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Adobe proposes universal digicam 'raw' image format

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Adobe is to promote a 'standard' alternative to digital cameras' numerous 'raw' photo formats.

Dubbed Digital NeGative (DNG) format, Adobe's proposal would not supersede the JPEG format used by almost all digicams these days, but the native formats such cameras offer users who want maximum, image fidelity.

These raw formats hold the image as taken, without the loss of data even mildest JPEG conversion involves, or adjustments made by the camera's video processing electronics. The catch is that without compression, raw images are very large, limiting the number of them the camera can hold. Worse, different camera vendors use different, proprietary raw formats.

Adobe as gone some way to licensing such formats where it can, but it's clearly decided that a single, vendor-neutral raw format makes more sense, hence the DNG proposal.

It's pitch is that such a format would allows photographers who require lossless images to work in Photoshop without having to grab and save the images using software from their camera's manufacturer.

DNG is based on the TIFF-EP format with extra metadata and scope for lossless JPEG compression, Adobe said. The format supports both mosaiced (CFA) and demosaiced interpolation.

Adobe has launched a plug-in for Photoshop which converts over 14 camera makers' raw formats into DNG. The plug-in, for Windows and Mac versions of Photoshop, is accompanied by software that adds support for those raw formats to the CS version of Adobe's imaging application directly. The downloads are free but require registration.

Adobe has also published the DNG spec. to allow camera makers to incorporate it into future products. ®

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