Q: What are the differences between JPEG, TIFF, and RAW photo file formats?
JPEG, TIFF, and RAW are photo file formats that nearly all DSLR cameras can use. Beginning cameras typically only offer JPEG file formats. Some DSLR cameras and shoot in JPEG and RAW simultaneously.
JPEG uses a compression format to remove some pixels that the compression algorithm deems unimportant, thereby saving some storage space.
RAW is closest to film-quality, requiring a lot of storage space. The digital camera does not compress or process a RAW file in any way. Some people refer to RAW format as a "digital negative" because it doesn't change anything about the file when storing it. Few beginner-level cameras allow RAW format file storage. Some professional and advanced photographers like RAW because they can perform their own editing on the digital photograph without having to worry about what elements of the photo the compression program will remove, such as with JPEG.
TIFF is a compression format that does not lose any information about the photo's data, either. TIFF files are much larger in data size than JPEG files.
Unless you're a professional photographer who is going to make huge prints, a high-quality JPEG setting is probably going to meet your needs for photo data. TIFF and RAW are overkill for many photographers.
Find more answers to common camera questions on the camera FAQ page.