In the earlier times, images used to be captured onto a film which was sensitive to light and then were developed in a dark room. This way a negative copy of the image was produced. But with the advent of advanced digital photography, all pictures are saved in the digital file format. In order to view this file, it needs to be decoded. Three main kinds of files are typically used for this purpose. They are RAW, JPEG and TIFF.


Understanding different digital file formats


Entry level cameras usually offer only one kind of file format, i.e. JPEG. There are certain DSLR cameras which shoot in both RAW and JPEG simultaneously.


A compression-type format is utilized by JPEG to eliminate some pixels which are considered unimportant by the compression process. This helps in saving up on some amount of storage space.


RAW requires plenty of storage room and is nearest to film-quality. The RAW file is not processed or compressed by the digital camera in any manner. RAW format is also referred to as “digital negative format” by some people. This is because the film is stored in its original form and nothing is changed.


There are certain entry-level cameras that permit file storage in the RAW format. RAW is preferred by most advanced and professional photographers as it allows them to do editing with respect to the digital image and they don’t have to think about what parts of the image will be removed by the compression process (like JPEG).


TIFF is also a digital file format which does not permit the loss of any data about the image. As compared to JPEG, TIFF files are quite large in size. Professional photographers obviously require huge prints but a good quality JPEG setup is most likely suitable to meet your requirements for image data.




JPEG: It is perhaps the most commonly used file format among amateur photographers. This is because the recording of pictures can be done on a single card. It is possible to get more than 1500 pictures with only a 2GB storage card, even though the exact number will depend on the type of camera used.


RAW: You can possibly store only 100 or less images on a 2GB memory card with a 15 megapixel digital camera. Professionals use RAW file formats as high-quality images are produced.


TIFF: TIFF is typically not used by professional photographers. If they wish to use a TIFF for printing purposes, they would shoot RAW and export the image as TIFF.

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