Adobe have proposed a public, archival format for raw digital camera data to deal with the archival problems of detail loss and accessibility. For most camera users, images are stored as JPEGs, which is a lossy format even with the gentlest of compression. Some cameras make use of a raw format, storing the image exactly as it is captured without compression – but of course not all manufacturers use the same format and the specifications for many of them are not publicly available. This lack of an open standard also creates the risk that software to read a particular camera’s raw image data may not be available in the future, making archiving problematic.
To combat these concerns, Adobe are suggesting the adoption of DNG, or Digital Negative Format and have made its specifications freely available. DNG is based on the TIFF-EP format, and supports metadata so that images can be described and differentiated.
To encourage adoption, they have released a free converter which will take the raw image format from a variety of cameras and convert them to DNG. Adobe hope that a single processing solution will improve workflow for photographers if they have to use raw files from multiple cameras and manufacturers.