A RAW format is exactly what it states, raw data in whatever arbitrary
format whomever designs a device and its software delivers it.
Archiving RAW data presumes that the same format will be useful through
time, whether the device and device specific software have changed or
not.. That's not a good assumption.
TIFF is a tagged image format, well specified such that many
applications, both existing now and in the future, will be able to read
it. Because of that, it is the sensible archive choice regardless of
Of course, there are other good bets for archive format too. For
instance, I don't expect that Adobe Systems' PhotoShop file format will
be lost anytime soon as I believe it has been licensed for development
of Photoshop compatible utility software and add-ons. Even if it
weren't, Photoshop has such a large footprint in the image processing
market that it would be worth the effort for someone to backwards
engineer it if Adobe Systems went out of business, all current products
that knew the format suddenly disappeared, and all the existing source
code that implemented it somehow magically was permanently erased
overnight. Probabilities of all that happening at once are quite low...
;-) I archive my original scan as a TIFF and subsequently modified and
developed images as .PSD to preserve all layers and other work, along
with a web display resolution sized JPEG for quick perusal. The last is
for convenience' sake since I can always generate that from the PSD
file easily. It solves one of your problems: keep the JPEGs on your PC,
keep the full resolution archive files on off-line media.
The disk space problem is taxing for the number of images you're
interested in storing, not to mention an image retrieval system that
would allow you to find what you want. I don't think it's totally
unmanageable, however ... although it isn't particularly inexpensive.
Neither CDR nor DVD have enough capacity to be considered. Let's see,
10,000 130MB image files is about 1,300 GBytes of data ... that would
fit handily on three 500 Gbyte drives. You could buy them each, one at
a time, as you need them and take advantage of the price drop as they
become cheaper over time. Larger storage devices will become available
at increasing lower prices as well.
My data archive volume might get up into that range eventually too, so
I've started with a pair of 100GB drives ($90 apiece for the bare
drive, plus the cost of an enclosure, backs up the other) with FireWire
interfaces so I can plug and unplug them anytime I need. The
performance is far far better than CDR and DVDR, and given the large
MTBF ratings of good quality drives, they're probably more reliable
too. Plus, if operating system or file system parameters change over
time, they can be updated easily to keep step.
That's my solution. I'll tell you how well it works in another 20
> I understand that RAW is, like, TIFF, a lossless format; that it, however,
> produces smaller files.
> Accordingly, RAW would seem a valid format for archival purposes. However,
> I read that there is no standard for the data format, and wonder whether
> this might be a problem. Does anyone know whether any standards are in the
> pipeline and, if so, what impact they are likely to have upon current
> NikonScan software does not include RAW, but it does have 'NEF': 'The
> formats include NEF, (Nikon Electronic image Format) which allows files to
> be saved, and then reopened and modified without harming the original
> scanned information. NEF is not legible to Adobe Photoshop or any other
> imaging applications, these files can only be opened using Nikon Scan
> software.' What is the format; and should it be avoided (sems like it to
> me, but my understanding has me question why they'd have this at all)?
> So far, my conclusion is to use TIFF. However, any advice which would
> suggest that this is inappropriate would be appreciated.
> The only challenge is that I want slides to be available on my PC, rather
> than stored on DVD, for example (I'm moving around all the time and carting
> hundreds of DVDs around is a lot harder than throwing a PC into a box); I
> could use DVD as offline archival fof the shots that really matter, though.
> The problem is, with TIFF, I'm looking at 130MB per shot; ultimately 10,000+
> shots (and growing); add to that RAID 1 and a need for regular back-ups and
> I need an almost unmanageable amount of disk space.
> Incidentally, does anyone know how RAW achieves smaller files than TIFF, and
> approximately how much smaller they are?
> Thank you in advance.