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Author Topic: Nikon - Good cameras and lenses, dumb company!  (Read 10144 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« on: April 20, 2005, 06:48:57 AM »
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First, let me start by saying that I do agree with the stupidity of Nikon move. I have called the Nikon Customer support in Tokyo this morning and have strongly, but politely, conveyed the message.

Now, having only access to the public exchanges on this topic, my feeling is that reports of this story are way overblown and one sided.

IMHO, Adobe is far from being all white here, and I for one find unacceptable to have to:

- get PS CS2 to gain D2X support in ACR,
- only get partial D2X .nef support because of a supposed fear of what I see as highly unlikely law suits. Was Bibble sued?

As a final comment, I find it a bit funny to read the wave of protest at a modest attempt by a camera company to lock us in the their system softwarewise, when Canon and Nikon have done all they could for years to make their systems completely closed hardwarewise... :-) Don't tell me "they didn't sue Sigma"... cos they didn't sue Adobe neither. Or at least not yet.

Regards,
Bernard
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2005, 07:33:03 AM »
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Here's my two cents about the Nikon NEF data question. I don't own Nikon equipment and am no expert in RAW converters, just a semi-retired software developer.

I don't know the details first hand but from threads here and elsewhere, it sounds as if what Nikon did was to encode WB data NOT encrypt it. There is a world of difference. Encryption is a way to disguise data. They didn't disguise it, they just laid it out differently, possibly through some simple look-up table, as others have surmised. Since RAW formats are proprietary they have a right to lay out the data in the file any way they want, for whatever design reasons are important to them. Every data file on your computer is encoded in some way or other.

From my reading my understanding is that they would prefer if software converters use the Nikon programmer interface (SDK or API or whatever they want to call it) to access the data rather than relying on the bit by bit layout in the file. This is NOT bad system design. In fact, there is a lot that's good about it. For example, in future releases of this camera or others, they would have the freedom to move the data around in the file layout any way that's convenient for them, while people writing converter software could continue to use the SDK subroutine library from Nikon, without having to change their program, thereby releasing new versions, and charging us more money.

You could make the argument that we would all be better off if all manufacturers standardized on a data retrieval interface (standard SDK) so that converters could remain more stable over time. The only thing that would change would be the underlying SDK from Nikon (or who oever). There is nothing wrong with this design strategy and from my point of view (past software developer) there is a lot going for it. Rather than castigate Nikon for doing what has been been common practice in many areas of software design, the better debate might be whether or not they should all do it this way.
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jani
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2005, 03:34:59 PM »
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This post may go over like a lead balloon

Only insofar as the buoyancy of its arguments.

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Why should they do the R&D and then just turn it over to Adobe. That's what you all are demanding.

No, what we're all "demanding" (I could quibble about that, since I'm not really demanding anything) is that Nikon allow us to legally access our works of art, even in the USA.

The fact that dcraw and similar tools have "cracked" the file format doesn't make the authors of that software any less liable wrt. the DMCA than Adobe.

It's just that Adobe chose not to take that risk, while the others did.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2005, 05:56:11 PM »
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Software is property.
No it's not. It's intelectual property. There's quite a difference. When a person buys software, that copy of it is owned by the purchaser (it's their property). But the creation of the software by the creator is protected via copyright law to ensure they can profit from it for a given amount of time. This means that even though a person owns that copy of the software, they do not have the right to distribute it.

When I shoot my camera, Canon does not own the RAW files. Canon created the means to make those RAW images and that is copyrighted to them. This means a company or person cannot build and sell a camera that makes the RAW images in the same means as the ones from Canon cameras. The RAW files themselves are nobodys property other than that of the person who made them; just as film negatives are.

Nikon has no justification for encrypting any RAW data.
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bob mccarthy
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2005, 10:43:37 PM »
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And if Nikon encrypts enough of the NEF format, you'll HAVE to buy Capture, since you won't have the option of other apps.  Doesn't that concern you?.

No not at all. Now that would really be shooting themself in the foot. I'd  be up in arms too.I see the current attempt as attempting to provide value to the Nikon user that they have a choice to participate in or not. Its not blocking access at all

> What everyone calls encription is not functionally and
> practicially different from compiling.

