Some time ago, I had to transfer files from an old PowerBook 180 to my PowerMac. At first I thought that I was out of luck, because I had no machine which could read floppy disks anymore (I had sold my Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh a year ago). Although I found a solution using my Farallon iPrint Ethernet Adapter, I was irked that the floppy disk, so prevalent just 10 years ago, has been rendered obsolete.
Today, I store my files on CD’s, DVD’s, and hard drives. You would think that these formats are here for the long run, but who’s to know in 10 or 20 years down the line?
A similar situation exists in the digital camera space. Although JPEG is the dominant image format for the time being, many manufacturers have proprietary RAW image formats. As any RAW enthusiast will attest, shooting in RAW is much better than shooting in JPEG. You can adjust the exposure, white balance, and several other settings after the fact. Sure each image takes up more space on your memory card, but the benefits in my mind outweigh the size disadvantage. I wish I had started shooting RAW earlier, but back then I was more concerned with the number of photos that I could take as opposed to the number of good photos that I produced. In a nutshell, RAW is the digital negative.
OpenRAW.org “is a group of photographers and other interested people advocating the open documentation of digital camera RAW files.” From their website:
After Canon dropped support for their Canon D30 DSLR in their latest software release and Nikon removed features of their own RAW converter Nikon Capture, plus the encryption of features in Nikon’s D2x digital camera RAW format (NEF), some members of the mailing list D1scussion founded the OpenRAW mailing list to coordinate their efforts to motivate camera makers to openly document their individual RAW formats.
Of course, Adobe has DNG for an “open” RAW format. It remains to be seen if that will become the primary vessel for transmitting RAW data between digital cameras. While I’m sure that RAW image converters will support DNG, I’m currently skeptical that the big digital camera manufacturers (i.e. Canon and Nikon) will sign on initially.