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Choosing file formats

From: Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos

Video: Choosing file formats

Well, if you are thinking about long- term storage of your images, then you are probably wondering about file format. So I am going to review some of the basic formats with you right now to give you a feel as to which direction to go. If you shoot JPEG, then JPEG is a good format for you to use going forward. Remember, cameras basically capture in both JPEG and RAW files. I'll talk about RAW files in a moment, but right now let's focus on JPEG. JPEGs are compact, and as you can see, we'll take a look at this image right here; it's 6.7 megabytes.

Choosing file formats

Well, if you are thinking about long- term storage of your images, then you are probably wondering about file format. So I am going to review some of the basic formats with you right now to give you a feel as to which direction to go. If you shoot JPEG, then JPEG is a good format for you to use going forward. Remember, cameras basically capture in both JPEG and RAW files. I'll talk about RAW files in a moment, but right now let's focus on JPEG. JPEGs are compact, and as you can see, we'll take a look at this image right here; it's 6.7 megabytes.

You'll see that the other files will be much larger than that. And any loss of data has already happened when you captured the shot. So the JPEG that you get out of the camera; the main thing that you want to do is just preserve that information. Now, in all honesty, the best way to do that is to use a nondestructive digital asset manager; either Lightroom or Aperture. Protect your JPEGs, because what happens is when you import those JPEGs into those applications, it protects the master, and then you are working with derivatives within the application, but you don't even know it.

It's just taking care of all that for you. You just double-click on that image, you edit, you do whatever you want, the application handles all of the protection, and you just get to work with your image. So I think JPEGs are a fantastic way to go in digital asset managers. Remember, the big downside is, image editing; if you like to do a lot of image editing, you don't have as much information to work with, with a JPEG compared to RAW. So anyway, so digital asset managers: fantastic. If you don't use a digital asset manager, and you shoot JPEG, then remember to use Save As when you do your image editing so that you create a second version and you don't destruct your original. All right! So that's the JPEG stuff right there.

Let's talk about RAW for a second. This is a Canon RAW file, so .CR2. Nikon would be different; .NEF, and so on and so forth. RAW file captures all the information that your camera is able to retain, and you notice that's a little bit bigger here. It's almost 25 megabytes. The concern that some people have with RAW files is that over time the manufacturers might not continue to support them, because they're a proprietary format. We don't know if that's true or not. That's just a concern that some folks have.

Those that have that concern deeply consider, often, the DNG format. Here's DNG, right here. It's an open standard originated by Adobe, and it retains all the goodness of your RAW file, but moves it into a standard that's open, which means that it should be supported basically forever. And as a bonus, you get a little bit of file size savings here, which is always fun. That adds up over time. Now, generally speaking, if DNG appeals to you, I recommend the Adobe workflows; the Photoshop Bridge workflow, or the Lightroom workflow, because they are really geared for working in DNG.

Aperture can open a DNG file, and you can edit it and everything, but Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are really -- they are the DNG specialists should we say. So that is something for you to consider. I think you are fine keeping your RAW files. I don't anticipate manufacturers discontinuing their support, but you never know, and if you're worried about that, take a look at DNG. Now, I am going to talk about Photoshop and TIF; they're very similar in nature. The big thing is they are nondestructive in the sense that you can open them and edit them, and you don't lose file quality.

The bad news is, look at the file size. These are older formats. They have a few more hooks in them for doing cool things like layers and so forth, and therefore, the file size is bigger. They are useful in a sense that if you start out with a destructive format, such as JPEG, a lossy format, and you want to create a second version of it that isn't lossy, then you might want to look at Photoshop files or TIF files. Only for your best shots, though. Don't convert everything to a Photoshop or TIF file, because it just eats up too much disk space.

So generally speaking, these are for those files that you want to do something special with. Bottom line is, if you shoot JPEGs, I highly recommend using a digital asset manager that will handle all the derivative work for you, and if you shoot RAW files, I think you are in pretty good shape storing your RAW files, but if you are worried about it, take a look at DNG.

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This video is part of

Image for Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos
Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos

49 video lessons · 15122 viewers

Derrick Story
Author

 
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  1. 2m 37s
    1. Welcome
      1m 5s
    2. Why photo organization matters
      1m 32s
  2. 3m 21s
    1. Using media readers
      59s
    2. Using hard drives for storage and backup
      2m 22s
  3. 12m 26s
    1. Making sure your camera is set up correctly
      3m 22s
    2. Understanding how your camera stores photos and movies
      3m 29s
    3. Removing pictures from your card
      1m 33s
    4. Taking advantage of dual card slots on DSLRs
      31s
    5. Taking care of your memory cards
      1m 18s
    6. Creating a set of folders on your hard drive
      2m 13s
  4. 11m 39s
    1. Dealing with your legacy collection
      2m 11s
    2. Transferring photos to a Windows computer
      2m 35s
    3. Transferring photos to a Mac
      2m 22s
    4. Doing a software-assisted photo transfer
      4m 31s
  5. 8m 27s
    1. Viewing photos on a Windows computer
      2m 21s
    2. Viewing photos on a Mac
      2m 53s
    3. Viewing photos using file browsers
      3m 13s
  6. 15m 42s
    1. Understanding digital asset managers
      2m 39s
    2. Transferring images with Lightroom on a Windows computer
      5m 56s
    3. Transferring images with Aperture on a Mac
      5m 11s
    4. Transferring photos with iPhoto
      1m 56s
  7. 15m 46s
    1. Understanding keywords
      3m 49s
    2. Setting strategies for using keywords
      4m 17s
    3. Lightroom keyword tips
      2m 42s
    4. Aperture keyword tips
      4m 58s
  8. 16m 51s
    1. Assigning ratings to photos
      4m 39s
    2. Flagging your favorites
      3m 58s
    3. Organizing in Lightroom
      1m 50s
    4. Using filters in Aperture
      2m 49s
    5. Organizing in iPhoto
      3m 35s
  9. 9m 52s
    1. Understanding albums and collections
      2m 27s
    2. Creating Smart Albums in Aperture
      2m 41s
    3. Working with collections in Lightroom
      2m 45s
    4. Setting up albums in iPhoto
      1m 59s
  10. 13m 32s
    1. Managing photos that you edit in Photoshop
      5m 24s
    2. Managing derivative versions in Lightroom
      4m 17s
    3. Managing derivative versions in Aperture
      3m 51s
  11. 16m 13s
    1. Choosing file formats
      4m 39s
    2. Backing up to hard drives
      3m 31s
    3. Deciding photos to archive
      1m 34s
    4. Backing up to your local area network
      2m 3s
    5. Backing up to the cloud
      2m 49s
    6. Working with multiple hard drives
      1m 37s
  12. 19m 40s
    1. Recovering in Lightroom
      5m 20s
    2. Recovering in Aperture
      6m 52s
    3. Recovering in iPhoto
      2m 46s
    4. Recovering from a file-system-managed backup
      1m 28s
    5. Making prints of your best work
      3m 14s
  13. 1m 54s
    1. Next steps
      1m 54s

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