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OpenRaw to Press for Open Camera Formats


The OpenRAW Working Group has launched a new website, OpenRAW.com, to advocate for open, documented digital-camera data formats. The goal of OpenRAW, as stated on the website, is "to encourage image preservation and give creative choice of how images are processed to the creators of the images."

Virtually all digital cameras store the raw image data in a proprietary file format. In the brief history of digital photography, digital camera manufacturers have dropped support for asset management applications, abandoned settings from older RAW processor versions and changed the methods of storing basic camera settings without documentation.

 Undocumented RAW file formats present a number of problems, including limiting the choices available for image processing; increasing the risk that with time a RAW file will become unreadable or unable to be processed properly; and wasting third-party software development resources.

 Many of the points that OpenRAW makes are quite similar to Adobe's rationale for creating the digital negative (DNG) format. The difference is that Adobe is proposing that camera makers adopt DNG as their export format (perhaps as an alternative to disclosing their proprietary formats), while OpenRAW wants camera makers to disclose their proprietary formats whether they adopt DNG or not.