'DNG' Camera Raw File Format
As each camera company has produced their own versions of Camera Raw files, and in some cases even different Raw versions for different camera models, the result is that there are probably now dozens of Camera Raw file formats. Each format version has their own way of converting the files to RGB colour which may cause you a couple of problems in the future.
If you have more than one camera and they use different Camera Raw formats then this may be inconvienient.
If you use a Camera Raw format that is no longer used you may find one day that the format version is not longer supported by other software.
However, the 'Digital Negative' format, or 'DNG', could be very useful to you to solve these potential problems.
Figure 1 The 'DNG' convertor utility
Figure 2 The 'DNG' convertor utility has a button to change the Preferences. Here you can change the 'DNG' compatability if you have an older version of Photoshop (at top of the panel). You also have an option to embed the original Camera Raw file into the DNG file, in case you would like to retreive your original files at a later stage (at bottom of the panel)
The 'DNG' raw format is able to convert all other Camera Raw formats used by camera makes into one common file version. This is supplied by Adobe, but is an open source format so that even if Adobe should disappear one day then the raw format will still be available to be used. There is a free conversion utility that can be downloaded from the Adobe website, and is updated periodically as new digital cameras come to market.
There are even a few camera makes that have adopted the 'DNG' format as the native raw format for their cameras. This number may grow in future, but it is likely that we will always have a whole zoo of Camera Raw formats to deal with.
NOTE: Don't think that just because a camera make may be a major company now that it will always be posable to convert it's Camera Raw format in the future. For those of you that wrote documents, spreadsheets and presentations before Microsoft Office became the dominant software, you may be having some difficulties with some of your archives. If you have any WordStar documents, SuperCalc spreadsheets, or Persuasion presentations, then try opening and viewing them now, and see how far you get.