2006 RAW Survey Initial Results - Introduction

On January 31, 2006, the Open RAW initiative launched an international survey on its Web site (http://www.openraw.org/survey/) to collect information about the experiences, requirements, preferences, and concerns of digital photographers and other interested parties regarding RAW imaging technology — a concept that many writers are comparing to a "digital negative."

RAW Technology Issues

As the digital properties of RAW image files became better understood, many digital photographers embraced RAW technology as the best means to obtain maximum image quality for themselves and their clients. As the use of RAW image files increases, imaging professionals and devoted amateurs are faced with a proliferation of proprietary RAW formats, often different for each successive camera model from each camera manufacturer. The absence of a robust, common standard for RAW image file formats has resulted in significant disruptions in digital image workflow and limitations in the choice of software tools.

Many photographers, photo archivists, and others involved in digital imaging have become increasingly concerned about the absence of standards for RAW image file formats. The continuing growth in the number of proprietary RAW formats and the adoption by camera manufacturers of the practice of encryption to conceal information stored in RAW image files has increased fears about the viability of RAW formats for long-term archiving of photographic material. Some manufacturers whose cameras produced proprietary RAW files have already gone out of business, with unknown consequences for future access to those images. Many photographers are concerned that RAW files from current camera models may not be accessible in the future when those models become obsolete.

Why a Survey?

Although these topics are being discussed in many photography forums, we have little systematic information about the experiences, requirements, preferences, and concerns of photographers and other users of digital images regarding RAW technology. One thing is clear— many photographers and archivists believe that camera manufacturers are making important decisions about RAW image technology with little or no input from the people who buy and use their equipment or who are involved in the preservation of photographic works. The 2006 RAW Survey was designed to give photographers and other interested parties an opportunity to have a voice in the further development of RAW imaging technology.

Results of the survey will be reported through a series of articles at http://www.OpenRAW.org/. We believe good decisions by the digital photography industry should take account of the requirements, and preferences of the photographers who make their living or pursue their artistic vision through this medium. We will share the survey results openly in the hope that the future of the craft will benefit.

Initial Report on Responses to the 2006 RAW Survey

Our first report provides an overview of the responses to survey questions and how they reflect the attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and preferences of survey respondents on RAW imaging technology and how it affects a hypothetical purchase decision. The initial report is being released in chapters over a period of five days. The chapters are:

In subsequent reports, we will present additional information on the relationships among responses and offer our interpretations of the possible implications of these relationships for real purchase transactions in the digital marketplace.

Calvin Jones – Tue, 2006/04/25 – 12:44am