with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Microsoft to Make It Easier to View and Edit Digital Images

With the new “Longhorn” version of Windows operating system coming out soon, Microsoft has just announced that they are trying to rally support for improving the viewing and editing of digital camera images. Microsoft says it is “working closely with a number of digital imaging companies, including Adobe Systems Inc., Canon Inc., Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. and Nikon Corp.”

Basically, Microsoft wants to have a viewer in the new version of Windows XP/Longhorn to allow the user to view the “raw” images, which are in the proprietary formats used in digital cameras before the picture is converted to a standard JPEG file. Raw files contain the actual data captured by the photo sensors in a camera.

In traditional photography, a raw image would be equivalent to a photonegative. Camera buffs and professionals prefer to view and edit the raw image because it has more detail and accurate color than a converted file. High-end cameras, called digital SLR cameras, make raw images available to users, while lower-end cameras for consumers usually convert the pictures to JPEGs and only make that format available.

Microsoft is developing a “Windows certification program” for raw image codecs, the technology used to encode and decode an image during the storing to editing process.

If Microsoft can pull this off, photographers will now have an easier time to access the raw data directly from the digital camera media rather than relying upon so many different manufacturer’s software packages, a different one for every type of camera.

Could be good, if not just interesting news for photographers.

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