Dotphoton, a deep-tech startup, has built a program called Rawsie that enables quantum-based RAW image compression. What that means, practically speaking, is that its technology can compress RAW file data sizes by up to 80% without quality loss, dramatically reducing storage requirements.
The Swiss-based company was founded in 2018 by Bruno Sanguinetti and Eugennia Balysheva. Balysheva is a former photographer who says she struggled with terabytes upon terabytes of photos. Balysheva claims that endless SSDs started piling up, taking over her house, leaving less room for herself. She decided that something had to change.
Luckily, Balysheva’s husband Bruno Sanguinetti was a well-regarded physicist, with Ph.D. in quantum physics and dozens of years in research behind his back.
“Coincidentally, he also had a profound interest in imaging and innovators’ minds,” Dotphoton writes. “He decided not to build another IT monster to help Eugenia handle her archive, but to look at the problem from scratch. And after many scientific articles, field tests, and cups of coffee, Sanguinetti came up with the idea of how to compress raw images up to 10 times without quality loss – what we all know as Dotphoton/Rawsie today.”
The software was so successful at achieving its goal that both of them quit their jobs and went on a mission to share the technology with other photographers.
Now, three years later, Dotphoton has three apps that it has designed to compress files: Dotphoton Core, which is customized compression for camera manufacturers, Jetraw, which is a RAW image compression software for biotech companies, and Rawsie, its desktop app for pro photographers.
The overarching technology is based on patented proprietary quantum information field research and, in its industrial application, achieves up to 10:1 compression ratio. The desktop application for photographers is nearly as powerful, and Dotphoton claims that Rawsie is able to compress any RAW file by 80% without losing any image quality.
“The output is in DNG which, unlike other formats, allows to keep the full dynamic range. Rawsie applies its unique compression algorithm reducing the images by up to 80%,” the company writes.
Hearing about that level of compression admittedly left photographers skeptical, according to Dotphoton. The current user base is made up of those nearly entirely connected to Rawsie only by word of mouth as any marketing the company tried to do was often disregarded as too good to be true.
“In our first year the biggest challenge was the unimaginable skepticism among photographers,” says Boris Verks, the head of product for Rawsie. “Pro photography is generally a geeky field, but the technology behind Rawsie out-geeked it all. When you tell people their 1GB of data could turn into just 200MB without quality compromise, it challenges everything they know about their gear.”
Dotphoton says that the photographers who have embraced what Rawsie can do use the software in a couple of different ways. For those using Adobe software to edit and cull, Rawsie compresses folders linked to Lightroom catalogs, which reduces file sizes while preserving edits and metadata. It can also be applied to individual raw images.
“The software mostly addresses workflows common for high-volume photographers where storage costs and file handling speed are annoying,” the company says. “Both pre and post-editing is vital.”
Some pro photographers use Rawsie after each shoot before editing files in Lightroom to speed up processing, while others do it afterward before uploading the files onto the storage systems to save large space and reduce costs.
“Those working with retouchers do it after culling before sending the files to speed up upload and delivery times,” the company continues. “Some other photographers use Rawsie separate from their daily workflow by running the old files in batches few times a year, quarter, or month.”
Those still skeptical don’t have to worry about losing the original files if they want to try it out. IN the demonstration video shown above, Rawsie applies its compression to create a new set of files but keeps the originals. Eventually, though, the idea is that the original files would not be necessary to store long-term.
Dotphoton doesn’t want to stop there: it has dreams of being a technology that can be integrated directly into cameras at the manufacturing level.
“I really think Dotphoton can be disruptive because if we go back to what we were discussing at the beginning, what are the innovations in the near future: very high resolution, spectral enrichment video, real-time, and artificial intelligence,” says José Achache, former ESA Director of Earth Observation and now Chair of Dotphoton.
“This requires two things: it requires compression, and it requires noise reduction. And it’s really interesting that the technology of Dotphoton is bringing exactly these two things, noise reduction in the images and incredible compression without losing information so that if we want to go towards VHR or very high resolution or spectral enrichment, we need compression. If we want to use artificial intelligence, we need noise reduction. So I think we have the tools to indeed be disruptive in this domain.”
Rawsie has a free version of its software that allows anyone to compress up to 30 images a day with the option to unlock an unlimited version both as perpetual software or as a subscription. The company says that, currently, Rawsie can be purchased for $49 annually as a subscription or $199 outright, but Dotphoton does plan to raise this price this spring.