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Thread: So just how long will RAW be around?

  1. #1

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    So just how long will RAW be around?

    I've been reading (even from some here) and sense RAW is not an accepted format yet that is is more proprietary format, some are saying that it's only a matter of years before it is gone, as so many other proprietary items have gone (not just in photography). It seems that most all companies support DNG on the other hand and it is accepted (so far) as being the norm. Now if this is so, I have a whole lot of filed RAW formats on many disks for storage. Should I be worried about this, or should I say should my kids and/or future generations be worried about this to the point of seriously converting the files?

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    PhotomanJohn's Avatar
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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Bob - I certainly can't tell you what the future holds but I would be surprised if the major camera companies would standardize on a raw format anytime soon. But, even it they do sometime in the future, it will be awhile before programs like Photoshop stops supporting the older formats. Then, if and when the major post-processing programs quit supporting the older formats, I am sure that the file format conversion programs will remain available for years after that. If you were to convert your raw files to DNG, it might go obsolete before your original raw format does. Who knows.

    I wouldn't loose any sleep over it.

    John

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    What can happen is technology improves to an extent, the in-camera processing of images come close in detail to the Raw.

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Haseeb - The problem is that there is no standard processing that "is best" for all images. The post processing that most of us apply to our photos can be very different from one photo to the next. Our processing furthers the vision and feeling we had when we viewed the original scene or the vision we now have of what the scene should be. It will be a very long time before we can program cameras to follow our changing vision and mood for each photo we take.

    John

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotomanJohn View Post
    Haseeb - The problem is that there is no standard processing that "is best" for all images. The post processing that most of us apply to our photos can be very different from one photo to the next......

    John & Haseeb:

    I'm actually talking about saving pictures prior to any PP, the one's we save, or a lot of people save, for the future (negatives). DNG is currently being submitted to the ISO as a ISO Standard, where none of the others are or have been (I might be wrong but I have not read that anywhere), including CR2, NEF, etc. DNG is also supported by most aftermarket software already. All I'm saying is why do we have to have so many proprietary formats and should we be concerned about this. We all know what happens to a proprietary program after some time.

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    I can't see raw as a file type going away any time soon, but specific raw formats do change. Personally, I don't worry about this very much. I shoot Canon, and there must be billions of Canon raw files filed away. Canon has no incentive to let any of them become unreadable, and it would be silly for a software vendor to do so. If and when this looks like it might become an issue, then I will convert them to a different, newer raw format. And I am unwilling to convert to any non-raw format, even with a lossless conversion like TIFF.

    I gave thought to changing from cr2 to dng, but I have a hunch that the new Adobe subscription model may make dng somewhat less common in the future.

    More worrisome to me is the format of the devices on which we store the stuff. Remember floppy drives? I can imagine some future date when it will be necessary to move many GB of files onto some new medium. However, since those media aren't yet known, there is nothing to do but wait.

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Thank you Dan, I can see you have thought about it yourself. I have 6 coolers (40 to 60 gal) full of prints from the 40's until digital came out. I have 36 CDs stored with them. I fear for my kids, kids and what they will have to do to see the CD's some day, let alone the fading prints. Your right, I should not worry about it, it is what it is.

    Thanks,
    Bob

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotomanJohn View Post

    I wouldn't loose any sleep over it.

    John
    Yep.

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    RAW is an accepted format - it's just not standardized amongst the camera makers. I would be somewhat concerned about the lesser used brands as they stand a greater chance of becoming obsolete if the parent company is acquired by another larger company, or simply folds, leaving their RAW format unsupported.

    JPEG on the other hand, is a standardized format, but as noted above by PhotomanJohn, it's very often lacking in usefulness and flexibility.

    If a lesser user camera brand disappears, will it be included in the later versions of the image editors? There are some nifty new cameras coming out, but will they survive? As Dan noted there are simply too many Nikons/Canons to ignore.

    Dan's post is very relevant in that storage devices and operating systems (OS) change, both of which are of more concern than the file format. As an example, I'm using a newly rebuilt Win XP computer for music because my high end soundcard won't run on newer versions of Windows (the s/c is ten years old, the company had some financial problems, and there are no new drivers for it). And judging by some complaints/posts on another forum, the Apple OS is as prone to leaving users high and dry as is Microsoft (they are to some extent the computer equivalents of Nikon/Canon).

    Glenn

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Let's remember the DNG is a closed, proprietary format owned and licenced by Adobe Systems. There is no guarantee that is will ever be anything else, and Adobe could stop supporting it and change the licence terms at some later date. I've looked at the fine print, and frankly if I were any of the major camera manufacturers, I suspect their legal teams have told them to stay clear of the DNG format.

