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A raw image format image refers to the unprocessed data from a digital image sensor.

Professional cameras (including DSLRs) usually have this as an output option, along with JPEG. Raw format images are superior to JPEG in terms of dynamic range, color depth, and fidelity, but are larger in file size. The main weakness of the raw format the lack of an industry standard. As a result, raw format images typically cannot be viewed on a computer without installing an appropriate codec or plug-in, whereas support for the JPEG format has become standard on every modern operating system.

Practical usage[]

The raw format available to your camera should be the primary output type because the extra dynamic range and color depth allows for more strenuous editing without visible loss of quality. By definition, raw format also uses the camera's maximum image dimensions. Because raw images are the largest filesize generated by the camera, keep plenty of memory card storage on hand when shooting.

Remember the basic rule of editing: you can always take away, but you can never put back. Any image processing should be done in Photoshop, and in a specific order. Using the camera's JPEG format drastically limits the editing possibilities of an image. Saving to JPEG (or other image formats) should be the last step in the editing process.

Proprietary versions[]

In September 2004, Adobe Systems introduced its own version of the format called Digital Negative, which uses the .DNG extension.[1] Certain cameras from manufacturers, such as Casio, Leica, Pentax, Ricoh, and Samsung, use DNG in lieu of an actual raw format. In 2016, Apple added DNG support to iOS 10 for iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, and later models with at least a 12-megapixel camera.[2]

In December 2020, Apple introduced support for its own ProRAW format in iOS 14.3 and macOS 11.1.[3][4]

File extensions by manufacturer[]

Different camera manufacturers use different filename extensions for their respective raw format images. Adobe Photoshop requires the appropriate version of the Camera RAW utility to view raw images from certain cameras.

.CRW, .CR2
Konica Minolta
Phase One
.ARW, .SRF, .SR2

Some other manufacturers use the .RAW extension, which may unfortunately be mistaken for other "raw data files" from other sources.


External links[]