What file format for your photos?

pca75_formats_fichiers_photosThree file formats are now mainly used in digital photography: JPEG, TIFF and RAW. It is not necessarily clear which is the best, everyone has its advantages and disadvantages. Do you want to focus the weight of the image quality, portability, freedom of editing?

Depending on your needs and your equipment, a particular file format is most suitable. You have to find the right one.

The JPEG format

JPEG is the file format used by default by digital cameras to store your photos. Universal, you can play and manipulate it with any image editing software, even the simplest. Another advantage is its quality / size ratio is very good. With files of reasonable size, you can easily send your photos to friends by email or post on the Internet.


On the negative side, JPEG is a format using data compression with loss. This means you can reduce file size at the expense of image quality (for example to store more photos on a memory card). Conversely, you can increase the quality of images, which will result in larger files. In all cases,the data lost by the compression can never be recovered.


Reduced compression is invisible to the naked eye


By increasing the compression, as we lose

Also note that each time you edit a photo and save it, the image is compressed and reduced quality. It’s a bit like making a photocopy of a photocopy.

The JPEG format is ideal for consumer use of digital photography. You can take your photos, print them, perform basic manipulations and share them with your friends easily. This is the format that offers the best compromise between image quality, weight and ease of use. We recommend you set your camera to use the lowest compression rate to obtain the best image quality. Refer to its documentation for more information about it.


The TIFF format

Unlike JPEG, TIFF compression is performed without loss of data. No information is lost when saving your photos. The picture quality is so perfect. In return, the files size is much more important.


Our test file – Resolution 2592×1944 pixels – Weight: 8 MB

In addition, the TIFF format is not as universal as JPEG and it is possible that some people can not open your photos without installing appropriate software.

The undeniable advantage of TIFF is that you do not worry about the diminished quality of your photos from JPEG or additional information in the RAW format files (see below). The price of memory cards with much decreased while their capacity is increasing, the large size of TIFF files is not necessarily prohibitive. If your camera and the size of your memory cards permit, the TIFF format is an excellent solution in terms of image quality.

Note that if your camera supports JPEG, nothing prevents you from using the highest possible quality and then convert your photos in TIFF format once they are on your computer. You will not lose and more information in the handling of your photos. You will however return to the JPEG images you want to share by email or broadcast on the Internet.

The Raw format

RAW format offers many advantages over JPEG and TIFF formats. RAW format gives the closest to the original image file.


Our test file – Resolution 2592×1944 pixels – Weight: 14.4 MB

First, the image is compressed without loss and secondly, it is not treated by the device. So when you take a picture in RAW format, your camera records the “raw” file before are applied different effects: noise reduction, chromatic aberration or distortion, exposure compensation, balance whites, saturation, color temperature, etc. At this raw file, additional information about the parameters of the shooting are recorded.

This outcome not processed file directly from the sensor offers endless possibilities since you can set everything yourself. This is somewhat equivalent to the negative before treatment for silver halide photographs.

So when importing your images on your computer, the multitude of embedded information in addition to the file (the RAW format stores 12 bits per pixel against 8 bits per pixel for JPEG and TIFF formats) allows you to adjust color temperature, exposure, or the color of your photos.


You must adjust the settings of your images when copying to your computer.

unfortunately, the RAW format is not standardized. Each camera manufacturer has its own RAW format (and sometimes even different models from the same manufacturer). Thus, the editing software may not support it: you must use a utility supplied with the unit to convert the images to a more widely usable format (TIFF, for example).

Of course, all this results in a large file size and the need for memory cards accordingly. Attention all digital cameras do not offer recording in RAW format.


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