Why don't DSLRs output TIFFs?

Registered: Jan 10, 2010
Total Posts: 361
Country: United States

Sometimes you like the in-body processing that your camera provides for JPGs but you don't want to be stuck with 8bit JPG files for post-processing.

Since JPGs are limited to 8bit, wouldn't it make sense for camera makers to provide other output options that are not so limited while still providing the on-board RAW processing?

For example, can't cameras output lossless 16bit TIFFs? TIFF files are well understood and a lot of software already understand it. TIFFs are also the basis for many proprietary RAW files anyway so this should not involve too many changes in the camera firmwares.

Many times I shoot RAW and then spend a lot of time getting back the original camera JPG look when all I wanted to do in the first place by shooting RAW was get a lot of latitude for correction of exposure errors. 16bit TIFFs would give me a lot of that lattitude back while preserving the native camera processing, right?

What do you think?

Registered: Feb 14, 2011
Total Posts: 6692
Country: United States

Because camera makers are loathe to start a new war on RAW vs TIFF.

Registered: Jan 25, 2005
Total Posts: 897
Country: Germany

Actually, as far as I know, Canons raw files are some kind of tiff format with special tags for writing specific data.

Registered: Jul 11, 2008
Total Posts: 5253
Country: United States

HopeIsEternal wrote:
16bit TIFFs would give me a lot of that lattitude back while preserving the native camera processing, right?

A normal TIFF has the gamma curve applied so you lose all the linear sensor data --> little latitude. You can 'massage' the file a more without getting posterization but you still have a lot less data than in the RAW file.
Also, dosn't RAW files processed with Canon DPP look pretty much identical to the jpegs that Canon DSLRs produce? I don't know about other brands though.

Registered: Aug 09, 2008
Total Posts: 2034
Country: United States

Huge file sizes with corresponding hits to memory card capacity, processing speed, and battery life? Interpolating the RGB color data from a color-filtered monochrome sensor basically triples (even more when going from a 12 or 14 bit RAW capture to a 16 bit TIFF) the amount of bits the camera needs to push around, while adding no "real" information. What camera companies should do is (a) support standardized RAW formats (e.g. DNG), and (b) work with photo software companies (Adobe, Apple, etc.) to generate camera-specific profiles/interpretation for their RAW files that preserve the distinctive look of their in-camera JPEG processing.

Registered: Mar 01, 2004
Total Posts: 1990
Country: United States

TIFF is an option on my camera but I don't see much point to it. When I want quick & easy I use jpg, when I want a 16-bit file I want to work it and raw gives me more flexibility.

Registered: Oct 19, 2010
Total Posts: 1886
Country: United States

TIFF is an option on every Nikon I've ever used, but pretty much useless...

Registered: Apr 06, 2008
Total Posts: 3991
Country: Canada

Because it isn't 2002 anymore?

Registered: Nov 13, 2010
Total Posts: 1892
Country: United States

huddy wrote:
TIFF is an option on every Nikon I've ever used, but pretty much useless...


Registered: Aug 03, 2009
Total Posts: 5886
Country: Canada

At the moment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPEG_XR (formerly HD Photo)looks good, I have posted in the past about wanting a file format that can handle in-camera HDR images without loosing so much data as jpg does.

Support for more color accuracy
In image and graphics representations, the color associated with each point in the picture (called a pixel) is represented as a set of numbers. Each color can be expressed as a combination of numbers that each represent the intensity of one of the components of a color (known as the channel) which consists of Red, Green and Blue (the three colors of light) color primary. Such a color scheme is called the RGB color model. Using an alternative set of color primaries, graphic files may treat the color of each point as a combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (the four ink colors of printers) and therefore store the color of each point in four channels. Such a color scheme is called the CMYK color model. When the image being stored contains only black, white and shades of gray as colors, the image may be represented using a single grayscale channel for each pixel that only represents the intensity of the gray shade.

JPEG supports 24-Bit RGB (also known as truecolor): This representation stores each channel as an 8-bit number, an integer number from 0 to 255. In this case, the greater the number, the more intense the color component is. For instance, 25 in red channel represents dark red while 255 indicates fully vibrant red. This enables more than 16 million color possibilities. JPEG also supports 8-bit grayscale scheme, so that each pixel can have one of 256 possible shades of gray.

Also supported is 15-Bit and 16-Bit RGB (also known as Highcolor), along with 30-Bit RGB.

JPEG XR adds supports for 48-bit integer RGB (also known as deep color): This representation stores the values of each of the three channels as a 16-bit number, an integer number from 0 to 65,535, where 0 denotes least intensity and 65535 the greatest. Therefore, each channel stores a much finer grade of intensity.

JPEG XR also supports 16-bit per component (64-bit per pixel) integer CMYK color model.[12]

16-bit and 32-bit fixed point color component codings are also supported in JPEG XR. In such encodings, the most-significant 4 bits of each color channel are treated as providing additional "headroom" and "toe room" beyond the range of values that represents the nominal black-to-white signal range.

Moreover, 16-bit and 32-bit floating point color component codings are also supported in JPEG XR. In these cases the image is interpreted as floating point data, although the JPEG XR encoding and decoding steps are all performed using only integer operations (to simplify the compression processing).

The shared-exponent floating point color format known as RGBE (Radiance) is also supported, enabling more faithful storage of High Dynamic Range (HDR) images.

In addition to RGB and CMYK formats, JPEG XR also supports grayscale and multi-channel color encodings with an arbitrary number of channels.

A PhotoShop plugin was released:

Registered: Apr 03, 2009
Total Posts: 4166
Country: Australia

TIFF is a final file format, output - very different from RAW. What happens when beter RCs come along? You're stuck with a 2012 TIFF....

Registered: Sep 27, 2004
Total Posts: 9303
Country: Thailand

Using the raw converter of the camera brand resolves this issue.

Registered: Apr 03, 2009
Total Posts: 4166
Country: Australia

I know your views on this Ed and largely agree with the sentiment, but in this day and age maybe things are different. Read what the Sigma guys are saying about the Merrill files, for instance?

Registered: Apr 08, 2005
Total Posts: 7213
Country: United States

The 1Ds RAW output was TIFF. I doubt it was 16bit, though.

I'd be happy if the were a standard RAW, but everyone has to tweak.