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It's very different, and after 30+ years in the software business, I think I'm qualified to judge that, having worked on compilers and encryption both.  Bob, you don't seem to know what you are talking about when it comes to the technical issues of software..

Well, I was speaking in the metaphorical. The sensibility is to mask all that goes on upstream and to accept the product at face value.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2005, 02:50:02 AM »
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Adobe doesn't fully support the D2X, then we will have one less way of converting the NEF, and the lost way happens to involve the most important graphics program on the planet, and one that I've spent a lot of time learning. Not a small loss.
I think at the end of the day, whether Adobe or Nikon is right or wrong, is the whole point of this debacle. This is rapidly turning into a major PR disaster for Nikon and their attempt to put their point across is only pouring oil on an already inflamed situation. Hopefully it will act as a wake up call to manufacturers that the majority of photographers actually want to see some form of open standards for RAW formats such that it is possible to make their own choice of processing software and workflow rather than have it imposed through some form of 'technical blackmail' for want of a better term.

Nikon's decision to force 3rd party developers down the SDK route is worrisome as it potentially prevents the 3rd parties leveraging any developments in interpolation technique, image processing or software development (increased speed or functionality) to provide photographers with an overall better solution. This can only hurt Nikon at the end of the day and gives the impression of a Film Camera manufacturer saying that you can only use their enlargers, paper and chemicals in the darkroom, and if you wish to use a third party enlarger you still have to use Nikon bulbs to preserve colour fidelity and quality, blah, blah.

I don't believe that Nikon necessarily have to follow the DNG standard but they do need to show that they understand photographers concerns on this issue and that they are going to provide an equitable solution for all.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
Robert Spoecker
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2005, 01:49:13 PM »
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Might there be a good market for a "Photographer's Guide to Rules of Composition of Both Kinds" with a free addendum about colonics?
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gryffyn
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2005, 06:21:32 PM »
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Michael quoted Jeff Schewe yesterday (Apr 24).  In my opinion, it's the most eloquent expression of what I (and many other loyal Nikon customers) feel about Nikon's recent actions.  I won't repeat the whole thing here, but this one line does bear reading again:

"To do anything to the file that in any way restricts, hampers, or impairs unfettered access to the digital photographic image is unjustifiable and should be deemed a hostile act against the photographer’s interest and the best interest of the photography industry."  - Jeff Schewe

Nikon has perpetuated a hostile act against their customers...and thus they should not wonder why they have been lambasted (and will continue to be, to the point of switching to other camera manufacturers) for it.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2005, 10:29:14 AM »
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I think you just hit the nail on the head, Michael.  And I'm a Nikon shooter (at the moment).

Like many other Nikon shooters, I'm in the market for a D2X (maybe even two), plus some new glass, including the expensive 200-400 AFS VR and some macro lenses.  That is a lot of coin, and a long term revenue stream for Nikon, even beyond purchases that are planned for this year!

I've got a D100, a D70, lots of good Nikkor glass, a couple of SB-800's and more. Also have a copy of the latest Nikon Capture. And like everyone else, PS/CS is my mainstay editing application. NC is a sideline.

So now, for the first time, I'm seriously considering dumping the Nikon stuff and going with Canon 1Ds bodies, with C glass.

Nicely done Nikon. Good way to piss off a whole segment of loyal customers and lose even more market share, by encrypting the white balance in the RAW file.  Will they encrypt the whole raw file next?  Haven't they noticed that technology customers (and digital cameras are just another technological product these days) are extremely averse to encryption schemes and usually break them forthwith? It's a losing battle.

As Michael said, dumb company!

Now if I were Canon executive management, I would announce full and complete support for the DNG standard as a user selectable option in future versions of their flagship DSLR line. That would put the nail in Nikon's DSLR business coffin and ensure mass defection of Nikon users, like myself, over to Canon gear.  Now that would be a boost to the bottem line for Canon in '05, wouldn't it?

You listening, Nikon and Canon?
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2005, 02:07:47 PM »
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I'd suggest that you copy the link to each of these discussions and email them to someone in the Nikon-to-you chain.

Even if it's only the company from which you purchase your gear.

Flooding a few mail boxes might stick a pin in their collective butts.



