NEF otherwise known as the Nikon Electronic Format is Nikon's RAW file format. RAW file formats contain minimally processed data from the image sensor of the digital camera - the metadata includes information about the lens, the settings, the camera’s identification and other data. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited with a bitmap graphics editor. Raw image formats are intended to capture as closely as possible the characteristics of the scene to include light intensity and colours.
The structure of raw files, including the ISO standard raw image format ISO 12234-2 follows a common pattern - a short header, camera sensor metadata, image metadata such as exposure settings, camera and lens model, date and sometimes the location. A thumbnail, a smaller JPEG file for quick viewing and the sensor image data. NEF is based on the TIFF format.
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JPG's are often used for web sites and email as they are generally smaller file sizes as they are lossy meaning that some image quality is lost when the JPG is compressed and saved. The resultant 'lossy' file means that quality can never be recovered. The JPG format is often used in digital camera memory cards. The JPG file is a great format as it often manages to compress files to 1/10 of the size of the original file which is especially good for saving on bandwidth.
JPG is a graphical file format for editing still images, it offers a symmetrical compression technique which is processor intensive and time consiming in both compression and decompression. JPEG is a joint standard of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU-T T.81) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 10918-1). JPEG involves a lossy compression mechanism using discrete cosine transform (DCT). Compression rates of 100:1 can be achieved, although the loss is noticeable at that level. Compression rates of 10:1 or 20:1 yield little degradation in image quality.
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