Concerning pasti vs the rest of the file formats:
I'm not an expert in this area, only a user. Having used pasti and floimg, I can say that floimg is much more forgiving if you use bad disks. Pasti very often stops telling me drive calibration error, weak sector or misalignment.
So the statement that pasti will image anything and not notice if it's a bad disk or just copy protection is prolly not true.
It'd be interesting to really have an objective comparison chart/table as to what each format does/offers and how the imaging process works, which level of accuracy they achieve and so on. This way we could stop argueing which was the better one. I'd really be interesting to see what the imaging prgrams do on a technical level.
. @Sofist: I understand that you wanna have a way to write pastis back and are wondering why it isn't possible....
Well, I talked that: 'at least in some cases'
Point is that Human is still smarter than best SW, even SW zillion times complexer than Pasti or any other imaging SW. So, Human is that who can best decide what format is the best. All it according to experiences from past, current needs of self and community etc. Why is best to have 1.8MB STX image with all it's limits instead of 720KB ST ?
About imaging process, level of accuracy etc: I can not talk about pasti, I know only some fragments. Guess that only Ijor can talk real relevant things. "Level of accuracy" - point is not in accuracy level by imaging. Different programs are just made to deal with different floppy formats, track, sector etc layouts.
So, Makedisk, FloImg and similar ones, which deal with unprotected floppies can image only disks with regular sector numbers and sizes on tracks. It means size of 512 bytes and sectors in range from #1 to max possible (about 22), in order. If image format is ST SW tries to read floppy geometry from bootsector (CHS parameters). If they are nonstandard usually user needs to enter correct values. Little better is with MSA, as it holds always corect CHS parameters in header. Accuracy of reading in fact depends not (or mostly not) from imaging SW self, but used floppy drive and driver SW. CRC and RNF errors are reported on HW level, by FDC chip in fact. So, if some sector is not visible, accessible or checksum is bad then FDC chip will report it, and on SW is how to act further. It is good if there is option for few retries, and I think that it is most what SW can do.
Next 'level' of imaging is SW which first detects sectors on track and then reads them - it allows imaging of floppies where sectors are not in range of 1-last one, and not only of regular size (512 bytes). Such format is STT, and SW for imaging is Disk_img.prg (with Steem, and usable only with Steem, writeable with FloImg). But there is not much Atari ST game where STT is good. Example: Virus - only writeable on PC, but works not under Steem ! There are such images on one French Atari gaming site, about 10, I think.
Then, we have Pasti which deals with diverse nasty protection tricks like weak sectors etc.
So, difference between imaging SW is not level of accuracy, or at least I don't like such formulations - they are misleading. Simple imaging SW does accurate for what is made. Pasti just can imaging much more details, if they are there. At price of: bigger image sizes, not beeing writeable, usage only under few emulators, slower work .
So, there is no best format for all cases. Best is what best suits current needs (as is well known).
Writing Pasti images (back) onto floppies - it is certainly not possible with regular HW, floppy drives and controllers.
It reminds me on devices as Synhro Express and similar which are capable... Does some of them can write image files ? Or just do copiing ?
Personally, I'm not much interested to have exact copies of originals. Pasti under Steem is good enough. Even better is some decent crack on real Atari. But crack is not always good, + some crackers, crews made absurd things - protecting own cracks (of sometimes unprotected originals !). Intros are often just annoying etc. Of course best is to play from hard disk, and in fact it is now the cheapest way, as floppies are expensive and hard to find. As I see, about 80% of really good games is already hard disk runnable (adapted, patched).