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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Myths, Misinformation & Misunderstandings

Well-meaning reporters and marketing hype all contribute to problems in communicating digital information

Labels: Learning Center

•An archival CD will outlast most of us. Some question if there will be technology to read it. VHS tapes and vinyl record albums aren't the prime media they used to be, but accessing either isn't a problem. Even if disc-based digital recordings change in technology, this won't be an instant change and there will be lots of opportunities to deal with it (a good example of that is the 3.5-inch disk that's rarely used any more, but still can be accessed).

•It's easy to have hundreds of images on a CD or other digital media that are instantly accessible. Try that with most photos in shoeboxes and albums.

•New inkjet prints from Epson and Hewlett-Packard photo printers have far more archival characteristics than any color print made from a few years ago. They easily will outlast the color family memory shots made conventionally when we were younger.

High Incidence of JPEG Depression Noted
In a publication about digital photography, I actually read that JPEG was okay if you only wanted to do low-quality vacation prints. This has led to the unfortunate misconception that JPEG is an amateur format and RAW is for pros and serious photographers. Tell that to many working pros, especially sports photographers, who have high-quality JPEG-saved images printed in publications every day. That publication, as my grandfather used to say, was full of chicken soup.

RAW is a superb working format, no question about it. I use it all the time, but not for everything. RAW lets you get absolutely the most from an image if you're willing to spend the time working on it, but it has no absolute quality difference over JPEG. JPEG is a faster format to deal with, and for most photographers (except those who enjoy the RAW process in itself), it probably will be the best all-purpose format to use.

Digital cameras include internal processing that smartly converts RAW data into JPEG files so that JPEG files usually come directly from the camera looking better than the first opened RAW file. Yes, the RAW file gives you many great processing options, but the one you only get with JPEG is a faster, simpler workflow to a finished image file.


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