Yep, the issue is not related to costs, nor to technical limitations of standardizations, not really any short term technical issues can be dealt with and the cost of adding a standard raw file format would be a drop in the bucket for the development of the chips and cameras.
It's all about the politics...Nikon and Canon simply don't want to adopt any standards at this time. However, I hope that over time and with grassroots support, one of the two main players might blink and either adopt a standard format or make a standardized raw file format an option like JPEG already isin fact, the Lossy DNG is a potential replacement for JPEG that would offer the potential file savings of JPEG while making editing of the scene referred image data far more flexible.
Once that happens, it will be a tipping point for the industry. And while they are a niche "rich man's camera" one very successful camera maker is doing just that. Leica has successfully adopted DNG as their native raw file format. And Leica is doing great. They literally can sell avery camera/lens they make and have backorders for lots of their stuff. They enjoy the benefits of DNG which includes automatic support for new cameras on current and older software platforms as well as pushing the image quality as far as possible by including lens profiles to address aberrations. Leica is a shining example of how DNG can benefit a camera maker. So, if Leica can afford to adopt DNG (since they are such a small company) one presumes there should be no economic roadblock to Nikon or Canon doing so. No, it ain't about the money...
This is true.
A simple reading of the DNG specification, last updated in December 2012, will rebut many of the fallacies currently been pushed.
Claiming that adopting DNG, or perhaps some other similar format, as a universal RAW standard somehow 'limits' technical advances on the hand of the camera-makers simply does not stack up.
As a principle it is a bit like claiming that the CD or Blue-ray disc that one buys limits the creativity of musicians, mixing specialists and music producers in the studio.
No-one even thinks about that as an issue per se.
Is it possible to change how that music sounds when we listen to it - sure.
Both different players (and the technicalities of the amplifiers and speakers may make adifference) as well your tastes with regard to treble and bass etc.
In principle, a/d conversion of light in the camera and the subsequent number crunching is what happens in the 'studio'.
The finished product on the CD or Blue-ray disc is the RAW file written to a particular format.
Finally, the player and the sound we eventually hear is analogous to the combination of our RAW conversion and our tastes.
Truly understanding what a RAW file format actually does as well as the TRUE similarities as well as differences between proprietary RAW formats and DNG will immediately squash any claims that DNG stifles the creativity of camera-makes in order to give us better cameras (read sensors and processors in the immediate context).
The DNG specification is published and freely available from Adobe's website.
It is an interesting read.
My reading of the specification, anyway, most emphatically confirms that DNG has space in the metadata component for proprietary information should it be required. (At least one post tried to take me to task on that one.) The key is that propurietary information is not placed in other areas of metadata not designed for the purpose (a bad habit especially prevalent in, now, more dated proprietary formats).
The entire concept of DNG is designed to be extensible, not only in volume, but also in technology.
Also, if one is prepared to acknowledge this, the very fact that the specification has been updated several times to take into consideration potential, or actual, technological advances, shows that not only the attitude of the designers, but the actual format design - it is there to be changed and updated as required.
Additionally, Adobe has always, as far as their published intent goes anyway, expressed a desire to make sure that the format be kept current, but in reality the plan has always been for the International Standards Organisation to take on the format, in which case the prime responsibility would not be Adobe's even if their involvement did persist.
There are no proprietary RAW formats currently in production that cannot be accurately and fully documented in a DNG file.
In fact most proprietary RAW formats follow the fundamental outline of the DNG design (which uses the TIFF-EP specification as its basis).
Most proprietary RAW formats have also adopted TIFF-EP as the basis of the format - and this appears to have only occurred since the release of the first iteration of the DNG specification.
Mentioning the fact that DNG has already been adopted by several manufacturers has stimulated comments along the line that images files from these models are crap and the implication is that DNG somehow is the limiting factor.
I was pleased that Jeff mentioned Leica.
Are there any Leica users out there using models where DNG is the RAW format generated who feel that the image files are crap, and are they prepared to finger DNG as the culprit, and what is the evidence then that DNG might be the problem?
Lets see if anyone is prepared to stick their hand up on this one.
Somebody mentioned that at least one Pentax model using DNG has crap RAW files. Maybe you are correct in your assessment of the file quality. What evidence do you have that DNG is to blame?
Currently, RAW file conversion, includes a demosaicing process, omongst others, that requires information about the sensor and A/D conversion. The demosaicing process is there to give us the colour that we see, sensel for sensel, that is not present in the actual recorded information, sensel for sensel, since sensels only record grey tones.
Most sensors use a Bayer array placed over the sensor the filters incoming light using three colour filters - red, green, and blue.
Generally the pattern is a two-by-two repeating pattern with two green and a single red and a single blue filter.
The demosaicing process is an estimation process of what the actual colour, sensel for sensel, that each sensel should be based on how much light has struck that sensel and the surrounding sensels with due regard for the colour filter governing light transmission for each sensel.
So, the decisions made by the RAW converter are governed by what is known about the sensor and some of the A/D processing.
There are two ways this information can be obtained.
Either the information is provided by the manufacturer/designer or the information is obtained by reverse engineering.
Almost all the required information, for the third-party RAW converters, has, historically anyway, been got via reverse engineering.
I have some recent information that I have no personal way of verifying that Adobe may currently be getting their data from the camera-makers directly. Apparently this courtesy has not been extended to other software companies. As I have said I cannot verify this personally.
However, part of the design of the DNG format is to make possible a camera-model independent RAW processing experience where should any camera model use DNG as its RAW format, that no RAW converter would need the information currently required to accurately demosaic the RAW file as well as make other decisions. The process does not risk any proprietary secrets.
Some, but not all of the information in this post, is from the latest DNG specification that I accessed straight off Adobe's website. All the other information has been published on sites well known to the photographic community, and last, but not least LuLa itself.
There has been a hugh amount of heat generated based on complete furfies.
Perhaps you may not want, or feel the need, for a universal RAW format.
You may not want DNG adopted.
These are valid positions per se.
What is not so tenable though is the 'don't confuse me with facts approach' that has been evident.
My advice is NOT to take at face value anything written above - go and research this stuff yourself.
Draw your own conclusions based on knowledge, not ignorance.
BTW Any RAW converting process based on DCRAW has limitations based on the lack of documented format information. All the conversion information required is reverse engineered, ingeniously, but still a hack. What we really need are RAW files that do not need model-specific information for conversion. DNG does offer this.
Remember clarify this all for yourself - nonetheless my reading of the situation is not so rosy especially looking forward without a universal RAW format.