Photography Articles

This article is published in "Camera" Monthly Photographic Magazine, No. 43, October 2005, Tehran.

author image

Negative of Digital Cameras

Masoud Soheili

Canada, 2005

Professional and semi-Professional cameras entered a new format of photo in the world of Computer: RAW Format. Each camera make a special RAW for itself, different from other cameras, and a software to edit it and make a final file for use.

This format, RAW, which was made on the base of TIFF EP, is really the replacement of the negative film. RAW has its own specialties. It is an uncompressed file and naturally with a big volume, with raw and definable info that is made by digital camera. Its resolution is not defined. Its size is usually determined by the camera, and mostly the biggest size that the camera can take, as the negatives 135 or 120 (6x6)...

Taking photos with RAW format is easy, too easy, as you take JPG photos, and even easier than taking negative or slide. But, transferring this photo to a final form to use is difficult. It takes time, and maybe more difficult than developing and printing a negative in a darkroom, but this time, at the computer, with light and not in dark, and without the bad smell of the darkroom.

You can't visit RAW format on your computer with windows and its programs. It's just visible on the LCD of your camera. So, the software of the manufacture of the camera transfers it to a visible file, as TIF or JPG.

So, RAW, which was based on a special model of a camera, is not suitable for filling, especially for an institute that use more than one camera. First time, in September 2004, Adobe System Inc. made a program which transfers all the RAW formats to a unique one: DNG
Now, Adobe DNG Converter transfers 75 different RAW format of 75 cameras to the unique new RAW, called DNG. It's now visible with Photoshop and it is suitable to file. This program is free at and it converts all the RAW formats of all the different cameras of Canon, Contax, Epson, FujiFilm, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Leaf, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Sigma, and Sony.

ACDSee program shows the RAW format, but it couldn't edit it. If you use Photoshop CS and download the above-mentioned converter, you can have a new negative now: DNG, with the same quality as RAW. You can edit your photo and make your final photo (TIF, JPG...). And, you have always your digital negative RAW, now DNG. And now, you can file your RAW, too! if you use a camera for long term.

The software of the manufacture of the camera is a graphic program, easy to use, easier than Photoshop. Some kinds of this programs changes all the RAW files to TIF just with a click. But, these software mostly do not have all the options and facilities of Photoshop, but, maybe enough for a photographer.
Due to the options of Digital Camera, taking photo, even in automatic mode, with digital camera is easier and more practical than Film Cameras, especially when the light is not enough. It makes photography easier. But, The difficult part is the last process. Using the new darkroom needs to know computer and the related software, Photoshop (and of course learning English language). Learning this is really more difficult than working with digital camera and using all of its options. And, it's not easy as working in a darkroom, the reason all the previous generation of photographers don't like digital. But, it is practical and in the Computer Era, we should learn it.

It seems that buying digital camera and its accessories is more expensive than the film camera. But the costs of buying film, developing, index and printing, filling, with attention to the lost time in this procedure of film camera and the easy work with digital camera, make it cheaper in long term. It's safer, easier and you can see the result your work at that time, no need to darkroom. It's excellent, if you want to use the photos in computer and in Internet.

Due to the high quality of RAW (and also DNG), 22 mp resolutions, the final photos comes better than negative and even than slide. If we accept, we need just 6 to 8 mp for the normal photography works, we should say that the Color Digital Era is arrived, Learn it and embrace it!

Due to the public use of color photography, Digital and Computer world made his attention to the color photography; so, it couldn't pass the black and white negative. All the professional and semi-professional cameras have an option of black and white (B&W) photography. But, the result is a monochrome gray photo. This photo, even with the absolute and complete use of all the computer software, couldn't be converted to a B&W photo, which is taken by a film camera, with all the range of grays and black and white. But, it is a good monochrome photo. If you want to use this photo in computer or in Internet (no print), Photoshop helps you to make an acceptable B&W photo, by converting it to gray style mode and changing the grays and contrast.

The final work of your photo, TIFF or JPG... exits the computer and enters the printer in RGB mode. So, if we convert a color photo or a monochrome photo to a B&W by Photoshop, and save it, it will be printed in RGB mode, as a color photo: Lower quality, and finally a monochrome print!

If we want to make ready a photo to publish it, it should be converted straight from RAW to CMYK and saved. This photo is naturally color. Digital is the World of Color Photography.

Even if RAW passed over the color negative, and naturally film cameras became cheap and enlargers have no value, film cameras stands at the first row of technology in the field of Black and White Photography. It still has the Flag of B&W Photography for itself.