Digital image/Data questions

Tim Johnson

I finally broke down and bought the Canon Digital Rebel. Just wanted ask a few questions from those who have already gone to the D side :lol: .

It appears from everything that I am reading, RAW is the format to shoot in. I am interested in hearing the basic work flow you guys go through.

Do you back up all the RAW files to CD-Rom for safe keeping, before manipulating the image in Photo shop? Do you back up the data some other way? Either way, it seems like before long theres going to a lot of image data floating around in which one could drown in if not started in an orderly manner. With photos or slides, you just catalog things and throw them in a shoe box. Now you have to worry about stuff like, a disc going bad and not being able to recover the images. I had not thought of things like this until I placed the order. Just wondering what others are doing in this regard.

Any tips at all would be appreciated.
Saving the RAW files is the biggest concern to have. They aren't terribly large at 5 megs or so for the first Canon Rebel files. Convert them to 16 bit tiffs and you are talking 36 megs, but it will always be more important to back up the RAW files.

I now process the images at their native sizes and keep them as 16 bit TIFFs so when someone wants one for something I don't have to redo them anymore. I make sure to always have 2 copies of the RAW files somewhere and only have been keeping 1 stash of processed 16 bit TIFFs.
I take all the pics in RAW because of the editing. With Nikon's their easier to edit, maybe that's so with the canon. My process is usually to make the CD first just in case my comp or my memory goes bad(with pics I like atleast). That way I have backups in several places. Then when I'm done I clear it from the computer and camera and store the CD right along side with my negatives.

The one thing I'm going to have to remind my self to do in a few years/decades is to update the image formats. Computers over a few years/decades will probably eventually be unable to read the current formats we take pics in. This is because our formats will probably be antiquated. I guess that might be one reason for also keeping a set of jpgs since they're the more general picture format and thus more likely easier to update. Even though we may not think this is that big of a concern, libraries in a similar fashion have found to be a problem with books. At one time there were a few publications stored in computer formats. After being forgotten and eventually re-found they noticed the files were unreadable. This is why there is a desire of the library system to keep a paper copy for preservation. I also know of similar circumstances with astronomical images.

Well enough about that, also I'm not sure about the life of CDs. Anyone know the life of CDs? Either way I believe a digital storage of our pictures will require more maintance over the years than negatives
I'm no expert, but I did stay at a Holid....I mean, I did read recently that there is a big difference between the shelf life of the CD's and DVD's you buy at a store, or buy from Blockbuster, for example, vs. CD's and DVD's that you burn yourself. I read that much depends on the quality of the blanks that you buy (right after I just bought 25 el-cheapo blank DVD+R's on eBay for, like, $3), and there is a huge difference in quality amongst them.

I wish I could provide the link for everyone, but I no longer have it at my disposal. A very generalized bottom line is that blank media from name brands such as Sony, Memorex or Maxell are likely to retain the data burned to them many times longer than are el-cheapo media made in some place like Indonesia or what-have-you. What I read is that the really bad ones may not even be usable from the outset, and marginally better ones may be readable for only a year or two hence. The BEST, name-brand media may last for a decade or two.

And here, when I transferred all my old VHS versions of chasing and other stuff recorded from TV and purchased elsewhere, some 20 years old, to DVD, I thought I was preserving them for a century. Guess not.

Another issue is counterfeits. There is plenty of that available, too, apparently.

One more thing: Keep your burned media cool. The dyes on them that makes them blue or whatever is sensitive to heat, and the cooler you keep them, the longer they will last. Something like that....

Maybe we should store them all in the refrigerator? LOL

Agree with others, shoot RAW, backup, backup, backup. It is real easy to get lazy about backing up images. Believe me, it happens to me all the time. Then you get a ton of stuff on your hard drive and you have to spend a day trying to back it all up (and being thankful nothing has crashed and caused you to lose your images). So the workflow I try to be disciplined about following is:

1. As soon as I pull the RAW files off the flash card, I burn them to a DVD(s).
2. Then I do it again so I have 2 copies of the original RAW files. I put those DVD's away.
3. Then I organize the images on my hard drive in subdirectories by year, day and event.
4. Then you can manipulate the files on your hard drive any way you want. You always have your backup RAW images (negatives) to get back to if you need them.
5. Archive off any "final" images you want to preserve.

There is a great program called Archive Creator that makes the backup process soooo much easier. It will even span backups across multiple DVD's if needed, AND it will create an HTML index file with thumbnails of all images stored on the backup DVD. It makes finding images extremely easy. Here's the link:

That reminds me, I better go backup some photos :wink:
As far as archiving I'm pretty careful. As soon as possible I get my photos off the CF card, and always have at least 2 copies. Either my hard drive and CF card; hard drive and CD; whatever.

Until I get 700mb of files I keep one copy on my laptop and another on my network drive. Once I have 700mb I burn 2 CD's, one is always the "gold" extended life kind, and just a regular CD. I keep the gold discs off-property. With both CD's I keep a sample contact sheet of what's on the disc, not necessaily every photo, but enough to know what's there.

I also delete all the blurry and really bad photos, but I keep almost everything else. I use Imatch to mange my photo database. Its kind of overkill though as I don't shoot that many photos anymore.

Whenever I get 4.7gb worth of photos I'll make one DVD. Just to make things easier should my hard drives fail.

Sounds confusing, but I have the system down. I shoot almost everything in RAW and store it that way. For the few printable shots I keep tiff's in a processing folder. I'm not too worried about RAW going away. Future converters should be backwards compatible. If it does go away in 10 or 20 years computers then will be able to zip through all my DVD's converting the RAW to the new format.
Another possible solution for backing up data would be tapes and a tape drive. The main advantage of this is that tapes hold way more and tapes are magnetic media.

Since I don't use tapes and such I can't really comment but its something that you may want to look into.

Also be careful with just backing up RAW files. RAW is a proprietary format, so you may still have the files in 10 years but you won't be able to read them.
Just wanted to add from a lesson learned the hard way....Always verify your files after a burn.
Somehow the option was unchecked during a previous session and due to a buffer underrun, I assume, I lost a few files. Don't take for granted that the session completed successfully and that all of your files are safe on the CD/DVD.
Thanks for the replies, they are greatly appreciated. Definitely some good ideas to get the ball rolling!