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  6. Image Quality and File Type (NEF/RAW, JPEG, and TIFF)

Digital SLR Camera Basics

“Image quality” refers to the file type and compression ratio used when images are saved, while “image size” (measured in pixels) determines the physical dimensions of the image.

Image Quality and File Type (NEF/RAW, JPEG, and TIFF)

Depending on the option selected for image quality, images will be recorded in NEF (RAW), JPEG, or TIFF formats (the options available vary with the model of camera).

Image quality
File name
Viewable in
Direct print/DPE
Compression (approximate compression ratio)
File size
NEF (RAW)
DSC_xxxx.NEF
(NEF = Nikon Electronic For-mat)
Software that supports NEF (RAW) format images
Not support-ed
Compressed. High-end cameras also support uncom-pressed NEF/RAW.
Large
JPEG
Fine
DSC_xxxx.JPG
A variety of general-purpose software
Supported
Compressed (1 : 4)
Large (for JPEG images)
Normal
Compressed (1 : 8)
Medium (for JPEG images)
Basic
Compressed (1 : 16)
Small (for JPEG images)
TIFF
DSC_xxxx.TIF
General-purpose imaging software
Not support-ed
Not compressed
Very large

Image Editing

Image quality
Edit using
Suited to later editing?
NEF (RAW)
ViewNX 2 or Capture NX 2
Yes
JPEG
A variety of general-purpose software
No
TIFF
General-purpose imaging software
Yes

NEF (RAW) is recommended for photographs that will be processed after leaving the camera, JPEG for photographs that will be displayed or printed without further processing.

NEF (RAW)

NEF (RAW) files record raw data from the camera image sensor. Camera settings are saved separately from the raw data, allowing settings such as exposure and white balance to be changed after shooting. The same image can be edited in a variety of different ways without affecting image quality.

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JPEG

JPEG images are compressed using an image-processing algorithm that reduces file size partly by reducing the amount of information the images contain. The amount of compression can be selected from “Fine”, “Normal”, and “Basic” for compression ratios of approximately 1 : 4, 1 : 8, and 1 : 16, respectively. The lower the compression ratio, the better the quality and the larger the file size. The higher the ratio, the smaller the file size but the greater the loss of information.

The following photos show an enlarged portion of the above image at fine, normal, and basic qualities to illustrate the effects of compression.

オートに設定
Fine
晴天に設定(赤みが増す)
Normal
電球に設定(青みが増す)
Basic

The image artifacts created at higher compression ratios are visible in the enlargements.

TIFF (Available with Select Models of Camera)

TIFF is an uncompressed format and causes no drop in image quality. It is also supported by a wide variety of image software. TIFF files are however comparatively large.

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