I may be a dinosaur when it comes to concepts such as open source.
Well, the concept (but not the term) open source is older than Microsoft, and as far as I can tell, almost as old as electronic computers.
So you're not being a dinosaur, you're being a ... erh ... uhm ... mammal about it.
When I hear "open source" the first question that I ask is, "Who do I call when it breaks?" But even as I write that, I realize how stupid a statement it is. Nowadays nobody supports anything and nobody fixes anything, they just sell you a new release. In the old days, in a DEC VAX shop for example, you paid big bucks for vendor support, computers didn't crash much and bugs were fixed.
Or you sent a message to techs at other places with VAXes, and asked for their help. Then those techs might have a solution for you, and perhaps they even submitted a fix for the problem to DEC.
That's how it often worked in the "old days", when you got access to the source, so you could compile it yourself.
But wait! This isn't about "open source".
We're not talking about access to the source code of Nikon's proprietary software, nor of Adobe Photoshop, or of Bibble.
We're talking about open formats
I can't say that I disagree with your (and others) views on the ownership of your photos, and maybe that means you own the contents of the RAW files and the right to have software that can read them into perpetuity. (If you buy the Nikon raw converter, you will have that, incidentally.)
No, I won't have that, because it's highly unlikely that the computer I have today will be working in as little as five years. It's highly unlikely that the operating system I'll be using in ten years will be fully backwards compatible, which means that I'd have to use emulation software to run Nikon's converter.
Well, at least if we can count on past years' experience about backwards compatibility for newer versions of Windows.
Do Canon and the other manufacturers license their RAW file knowledge or do all the converter writers have to do reverse engineering? If it's the latter, I would call that a symptom of an immature industry.
I'm fairly certain that dcraw reads the RAW formats by reverse engineering.
And I agree, it's a symptom of an immature industry.
Maybe it makes you feel good that you can find the RAW file layout somewhere, but in the long run, I don't see it as big a backward compatibility advantage as you do.
You, and others, stated that you wondered how you would get access to your NEF files in the year 2048 if Nikon goes out of business or chooses not to support it any longer. The same argument holds for other RAW files, doesn't it?
No, because the format doesn't suddenly cease to be known.
When a format first has been reverse-engineered, and the method for reading the format properly has been made legally public, then there is nothing that prevents me or anyone else from implementing a new converter for the old formats.
And this is where we do
get back to open source; since I can get the source code for dcraw, I may not even have to implement much on my own, the code is already there.
Do you believe that Bibble or PS or whoever will still support 1Ds Mark 2 Raw files in 2048, assuming they still exist as corporate entities or weren't taken over by a corporate rival who shut them down?
I honestly don't know. I certainly don't trust Adobe, and Bibble doesn't seem to be very old as a company.
What you probably will do in 2048, regardless of whether you shoot D2X or Canon, is to load up your original software CD's because no one will be suporting any of them at that time.
Those original software CDs are probably not readable anymore, and if they are, I won't have access to a working CD reader for them.
If you think that sounds strange, where is your 8 inch floppy diskette drive? Your 5 1/4 inch floppy drive? Your Video 2000 unit? 4-track tape?
I have lots
of practically inaccessible software on media that I cannot read with my current computer.
If you want access to RAW files for the rest of your life and beyond, you are going to have to actively do something to make them accessible yourself.
Well, maybe not as much as you think, but I certainly will have to leave information enough about what kind of format it is.
But in the long term, if we want to keep our photos (which are your property) it might be best to avoid all RAW files, and convert them all into something else, that's more universal and may not exist yet, as part of your workflow. That new Adobe standard may fit that bill. TIF and JPG files have fulfilled a functionally similar role, although they represent the output of the workflow and not the "negative".
The new Adobe standard - DNG - is a slightly crippled, proprietary TIFF. (TIFF = "Tagged Image File Format", not
"Tagged Image Format"). The "TIFF" we usually refer to is a variant of TIFF usually known as TIFF RGB. DNG doesn't support nearly as many bits per channel as does TIFF, for instance, so if you want to have another format than RAW for your image data, perhaps saving to TIFF RGB isn't such a bad idea after all.