What are the Two Most Common Digital Camera File Storage Formats?

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Updated July 26, 2022

What are the two most common digital camera file storage formats? JPG and RAW file formats. When photographers take photos and videos, they save their work on removable memory cards, which store the images in different formats. RAW does not compress photos to save space on the memory card. On the other hand, JPGs apply compression on the photos to conserve space for more pictures. You’ll find these storage types on medium format digital cameras, too.


  • JPEG and RAW formats are the two most common types of camera file storage formats.
  • Between JPEG and RAW file types, RAW stores more color and tonal value data, which means you have more flexibility in editing the photo.
  • The JPEG file format stores images in compressed format, while the RAW format stores images in uncompressed format. So, in JPEG file format, the camera processes the RAW data and stores it in a smaller file.

The JPEG File Storage Format

The most popular format is the JPEG file format, and it is the default output in most cameras. However, JPEG files lose a lot of detail and quality because of the compression that occurs in-camera, which results in grainy pictures. Unfortunately, some entry-level photographers do not check their camera’s file storage format. Instead, their primary concern is often figuring out how to take the best photos by using methods such as balancing the white on a digital camera. You may also want to find out what your pictures are stored on a digital camera.

But if you dig deeper into the JPEG file format, there are different JPEG quality levels like low, medium, and high. These quality levels help you to shoot better images with less compression than the original photograph. In general, JPEG files are popular for:

  • Storing photos for personal use, social media, small prints, and albums. JPEG format is not ideal for large printing.
  • For sending it as an email attachment.
  • If you don’t plan on editing the photos.

Advantages of JPEG

  • Faster file transfer because of the small file size.
  • Storage of more images on one memory card.

Disadvantages of JPEG

  • Image compression loses the image quality.
  • Less room to edit an image in a photo-editing application.

Insider Tip

The most popular format is the JPEG file format, and it is the default output in most cameras.

The RAW File Storage Format

You can find RAW files on DSLRs, advanced compact lenses, and mirrorless cameras. RAW is the best camera file format if you want to store high-quality images. Most professionals prefer to use this option. However, what if you are not planning to use the RAW file format? In that case, your camera will automatically adjust your setting and save your images in a different file format, i.e., JPEG.

RAW files work to retain every single detail about the subject. In the end, you will be able to adjust the exposure, white balance, contrast, sharpness, and saturation settings in an image-editing application during post-production.

Shooting in RAW requires you to have many memory sticks. You will also spend a lot of time in Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, or other post-production software. You also need to know how to use the editing application to convert the RAW files to a different digital format that is more accessible to other people across the internet.

Advantages of RAW Format

  • A myriad of options for the post-production stage.
  • Capturing images at the highest quality.

Disadvantages of RAW Format

  • Larger file sizes require a lot of storage.
  • A lot of time working on images in post-production.

Storage format is one of the most important things to consider especially when looking at the advantages of using a traditional film camera or a digital camera. Of course, digital cameras allow more storage space. That said, you’ll need to understand why cameras save images at different DPIs, which can impact storage space.

Insider Tip

RAW is the best camera file format if you want to store high-quality images.


Why do RAW files look faded?

A RAW file is unedited. It is like a blank canvas waiting for you to bring out the best image during the post-production phase. So, while the RAW image files do not look as impressive as the JPEG versions, they can become masterpieces after editing.

Is PNG better than TIFF?

The Portable Network Graphics (PNG) format almost has a similar quality to TIFF, and it is great for complex images. Unlike JPEG, TIFF preserves the quality of the image using a compression algorithm. The more graphics details you need, the more appealing it is to work with PNG.

Is TIFF the best option for printing?

JPEGs are smaller than TIFF files, which means that TIFFs do not lose any image quality once you save or edit the file, regardless of the number of times you do it. So, if you have a lot of editing work in Photoshop for your printing needs, you can work best with TIFF.

STAT: To print a high-quality photo, you need to go for 300 dpi. (source)

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