(I'm guessing that Nikon has someone monitoring these sites.  Some manufacturers and dealers certainly do.)
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didger
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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2005, 07:07:21 AM »
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Bernard, I concur with your observations, especially about Canon hardware issues.  What little support Nikon still has is in part due to Canon changing their lens mounts so often and Nikon keeping their lenses compatible with their bodies over the decades.

As for "was Bibble sued", however, maybe the answer is "not yet" or maybe the answer is "why bother".  Adobe is a fatter target, more worth sueing and Adobe may need to keep a low profile where anti-trust action is concerned.  What conceivable benefit could there be for Adobe in not supporting D2X completely?

We'll never know what all is behind the scenes here and for sure none of us individuals or corporate entities are altogether free of sin or altogether evil.  Stupid is another matter; there's little disagreement that Nikon is not being brilliant here and I'm glad you're taking advantage of living in Japan to try to get the message across to them.  I hope there's some way to get to the right Nikon people to read these LL threads.  That would be hard to ignore unless they're stupid and stubborn beyond plausibility.
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HiltonP
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2005, 05:17:17 AM »
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Quote from: 61Dynamic,April 20 2005,23:01
Quote from: BernardLanguillier,April 20 2005,04:48
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Why did Nikon make the D70 use CF cards, and now change the D50 to SD cards?

Mabye I missed something, but aside from the word "Nikon" how is this related?

Because the thread is entitled "Good cameras and lenses, dumb company!", and I think making two dSLR's, whose target markets cross one another, use different cards is dumb.
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Regards, HILTON
HiltonP
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2005, 10:33:03 AM »
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On a side point re: the D50 and SD cards, the nikon press release seems to marketing this camera very heavily to the digicam market and not to real SLR users, this might have something to do with the change . . . That said, I think that the way the 350D is marketed and designed seems to be a lot more 'serious' than the press announcement picture of the D50.
I've noticed that as well . . . lots of words like "family", and "child mode" in the promotional material. Serves to show just how rapidly the dSLR market has changed, from semi-pro equipment to family cams in about two years!

The CD -vs- CF card thing isn't a train smash, but Nikon have made things "more expensive" for existing D-series users wishing to add the D50 to their collection. One now has to factor in the purchase of new SD cards with the price of the camera.
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Regards, HILTON
gryffyn
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2005, 08:54:41 AM »
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Dontcha just love open source and the internet?

Heeheeheehee!  

Sorry if I'm gloating, but this is making me laugh and was a great way to start the day! ;-)
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jani
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2005, 04:34:45 PM »
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Well, Robert, looks like you've got your SDK, at least.

Nikon's response (DPReview)
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Jan
gryffyn
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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2005, 05:23:53 PM »
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A good example?  In the software world XML is taking over as an encoding standard of choice.....and there is no closing that box either (even though some vendors are trying to do so by proposing a "ludicrous" binary XML standard).

Users want interoperability.

Oh....that's too weak a statement....let me rephrase:

Users are demanding interoperability.

Nikon and others would be wise to see what is happening in the wider software technology marketplace, since they are now playing in that space.
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2005, 06:51:32 PM »
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jani, I thought I had seen mention of that SDK somewhere, but couldn't remember where, so often in such cases I just assume I imagined it, as I have learned not to trust my memory.

I may be a dinosaur when it comes to concepts such as open source. When I hear "open source" the first question that I ask is, "Who do I call when it breaks?"  But even as I write that, I realize how stupid a statement it is. Nowadays nobody supports anything and nobody fixes anything, they just sell you a new release. In the old days, in a DEC VAX shop for example, you paid big bucks for vendor support, computers didn't crash much and bugs were fixed. Nowadays we maintain large network support departments full of guys who run around re-installing things all day long, no bugs get fixed, and no one ever quite knows what went wrong, but we have to spend money on new PC's every year or so. While at home, millions of people rely on their nephews to keep their computers running. (End of rant.)

I can't say that I disagree with your (and others) views on the ownership of your photos, and maybe that means you own the contents of the RAW files and the right to have software that can read them into perpetuity. (If you buy the Nikon raw converter, you will have that, incidentally.) I never intended to defend Nikon's business decision. Since what they are doing seems to annoy so many people, it is by almost by definition wrong. But I don't have  a big problem with them trying to corner the market on D2X raw converters either. It may be a bad business decision in the current environment but that's their problem. I may not like being limited to only one NEF converter but I don't believe it's that big a deal either.

