In this fun era of Intellectual Property, or, as I call it, Eye Pee, manufacturers put barriers in the dumbest places. All digital cameras have a RAW format; this is the minimally-processed image file straight from the sensor with some metadata added, such as file identifier, sensor data, color profile, and a JPG preview.
Most camera makers derive their RAW formats from the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) specification. Most camera makers regard their RAW formats as special secret sauce, and to what end I do not know, because none of them sell special RAW editing software, so there is no financial incentive. Unless they’re getting kickbacks from Adobe. RAW image files replace the film negatives of yesteryear; it makes no sense to not publish their specs. Unless you believe that you don’t own your camera or your images stored on it, but are merely “licensing” it.
Canon’s CR2 and Nikon’s NEF RAW image formats have been around for so long they’re well-understood and well-supported. Panasonic remains mysterious and is a big fat pain. I’m a longtime Panasonic Lumix fan. I have owned several models in the super-compact super-zoom DMC-ZS series, and currently have a DMC-ZS40 and a Lumix GX7 (micro 4/3). These are fine little cameras that take great photos, and both support RW2. By support I mean they magnanimously allow us mere end-lusers access to our own RAW files, rather than hiding them as many camera vendors do in their lower-end point-and-shoot models. The GX7 is a high-end camera, so I expect it to not hide the RW2 files. The ZS40 is a high-end point and shoot, but previous models hid the RW2 files.
The image above shows how much in-camera processing the DMC-ZS40 does to create a JPG. Not only does it process color, contrast, and white balance, it corrects lens distortion and vignetting. Both images are screenshots from Raw Therapee 4.0. Panasonic bundles RAW conversion software with its cameras, but it’s pointless– it’s Windows-only, and all it does is replicate the in-camera JPG processing.
Happily, I discovered by accident that the good Raw Therapee peoples maintain current builds for several Linux distributions on their downloads page. Their Ubuntu build is 4.2, and lo! it does beautiful RW2 conversions, as you can see from this photo of Firecracker my dog.
Both Lumixes capture impressive levels of detail. One of these days I’ll post some 100% crops and RW2 files you can download and play with.
Thank you Raw Therapee peoples!