I've always shot in JPEG. Any tips/resources on getting started in shooting in raw?
On the occasions I need to go back to my archive images and see that the files pre-date my switch to shooting 100% RAW (approx 2002) I get that sinking feeling of having to deal with a JPEG. The factors that delayed my switch to RAW were an ignorance of the facts, laziness and a very poor choice of software to do the RAW conversions. Like a lot of photographers I got on board the RAW workflow with Capture One Pro. Right now I convert in Lightroom.
Every single digital camera from the cheapest point & shoot makes a RAW file that is converted in-camera to make your JPEG file. At it's most basic level it's a simple algorithm that takes a broad based guess at what's best. Consumer DSLR's have "Picture Styles" or other menu settings that with deliver a different look JPEG. In perfect conditions they can be quite adequate.
The benefits of shooting RAW over JPEG are thoroughly documented. If in-camera JPEG's delivered perfect files, professional photographers would shoot JPEG. But a straw poll would reveal that an extremely high percentage of professionals and advanced amateurs will shoot 100% RAW. Why do you suppose this is? It's more work but once mastered the results are comprehensively improved.
Yes, your buffer depth is reduced when shooting RAW compared to JPEG, and this can be overcome on a camera like the 1D4 which can shoot highly useable commercial quality files on the medium RAW setting. It's a reduced file size which extends the buffer depth a lot. I sometimes switch when shooting swimming or track & field events.
Just jump in the deep end. You'll quickly see it's easy going and find your photography a great deal more satisfying. DPP's GUI looks cute but is very clunky if processing a large number of RAW files. Canon don't make great software. If you have Photoshop there's the very well sorted ACR, or Lightroom is an inexpensive, highly flexible program. A few years ago I test drove every RAW converter on the planet and with hindsight it was a monumental waste of time. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses. Some people will be dogmatic that their choice of RAW converter is the best. Yawn...
My experience has shown that Lightroom is fast and flexible and delivers files I'm happy to send out to clients. Others will have their equally valid favourite. If your volume is low and there are financial constraints, DPP will deliver beautiful conversions. Just do it.