RAW files are like unprocessed film. The raw processing software you use to edit them is like the film developer.
When you shoot RAW files there is often a little extra highlight detail in the data than is initially visible, and a good RAW converter will be able to recover this detail to correct any ‘blown out’ areas. There’s no much margin for correction, however – typically you might be able to recover 1EV of additional highlight detail, but rarely more.
Dynamic range is the camera sensor’s ability to capture detail in very bright and very dark parts of a scene. Cameras (or sensors) with a low dynamic range record dark shadows as a solid black or bright highlights as a featureless white. In the days of film, this was known as a film’s ‘exposure latitude’. […]