I have read posts that alot of photographers are using RAW to store photos. But the problem I am having is that how do you people view the photos easily when you need them? In the beginning I have stored my photos in RAW but I realised its a pain when Windows doesn't shows any thumbnails and also cannot be used to open using Windows Photos Viewer. I have to use Photoshop to open and view it in RAW format. Is it okay to store it in TIFF format?
Storing images as TIFF files is very space inefficient compared with raw, as TIFF images store three colours per pixel (at 8 or 16 bits per colour component, 24 or 48 total) compared to raw which just has the monochrome sensor data at 12 or 14 bits per pixel total. This monochrome data is interpolated into colour by exploiting the RGB colour filters placed in an alternating pattern over each pixel. To store the full range of colours available in the Raw you would need a 48bpp TIFF, which would take up about three times as much space (before compression).
Also raw preserves the maximum amount of editing flexibility - you're not commiting to any particular white balance or noise reduction setting. TIFFs are better than lossy JPEG images for archival purposes, but still not as good as raw.
I always keep the original Raw files, and keep a matching set of high quality JPEGs for easy viewing. There are arguments for using TIFF for archival purposes as it's an older, better documented format, understood by a much wider range of software. However if you're concerned about future compatibility then you can losslessly convert your proprietary Raw format images to Adobe Digital Negative files, which is an open format more likely to be supported in the future. The redundancy in an uncompressed 48bpp TIFF will make it slightly more tolerant of data errors, however. As Reid states there are better ways to guard against data loss, such as a backup system with error correcting codes, mirrored RAIDs etc.
TIFF is an image format, RAW is a data format. For longevity and to fight obsolescence, between the two, TIFF is the only sensible one.
There are better formats though from an efficiency point-of-view that also are lossless, which I assume is what you were concerned about. PNG comes to mind as one of the best choices (as Reid suggested).
OpenEXR is another open-format with high bit-depth support. JPEG-2000 would have been a contender buy high licensing costs gave it adoption problems.
It's now 18 months since the question was asked ... :-)
In the beginning I have stored my photos in RAW but I realised its a pain ...
Is it okay to store it in TIFF format?
No! Not if you do not want to lose "data".
If data loss is not important to you then any format that meets your needs and standards can be used.
TIFF is an interpretation of data and information is usually lost on conversion from RAW. ie given a RAW file you can always regenerate a TIFF file if you know the decisions and assumptions made. But given a TIFF file it will usually be impossible to reconstitute the master RAW files regardless of what you know about settings etc. Whether this loss of data is acceptable is up to you.
Any loss of information produces an inferior maximum possible result.
A TIFF image can only ever approach the information in a RAW master.
RAW is the 'mother-lode'.
TIFF is a crafted product which may be more convenient than RAW in many situations, but it can never be "better".
It has been claimed that RAW files may not be able to be processed in future.
There is no reason for conversion abilities to be lost in future for any data format which is even slightly mainstream and which is formally defined. Whereas hardware to read an 8" / 5.25" / 3.5" floppy diskette or a daa pack or a reel-to-reel tape or a cassette tape or ... may get increasingly hard to obtain with the passage of time, if the data is of value then retaining a means of manipulating it is easy and essentially zero cost. It may get slightly harder for information long archived but there are too many photographers in the world for such capability to ever now get lost.
And yes, I am well aware of the hubris involved in such a claim and of the shortcomings of human nature. But, it's still essentially true.
This answer has been down-voted - presumably by somebody who places convenience ahead of quality - a valid choice in some cases.
... RAW data have to be interpreted. TIFF has a standard and the interpretation of the data is defined the the standard. There is no RAW standard and the interpretation of the data is in the proprietary vaults of the camera maker, some of whom will no longer be around in 20 years or wont care about old RAW files. DNG has an open specification for the format but its interpretation is NOT COMPLETELY defined by the standard and therefore suffers from the same problem
Yes, RAW data has to be interpreted to create an image.
It can be interpreted to JPG or to BMP or to TIFF or some other convenient format.
BUT the RAW data is THE data - the actual pure most available information there is of what the camera 'saw' Anything else is 2nd best or worse. TIFF may be useful and powerful, but it's like a skilled copy of the Mona Lisa - it's NOT the real thing. A TIFF files includes the user's interpretation after the photographic event of how they want the scene to appear. As an expression of artistry it can be an entirely valid decision to keep the TIFF and discard the RAW file. But you are also discarding data which the camera provided. Whether you are happy with this is up to you.
