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Digital camera file formats

Written by Gail Bjork

JPEG. TIFF. RAW. Take a closer look at the three types of image files created by digital cameras and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

There are three main types of digital camera file formats: JPEG , TIFF and RAW


JPEG symbolThe most commonly used format, JPEG, is often the only file format available on entry-level and some intermediate digital cameras. The JPEG format is perfectly fine for the vast majority of digital camera users, particularly when the camera is set to the highest JPEG quality setting and lowest compression.


TIFFMany higher-end digital cameras let you select between JPEG, TIFF and RAW, though fewer and fewer digital cameras include TIFF. TIFF is an uncompressed file format. Tiff files can be huge.



RAW & associated file

Professional photographers and serious photo-enthusiasts usually prefer to shoot RAW. With RAW files, no processing is done in the camera. Processing a RAW file may require a special editing program.

Some advanced cameras have a setting to simultaneously shoot RAW + JPEG. Both formats will be saved to a memory card as separate files.

The Digital Negative (DNG)  is an an open standard RAW file, an unprocessed digital camera file format. DNG was introduce in 1994 by Adobe in the hope to bring standardation to RAW files.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

1 Comment

  • The good thing is that most cameras are so user friendly that you don’t have to know about file formats to use them, however it is usful to know