Why a different NEF for each new model?

Started Apr 1, 2013 | Discussions
philm5d
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Why a different NEF for each new model?
Apr 1, 2013

Obviously talking about Nikon RAW  but the question could apply to other brands and their raw file format.

So why does each Nikon camera model apparently have its own NEF format which often leads to problems with software compatability (eg unable to open in adobe camera raw until the software has been updated).

What is so different about each camera type of raw file that makes them disimilar and why can't they all be the same or at least compatible?

iJoost
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Re: Why a different NEF for each new model?
In reply to philm5d, Apr 1, 2013

A NEF is a dump of the unprocessed data from the sensor. It's important that it is as "raw" as possible. That is why RAW-processors need to "know" about the sensor that produced it and will need an update whenever a new sensor (and it's RAW-format) appears.

But if you don't like it, you can always convert to a more hardware independant format. Like JPEG.

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Dan Desjardins
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This should concern everyone
In reply to philm5d, Apr 1, 2013

I agree that Raw should be Raw - and that as new sensors come out there may be new information that is produced and the raw data elements can change, but...

Looking 10 20, even 50 years down the road I see a problem with the panoply of raw formats.  Some will likely become seriously compromised - especially for the consumer side.

I wish there were broader support for DNG (Adobe's Digital Negative) format - which is presented as a universal raw format.    I haven't studied it, am I'm also sure it may "compromise" certain elements, but it does maintain the broader exposure ranges and presents the white balance in a non-proprietary and open structure.    My guess is that many of us - especially those more on the consumer and prosumer side of things would gravitate toward this format if it were available direct from the cameras.

Des

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RicAllan
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Re: This should concern everyone
In reply to Dan Desjardins, Apr 1, 2013

Dan Desjardins wrote:

I agree that Raw should be Raw - and that as new sensors come out there may be new information that is produced and the raw data elements can change, but...

Looking 10 20, even 50 years down the road I see a problem with the panoply of raw formats.  Some will likely become seriously compromised - especially for the consumer side.

I wish there were broader support for DNG (Adobe's Digital Negative) format - which is presented as a universal raw format.    I haven't studied it, am I'm also sure it may "compromise" certain elements, but it does maintain the broader exposure ranges and presents the white balance in a non-proprietary and open structure.    My guess is that many of us - especially those more on the consumer and prosumer side of things would gravitate toward this format if it were available direct from the cameras.

Des

When you standardize, you lose the ability to ADD parameters (information) that the new sensor may be capable of supplying

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Simple. There isn't.
In reply to philm5d, Apr 1, 2013

philm5d wrote:

Obviously talking about Nikon RAW  but the question could apply to other brands and their raw file format.

So why does each Nikon camera model apparently have its own NEF format which often leads to problems with software compatability (eg unable to open in adobe camera raw until the software has been updated).

Because Adobe likes making their raw processing programs only process "known" cameras. That insures pressure to upgrade the Adobe programs frequently.

You should see how complex the interlock mechanism that keeps new versions of ACR from  functioning with older PS versions is.

Really, Nikon, Canon, etc. do not change their raw formats with every camera, so a raw processor that reads the headers properly can decode all the data. There's a difference between just "reading" something and really understanding it, though. The best raw processing programs lag behind the camera releases because they typically use parameters measured from actual cameras for noise processing, anti-aliasing, color processing, sharpening radii, etc.

You can't get around that, unless you want the sensor to not change between new cameras.

What is so different about each camera type of raw file that makes them disimilar and why can't they all be the same or at least compatible?

They are "at least compatible" so your question is meaningless.

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krikman
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Re: Simple. There isn't.
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Apr 1, 2013
Really, Nikon, Canon, etc. do not change their raw formats with every camera, so a raw processor that reads the headers properly can decode all the data. There's a difference between just "reading" something and really understanding it, though. The best raw processing programs lag behind the camera releases because they typically use parameters measured from actual cameras for noise processing, anti-aliasing, color processing, sharpening radii, etc.

You can't get around that, unless you want the sensor to not change between new cameras.

It is not only basic sensor layout needed to know for sucsessfull RAW processing (Basically enough for rough conversion).

From camera to camera changes color filter array and correspondingly preamplifier voltages, so colors may change not dramatically but unpredictable. There is a reason for new RAW for every camera.

For about 2003-2006 were RAW converter utilities with possibility to choose sensor color layout (RGGB, GRGB, CMYW etc.) and amplified meanings of each color. Interestingly but not for serious photo work. (The purpose was to catch RAW data from cameras normally not writing RAW, only JPEG).

Another reason is color management with complex color profiles for every camera. Without it, reading only data you'll get gray skintones or violet skies.

What is so different about each camera type of raw file that makes them disimilar and why can't they all be the same or at least compatible?

They are "at least compatible" so your question is meaningless.

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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.
Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.
Ciao! Joseph
www.swissarmyfork.com

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mpe
mpe
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Re: This should concern everyone
In reply to Dan Desjardins, Apr 1, 2013

DNG is not the solution.

NEF or any other file format is not a problem. The nature of any RAW format is that it contains RAW data captured from the sensor + some metadata with camera settings. In order to decode RAW data, you need to know additional details such as parameters of the bayer mask - "key" how to read the data. Since sensors are changing, the NEF's are changing as well.

So even if Nikon would implement DNG format in the camera it would not save us from updating RAW converter everytime a new camera with new sensor is introduced.

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