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Thread: Image formats

  1. #1
    New Member gybmot's Avatar
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    Tom Byg

    Image formats

    #1 Why do digital cameras have so many image file formats? Seven on mine.

    Isn't it better to simply reduce a larger file if you need it smaller? I do not understand the technical and marketing need for this.

    #2 Also is the smallest rez say 640x480 printed at 100%, the same as 3072X2304 printed at 48%. Do they both contain the same information or is the smaller a diluted version of the larger?
    Last edited by gybmot; 12th March 2011 at 10:24 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Image formats

    Quote Originally Posted by gybmot View Post
    Why do digital cameras require so many image file formats? Isn't it better to simply reduce a larger file if you need it smaller? I do not understand the technical need for this. You can go down but you can't go up.
    Horses for courses, as the saying goes. While most folks in these forums will agree with you, a great many others neither want nor need large file types. I only use RAW files when I'm shooting. My mother, though, keeps a camera permanently set to low quality jpg files so that she can cram in loads of images. She doesn't use many of the photos she collects, but those that do get used are sent by e-mail. If she's not bothered about quality, and the point is just to illustrate a letter, why the hell would she want to go to the trouble of learning to convert between file formats?

    In the end, you don't need to buy a camera that offers a wide choice of image file formats, you just need to choose a camera that suits your own needs.

  3. #3
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Image formats

    While I shoot mainly in RAW when I am taking images I may want to submit for stock purposes or if I think I may want to post process (not my favorite part of digital photography I must admit), if I am shooting Xmas, birthday, family stuff or matters associated with work I shoot JPEG in varying formats so I can quickly upload the images with no post processing and distribute them on CD or on the internet.

    An example: two weekends ago I shot images of my son in his half marathon; I took them all in JPEG good because there was no way I was spending hours converting 100 images from RAW to JPEG ,when all my son wants is images he can put on his facebook site or send to his inlaws.

    It's nice to have the flexibility built into the camera for when I need or want it.

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Image formats

    Quote Originally Posted by gybmot View Post
    #1 Why do digital cameras have so many image file formats? Seven on mine.

    Isn't it better to simply reduce a larger file if you need it smaller? I do not understand the technical and marketing need for this.

    #2 Also is the smallest rez say 640x480 printed at 100%, the same as 3072X2304 printed at 48%. Do they both contain the same information or is the smaller a diluted version of the larger?
    Hi Tom,

    Most cameras only produce files in two formats; jpg and their proprietary RAW, occasionally some might also have DNG (another kind of RAW, or Tif (better quality than jpg).

    Beyond that, as Matt says, they often have options for different aspect ratios 3:2, 16:9, or image sizes; L, M, S and jpg quality; Fine, Normal and Basic.

    I leave mine set at the largest size, finest quality and native (3:2) aspect ratio for when I (rarely) shoot jpg, because as you say, you can always come down.

    Personally, I'm not fussed about getting many thousand basic jpgs on a 8GB memory card, and besides, I mostly shoot RAW which, with my 12MP camera, generally gives 10MB image files.

    Welcome to the CiC forums from ...

  5. #5

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    Re: Image formats

    Just a couple of additions to Dave's reply.

    For a few people, the ability to shoot to a specified size can be useful if you are sending those files directly to a printer or other limited source like directly to the internet, etc, without any editing/resizing ability.

    Otherwise, I would say always use the largest and best quality option if you are able to edit and resize your photos as required. Although this can take a little bit of time if you have a lot of images.

    At one time, not that long ago, camera card sizes were quite small so saving at a reduced size definitely was something to consider but with those larger modern cards this isn't such an issue.

    Shooting Raw does take up a lot more space but it gives you an opportunity to 'have a second go' at difficult shots, amongst other advantages. Recently, when I found myself 'a little out of my depth' I started shooting Raw then realised I wouldn't have sufficient memory space so I had to switch to Jpeg. I was able to work/correct on the Raw images without too much difficulty but I really struggled to make the Jpeg photos usable.

    The only other possible drawback with Raw is a little bit more downloading time. With the modern Raw formats and a computer with sufficient 'power' this shouldn't be too much of a problem. But those CRW files from my old 10D (which I still use sometimes) take much longer to download, even with a reasonably powerful computer.

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