What Type of File Includes the Unprocessed or Original Data From the Photo Taken?


Heather Bennett

When we take a photo with our digital cameras or smartphones, the device captures the image and stores it in a file format that can be easily accessed and viewed. However, many times we may want to retain the unprocessed or original data from the photo, which includes all the information captured by the camera sensor without any modifications or enhancements.

So, what type of file includes this unprocessed data? Let’s find out.

RAW Files

One of the most common file formats that include unprocessed data is called RAW. RAW files are essentially digital negatives that contain all the information captured by the camera sensor at the time of taking the photo. Unlike other file formats like JPEG, which apply compression and image processing algorithms to reduce file size and enhance image quality, RAW files preserve all the original data.

RAW files are named so because they store raw sensor data without any alterations. They contain a vast amount of information about color, exposure, white balance, and other settings that were applied when taking the photo. This makes them incredibly versatile and allows photographers to have complete control over their post-processing workflow.

It’s worth mentioning that RAW files come in various formats depending on the camera manufacturer. Some popular RAW formats include .NEF for Nikon cameras, .CR2 for Canon cameras, .ARW for Sony cameras, and .DNG (Digital Negative) which is an open standard format supported by multiple manufacturers.

Benefits of Using RAW Files

Using RAW files as opposed to other file formats like JPEG has several advantages:

  • Flexibility: Since RAW files retain all the original data captured by the camera sensor, photographers have greater flexibility in adjusting exposure, white balance, sharpness, and other settings during post-processing.
  • Higher Image Quality: RAW files are typically larger in size compared to compressed file formats like JPEG. This allows for more detailed and higher-quality images, especially when it comes to recovering highlights and shadows.
  • No Loss of Information: Unlike JPEG files, which discard some image data during compression, RAW files preserve all the original information. This means that any mistakes made during shooting can be corrected later without permanently losing any data.

Editing RAW Files

In order to edit RAW files, specialized software is required. Many popular photo editing applications like Adobe Lightroom, Capture One, and DxO PhotoLab support RAW file formats from various camera manufacturers. These software programs provide a wide range of tools and controls specifically designed for working with RAW files.

When opening a RAW file in an editing application, the unprocessed data is displayed on the screen. Photographers can then adjust exposure, white balance, contrast, saturation, and other settings to achieve their desired result. Once all the adjustments are made, the edited image can be exported into a more common file format like JPEG or TIFF for sharing or printing purposes.


In conclusion, if you want to retain the unprocessed or original data from a photo taken with your digital camera or smartphone, you should look for a file format called RAW. RAW files contain all the information captured by the camera sensor without any modifications or enhancements applied. By using RAW files and specialized software for editing them, photographers have greater flexibility and control over their post-processing workflow.

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