ps: By the way Doug, why do you think DNG is useless?
Useless is probably too strong a word for sure. I appreciate the sentiment and purpose I just don't love the implementation or the compromise.
Without getting too technical here are three major issues:
#1 Makes photographers believe that any raw file can be processed equally well in any program. DNG (usually) ensures a file can be opened by XYZ raw processor but being able to open a file is different than having the raw processor optimized and refined for processing that file.
#2 Generally involves leaving out proprietary sets of data which can enhance image quality. Data like internal thermostat readings during the exposure period, dark frame readouts of the sensor etc. Even if they were included in the DNG they would be ignored by every other raw processor (see #1).
#3 Uneven or inconsistent implementations. Whether it's unclear standards, Adobe's own ignoring of the standards, or individual companies' bugs/mistakes I don't know and I don't really care, but I've seen a lot of real-world DNG-related problems which were not present when you read the original raw format in that program (pink highlights in Aperture, sensor-artifacts in LightRoom, weird colors in C1, black frames etc).
DNG is a good idea, but I think it was a more pressing matter 5-10 years ago when many raw formats could ONLY be opened in their own software and there was a vanishingly small number of users using that program. With the advent of widespread digital imaging, programs like LightRoom and Aperture and many "little guy" image processing programs (RPP, RD, Bibble, etc etc) it's hard to imagine not being able to open your raw files from any major brand in 15-20 years. I'd bet 100 bucks I will be able to access/buy a program that can read my raw files from any major current brand in 20 years and that the process will take under 10 minutes; as a similar example I can pull up, purchase ($20), and download an emulator for the Nintendo Atari and then load in my favorite Atari games to play on any modern computer in about 5 minutes using google and a credit card.
Beyond 20 years? Frankly it's so hard to predict what will happen in 20 years of computing advancements that I don't think any raw format or DNG is a 100% guarantee of anything. With this in mind I archive my final retouched select images as 16-bit TIFFs alongside the original raw files (using Aperture for organization and cataloging). I will be a million bucks that my 16 bit TIFFs will "open" on any "computer" long after I'm dead (the quotes indicate my doubt that we would even recognize the devices/methods/terms involved in looking at your digitally recorded images in 100 years). If nothing else because the code required to read a TIFF can be written by a smart 6th grader.
In other words, DATA future compatibility does not worry me (much). Especially in comparison to close hardware systems.
Anyway, that's my take on it. I fully respect anyone who disagrees with me on the topic - it's a very important one and since it involves the future there are no right/wrong answers just educated guesses.
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