Do Canon and the other manufacturers license their RAW file knowledge or do all the converter writers have to do reverse engineering? If it's the latter, I would call that a symptom of an immature industry. Maybe it makes you feel good that you can find the RAW file layout somewhere, but in the long run, I don't see it as big a backward compatibility advantage as you do.

You, and others, stated that you wondered how you would get access to your NEF files in the year 2048 if Nikon goes out of business or chooses not to support it any longer. The same argument holds for other RAW files, doesn't it? Do you believe that Bibble or PS or whoever will still support 1Ds Mark 2 Raw files in 2048, assuming they still exist as corporate entities or weren't taken over by a corporate rival who shut them down?

What you probably will do in 2048, regardless of whether you shoot D2X or Canon, is to load up your original software CD's because no one will be suporting any of them at that time. If you want access to RAW files for the rest of your life and beyond, you are going to have to actively do something to make them accessible yourself. Being able to rely on 4 vendors today, rather than just one, may be an advantage but it will likely be a small one.

With Nikon's decision what we really lose is the ability to choose betweeen different RAW converter vendors. Yes, it's an issue. But in the long term, if we want to keep our photos (which are your property) it might be best to avoid all RAW files, and convert them all into something else, that's more universal and may not exist yet, as part of your workflow. That new Adobe standard may fit that bill. TIF and JPG files have fulfilled a functionally similar role, although they represent the output of the workflow and not the "negative".
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2005, 08:04:39 PM »
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So how is Nikon hurting us? Trying to develop features unique to Capture. What everyone calls encription is not functionally and practicially different from compiling.

In the end..You get the output of your input. Nikon is not withholding anything.

This is a discussion/debate which will never be agreed upon. One poll I'd like to see is how many have paid for CS in the user group. I know some have. Other justify not paying in many ways. Its too expensive, it's cool but..., Adobe makes too much money... and on and on. The only thing I hold against Adobe is this smear campaign. But they won the hearts and mind and took the focus off their new conditions of purchase.

Maybe some day you'll have someone use one of your images for personal or commercial gain without your permission. Actually I hope not.
Sorry, Bob, you're clueless and your arguments are totally beside the point. Encryption and compiling are totally different concepts. RAW files are the intellectual property of the photographer who creates them, not the camera manufacturer, and Nikon's move is a totally selfish attempt to force photographers to use their overpriced and under-featured Nikon Capture software by freezing all the third-party developers out of the market with their dumb--- WB encryption attempt. Nikon is pissing on their customers in a stupid attempt to make a few extra nickels, and I hope they get stomped for it.

And I've paid for the last 3 versions of Photoshop.
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John Camp
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« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2005, 10:54:55 PM »
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I'm a professional writer, and I have to say that I deeply admire Nikon's statement on the NEF encryption. It's almost pure b.s., a grade so high that it can only be exceeded by certain departments of the US government, and only then in matters of high importance, like salary increases for Congress.

Nikon never says that the NEF isn't encrypted (b.s. translation: it is) nor that they will allow Adobe access to the actual code (b.s. translation: they won't.) They suggest that they are only attempting to protect the consumer (translation: they aren't.) In fact, I would propose a rule of thumb: whenever a PR department goes through verbal acrobatics like these to assure the customer that everything is all right, it isn't. If Nikon were a pill, I'd spit it out.

One of the more unintentionally amusing comments on the situation was Phil Askey's on Digital Photography Review, who said (nervously, but earnestly, I thought) that they would have a clarifying story on the Nikon press release as soon as they figured out what it meant.

I haven't had the time, or frankly, the energy today to whip myself into a state of full hysteria, but I do find this whole thing unnecessary and annoying, especially since I'm about to (or at least, I'm trying to) pop for a couple of D2Xs.

And frankly, when you work through the whole thing, and have to decide who to blame, I blame Nikon. Not because I favor Adobe, particularly, but simply because I want to do things the way I want to do them, and it's Nikon, not Adobe, who is trying to prevent me from doing that.

Yes, Nikon has the right to do that, yes, blah-blah-blah development costs; but when you get right down to if, it Adobe doesn't fully support the D2X, then we will have one less way of converting the NEF, and the lost way happens to involve the most important graphics program on the planet, and one that I've spent a lot of time learning. Not a small loss.

