Questions about raw, tiff, jpeg, and DNG

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Questions thread
Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 10,627
Re: Questions about raw, tiff, jpeg, and DNG

clear glass wrote:

I know raw is just the data.

Here's my question. Specifically, I'm shooting raw with Olympus cameras XZ1, XZ2, and E-LP5.

If I translate the raw into tiff or JPEG with the Olympus Viewer, I have the option to work on it (change contrast, color balance, etc.) before the translation to tiff or JPEG is complete.

Here's my question: Am I losing raw data (information) if I make no changes during translation; will there be less flexibility once the file comes out of Olympus Viewer as a tiff or JPEG? To work on a tiff or JPEG, I currently use Elements 6.

Yes. A TIF or JPEG contains less data than a RAW. For this reason, it's best to do your major adjustments (highlight & shadow recovery, exposure, white balance) to a RAW file before exporting the adjusted image as a TIF or JPEG copy. That said, a 16-bit TIF retains much more data than an 8-bit TIFF or JPEG (which is always 8-bit) and may preserve enough headroom for you to make significant adjustments without impacting final image quality. With a JPEG, once highlights or shadows have clipped, there's no way to recover that detail.

I also know that JPEG changes do entail loss of raw information each time the file is saved; is there any of this in tiff?

TIFs can be saved in a lossless format that will suffer no degradation with repeated editing and saving.

Is DNG superior to tiff for keeping possibilities for development?

DNG is a RAW format, just like CR2 or NEF. The idea of a universal RAW format is appealing, and I considered archiving my images as DNG. However, some RAW converters have added new features that enable higher-quality conversions but require the original RAW. These RAW processing improvements are not available with a DNG file. So, I'm sticking with my cameras' original RAW formats.

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