Do you convert NEF to DNG?

Started May 22, 2012 | Discussions
Just a Photographer Senior Member • Posts: 1,368
Re: No reason to do so

I see no reason to convert my files to DNG as long as my NEF / RAW files are still being supported. Only when your RAWs are not supported for whatever reason it becomes time to change to convert them to another format.

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panos_m Senior Member • Posts: 1,460
Re: Do you convert NEF to DNG?
1

ThePaleRider wrote:

konoplya wrote:

if you do, for what reason other than to reduce file size?

also, is any information lost during the conversion or not? i mean image information, not metadata etc.

thank you in advance.

Eventually, each old camera's RAW file format will fall off the list of those supported by the processing software, meaning that you will have to run an older version of the processing software if you want to be able to continue to view them or process them.

Eventually, that processing software will no longer be supported by the latest operating system, so you will have maintain a legacy operating system just for your raw processing application.

Eventually, support for that legacy OS will be withdrawn and you will not be able to find the hardware to run it.

What then?

Then I will convert all my raw files to DNG with my super fast future PC and the super efficient Adobe DNG converter version 9999.99. But I will do it then . Tell me a good reason to do it now :).

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Panagiotis

Kabe Luna
Kabe Luna Veteran Member • Posts: 9,493
That seems so cumbersome when...

...you can just create a Virtual Copy in Lightroom and start over again from there creating a different version of the same image.

tdptdp wrote:

I need the sidecars, so no. I might process one shot three different ways, and as long as I've got the NEF and the sidecar, I can copy the NEF without the sidecar to a new directory and begin again with the original data.

I could do the same, I suppose, by keeping a reference DNG somewhere, but it's easier for me with NEFs.

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tdptdp Regular Member • Posts: 496
Re: That seems so cumbersome when...

Strangely enough, I don't use Lightroom

Kabe Luna wrote:

...you can just create a Virtual Copy in Lightroom and start over again from there creating a different version of the same image.

Joesiv Veteran Member • Posts: 5,497
Re: That seems so cumbersome when...

tdptdp wrote:
Strangely enough, I don't use Lightroom

Kabe Luna wrote:

...you can just create a Virtual Copy in Lightroom and start over again from there creating a different version of the same image.

What do you use? I believe the newer versions of ACR (photoshop for example) allow you to do this too.
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tdptdp Regular Member • Posts: 496
Re: That seems so cumbersome when...

Joesiv wrote:

What do you use? I believe the newer versions of ACR (photoshop for example) allow you to do this too.
--

Just bumped up to ACR 7.1. I'll have to check now, thanks! If it has that functionality I'm going to be extra stoked, as soon as I figure out what to do with my archaic homemade content management filing system

Tom Marshall Senior Member • Posts: 1,694
Re: No reason to do so

Just a Photographer wrote:

I see no reason to convert my files to DNG as long as my NEF / RAW files are still being supported. Only when your RAWs are not supported for whatever reason it becomes time to change to convert them to another format.

Well, I can think of one really good one: your time and effort!

If you're using Nikon Capture to apply image adjustments before converting from NEF to TIF (or JPG, or whatever), how are you going to re-create all those adjustments if all of a sudden NEFs are no longer supported? This would be a daunting task for an entire image library.

If you were employing the use of DNGs, all your image adjustments would reside in each DNG (or as side-cars if you were processing your NEFs in lightroom or ACR).

Personally, I don't worry too much about NEFs not being supported - I keep all my NEFs, but use LR/ACR and the DNG format because I shoot with Nikon/Sony/Panasonic bodies and like the consistency of using one RAW conversion tool for all my images.

I used to use Nikon Capture, but like many, found it too buggy and quirky to deal with.

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pintree3 New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Do you convert NEF to DNG?

You write, "I prefer sidecar XMP files and it makes backing up my edits that much easier. I only have to move tiny XMP files to my backup media rather than HUGE DNG or NEF files."

Sorry I don't understand what you are saying here. Why would you only move xmp files? I mean what good are they on their own. They can't be used alone in any way. They can't be opened except with a text editor and their is no reason to this either so I don't get it. So how is this "backing up your edits"? To work on an image you need the image. The reason for backing up is to have a copy of an original in case you lose or somehow destroy that original. If you were to lose your original, your backed up xmp file on its own would serve no purpose hence me not understanding what you wrote and asking my question. Thanks

Steve Bingham
Steve Bingham Forum Pro • Posts: 25,676
No

-Except when using Color Checker.

