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What to do about long term RAW future proof

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by wt21, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Would love any and all comments, please :)

    I've been keeping my RAW in LR, but that means any and all adjustments are LR database adjustments. With the need to upgrade my computer, the changes in LR licensing, etc. etc. has got me thinking how do I protect this stuff long term? Printing is certainly one option, and I need to do more of that.

    But jpg also seems like a very stable format. I never go back any more and adjust RAWs. I've got 6700 RAW photos from various cameras dating back to around 2009.

    Is it crazy to start thinking about session based RAW processing rather than "storage forever." That is, process the RAW, export it to jpg, and move one? I suppose I could archive the RAW somewhere "just in case" but the main storage would be all in jpg.

    The side benefit is I could separate photo organization and storage from my RAW developer. Right now they are one in the same, and that's really just Lightroom as an option, but if I separate them, I'm more free to consider other tools or approaches.

    What do other folks do with your RAW?
     
  2. Matero

    Matero SC Veteran

    277
    Dec 25, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    I wrestled with myself on this and decided, dump the RAW. I learned myself to trust on camera and SOOC JPEG. I rarely produce another JPEG in camera with different settings than original JPEG (Well, obviously I shoot JPEG + RAW)

    When I import pics to LR, I select keepers with JPEG, and usually also the result. If there is need to do something more and radical, I use the RAW. But that is really rare. After processing and cataloging JPEGs, I just dump the RAW and decide not to worry and have second thoughts. Simple, eh?
     
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Any shot I like enough to process and keep the processed version (which I invariably convert to TIFF for processing in the Nik plugins and then to jpeg and then trash the HUGE TIFF files), I also want to keep the raw file around. As processors improve, you never know when you're gonna want to take another shot at something. And some of my better shots, sometimes I go back and process completely differently just to see if I can wreck it, or maybe even make it better... But I go through and jettison the vast majority of my non-keepers after every shoot, or after a few months to make sure I didn't miss anything (not uncommon for me to find an overlooked gem a few months later as I'm going through prior to trashing a bunch).

    Beyond that, I just occasionally buy a bigger and faster hard drive for less money than the smaller one I'm replacing. At the moment I have a 1TB firewire drive dedicated to photos and a slower 2TB backup drive that I back everything up on with Time Machine. My Mac's internal 1TB drive is only about 1/3 full with all of my photos on a separate drive. And I pay $50 per year for an online backup service that, thankfully, I've never had to restore anything major from (a couple of small things in the case of accidental deletion). It's slow, but it works in the background and gives me that much more security in case my house burns down or something.... But storage is getting cheap - a USB 3 and/or firewire 2-4 TB drive today costs between $100-200, so I'm sure when my 1 TB photo drive gets a little closer to full, I'll buy a 3 TB drive which should last me a good long time. And then eventually I'll probably get a bigger one yet.

    I see storage space to be a pretty minor challenge these days. If I ever develop a taste for 50mp sensors, maybe I'll change my tune, but probably the computing power to work with those files easily will always been more of a bottleneck than storage space...

    -Ray
     
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  4. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Thanks Ray. I didn't mean to ask about storage (though my dumb title clearly says that...) or CPU, but instead about future proof of pictures. As formats change, software changes, etc. I was thinking turning things into jpgs is better for the future.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
  5. SnapDawg

    SnapDawg Rorschach Test Pilot

    649
    Apr 18, 2014
    Canary Islands
    Ken
    I'm not too concerned about not being able to process my RAW files in 2050. Of all the shots I've took in 40+ years there are only a couple hundreds I'd save from a burning house anyway. I have multiple digital backups and prints of each one of those files or negatives/slides and keep them stored at different locations. BTW, just last year I lost two of my backup drives due to some hardware failure but I never lost a print.
     
