RAW or not RAW
The RAW format will never be accepted. Never means “never”, and not “not in the near future”. Old photographers remember that before its appearance there were several formats that, although they did not die completely today, nevertheless, the prospects were far more promising than the “raw” format – which, by the way, is still used today. The appearance of the format is associated with the fact that it is supposedly more convenient, practical and loses less information when conveyed to the recipient’s eye, compared with all the previous ones. Moreover, it gives more creative freedom (which is hard to argue with) and does not take up much space.
Most of the foregoing is only half true (as in the “believe – not believe” game, when supporters are divided evenly or split into statistical groups of adherents), the rest are illusions in which either the person himself convinced himself or the marketers convinced him. Let’s try to understand in detail.
Today, there are several image storage formats, the clear leader among which is JPEG, created a decade and a half ago, when Internet speeds were an order of magnitude lower and each byte had to be sacrificed to place a picture on the page, and the hosting space was not as unlimited as it is today. As a result, the format received a couple of senile diseases, such as the so-called “JPEG artifacts” (quite noticeable with strong compression of 8 by 8 squares and halos around contrasting objects – at the same time, in maximum quality they are not visible even on a large print and with a magnifying glass, like no one considers photos), 8 -bit data storage (more important for editing, rather than data storage, because today many printing machines do not even think to support 16-bit mode) and the loss of small details imputed to him is the last, moreover, no one even thinks to prove as an argument drive I am “the ability to draw parts in 16-bit mode in the shadows”, which generally applies only to deep editing in Photoshop.
However, mentioning the shortcomings, few people remember the advantages of JPEG: excellent image compression (and loss is inevitable with any compression – the law of physics), versatility (by removing the card from the camera, you can insert it into a computer, DVD player or TV, another camera, PDA , digital album and view pictures), support for color profiles. You can also say about saving disk space, but this is already a moot point – in principle, you can click JPEG a lot and stupidly, which will not work at all and make the disk worse.
There were a few half-dead standards: GIF, PNG and TIFF. The fact is that they cannot be called dead (they have not yet died), but each has its own shortcomings, which is why they have no comparable popularity with JPEG. GIF, for example, is not intended for photographs at all and, as its name says, is generally optimized for Internet graphics (Graphic Interchange Format). PNG was made at about the same time, but at first it was completely not friends with the Browser (meaning IE), which is why users still can’t feel its superiority.
There is an excellent format – TIFF, which has a lot of features, including support for a 16-bit data storage format and multi-page format, but its only drawback reduces its application exclusively to the field of professional photography: because of its large size (in the version without compression, every point images are stored 24 or 48 bits of information directly, plus service information) this format is used by photographers with almost one single purpose – to print commercial orders on good machines and for more shie money. Moreover, the photographer often comes to the laboratory himself and sits with the operator for a long time, making test copies in the pursuit of excellence.
Now we come to the most interesting. The RAW format arose relatively recently and its main task was not to overcome the shortcomings of the existing formats – its goal was to provide more opportunities for printers. They are used to working with source codes or formats that give more freedom of action. For example, they often do not take text in Word format at all – it is inconvenient to transfer it to their layout programs, because they are followed by a bunch of formatting tags, and until some time there was a problem with encodings. Now it’s gotten a little easier, but we just gave it as an example, and the essence is simple: the fewer changes the intermediate program makes to the source, the better it is for a professional to prepare (images, in our case). Therefore, photos in the printing house are submitted in TIFF or RAW format. It is believed that the RAW format is simply a signal encoded from a camera matrix encoded into a specific shape. In fact, the information is subsequently pinched and trimmed, additionally encoded, etc. – as a result, losses that are considered uncritical are inevitable.