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dv312
dv312 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,998
all the time

since the advent of DNG

I tested 2 files generated from NEF and from DNG and used layer diff via CS6 and it yielded no difference

The DNG won out due to size decrease and universal support via popular image viewers

I archived all my files as DNG ever since

Cheers

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RicAllan Contributing Member • Posts: 795
Re: Do you convert NEF to DNG?

konoplya wrote:

if you do, for what reason other than to reduce file size?

also, is any information lost during the conversion or not? i mean image information, not metadata etc.

thank you in advance.

No!

THe DNG is static.  As the sensors are evolving, the manufacturers record more (and sometimes NEW) data that is not kept in the DNG....   I LIKE the sidecar file because when IF I delete it, I know I'm truly back to the original data.

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Prairie Pal Senior Member • Posts: 2,665
Is the quality of NEF to DNG conversion dependant on the software?

konoplya wrote:

if you do, for what reason other than to reduce file size?

also, is any information lost during the conversion or not? i mean image information, not metadata etc.

Some people are very particular about the JPEG conversion software they use.  Is conversion from a RAW file of any manufacturer to DNG vulnerable to the algorithms and interpretations as RAW to JPEG can be?

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Robin Casady Forum Pro • Posts: 12,898
Why Bother?

I only convert to DNG when I want to open a ColorChecker Passport shot in the X-Rite software, or Adobe DNG Profile Editor.

For long term compatibility, I don't see Adobe's DNG as being a safer bet than Nikon's NEF. I know of nothing that says Nikon's long term prospects aren't as good as Adobe's. Both are likely to be much better than my own long-term prospects.

DNG is an Adobe format. What if Photoshop and Lightroom are superseded by something new and amazing from another company? What if I want to switch to using Nikon's software?

I really don't see any benefit to converting to DNG.

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mpe Contributing Member • Posts: 500
Re: Do you convert NEF to DNG?

Conversion of RAW from one format to another is pointless.

Yes, there might be a small filesize saving, however, you are actually loosing valuable metadata.

The reason that the conversion axes all Nikon-proprietary metadata not supported by DNG convertor. There is no way how to get original NEF back from DNG once you convert. Even if you convert the DNG to JPEG and try to open that in Capture NX it is lost.

Sometimes it is good to have option to open the NEF in CaptureNX to see things, like how was my lens AF-finetune set, how was the exact flash settings I used, whether I had permanent exposure compensation set, which exact speedlight was used, etc.

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mpe Contributing Member • Posts: 500
Re: Do you convert NEF to DNG?

Furthermore, if you contribute to some photography contests, like famous wildlife photography of the year, you must be able to provide original RAW file just as captured by camera.

Their rules clearly say that DNG files are only permitted if DNG is the native RAW format of the camera. And such a rule is quite common when contributing to high-profile contests.

I never delete my NEFs and I think conversion to DNG is pointless as any convertsion can never give you any value. It can only take something out.

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jtan163 Senior Member • Posts: 2,265
Re: Do you convert NEF to DNG?

konoplya wrote:

if you do, for what reason other than to reduce file size?

also, is any information lost during the conversion or not? i mean image information, not metadata etc.

thank you in advance.

This subject was recently beaten to near death in the M43 forum if anyone wants to see:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3452193

One reason I would suggest DNG is that apparently DNG code in Lightroom 4.x can take advantage of multiple CPUs. I got that from a Kelby training video - I think a D-Town episode.

So if you have a multi core CPU you may see speed increases in processing.

But the main reason I would recomend DNG is archiving if you care about your images and want to be able to access them in say 30 years time.

Let me be clear I don't DNG most of my images. But most of my images are not really worth keeping.
The ones I care about I DNG.

If your images are worth keeping, then I'd DNG them.
You're not DNG'ing them so you can open them in 3 years time.
DNG is insurance against the medium to long term possibility of format obsolescence.

Despite what some people think formats can and have become obsolete and governments and academics are quite concerned about format obsolescence - it is a fairly new problem and one who's magnitude is increasing daily.

For example, who can read a visicalc file on an Apple II 5.25inch floppy?

My guess is not many people, but not that long ago Apple II's were probably the most widely used PCs around and Visicalc was the market leading spreadsheet.

That was only ~30 years ago. Who's gonna be alive in 30 years? Many of you, I would guess. Will you want to see your photos? Probably, I'd guess.

I will admit that it is unlikely that formats that we are using today will be totally unreadable in say 5 years time.

