What is "RAW"?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by james_alexander, May 11, 2004.

  1. Is "RAW" an acronym or a word? If it is an acronym, what does it
    stand for? If it is a word, why is it written in all caps?
  2. It's a word, and it refers to the data taken directly from the camera's sensor. The RAW file must be run through software to transform it into a viewable Tif or Jpg.

    More here.
  3. It's a word, and it's in all caps to differentiate it from the word "raw", which can be used to describe all kinds of things. But "RAW" refers to the digital image format.
    RAW = a digital image format <br>
    raw = a state of being uncooked (as in food)
  4. jbq


    It's a word. It refers to the data being raw, i.e. unprocessed, i.e. the digital data as it was at the very first digital stage.

    It's often written in caps because pretty much all the image file format names are acronyms (JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, PSD...).
  5. Also note that a RAW file will actually have a file extension like .CRW (Canon) or .NEF (Nikon). Just to confuse matters further :)
  6. You can read a lot on RAW here (WARNING: lot of math)
  7. Y'all are missing the point.

    The original author is likely a grammarian "stickler" and wonders why -- as do I -- we're
    incorrectly writing "raw" in all caps.

    Things like JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group) or TIFF (Tagged Interchange File
    Format) are easy to explain -- RAW just ain't right.

    But, it looks like we're stuck with RAW just like we are with "8 Items or Less".
  8. Mike, you are exactly right. I would prefer to think that I'm a stickler for clarity rather than a stickler for grammer, but in either case it appears that I lose in this instance.

    Peter, lots of words have more than one definition but we don't normally indicate a specific definition by writing in all caps.

    Jean-Baptiste, as I understand it "RAW" is not a specific file format like JPEG or TIFF, but more a category of file formats. This seems to make about as much sense as writing "COMPRESSED" when we're talking about JPEG files or "LOSSLESS" when we're talking about TIFF files.

    Oh, well. So much for clear thought. Thanks everyone for the comments.
  9. jbq


    James - Contrary to what you will believe, I am not trying to confuse you any further.

    JPEG is actually a family of compression formats, some lossy, some lossless, some 8-bit, some 16-bit. What we often call a "JPEG" file is actually a JFIF file with YUV/DCT/Decimated/Huffman JPEG data. JFIF is a file format.

    TIFF is a "meta-format", which can contain data in many different formats. Typical formats are 8- and 16-bit uncompressed, or compressed with LZW/LZ77, but JPEG data is also an option, and I'm sure that there are plenty more.

    Now, de-facto usage has been that JPEG are almost always used in lossy 8-bit applications, and TIFFs in 8- and 16-bit lossless applications, but that's a usage habit, not a standard.
  10. A seminar I went too in 1996 said there are over 200 variants of the TIFF format. Here we on odd occasions still get weird TIFF files that cannot be opened on modern Photoshop veriosn; open on Photoshop 3.0 . RAW is an old format; it can be only 1 byte per pixel; and used in DOS. There was/is a DOS program that opens RAW files by Jih-Shin Ho ; used for slide shows; batch; contact sheets; and file conversions.
  11. James, these explanations may offend your grammatical sensibilities, but that's just the way it is. After all, computer engineers think this stuff up, not grammaticists or linquists. It could be that the origin of RAW is as simple as, "Well, it's raw data, so why don't we just call it RAW, making it all caps to coincide with the caps convention seen with JPEG and TIFF?" There are all kinds of techno-geek words that have arisen from such simplistic sensibilities. Say what you may about these explanations, but its pretty unaminous that RAW does not have any acronym associated with it that would explain it being written in all caps. It's basically in caps because TIFF and JPEG are in caps.
  12. Actually, many scientists, engineers and programmers are sticklers for grammar; being
    that such endeavors require clear and concise communication.

    Although I'm sure an exception exists, I can't think of another term akin to RAW in
    computer science that's not either an abbreviation, acronym, or trademark.
  13. I think the reason it's capitalized has more to do with marketing departments than anything else. Fuji has .RAF files, Nikon has .NEF files but they're both RAW files.

    I'd say RAW is a type of file, it's not a standard like TIFF (or the many variants as stated above). Nikon, Canon and Fuji RAW files all work a little differently and you need their software to work with these files - although now they can be read by Capture One (some types) or Adobe Photoshop CS (most types) as well.

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