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Photography Question 
Sharon L. Weeks
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/4/2002

RAW vs JPG - vs TIFF

I have read the answers regarding JPG & RAW. My camera - an Epson PhotoPC3100Z gives me a choice of many JPG files and also TIFF. I always use TIFF for the photos I want to work with. A standard shot before any editing will be 9MB+. This camera is no longer made and I worry that when it dies I will not be able to find another. Why would I want to use RAW rather that TIFF? I get great resolution with it.

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5/17/2005 6:07:28 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  I could be wrong, but as I understand it ...

RAW is a proprietary format that varies by camera maker. In order to open/edit the file, you'll need the maker's own software or a plug-in for other editing software. It is the "raw" data that the sensor has captured, without any sharpening, color balance/saturation, or other adjustments and without compression. This is the preferred format if you intend to do your own post-processing or a lot of "photoshopping." High-powered editing software on a computer can give better results than the in-camera processing.

TIFF format has had in-camera processing applied (sharpening, etc.) and is without any file compression. Also preferred for post-processing.

JPEG format has had in-camera processing and is compressed. Best for simplified straight from the camera viewing/printing/emailing/etc.

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5/18/2005 8:19:25 AM

Phillip A. Flusche
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2003
  You are almost correct. The RAW file when viewed on the camera and when initially opened on the PC (at least for my Nikon Camera) does have the camera settings applied to the picture after the picture is taken in RAW (Nikon NEF format) so that you can see what the picture looks like as captured with various settings applied. But the big advantage is that the camera RAW data is still available for use so that the proprietary company software can make further modifications. If for example, you underexposed the shot then you can modify the exposure. I like to think of the software, such as the one I use, Nikon Photo Editor, as a camera processor in a PC. The RAW data right from the camera CCD sensor is available in the file so that I can change the settings to get the result I want. It is still in 16 bit vs JPG 8 bit. For example, if I should have used +1 exposure setting when I took the picture I can still do so using the Nikon software during post processor processing. If I should have used a different White Balance setting I can do so using the software instead of the camera. Plus as long as I retain the RAW file (even after modification) I can always go back to the original capture settings of the camera. Once I get the picture exposure and white balance etc. looking like I want it, I save the file in RAW (NEF) and then use the "save as" option and save another copy in JPG format so I can then use Photoshop for futher tweaking if necessary and also for intenet down sizing and sharing sharing. If I am in a hurry I can always open the camera NEF file in Photoshop and modify exposure and WB using the PS NEF plug in that always pops up before the photo opens fully in Photoshop.

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10/25/2005 7:53:48 AM

Sharon L. Weeks
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/4/2002
  Thank you both very much. Belatedly as I just found your responses. I think I have a better understanding. From what you have told me, having the file format of RAW in Elements isn't enough. Would have to use the camera software first. I didn't know if RAW was 0's and 1's or anywhere between that and jpg. The ideal new camera would have all three formats, right?
Thanks again. SHaron

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10/25/2005 8:08:48 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Need to look at raw as not a way to save a wrong exposure or color balance but as a way of retaining all information that the image is converted to. Color grades, and everything else is digitised into information, and the smaller the jpeg, the more is left out.
Like an edited for tv movie is still enough to watch and get all the plot. But some of the moments of interaction between characters that make them real and the movie flow so well are left out.
Raw is not needed to make good prints, but it's an option that could be thought about for some pictures you take.
I think of tiff as retaining all the info in raw, but converted to a more commonly readable format.
If you go about getting a picture right as you shoot it, that's when you'll be the happiest with how your raw images come out looking in the end.

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10/25/2005 8:30:59 AM

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