  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    You could convert them all to DNG. I don't think that format will ever be tossed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
  7. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    I shoot jpeg & raw so I have two files for each image. I used to sort my photos through lightroom, dispose of what I didn't like and anything I did I would keep the raw file for. If I like how the jpg was processed in camera then I kept that too. But as of late, we're talking maybe the last 3-4 years, my files have not been sorted with exception to the class I took that required me to organize. I had like 20mb free space left on my computer hard drive. The answer was to move them to an external and I freed up a lot of space. Eventually I'll have to get to sorting them, disposing what I don't want, but for now it's the cluttered life for me :)
    As to having the pictures in the future it is my intent to self publish photo books about our vacations and then for my personal projects, maybe by topic, maybe by year. Then I have hard copy.
     
  8. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I think photo books are the way to go, for things you never want to lose. For example, I never wanted to lose the shots I took of Tom. I chose the best, created a photobook with iPhoto and ordered from Apple. It wasn't especially cheap but it's great quality, and if for some reason I lose the digital copies, I have that.

    As far as storage is concerned, it's an external drive for me. I've allocated 1TB to photos and have barely scratched the surface. I try to remember to dump the rubbish right away after I have been out, but rarely do, so I probably need to get rid of at least 2/3 of what I have.

    RAW vs JPG? Depends on which camera. I prefer to keep the RAWs from my Pentaxes, they are native DNG and the JPG isn't that crash hot. ON the other hand, the JPGs from my X100 are more than acceptable so for those, that's what I shoot.

    I think the biggest issue for me is getting rid of the cruft of which I have loads.
     
  9. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    But I don't think DNG stores LR edits natively in it (???) so you'd just have the RAW file.

    I don't think I asked my question very well.

    I have 6700 RAW images, most of them with edits done to them in LR. With Adobe going to LR cloud, it brings to mind the fact that "LightRoom" database edits may, or may not, existing in 3, 5, 15, 20 years. Just like some of my oldest RAW photos were processed with an old Adobe Profile that is now out of date. Could I one day find that edits on my RAWs are no longer readable.

    So, I was wondering what folks are doing -- printing is one idea, though I'm not sure I'm up for printing all 6700 shots. Convert them all to jpg which captures the images with the edits? Tiff I suppose is another (lossless) option, but they are big files. That kind of thing
     
  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    My bad - I missed the point of the question completely. Well, I'd still save the raw in case I wanted to work on it in some other situation in the future. But if I've processed it and like the final product, I'd also save a jpeg of it so I'd have the processed version regardless of what happens to future software. I had a whole mess of raw files in Aperture and when I switched over to Lightroom, I lost all of those edits. But I'd saved the jpegs so I had useable copies of the processed shot and then it I wanted to do something different with them, I started fro scratch in Lightroom. I've never felt like I lost anything important by when I lost those raw edits. But that's probably because I do most of my editing beyond the most basic stuff in Nik plug-ins, so I have to go to a TIFF first and then have to either keep the TIFF or save it to a JPEG so I can dump the huge TIFF file. So I had jpegs of all finished shots and only lost the rather basic edits I'd done in Aperture to get the files ready for further processing in Color or Silver Efex... So I continue to save them and if I ever switch from LR to something else, I guess the same thing will happen. Someday maybe the raws won't be readable by current software, but I'll deal with that issue when I get there... and maybe save some of them to DNG or TIFF...

    -Ray
     
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  11. bassman

    bassman SC Rookie

    20
    Feb 12, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    I save all of the raw files in LR, along with the edits. My selects all get exported as jpegs to my hard drive (and Dropbox) as part of the export process to Flickr. So I have the raw, JPEG and Flickr copies of the selects.

    I seriously doubt we'll wake up one day and find LR has stopped working. More likely, it will die the slow death of no more updates, followed by incompatibility with a new release of the OS. If LR ever gets to near-unsupported, I'll use the extraordinary processing power of my then-computer to export tiffs of all of the raw files with the edits. Or perhaps import the LR catalog into some new software that is largely able to effectively translate it to a new format. No sense worrying about it until it's time to worry about it.
     
