Digicam file formats

By Jakob Jelling


Looking at the digital camera, a person can visualize it as a combination of a camera along with a miniature computer system that stores the images as files or sets of bits, rather than a chemically treated film. Thus it comes to be a fact that there are certain file formats in which these images of the photographs captured by the camera are stored. And again, this is subject of discussion for understanding the digital camera properly. In this effort this discussion reveals the intricate but overlying to provide a brief overview to the readers regarding the file formats of the digital cameras.

Basically, strictly considering the facts, there are three file formats used by digital cameras to create images of photographs taken by them. These are JPEG, TIFF and RAW. These are the names of the formats but like their strange names their identity remains in the dark if these are not conversed in a little detail. The most vastly and commonly used file format for digital cameras is the JPEG file format. It is time and again the lone available file format on primary and some intermediate standard digital cameras. Many sophisticated digital cameras allows the users to opt for between JPEG, TIFF and RAW. However professional photographers usually prefer to shoot RAW. Yet the discretion remains with the human preference only.

It is a fact that the acronym JPEG stands for "Joint Photographic Expert Group" after the group that developed this file type. To make things easier it must be clarified that JPEG is a compression technique that can considerably trim down the file size of a photograph and other unremitting tone images. Almost all digital cameras have a number of JPEG compression levels and quality settings to select from. The users can make use of them as per discretion and the photograph taken. Thus the jpeg images do not consume much space on a memory cards. Another specialty of this digital camera file format is that JPEGs store camera settings and scene information. All these advantages make this file format so popular and diversely accepted.

The next digital camera file format is the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format). This file format has the greater advantage that it does not lose any image file information during the compression process and moreover as a consequence it does take up a lot of space from a memory card in comparison to a JPEG image. Due to this detailed storage it also takes additional time to retrieve the information to the card. Basically the TIFF compression reduces images to about one-third their original size as per convention.

Coming to the next digital camera file format. It is defined as the RAW file! It is also sometimes referred to as an appropriate digital negative. Most advanced digital cameras allow or permit the ability to shoot RAW in professional standards. The interesting portion is that in a RAW image no alterations are made by the camera (such as sharpening or white balance). And this gives entire control to the photographer when he or she processes an image later. However this RAW file format is not used extensive due to the fact that most image editors cannot open it and computer-processing time is also more. However the fact still remains that a RAW image has a smaller file size than a TIFF.

With all these discussions regarding the different digital camera file formats, it is clear that the three most widely accepted file formats have their own advantages and disadvantages, yet they are unique in some way or the other that makes them special in their own manner. The knowledge about these digital camera file formats of storage not only yields greater understanding of the camera; it also opens the eyes towards the fantastic results of technological advancements in our daily lives.


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