Digital cameras are technology at its best. By preserving your pictures on a digital format instead of regular film, you not only save a lot of money in film processing, but have almost unlimited room to store them on your computer’s hard drive, or compact discs. The only drawback to digital cameras is the various formats these photos can be stored in and finding the right devices that work together. Typically, digital photos are formated in either JPEG, TIFF, and/or RAW.

JPEG Images Are Universally Standard For Websites and Email

Most digital cameras come with the JPEG (pronounced Jay-Peg) photo format. For those who are interested in keeping their images small, compact, and for use in email and websites, JPEG is the perfect option. Starter digital cameras, such as the Point and Shoot type, are often universally JPEG for ease of use.

JPEG images are termed as “lossy”. This means that because of the compact nature of the file, a JPEG file will lose some of it’s quality when enlarged. JPEG will produce quality pictures for smaller photo sizes, but when enlarged the compression of the pixels can’t return to a decompressed state. The pixel arrangement is unrecoverable. A popular feature with JPEG featured digital cameras is that there are 3 levels of compression to choose from for different qualities.

Of course, it should be noted that the format of the photo isn’t the only criteria for good quality photos. Light, location, environment, and quality of the camera are major factors to take into consideration when taking digital photos.

JPEG is a great choice if you are using a smaller SD Card of 1 to 4 gigabytes. It is an easy format to use with most photo software, and are good when taking a lot of pictures. However, if you are going to go for professional quality, or working with pictures sequences you might want to take a look at the other two formats; TIFF and RAW.

TIFF Digital Format Is Slowly Losing Ground To New DSLR Cameras

A very old digital format for pictures is the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), which is slowly losing favor to the other two formats mentioned. Most of the newer DSLR digital cameras are phasing out the TIFF for easier to use JPEG.

That should not be a frown upon the quality of picture that TIFF can produce. While the newer cameras are coming in either RAW or JPEG, or both, TIFF should not be underestimated. Being a little larger than a JPEG format, a TIFF file is one that can be compressed, and enlarged, without any loss of quality. The file is “lossless”, or no information transposed onto the file from the picture taking is loss due to compression.

Although digital cameras are phasing out the TIFF format, it is wildly popular in archiving documents and files. Because of the quality of the file and the flexibility of it, it is the most widely supported format across most platforms. This includes Mac, Windows, and Unix. TIFF also stores data in all forms up to 48 bits of encryption and most color spaces, RGB, CMYK, YCbCr, etc.

RAW Is Not Universal But Highly Workable

RAW is the unprocessed, uncompressed raw data captured by the camera’s image sensor before any of the in-camera processing has been completed. With this in mind, RAW format is the equivalent to the negative of a regular film camera.

The RAW image format allows the photographer to make a wide range of changes while maintaining the quality of the original picture. Since no processing, or compression, has been done to the image, it is of high quality but also very large. The drawback to a RAW file is that is requires either camera specific software, or highly specialized third party software to manipulate the image file.

Some high end cameras, such as Nikon and Canon store their images in RAW or TIFF files so the user has a better quality image. Mass produced Point and Shoot cameras, that cater to the recreational photographer, use predominately JPEG for their file formats.