TIFF or DNG - Which one do you prefer and why ?


Active time-lapser

I shoot in Raw (Canon .CR2) and process my sequence in lightroom. Once I'm done with editing, I have to select the type of export format. In order to retain the maximum quality, I can either select TIFF or DNG as my export format.
In theory, both format are looseless but I did some test and there are noticeable differences between the two: sometime the TIFF looks much better, sometime the DNG does. It really depends of the type of scene and probably also about the Lightroom converter (Would I get different results with DXO or Capture One ?)

The main advantage of the DNG is the file size: 4 to 5 times smaller than a TIFF so I tend to prefer the DNG. However I see that most people prefer to use TIFF over DNG as an intermediate format.

What are you thought ?
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Active time-lapser
Theoretically, if you're working with Adobe CC, you can work with RAW all the way to Premiere; process your RAW files in LR, import them into After Effects and then import your AE projects into Premiere - no need to render anything until the last step when you render the final video.

Aaron Priest

Active time-lapser
In my experience, the fastest workflow on my computer is allowing Lightroom 6 to export RAWs to TIFFs to render with AE using LR6's multi-threaded performance. With LR 5 I used to have to export 3 or 4 simultaneous batches to get multi-threading. Letting AE render via Camera RAW is one of the slowest and most time-consuming methods (and the same happens when using DNGs with AE). This might be all hardware dependent though and perhaps others will have a different experience.


New time-lapser
In my workflow I save the metadatas in lightroom and then I open the Raw sequence in AE for the final render. I've noticed that exporting the Raws from lightroom into Tiffs gives me an unexpected better result, the only problem is the size of the Tiff file which is normally 120mb..(from a 5d Mark II).
I'm with Aaron on this one. Working with Camera Raws processed in LR and then brought into AE is painfully slow even with a super fast computer. And to other comments about the size of TIFFS which is also what I use I don't see any problem with that because this workflow implies that once you have rendered your sequence into a master QuickTime file in my case ProRes422HQ you don't need to keep your huge TIFF files because you still have your LR developed assets if you need to come back for whatever reason and these settings are only EXIF data in LR hence no space eater...;-)

Aaron Priest

Active time-lapser
Agreed, that is my workflow as well. I work off fast SSDs and delete the temporary TIFFs afterward, then copy the rendered ProRes or CineForm master back to the RAID array of hard drives where my RAW images and everything else get archived and backed up from.


Active time-lapser
Hi guys. Thanks you very much for all your answers. I think we all agree here to say that ACR sucks big time in AE for the RAW ;) I built a monster PC from scratch last year (overclocked 6 cores I-5820k, 2 SSD, 64GB DDR4, GTX970, etc) and it doesn't cut it with LR and AE.
I do the same RAW > LR > TIFF > AE > Cineform 12 bits RGBA (4:4:4:4) and then remove the TIFF and save the orginal RAW + Cineform clips

That being said, and beside the workflow point, I'm trying to understand if there is any noticeable quality difference between TIFF and DNG. What do you think ?

@Rickyloca : "I save the metadatas in lightroom and then I open the Raw sequence in AE for the final render." What's the purpose if this step ? (saving the metadatas)
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Aaron Priest

Active time-lapser
If you save as DNG, it still uses Camera RAW in AE I believe. Perhaps there is some difference in how Lightroom and Camera RAW interpret the edit, but I wouldn't think so, unless you have mismatched versions of Lightroom and Camera RAW.

By saving the metadata in Lightroom first and then opening a RAW sequence in AE, it forces LR to save the edit data for each photo from it's internal database to .xmp sidecar files, otherwise Camera RAW and AE or Photoshop won't see your Lightroom edits. I do this out of habit to have a backup of my LR edits in case my catalog gets corrupt (it's happened before!).
For me it's a matter of the video editing software. Because I render time lapse in 4K video MPEG4 the software only uses the 8 bit JPEG. Thus, I shoot RAW, edit in LR6, and export in JPEG. Plus, the importing, exporting, and rendering is a lot faster than TIF.

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