TIFF is a raw format

How can you better save your photos? RAW or TIFF?

It's been 18 months since the question was asked ... :-)

In the beginning I saved my photos in RAW, but I realized it was painful ...
Is it OK to save it in TIFF format?

No! Not if you don't want to lose "data".
If data loss is not important to you, any format can be used that meets your needs and standards.

TIFF is an interpretation of data and information is usually lost when converting RAW. So if you have a RAW file, you can always regenerate a TIFF file if you know the decisions and assumptions made. However, with a TIFF file, it is usually impossible to recover the master RAW files regardless of what you know about settings, etc. Whether this data loss is acceptable is up to you.

Any loss of information leads to an inferior maximum possible result.

A TIFF image can only ever contain the information in a RAW master approach .

RAW is the "mother lode".
TIFF is a handcrafted product that is more convenient than RAW in many situations, but can never be "better".

It has been claimed that RAW files may become unusable in the future.
There is no reason that conversion capabilities will be lost in the future for data formats that are only marginally mainstream and formally defined. While hardware to read an 8 "/ 5.25" / 3.5 "floppy disk or a Daa-Pack or a tape or a cassette tape or ... can become increasingly difficult to obtain over time when the data is there of value, it is easy, and essentially free of charge, to maintain a means of tampering with. It can be a little more difficult for long-archived information, but there are too many photographers in the world for such skill to be lost.

And yes, I am well aware of the hubris associated with such an assertion and the shortcomings of human nature. But it's still essentially true.


That answer was disapproved - presumably by someone who values ​​convenience over quality - a valid choice in some cases.

@ Itai said:

... RAW data has to be interpreted. TIFF has a standard and the interpretation of the data is defined as the standard. There is no RAW standard and the interpretation of the data takes place in the proprietary vaults of the camera manufacturer, some of which will no longer be available in 20 years or no longer care about old RAW files. DNG has an open specification for the format, but its interpretation is NOT FULLY defined by the standard and therefore suffers from the same problem

Yes, RAW data must be interpreted in order to create an image.
It can be interpreted in JPG or BMP or in TIFF or some other convenient format.
BUT the data is RAW THE Data - actually the purest information available about what the camera "saw". Everything else is second best or worse. TIFF may be useful and powerful, but it's like a clever copy of the Mona Lisa - it's NOT the real thing. A TIFF file contains the user's interpretation of how the scene is to be displayed after the photographic event. As an expression of art, keeping the TIFF and discarding the RAW file can be a perfectly valid decision. But they also discard data provided by the camera. Whether you are satisfied with it is up to you.

When you give up RAW for TIFF, convenience comes before excellence - a choice any one of me can make if so desired.

The argument about the loss of the software is irrelevant to the main point.
It is important , should but in no way interferes with an understanding of the fundamental difference between RAW and TIFF.
Concern about the unavailability of the converter is similar to worrying that the rolling code remote control of your older BMW may fail and will not be replaceable in 10 years - with the exception that the vehicle system is based on hardware and the RAW converter is ONLY software based . If you can back up and keep your images for 5/10/20/30 years (or 100), keeping the software is just as easy. And when there are more than 100,000 users of a given RAW standard worldwide, the likelihood that the converter will be down and unavailable in about 25 years is less than the likelihood that the sky will fall on Chicken Little. Operating systems change - wherever it is important for people, emulators keep them alive.


I hear your point of view on the "real thing" but I think it is not entirely correct. The reality of a photo comes from the photographer, not from the raw data from the sensor, and raw RAW is not. Consider the difference in value between an original print by Ansel Adams and a print of the same negative by another printer. The RAW is like the negative - it's not the photo. It's not a finished work like the Mona Lisa. A TIFF can be - it is a final, "developed" image. It's not like your example of a copy of the Mona Lisa at all.

Russell McMahon

@mattdm - We agree :-) As I said, "As an expression of art, it can be a perfectly valid decision to keep the TIFF and discard the RAW file. But you also discard data provided by the camera. Ob You are satisfied it's up to you. " My key point is that if you know the choices that were made to create them you can regenerate a semi-infinite number of TIFFs, but often you can't go back to their derivatives on the RAW image. I agree with your analogy with Ansel Adams Negative / RAW & Print / TIFF. I offered an Ansel Adams negative and print from a top printer. I know what I would take!