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Photography Question 
Denine Rowan

What is TIFF, RAW and JPEG?

When purchasing a digital camera, is it important that it is JPEG, RAW, and TIFF. What are these terms referring to, and what would be best? It seems like only the very expensive cameras have all three.

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6/19/2005 12:52:54 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  These terms all refer to file formats for graphic images (photos). JPEG is the most universal format. It compresses the image for a smaller file size. The higher the compression level, the more the image quality will be degraded. Practically all digital cameras available today can save images in JPEG format. TIFF is an uncompressed image format. Many graphics programs, like PhotoShop, can work with TIFF images. Since a high-quality TIFF is a large file, it is not usually used for emailed photos or photos on a Web site like JPEGs are. Very few digital cameras on the market today can save images in the TIFF format.
RAW is an uncompressed file format that digital SLR cameras and some higher-end digital point-and-shoot cameras can use. The file is a direct capture of the image info from the image sensor, with no processing or image adjustment done. The image will need to be adjusted in a graphics program. Most programs cannot handle a RAW file directly; it has to be imported and converted to TIFF or JPEG first.
As I said, very few cameras have the TIFF format built-in, so you shouldn't base your camera selection on that. RAW format will give you the most flexibility for adjusting the exposure, white balance, etc., but you need to have some skill with a graphics program like PhotoShop to finish your image.
Many digital photographers (myself included) choose to shoot in JPEG, with the camera set at the highest resolution and quality that the camera can do. This will give you an image that will not need as much post processing to get it ready for printing.

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6/19/2005 2:04:12 PM

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