A Few RAW Facts
Every digital camera uses its own proprietary RAW file format for storing image data and the camera company usually includes software to convert that RAW file into something more portable. As companies include RAW conversion inside the camera, we may see this software become simplified or even disappear. Some but not many camera manufacturers use Adobe’s DNG (Digital Negative) format as their native RAW file format. The goal of the Open RAW movement is to have camera manufacturers publicly document their RAW image formats because they are concerned that photographers will find their older images inaccessible, as future software versions lose support for older cameras. In the worst cases, entire brands may disappear, as has already happened with Contax.
If you don’t think file formats can disappear, leaving you hanging let me tell you a story: Ever hear of a file format called FlashPix? This was going to be “the next big thing” and it was supported by industry giants including Kodak who offered a service where they would process your film—this was back in those days—and give you a disk of scanned images saved in FlashPix format. Only problem is that after lots of hullabaloo Kodak and all those other “industry giants” decided to pull support for FlashPix format leaving many thousands of people stranded with discs full of image files that were seduced and abandoned. When I wrote this, I could not find a single Mac OS or Windows program that would read a FlashPix file but blog reader Trevor Farrell tells me that the free Windows-only Irfanview will do it when used with one of it’s optional plug-ins. Thanks Trevor.
But, as they say on TV, “wait, there’s more.” Remember Photo CD? It was yet another Kodak file format that was going to provide a perfect gateway between film and digital imaging. Photoshop used to support Photo CD but the only program that I found that today that will read the files is Apple’s iPhoto.