Abandoning RAW for TIFF is putting convenience ahead of excellence - a choice each my make if desired.
The argument about losing the software is irrelevant to the main point.
It's an important one but should in no way affect the understanding of the fundamental difference between RAW and TIFF.
Worrying about converter unavailability is similar to worrying that the rolling code remote control for your older BMW may fail and not be replaceable in 10 years time - except that the car system relies on hardware and the RAW converter relies ONLY on software. If you can backup and retain your images for 5 / 10/ 20 / 30 years (or 100) it is every bit as easy to retain the software. And if there are 100,000+ users of any given RAW standards worldwide, the chances of the converter being unavailable and unrunnable in say 25 years time is less than the chance of the sky falling on Chicken Little. Operating systems change - an where it matters to people, emulators keep them alive.
There are very good reasons to save the raw and equally good reasons to save it as a TIFF - even without considering the preview. (this answer assumes you want to keep the images for the long term, if you only care about the next few months you can ignore it)
Raw is the original, it is the only original, converting to TIFF loses data and editing options - so you should save the RAW
Raw is camera specific, and with the speed of technology progress it's entirely possible that in ten years you wouldn't be able to find a program that can process today's raw - so you should save the TIFF
DNG is an interesting compromise because its a non camera specific raw format - but 1. it's not widely adopted yet (compare to TIFF, JPEG, PNG or even Canon's CR2 nad Nikon's NEX it's virtually unused), it's entirely possible that the format will be abandoned (and having your data in a standard file when no one is writing software to read it is just as problematic as a proprietary file that no one can read) it's also possible that as the file format evolves with technology software will stop supporting the old "obsolete" parts of the spec - again resulting in a file you can't use - so DNG has the same drawbacks as saving the original raw.
So, my recommendation is save both the RAW and the TIFF.
Interesting discussion, one that has led me to some conclusions of my own. To comment on one of the above answers: "Consider the difference in value of an original print by Ansel Adams vs. a print from the same negative by a different printmaker." I think the art world would value that specific print; but if the negative were somehow destroyed, that would have been a terrible loss to the late Ansel Adams since he could always make another print.
So who's viewpoint are we taking here? The gallery owner? Or the photographer? And consider that, although a print might be the final masterpiece, the photographer might want to come back to that negative and print it a whole new way, from a new matured sensibility -- or maybe "just because." To the photographer, the raw material, the negative, has considerable value, possibly more PRACTICAL value than the print because the print (the "interpretation") can always be re-rendered. And don't forget that many of the great photographers had their negatives printed by others, so we can't always assume that "a different printmaker" lessens the value, or the importance, of the negative.
So -- again assuming that we will be able to read at least the popular RAW file formats long into the future -- I have to privilege the digital negative over some current interpretation that is represented by a TIFF. One negative, multiple TIFFs. One TIFF, and that's all she wrote, the image is frozen in time to a given interpretation (and yes, you can continue to further interpret and alter that TIFF, but then you are working from a copy and not the original). I'm storing my stuff as RAW, PLUS any "interpretations" (TIFF, JPG, etc.) I make over time. Storage is cheap. But if I had to choose, it would be RAW.
Storing your photos in RAW/DNG format preserves your ability to convert or 'develop' your RAW images in different or improved ways in the future.
This is the biggest single advantage of saving your images in RAW/DNG format.
Examples of this are
- you can use a different or improved demosaicing algorithm
- you can change the noise reduction
- you can change the colour and exposure conversion profile
- you can change the white balance
- you can change the white point, black point and conversion profile
The optimum place to apply these changes is to the original RAW data where there has been no information change or loss.
While RAW formats are proprietary, and this would seem to limit their usefulness in the future, you are in fact fully protected by the Open Source nature of the alternative conversion libraries provided by Dave Coffin (dcraw). I use the words RAW and DNG interchangeably here since many cameras will store in either DNG or RAW format.
I am not a professional photographer, I photograph what I like. I archive raw and its sidecar file to DVD disk. I store an artistically created via exposure and composition adjustments etc. from the raw file to a TIF format and store to two separate hard disk drives. I store a copy of a TIF to JPG conversion for searching and selection processes. I copy the TIF format for the desired end result by searching for the desired photograph from the JPG format and then go to the TIF file. The raw files are typically 25Mb, the TIF files are typically 70Mb and the JPG files are typically 250k. The JPG is fast for searching, the TIF is as I desired and the raw file is available to change to a different outcome. File space is cheap and I probably won't live long enough to exceed my availability to any of the files.