What's the advantage of DNG?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bert gildart, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. In my posting yesterday about my new Nikon D300, and Adobe's requirement that I
    upgrade to Photoshop CS3 (that's what a Rep said I must do) and my frustrations
    about a seeming lack of synchronization between the two companies, several
    people responded saying that I could have downloaded the DNG Converter and
    turned my D300 NEFs into DNGs (whatever that is?). This, they said, was an
    alternative to purchasing Photoshop CS3 and might even be a preferable format.
    That now raises another question.
    I started several years ago with Nikon Picture Project. Pictures here were all
    created as Raw images. Is there any advantage now(and is it possible?) to
    convert all these thousands of images taken with my older D200 to DNG, a format
    several have spoken highly of?
    I'm an old film photographer and though I went digital several years ago (Nikon
    Super Coolscan 5000 to convert film plus the real thing, a Nikon D200) I'm
    finding there's a steep learning curve in this ongoing transition. However, I'm
    learning that many of the answers I need are right here on this forum, and thank
    those who are helping make this transition easier. I get more info here than I
    do from several other organizations to which I belong.
  2. DNG is very good for Adobe as it reduces the amount of work they need to do to support new cameras.

    From a purely creative perspective, there is zero advantage to the photographer over RAW.
  3. I just upgraded to CS3 from CS2 and it is worth upgrading for the added features.
  4. Bert the DNG image file format was developed by Adobe as a platform for camera producers to export their camera specific image files into a format that can be read by any image processing software. The claimed idea was to facilitate image processing across different producers of hardware and software.

    Many users like the idea as an obvious solution to problems similar to the ones you just experienced. Some concern was voiced since this would strengthen the near monopoly position of Adobe and probably reduce market shares (and profit)of competing companies.

    So far I think only one camera producer adopted the file format as an output option in their products.

    Besides the obvious advantage of cross platform data exchange there is no advantage in image processing. Future will tell if DNG files will be more readily read in a few decades than NEF or other proprietary software formats. At present I see no need to convert your existing NEF files. You can do this whenever you like using CS3 and the current plugin. There is a hypothetical advantage if you do convert the files and create a backup of both file formats that you doubled the chances to read your files in future software. If you safe your files after conversion to the TIFF format you would triple your chances. Now this leads to another topic of data backup - frequently covered here :)

    BTW: The standalone software DNG-converter can convert your files into DNG files in a simple batch process for entire folders.
  5. Bert, I am using PSCS with my D80. I have to convert the NEF files to DNG with the free Adobe DNG converter, which comes with the Adobe Converter Raw download (as seperate software). It is another step in the process, but since I have not upgraded to PSCS3, it does allow me to use my older ACR (2.4) with CS to process my D80 raw files. The converted DNGs are exactly the same as NEFs as far as I can tell. I would rather have the current version of PS and ACR, but since I don't, this will do the job. You certainly should try it until you decide which software you want to use ultimately.
  6. Most companies aren't going to "synchronize" with each other. If you want your RAW (NEF) converter to stay current with each new model camera with the least amount of fuss, you should use Nikon Capture NX.

    Especially with digital, there are always going to be older products that are no longer supported or no longer support the newest products.

    DNG is Adobe's RAW format. There are those who like it and those who don't. There is a lot of information out there about it.
  7. I use both a PC and a Mac; I have CS on one and CS2 on the other - the (free) DNG converter allows me to seamlessly use all my raw files on both platforms with no loss of quality whatsoever; to upgrade both systems to CS3 in the UK would cost over (a rip off) $665!
  8. DNG format has advantages if you are using Adobe software, but not all other image software will read it - Nikon Capture NX will not read DNG files, I don't know about software for other camera manufacturers.

    Adobe RAW converters create external XMP files to save the conversion settings for the RAW converter if you use the camera RAW files (NEF, etc), but if you convert these to DNG files these settings are saved in the DNG file. This means you have only one file for each image that contains all the conversion settings and the RAW image.

    The DNG file is generally smaller that the NEF file. You can embed the NEF file in the DNG file, but this has a major effect on the file size - this gives you the capability to extract the NEF file in the future if required.

    Converting the camera RAW file to a DNG file using the latest DNG converter will allow you to convert RAW images using Photoshop CS with ACR version 2.4 and all future releases of Photoshop - CS2, CS3, and future. You don't have to upgrade Photoshop to work with new cameras, but you give up the new features in ACR for the new releases of Photoshop.

    I started converting all D200 NEF files to DNG because I only had Photoshop CS, but I now want the capability to use Capture NX so have returned to NEF files with external XMP files. I now have Photoshop CS3 and Nikon Capture NX.
  9. I have never tried DNG, but in the interest of safety, if I were to convert a NEF to DNG, I would save both. If DNG doesn't catch on, I can still use the old NEF file. If it does, I can use it. The problem is that I now have at least twice the number of files to store.

    Since all the postprocessing software I now use (Lightroom, DxO, Gimp/UFRaw) will read NEF files, and since Photoshop can read NEF with the appropriate plugin, I don't really see any point to convert to DNG. So until I see an advantage, I will not be using DNG.

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