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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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