What ’s in the names?
JPEG, RAW… it’s not always immediately apparent what a format’s name means
■ RAW isn’t an acronym. It simply means raw, as in unprocessed. It’s a ‘file format’, a digital way of storing the information caught by the sensor, and each camera manufacturer has its own way of doing this, which is why the suffixes are different. Nikon’s is .NEF, which stands for Nikon Electronic Format.
■ JPEG, which stands for Joint Photographic Expert Group (the people who devised it), is the most common file format for photographs, and was designed for transmitting images by keeping the file small. It does this by compressing the information, and in the process loses some image quality.
■ The level of compression, and so the quality, can be chosen. In practice, there is no visible difference at a normal viewing size between a high-quality JPEG and any other file format, such as a TIFF (Tagged Image File Format). TIFF files preserve full image quality without any of the loss associated with JPEGs.