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OpenRAW initiative and website launched  
Monday, April 25, 2005 | by Eamon Hickey

A group of photographers has launched a website called OpenRAW.org to lobby camera manufacturers to openly document the RAW file formats used by their digital cameras.

The group's tag line is "Digital Image Preservation Through Open Documentation". As the phrase implies, the OpenRAW group is most specifically worried that photos stored in current RAW file formats may not be readable and/or usable in the future.

This risk, the group argues, is real because most RAW file formats are not openly documented, and camera manufacturers also sometimes take other actions that can obstruct full access to the information contained in RAW files. (Specific examples cited are Nikon's method of storing white balance information in the D2X, as well as Canon's failure to support the EOS D30 RAW file format in the company's current software.)

The site contains thoughtful and measured information on this issue, and on the actions the group is calling for.

An initial post to the site by Mario Westphal, the developer of iMatch, a digital image cataloging program, gives a useful inside look at the current state of RAW file format proliferation and variability.

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