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  12. 480sparky

    480sparky SC Regular

    129
    Aug 24, 2015
    Ken
    I'll merrily shoot .NEFs till I take a dirt bath. I will do so as I make money by taking an existing file and editing to the client's requirements. Many times, I just would not be able to do that with JPEGs. And sometimes, the client wants 48-bit TIFFs. Converting a JPEG only generates an 8-bit TIFF.

    Worrying about the future is futile. There's no way anyone can say, with any authority, what will happen. To do so is self-delusional and futile.
     
  13. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    I have my tiffs from LR open in Photoshop and then save them from there, usually after further processing. They are all in my Lightroom catalog, but safe from any catastrophe to Lightroom itself. I figure Tiff will be with us if Olympus orf files cease getting any support. And of course, I always shoot raw and jpeg to cover myself. Your question has archivists in some of our biggest institutions pulling their hair out for solutions.
     
  14. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Sorry. My question wasn't about the underlying .orf .nef or any of that. It's the fact that your RAW developments are nothing more than data table reads. So, do you store them in jpgs, tiffs, etc. I was asking more about how folks manage the corrected file, not safe the basic RAW. Just having trouble titling the thread correctly :)
     
  15. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Your Lightroom edits are "saveable" only to be read by Lightroom (as far as I know). The raw file is just raw data. When you open the raw file in Lightroom, it may open with your most recent adjustments already applied (though I am not sure...since I don't use it).

    If you decide to not "pay as you go" with Lightroom going forward, I think you just need to say goodbye to all your edits. You can save your raw files and re-process any that you want to. You can also save all your jpegs........ your raw files that you have edited. You just can't UN-edit them without paying the Lightroom thugs.

    I could be mistaken since I don't use Lightroom, but that's my understanding.
     
  16. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    What Lightroom does is store a record of every adjustment you make to your raw file so that every adjustment can be undone. That is not "part" of the raw file. The raw file is merely what was captured using your camera settings at the time of capture.

    Using Lightroom just keeps a record of every change you make along the way to the original data (the raw). So you may "click" on the .RAW file to view your image, but I think what you see is actually the original raw file data with every adjustment you have made..... which is ACTUALLY a jpeg at that point. I'm speaking several levels above my pay grade so take it all with a grain of salt.

    The long and short of it, thought (I think) is that there is no such thing as saving your Lightroom edits if you plan on ditching Lightroom.
     
  17. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    Any photo that's worth printing, sharing, or publishing has either been output as a JPG (or TIF) and/or posted full res on Flickr. I have a year-by-year filing system that I've been using for nearly 20 years, so if the house burns down, at least I have those (hopefully) somewhere on a backup or on the cloud.

    And I'm not too worried about the RAWs not being stored with their processing instructions. I've actually been going through my archives from 2007 or so (photos taken with a Nikon D70 and Ricoh GX100) for an Instagram project and I'm re-processing nearly every photo that I want to use. Some of it is due to Lightroom processing improving in that time, but more critically, my own tastes and skills have evolved since 2007. So those old processing instructions have less value that I presumed they would.
     
  18. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    Well there is no saving the edit within the raw file, but any edits you have made and exported as tiff or jpeg is open-able in any program that handles those formats. It's why I process all my raw edits into 16 bit tiffs, to have a file with huge amounts of information in case .orf or whatever disappears. Once I have the tiff I can open it anywhere. Also, if I uninstall lightroom, I still have the .orf files on a folder on my harddrive and can open them in any other raw converter. I would lose whatever edits I'd made to the raw file, that's all, not the raw file itself. I assume most people process changes made to any important raw file in lightroom into a jpeg or tiff. An edited raw file isn't very useful if it hasn't been exported into a useable format outside the raw converter anyway.
     
  19. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    Jun 10, 2013
    You could work with XMP files to store your edits. See: A Lightroom Tip That Could Save You
    To my knowledge XMP is a generic format that can be read by many editors (eg Photo Ninja).

    Having said that, I do wonder how useful it is to store your edit settings. Software evolves so quickly and has become so easy that presets nowadays show better results on old photos than the edits of 5-6 years ago. I've recently tried that and decided to forget about edits made and just keep end-results and raw files. I re-edit when needed.