Pro Macbook Pro and have seen the speeds shoot up to approx 1 raw file compressed per second.

Results

Once your selection is completed you are greeted with a screen showing you just how much space you’ve saved, from a single day’s shoot (below) you can see Rawsie managed to compress over 170GB out of the Nikon Z 9 raw files.

Here is a very exciting kitchen, with the uncompressed Nikon Raw file on the left, and the virtually indistinguishable Rawsie compressed DNG on the right. The NEF file comes in at 63mb with the Rawsie DNG a mere 11mb.

Workflow

Depending on what kind of photographer you are, there are several different ways to integrate Rawsie into your workflow, for those who aren’t working to immediate deadlines, you can compress your raw files as soon as you ingest your files, leaving you to work from the compressed DNG files.

For me, as I’m often working to a short or live deadline, I will edit from my uncompressed raw files, and once I am finished with the job, or back at home, I will compress my raw files before backing them up to my NAS and cloud storage alongside the XMP sidecar files generated when I edited them in Adobe Camera Raw, which means that when I next access them, all my edits will remain in place.

Using the Nikon Z 9 with uncompressed raw (the only Nikon Z 9 format currently supported by Rawsie) creates a 45 megapixel file that is around 50-60MB, but once it has been compressed by Rawsie it comes out at around 11MB, saving huge amounts of time when uploading thousands of files to the cloud (I use box.com – Which I will review soon), and also saving me terabytes in my NAS storage.

Conclusion

Although the software has various limitations (See a complete list here https://rawsie.co/faq mostly regarding which kinds of raw files can be compressed) as each camera is uniquely tried and tested to make sure its compression is as effective as possible, the space savings offered by Rawsie far out-weigh any microscopic changes in the files you may be able to notice for almost any kind of photographer.

Download

If you want to give it a go, you can download Rawsie, here, and if you use the discount code GOURLEY10 you will receive 10% off any subscriptions. I have not been paid to do this article, but I am part of their affiliate scheme, but I would never recommend a product I don’t use and believe in!

Unfortunately, Rawsie is now closed to new customers.

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