Tuesday, November 29, 2005

RAW to DNG converters and the problems with RAW

Adobe has a free RAW to DNG image conversion utility (via Macintouch):

Adobe: Adobe DNG Converter for Macintosh - Downloads

Ben Long's Automator tool: http://www.completedigitalphotography.com/index.php?p=394

Which brings up an issue. I'm confident JPEG images will be readable 1000 years from now -- assuming there's anything to read them and any kind of technologic continuity. I'm pretty sure there will be nothing to read most RAW images 25 years from now.

We don't have an optimal situation for archiving digital images. Each of the choices: JPEG, PNG, JPEG 2000 and DNG has issues. JPEG is probably the safest, but it is a technically inferior format (poor color management). PNG seems ideal, but also seems little used. TIFF isn't on the list because it's a wrapper with a weak spec. JPEG 2000 should be ideal, but hasn't caught on for reasons I don't understand. DNG has limited compression and is very new.

Given that RAW (should be "Raw", it's not an acronym) is not an option for archival use, there are issues now with the workflow of manipulating images in RAW format while having a different archival format. Unfortunately that's the Apple Aperture model.

Sigh. I'd like to know what the Smithsonian is doing with all of this.

PS. I think Automator may show some life once Aperture is out. Image management seems well suited to Automator.

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