The raw data format of digital cameras contains the data of the image sensor only minimally processed. These formats can be manipulated to a very large extent prior to conversion to the final image format e.g. JPEG or TIFF. Due to this fact, raw data are also called digital negatives. They are not suitable for printing because they have to be "developed" first, equivalent to analogue negatives.

Almost every camera manufacturer has its own raw data format, these are not compatible with each other and are therefore not suitable for publication or archiving. An attempt to increase compatibility is the raw data format DNG, which is an open format from Adobe and is increasingly used in entry-level devices and by niche manufacturers.