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Why So Many Formats?

The gods who rule the imaging world must love different file formats, because they have created so many of them. There are dozens of graphics formats supported by image editors like Photoshop that are so far off the radar that simply mentioning them is an exercise in trivial pursuits. Who reading this book has used IFF (Amiga), TGA (Targa), PXR (Pixar), PX1 (PixelPaint), PIC (SoftImage), or RLA (Wavefront) formats?

Of course, the main reason digital cameras offer more than one file format in the first place is to limit the size of the file stored on your memory card. If a digital camera had unlimited memory capacity and file transfers from the camera to your computer were instantaneous, all images would probably be stored in RAW or TIFF format, with TIFF gaining the nod for convenience and ease of use, and because not all applications can interpret the unprocessed information in RAW files. (I’ll explain the difference between RAW, TIFF, and JPEG later in this chapter.) Both RAW and TIFF store the image as you took it, with no noticeable loss in quality.


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