I wrote this a couple years ago, just after I started shooting RAW images. Some of the items are a bit dated, but the principles are all still correct.
I tried to go RAW on two occasions several years ago, just after I got cameras that would shoot the format. But both times, the things I could do with the format didn't seem to be worth the expense of the extra file size, so I kept shooting JPG instead.
Now, however, something has changed. Maybe PhotoShop CS4 handles the format better. Maybe the RAW format itself got better. Maybe Snow Leopard handles it better than whatever the Mac OS was at the time. Or maybe I've learned a little more about it. Most likely, it's a combination of those things. In any case, I'm taking the plunge, and will be shooting RAW from now on. Here's what my still-developing workflow looks like:
Copy files from my card to my hard drive using an external card reader, since transferring directly from the camera is so slow. Actually, I haven't tested this yet with my new Nikon D300s camera, but it was definitely slower with the D200. FWIW, I'm using a 3 year old Radio Shack card reader; what's the fastest readers today? And are any of the fast readers made for the card slot in the MacBook Pro? Note: I now use and love my Belkin reader; it has a slot for pretty much every type of card out there.
Convert files from RAW to DNG. Every camera has a different proprietary RAW format, and the operating systems have to scramble to keep up. Because the D300s is very new, Mac OS X doesn't yet support its RAW format, even though it does support the D200 RAW format. DNG (Digital Negative format) is Adobe's attempt to translate between all RAW formats, similar to the way that PDF files can be read across platforms. Adobe gives away the Adobe DNG Converter free.
Next, I begin renaming the DNG files. My normal format is [Subject] [Date] [Serial Number] where the serial number is the 4-digit number the camera provides. For example, "New Orleans 09SEP30 4789.jpg" or whatever. I do my renaming with A Better Finder Rename, which is a great little Mac utility.
After everything is converted and renamed, I trash the NEF files (Nikon's version of RAW) because the DNG files contain all of the data.