1st February 2006, 02:18 AM
The RAW Problem
In the short history of digital photography, manufacturers have released numerous cameras with constantly evolving RAW formats. This has lead to the existence of a vast number of RAW "dialects," even within each major brand, that store image and camera setting data in a different manner.
In some cases manufacturers have even encrypted the data within newer RAW files. Intentionally or not this encryption has placed full access to the images stored in these files out of reach of the photographers that took them. Unless, of course, they limit themselves to tools sold by the camera manufacturer.
To date, this vast number of RAW formats has been hidden by the transparent support offered in RAW converter software, provided by both the camera manufacturer and various third parties. At the time of writing, the open source dcraw converter currently supports no less than 199 formats. However, as manufacturers lose interest in their discontinued products, and drop support for them, the true impact of all of these "dialects" will be felt.