    I would also argue that jpg or some of the other open fomats like png are any better or worse, especially for a finished image. Yes, RAW give photo editors a lot more "head room" than jpg does, but once the work has been finished, the file has to be converted to a format, like jpg, that can actually be viewed.

    Bottom line is I don't worry about it.
    Last edited by Manfred M; 21st July 2013 at 07:44 PM.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    I'm not a fan of the DNG format either (you may recall a moderator here that argued pretty strongly for DNG ).

    An advantage of the proprietary RAW format is that it enables the camera maker to extract the best possible image from it (not all sensors are the same).

    There is some considerable evidence supporting this - many claim that Canon's DPP software can get better colours from the RAW than can other software.

    Another example is the Fuji X-trans sensor which doesn't use the Bayer layout - Adobe didn't quite get it right the first time, but the next issue improved (and some suggest they still haven't got it right).

    G
    Last edited by Glenn NK; 21st July 2013 at 07:43 PM.

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    One thing I do is put a copy of the software I use to process my RAW images on the archival DVDs, both the Unix version and the Windows version. Additionally, I'm working on making a Java version of the software, since I'm very uncomfortable with having only software written in C, even though it may be compiled before I get it. The total amount of space required is just under 3MB including the help files I've written for myself.

    Needless to say that assumes that the OS software will be available; but, given my highly advanced age, it's not likely that I'll move to a new totally

    virginia

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Now that is an excellent idea.

    Thanks

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderBob View Post
    I've been reading (even from some here) and sense RAW is not an accepted format yet that is is more proprietary format, some are saying that it's only a matter of years before it is gone, as so many other proprietary items have gone (not just in photography). It seems that most all companies support DNG on the other hand and it is accepted (so far) as being the norm. Now if this is so, I have a whole lot of filed RAW formats on many disks for storage. Should I be worried about this, or should I say should my kids and/or future generations be worried about this to the point of seriously converting the files?
    We've had raw capture files for around ten years, now. I expect they will continue to dominate the enthusiast/pro practice for the future. As I recall, the transition from universal jpg to raw capability was rocky and effected on a camera by camera basis. I had a Nikon Coolpix 5700 that could write raw files. Hah! Whether a cruel hoax or marketing ploy doesn't matter. That the camera was not designed to do that with any regularity became evident after the buffer became stuffed around the third shot and didn't clear for several seconds. Think about it. The camera already had the raw data and could distill that data into a much smaller jpg and write it to card in a fraction of the time it took if it bypassed the jpg engine and just wrote the raw data itself. That's still the case even though card write times are so much faster.

    The thing to keep in mind is that raw is not a file type, it is a record of the state of the sensor at the end of the exposure. Each camera maker can arrange the data for each camera as it sees fit. Dng is an attempt to standardize file structure, not a preliminary interpretation of the data. The arrangement of the data, whether in proprietary form or dng, should not affect the data itself and should present no great obstacle to designers of raw demosaicing software whereas the meaning of each data point might, with the many different sensors that have been and will be devised (and, presumably, their differing response to the captured light). This is a function not of file type but of sensor type and is just the way things are. Otherwise, why not clamor to insist that Nikon & Canon et. al. produce identical results on identical cameras with identical UIs. The point of competition is competition. The point of difference is difference. As with Canon, Nikon software has a reputation for decoding its raw files better than the competition and, if you squint at the problem in just the right light, this can be demonstrated. But, if you have no particular stomach to accept the operational limitations of the software, which has stagnated, then the competition has at least as much to offer if not more.

    I can certainly see how it might be to the advantage of a raw converter's designer to have a standard file to read (dng) so that it can concentrate on the real task of producing the most accurate interpretation of the raw data. The other advantage to the dng seems to be the ability to use it as a container for subsequent edits (unlike proprietary raw formats) so that the file would not only be transmissible with the raw data intact but with the edited result, as well.

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    DNG, much vaunted by some is, on the face of it, a good solution. However, I read that it hasn't turned out quite as open-source as we would like. "Trusssst me" says Adobe

    Many folk prefer to use the camera mfg's converter on the grounds that they (the mfgs) know best and then to immediately convert to TIFF for the serious editing. Yes, TIFF is owned by Adobe, but it is far more entrenched especially in Engineering (drawings, illustrations) and most unlikely to ever go away.

