Save as tiffs - throw away the raw files.

 I had an extraordinary exchange with someone on Google+ who wrote this "But I rarely keep the RAW file — images are tweaked and processed and saved to TIFF. Period." 

Now I find this difficult to understand. This was the justification.

"The only downside to using RAW as your "archival" master is the issue of forward migration/proprietary file format. RAW is proprietary to every manufacturer, unfortunately (hence the promise of DNG and JPEG2000).

TIFF, while technically a proprietary format, is openly documented and so has greater compatibility over time.

I really had hopes for DNG but I don't see it being adopted to the level  needed to really make a difference."


"The RAW files are proprietary and not openly documented; DNG was attempt to get beyond that, but given the lack of real support for DNG it may not last, especially since DNG is also proprietary. DNG has been driven by Adobe. TIFF, while proprietary, IS openly documented, and has been embraced as a preservation format. RAW and DNG have not been accepted as preservation formats. Again, it's too bad that JPEG2000 is NOT being accepted more widely, as it has been sanctioned by the SAA and the National Archives as an appropriate archival format.

Saying that keeping the RAW file because you make a TIFF later is no more advantageous that converting the RAW file to DNG; you're still dependent upon the software companies to ensure that your RAW or DNG will be readable. No such worry with the TIFF. So RAW=>TIFF=>Archival storage is a bit more "future proof."

This isn't  "premature" by any stretch; TIFF has been documented and in use for over 25 years. We cannot say that about RAW or DNG."

I made the following points:-

"Still sounds like making a print and then throwing away the negative.

By keeping the raw file you have the opportunity to make a tiff file at any time in the future, in the unlikely event that all raw converters suddenly disappear including Adobe.

Its "premature" to say the least, to make any prediction as to what might happen in the future. A bit like selling your car now because the oil is eventually going to run out."


"1) By saving your "master" file as a tiff you loose the ability to take advantage of future improvements in raw processing.
2) You increase your storage needs quite significantly. Raw files are smaller in terms of disk space and by using some of the compressed DNG formats they can actually have file sizes smaller than jpgs.
3) Any withdrawal of proprietry raw formats or indeed DNG, if it ever happens of course, will be flagged way in advance. Its a question of years rather than minutes to do something about it. Your software will suddenly not stop working overnight and any notion that you will suddenly have lots of unreadable files is clearly absurd.
4) Once you discard and delete the raw file its gone forever and you can't get it back. As I said before this strikes me as exactly the same as making a print and throwing away the negative.
5) Raw files have much more flexibiity and possibilities than tiff files. You can work on tiff files in Photoshop and even Adobe Camera Raw, but you are always working to reverse things rather than work from scratch. Raw files are files where certain processing decisions haven't been taken yet, allowing you to make them.
6) Leica, who might have more ideas about preserving images for the long term than many, seem to trust the DNG format for all their digital cameras. I'm quite happy to go with their judgement."

Anyone else out there think its a good idea to make a tiff and throw away the raw file?

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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