3 March 2021

Photo Videography

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Photography files explained (RAW-TIFF-JPEG).

When you first approach photography, it's probable that you will never have heard about the RAW files nor of TIFF Images, it's comprehensible since the most used formats used for pictures are JPEG, JPG, and PNG (filename.jpeg - filename.jpg - filename.png).

In this article, we will explore:
What a RAW file is.
The difference between JPEG files and RAW files.
• What a TIFF file is and for what it is used.

What is a RAW file?

An easy explanation of a RAW file could be that it is an unprocessed image, but to really understand what a RAW file is we need to dig a bit deeper.
A RAW file is not actually an image, it’s rather a collection of uncompressed collection of data that the camera sensor has captured. Of course, if you have set the camera to safe your files as raw, you will still see a picture on the screen of the camera, but once you export it to your computer you will need a software to view it, to edit it and to be able to export it as a JPEG or a TIFF image.

Once we have understood what a RAW file is, we need to understand that the content of the data collected as a raw file is not the same all across the camera brands, as it is when we talk about JPEG images, and when exported from the camera to your workstation, they will appear with an extension based on the brand of the camera.
In order to understand what extension your file will have once exported take a look at this table.

Camera Brand
File Extention
Canon.crw – .cr2 – .cr3
Sony.arw – .srf – .sr2
Panasonic.raw – .rw2
Leica.raw .rwl .dng
Hasselblad.3fr – .fff
Kodak.dcs – .dcr – .drf
.k25 – .kdc
RAW file extensions based on camera brands.

One Known issue when you shoot RAW is that sometimes your computer if you are using Windows, will not be able to read nor open a RAW file, but the fix is easy and quick.
In order to allow your platform to be able to read and to open the File, you will only need to download and install the RAW file extension codec.
To get the codec just click on the link below.

Differences between JPEG files and RAW files

When comparing a RAW file, with a JPEG file, the most important factor to keep in mind is the usage you will be able to make with it.

If you compare a RAW file with a JPEG image, it’s easily understood once you have had a look at the typical proprieties of the file formats listed below, which one is best in terms of editing and which one is the best for sharing on Instagram or social media in general.

In the following table, you can see an exact comparison between the two file formats.

Typical Proprieties of RAW filesTypical Proprieties of JPEG files
Not a real image file, data collected by camera the sensor.It is a standard format readable by any image program.
It has typically a proprietary format (see previous table).The format is .jpeg
It has at least 8 bits per color (rgb), and at least 12-bits per X,Y location.**It has exactly 8-bits per color an 12 bits per location.
Uncompressed output file.Compressed file.
The complete (lossless) data from the camera’s sensor, results in bigger files.The compression, and the typical pre-processing made by the camera results in smaller files.
Higher dynamic range.Lower dynamic range.
It will appear as lower in contrast.It appears higher in contrast.
It will appear not as sharp.It will appear sharper.
It is a read only file (all changes are saved in a TIFF or other image format).The image can be manipulated, though not without losing data each time an edit is made.
It is not suitable for printing or sharing without post processingIt is immediately suitable for printing or for sharing on social media.
** Most DSLR record 12-bit color, and 36-bits per location.

What is a TIFF file?

Generally speaking a TIFF file is not much different from a JPEG file.
But if we dig a bit deeper under the surface we can understand why it needs an explanation apart from the rest of the image formats.

An image that is formatted as a TIFF file, is generally used as a lossless and non-compressed file that retains all the data from the image. Suitable both for editing (like in Photoshop) but also for high-quality printing ( as on a billboard for marketing or on a magazine).
However, the main characteristics of a TIFF file apart from the astonishing quality of the image is the size, that makes it suitable only for print work and should therefore not be used for images to be displayed on the web (most of the web browsers won’t even be able to display it).

Check out some other articles that may interest you:
Top 3 Nikon DSLR for Beginners
Lenses Explained