The place for nonprofits, charities, and libraries

Share Your File-Selection Tips

Share Your File-Selection Tips

  • Have you ever struggled over whether to save an image as a JPEG or a TIFF? What tips and tricks have you learned over the years when it comes to selecting the right file?

    For a list of common file formats and best practices, check out TechSoup's article Understanding Images: A Guide to File Formats. Share your feedback and questions here.
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • Good article. Surprised that there was no mention of RAW files in relation to JPEG. Would like to know the benefits. Also, I'd like infomation as to whether their is a way to view CAD files without buying the expensive CAD programs.

  • Hi Mtbaker,

    Most CAD programs provide, or have available a free viewer. Which CAD format are you working with? (AutoCad, MapInfo, CivilCad, IntelliCad etc. etc.)

    Cheers, Don
  • Mtbaker,

    Thanks, and good point about the exclusion of the RAW format. I'm not much of a shutterbug, but as I understand it, a lot of newer digital cameras default to shooting in the JPEG format, meaning a lot of organizations would never encounter the RAW format. But I could very well be wrong about that, and, at any rate, many nonprofits probably are using older digital cameras.

    Perhaps we'll amend the article to include this information, but at any rate, thanks for the comment.
    Brian Satterfield Staff Writer
  • I'm not a regular user of AutoCAD, but I do know that there are many free CAD viewing programs out there. Just do a Google search on "free cad viewer" and you should find a few options.

    AutoDesk, the makers of AutoCAD has a couple of free downloads.

    Finally, I believe AutoCAD offers an option to save a CAD file as a PDF. If you know someone who owns the program, you could ask them to save the file in that format so you can view it easily.

    Hope this helps.
  • Clarification re RAW files:

    RAW is not a newer or older thing. It is the output from the CCD sensor before any processing is done to it. To turn it into a JPG, the camera has to crunch the output, and in doing so, it makes certain assumptions about what the picture should look like.

    Generally the camera does a good job, but some photographers want the camera to give them RAW files so they can have finer control over the photo. To work with RAW files, you need software like the full version of Photoshop, and that software has to support your particular camera, since different cameras process their RAW output in different ways.

    Generally ony serious photographers will want to work with RAW files, so it isn't even an option with most compact digital cameras. It is common in cameras aimed at pros or prosumers. I think you can find it in all DSLR's.

    The disadvantage of RAW files is that they are very, very large. My 8 MP camera can generate RAW files that are 5 MB. They fill up your memory card quickly (but there are gizmos to deal with that.)


  • why is jpeg2000 not discussed? we're looking for a format suitable for downloading/printing large scanned antique maps (original format was provided to us in TIFF).
  • Sjanzen,

    Sorry for the omission, but we wanted to focus on "major" file formats that most nonprofits would encounter in order to keep this article relatively short.

    It sounds like you guys are doing something unique where the JPEG 2000 format might be a good choice. As I understand it, JPEG 2000 files basically look better at higher compression ratios than normal JPEGs.

    Here's a link that demonstrates this:

    As you can see, JPEG 2000 only really looks better if an image is heavily, heavily compressed. With light compression, there's not a huge difference between the two.

    Hope that helps
    Brian Satterfield Staff Writer
  • Your post is over three years old, but it was just found (May 2010), and I agree with your assessment about RAW, that it's unlikely any  consumer would use it.

    I use RAW for important shots, then save them to a CD to avoid eating up hard drive space, so they'll be available in the future.

    My Fuji s100fs is 11mp, and creates 22.5 mb RAW files, which are converted to 10 mb (Adobe) DNG files in Light Room, so after post processing, they're saved as a jpg, usually about 1.5 mb.

    Everyone fouls-up a shot now and then, so it's nice to have an way out of a mistake, and RAW is that avenue.  Accolades to whoever created this file format.