But in 20, 30 , 40 years? Yes I reckon there is a decent chance that at least some of them might be effectively impossible for an aging photographer to read.

And even if your format(s) does not go away there is a fair chance that they may become prohibitively expensive to read for the average user and maybe even more so for a pro with a few hundred thousand files to convert.

Both file and media format obsolescence is a real problem.

Governments and academia are spending money trying to work out standards, solutions and risk mitigation strategies.

But don't take my word for the fact that file obsolescence is a real problem do some research - here are some links:

Here's an article from an Australian academic organisation that is intended to assist people in choosing good strategies for keeping their data available.

http://www.ands.org.au/guides/file-formats-working.pdf

Here's an article about a UK project that is trying to address the problem that some people seems to think is a non issue.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7886754.stm

Assuming they finish there is no guarantee your version of RAW will be supported, that you would have access to the software, that you would have access to a machine capable of running the software, that you would have the skills required to use the software. Then again they might make it available for free or as an at cost cloud service, the thing is you don't know, so you can't rely on it.

Here are some file formats that the Library of Congress recomend:

http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/formats/content/still_preferences.shtml

Note: DNG preferred to RAW.

American Society Media Photographers archival best practise:

http://dpbestflow.org/node/371

Here's what the ASMP say about archive formats:

"Currently, Adobe DNG format is the only candidate. Keep in mind, even DNG files may need to be migrated to a subsequent DNG version or a replacement format as yet unknown."

Why is DNG a better choice?

Because it is to all practical intents and purposes free from an intelectual property constraints, so any one who is inclined can implement DNG software and a quite a few organisations and individuals have. Not only have they written the software, some of them have made the source available  which means that other programmers can read it and if necessary modify t or port it (convert/translate it) to other operating systems or CPU families.
That means you are not reliant on a company that might go bust for future support of your files.

And for those people who want to be able to access the orignal RAW file - you can.
DNG allows the original RAW file to be embedded and extracted again later - though it may be a larger DNG than it other wise might have been.

Now I am not saying you have to use DNG or even that you should.
But I am saying I don't think most people have really thought the issue out and I think they should consider the issue carefully and not simply assume that they will be able to read their data into the indefinate future.

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PK24X36NOW Senior Member • Posts: 1,941
Re: Do you convert NEF to DNG?
1

konoplya wrote:

if you do, for what reason other than to reduce file size?

also, is any information lost during the conversion or not? i mean image information, not metadata etc.

thank you in advance.

Yup - because my version of Photoshop is too old for my camera, and my OS not new enough and/or my version of Photoshop not new enough to get an update to ACR to work with the NEFs. At some point I'll have to upgrade everything - computer (because it's 32-bit architecture, which won't be enough for the latest Photoshop), OS (because muine is too old to support even the latest DNG converter), and software (because the next camera will be too new for what I've got).

bruceh Contributing Member • Posts: 962
ColorChecker Question (OT)

Robin Casady wrote:

I only convert to DNG when I want to open a ColorChecker Passport shot in the X-Rite software, or Adobe DNG Profile Editor.

Robin,

Can the ColorChecker DNG Profile created with the X-Rite software be applied to a raw file in adobe software (e.g. ACR).  That is, does one have to convert the photo to DNG before applying the DNG Profile?

michaeladawson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,333
Re: ColorChecker Question (OT)

bruceh wrote:

Robin Casady wrote:

I only convert to DNG when I want to open a ColorChecker Passport shot in the X-Rite software, or Adobe DNG Profile Editor.

Robin,

Can the ColorChecker DNG Profile created with the X-Rite software be applied to a raw file in adobe software (e.g. ACR).  That is, does one have to convert the photo to DNG before applying the DNG Profile?

Yes.  That is the whole point of the CC software.  They build camera profiles that appear in your ACR profiles tab along with Standard, Portrait, Vivid, etc, etc.

You load any raw file into ACR and choose your camera profile of choice from the dropdown.

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krikman Regular Member • Posts: 418
Re: ColorChecker Question (OT)

I convert all RAW files from Canon 30D, 50D, 1000D, 1D3, 5DII and Nikon D40, D90, D300s, D700 and D4 to DNG. Before I begun doin' that way I spend 2 years comparing DNG and RAW from Canon and Nikon.

My test show that no loss of visual information in converted files, and all required EXIF data is here. Storage space is an issue because my and collegue archive totals just 5 TB and DNG are 20% smaller for that.

Image processing speed by ALR much better in DNG especially in batch applications.and files are smaller.

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