FAQ on the 2006 RAW Survey

Feel free to ask questions in the 2006 RAW Survey Forum, this FAQ will be a "living" document and we try to answer all frequently asked questions about the 2006 RAW Survey results.

Why was the survey conducted?

Although there has been a great deal of discussion in photography forums and listservs of a range of issues connected with RAW files and RAW imaging technology, no systematic data have been collected or reported that shed light on the experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and preferences of working photographers and other involved in using RAW image files.

We believe that a survey of photographers and imaging practitioners will advance our understanding of the views of those who use this technology in their work and to pursue their creative interests.

The purpose of the 2006 RAW survey was to collect information on a wide variety of issues, emphasizing areas that we believed – based on the discussions in public forums – many photographers and other image users considered to be problematic in the current implementation of RAW imaging technology.

How do I know if I can trust the survey results to be accurate?

Because the 2006 RAW Survey was conducted via open invitation to all interested parties, rather than based on random sampling from a known population, it is not legitimate to calculate estimates of “sampling error” that would indicate how close our results are to the statistics for the entire world population of photographers and imaging practitioners.

Moreover, because this is the first survey of its kind, there is no existing “external standard” against which the results for the 2006 RAW Survey can be compared to check “accuracy.” The results presented in our report were reviewed and checked repeatedly, and are an accurate representation of the experiences, perceptions, and beliefs of the individuals that completed the questionnaire.

Having a very large number of respondents also provides some protection against the survey results being “biased” in a dramatic way. For example, we examined the distribution of responses to all survey questions at the end of the second day after the launch date, when over 8,000 persons had responded. We compared those initial results to the statistics generated when there were about 11,000 respondents, later when there were 15,000 respondents, and finally, with over 19,000 respondents. The statistical distributions for each answer category for all survey items were always within 1 or 2 percentage points at each point in the data collection process. Thus, having large numbers of respondents minimizes the chance that the survey results have been slanted or biased in a particular direction by respondents with unusual views.

How many people responded to the survey?

The total number of respondents was 19,207. Over 11,000 persons responded in the first 3 days after the survey opened on January 31, 2006. Nearly 15,000 individuals had completed the questionnaire within one week after the opening date.

What languages were used to conduct the survey?

The 2006 RAW Survey questionnaire was designed in English only. Because the survey was designed and conducted by volunteers associated with the OpenRAW initiative and had no financial or other support from any outside groups or individuals, we were not able to translate the questionnaire into other languages.

Why did the survey need so many respondents?

Obtaining basic statistics about the experiences, beliefs, and preferences of photographers and other imaging practitioners concerning RAW imaging technology could have been achieved with fewer than 2,000 survey respondents. However, allowing all interested individuals to participate also provides the capability to compare statistics for specific types of respondents, such as comparing the views of professionals to those of amateur photographers, etc..

How were the people who answered the survey selected?

By sending out public notices to over 400 photography-related organizations, resource groups, forums, listservs, and other media, we made an attempt to invite everyone with an interest in RAW imaging technology an opportunity to participate in the survey. In other words, we did not select a sample of photographers and other imaging practitioners. Rather, we invited all interested persons to visit the survey site and complete the questionnaire.

The survey was held open for a total of six weeks to ensure that all interested parties would have a chance to respond.