JC
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jani
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« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2005, 11:50:50 AM »
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I may be a dinosaur when it comes to concepts such as open source.

Well, the concept (but not the term) open source is older than Microsoft, and as far as I can tell, almost as old as electronic computers.

So you're not being a dinosaur, you're being a ... erh ... uhm ... mammal about it.  

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When I hear "open source" the first question that I ask is, "Who do I call when it breaks?"  But even as I write that, I realize how stupid a statement it is. Nowadays nobody supports anything and nobody fixes anything, they just sell you a new release. In the old days, in a DEC VAX shop for example, you paid big bucks for vendor support, computers didn't crash much and bugs were fixed.

Or you sent a message to techs at other places with VAXes, and asked for their help.  Then those techs might have a solution for you, and perhaps they even submitted a fix for the problem to DEC.

That's how it often worked in the "old days", when you got access to the source, so you could compile it yourself.

But wait!  This isn't about "open source".

We're not talking about access to the source code of Nikon's proprietary software, nor of Adobe Photoshop, or of Bibble.

We're talking about open formats.

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I can't say that I disagree with your (and others) views on the ownership of your photos, and maybe that means you own the contents of the RAW files and the right to have software that can read them into perpetuity. (If you buy the Nikon raw converter, you will have that, incidentally.)

No, I won't have that, because it's highly unlikely that the computer I have today will be working in as little as five years.  It's highly unlikely that the operating system I'll be using in ten years will be fully backwards compatible, which means that I'd have to use emulation software to run Nikon's converter.

Well, at least if we can count on past years' experience about backwards compatibility for newer versions of Windows.

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Do Canon and the other manufacturers license their RAW file knowledge or do all the converter writers have to do reverse engineering? If it's the latter, I would call that a symptom of an immature industry.

I'm fairly certain that dcraw reads the RAW formats by reverse engineering.

And I agree, it's a symptom of an immature industry.

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Maybe it makes you feel good that you can find the RAW file layout somewhere, but in the long run, I don't see it as big a backward compatibility advantage as you do.

You, and others, stated that you wondered how you would get access to your NEF files in the year 2048 if Nikon goes out of business or chooses not to support it any longer. The same argument holds for other RAW files, doesn't it?

No, because the format doesn't suddenly cease to be known.

When a format first has been reverse-engineered, and the method for reading the format properly has been made legally public, then there is nothing that prevents me or anyone else from implementing a new converter for the old formats.

And this is where we do get back to open source; since I can get the source code for dcraw, I may not even have to implement much on my own, the code is already there.

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Do you believe that Bibble or PS or whoever will still support 1Ds Mark 2 Raw files in 2048, assuming they still exist as corporate entities or weren't taken over by a corporate rival who shut them down?

I honestly don't know.  I certainly don't trust Adobe, and Bibble doesn't seem to be very old as a company.


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What you probably will do in 2048, regardless of whether you shoot D2X or Canon, is to load up your original software CD's because no one will be suporting any of them at that time.

Those original software CDs are probably not readable anymore, and if they are, I won't have access to a working CD reader for them.

If you think that sounds strange, where is your 8 inch floppy diskette drive?  Your 5 1/4 inch floppy drive?  Your Video 2000 unit?  4-track tape?

I have lots of practically inaccessible software on media that I cannot read with my current computer.


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If you want access to RAW files for the rest of your life and beyond, you are going to have to actively do something to make them accessible yourself.

Well, maybe not as much as you think, but I certainly will have to leave information enough about what kind of format it is.

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But in the long term, if we want to keep our photos (which are your property) it might be best to avoid all RAW files, and convert them all into something else, that's more universal and may not exist yet, as part of your workflow. That new Adobe standard may fit that bill. TIF and JPG files have fulfilled a functionally similar role, although they represent the output of the workflow and not the "negative".

The new Adobe standard - DNG - is a slightly crippled, proprietary TIFF.  (TIFF = "Tagged Image File Format", not "Tagged Image Format").  The "TIFF" we usually refer to is a variant of TIFF usually known as TIFF RGB.  DNG doesn't support nearly as many bits per channel as does TIFF, for instance, so if you want to have another format than RAW for your image data, perhaps saving to TIFF RGB isn't such a bad idea after all.
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