    Sigma Photo Pro -> TIFF -> RawTherapee -> perfection

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    dng is not a closed fileformat. it's as open as can be.
    Digital Negative (DNG) is an open lossless raw image format written by Adobe used for digital photography. It was launched on September 27, 2004
    Exploitation of the file format is royalty-free; Adobe has published a license allowing anyone to exploit DNG
    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Negative

    The downside of dng (in the eyes of the manufacturers) is that dng, by its open nature, doesn't leave room for encrypted metadata. This means that active D-lighting, picture styles and other secretive/propriety stuff can't be added to the metadata without giving some of the workings of those goodies away to the competition.
    Last edited by Hero; 23rd July 2013 at 05:44 PM.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hero View Post
    dng is not a closed fileformat. it's as open as can be.


    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Negative

    The downside of dng (in the eyes of the manufacturers) is that dng doesn't leave room for encrypted metadata. This means that active D-lighting, picture styles and other secretive/propriety stuff can't be added to the metadata without giving some of the workings of those goodies away to the competition.

    Open does not mean that the format is unknown, but rather has to do with the licencing conditions for using the format. It is definitely not an "open" format, not like jpeg or png are.

    If you are interested in reading the licence terms & conditions, here is the link:

    https://www.adobe.com/ca/products/ph...gspecification

    There is no advantage to the larger manufacturers to convert to the DNG, in fact, I see risks and liabilities to them going there. It would have been great if all of the manufacturers had agreed to a standard, but they have not.

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Thank you Hendrik, very interesting reading for sure, and I don't disagree with any you say. But so far it seems keeping a copy of the software (of your choice, that will open your files) with your backups is a great idea. DNG, TIFF = Adobe, this institution has no interest (I don't think anyway) in lining up with any one camera manufacture. It seems content on just making a top notch software for all, while each manufacture keeps their own software going. I think it is only a matter of time (could even be 20 years from now) we will see a whole new process of processing our pictures from a whole new source of gathering the data. It's still anyone's market and we are in the middle of it all. Butt regardless what we buy/use, as long as we update as necessary, nothing will be lost. The magic word "update". I'm getting to the point where my limited budget will not allow some of these updates.

    Engineering (drawings, illustrations), oh sure, when I was a boy I drafted for a company that was a vendor for the city, all sorts of engineering prints, by hand - soon after, a specialized software was in effect (don't remember the name, but proprietary anyway), then again soon after that AutoCAD came out for a near $4,000+ for the program, then soon after that, another new program now used, and if not a new program an expensive update. What I'm getting at everything changes and we are stuck either updating or losing out.

    Of course in a pinch, you can always ask the government for a copy of your pictures.

  19. #19

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderBob View Post
    drafted ... by hand - soon after, a specialized software was in effect (don't remember the name, but proprietary anyway), then again soon after that AutoCAD came out for a near $4,000+ for the program, then soon after that, another new program now used, and if not a new program an expensive update. What I'm getting at everything changes and we are stuck either updating or losing out.
    The difference here is the size of the market. The consumer market for image software is so large and so standardized that, Adobe's hopes for dng aside, it's unlikely that support for individual, outmoded cameras will disappear. Even if the cameras are not around, the files will be. But we will be on our mettle to be certain that, in updating, upgrading and otherwise bettering ourselves, we do not orphan our own files by inattention to the various ways that support for them can disappear. Old computers have no market worth so keeping one or two around with obsolete operating systems and even older applications - just in case, mind you - is cheap insurance and costs only space at the back of a closet somewhere. It's a strategy born of bitter experience but it has saved our hide more than once.

    I've had drafting experience, too. Our hand-drawn output was reproduced via contact print. Our largest plan was about 48" x 9' (1.25 x 3m). The point was to provide for sale an exact 1:1 reproduction of the original drawing. Accuracy mattered! The machines that could do this work were phased out as scrap nearly 10 years ago. It's now all digital and the service agencies only promise accuracy within +/- 1.0%. Over 9', that's an inch (25mm) either way. It is possible to get far closer but the hassle factor has essentially put the kibosh on the pursuit of this particular endeavor.

  20. #20

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    Re: So just how long will RAW be around?

    Hendrik "Old computers have no market worth"
    Tell that to the guy who just bought one of the originals

    The egotistical conceit of the photographer, and I am just as bad , but deep down my common sense and experience of what I have been left in the way of photographs by my ancestors.... I hate to think of the burden they would have imposed on me if they had had digital in the 1800/1900's.

    The billions of photographs being taken and stored today is a shocking waste of earth resources and I hope most quickly succumb to change and hopefully can be re-cycled.

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