October 30, 2005

More DNG Momentum

As I’ve mentioned in past entries, Adobe has been using its leadership in digital imaging to drive development of the Digital Negative specification. DNG addresses the need for a common, openly documented raw format–a solution much requested by customers. So, I wanted to pull together some recent good news on this front:

PS–I’ve always preferred the nice, simple “raw” as the term for this sort of format. Saying “RAW” seems a little aggro (“RAW is WAR!!”), like you need to make the little devil-horns with your hand while saying it. The term is neither an acronym (RAW) nor a proper name (Raw), but rather a generic descriptor for a whole class of formats. Therefore Adobe just says “raw.”

Posted by John Nack at 7:23 AM on October 30, 2005

Comments

  • Ellis Vener — 7:21 PM on October 30, 2005

    “PS–I’ve always preferred the nice, simple “raw” as the term for this sort of format…The term is neither an acronym (RAW) nor a proper name (Raw), but rather a generic descriptor for a whole class of formats. Therefore Adobe just says “raw.””
    I prefer the term “sopc” it is short for “sort of pre-cooked.”

  • Paul D — 11:49 PM on October 30, 2005

    Digital Negative is neat and all, but I think people are misunderstanding the issue if they suggest it as a replacement for Raw.
    Raw isn’t a format. It’s simply the raw data that a solid-state light sensor provides. No one can foresee what kind of data sensors of the future will be providing, so why would we want to restrict camera innovation to whatever is DNG-compatible?

  • Tom Hogarty — 10:36 PM on October 31, 2005

    I agree that ‘raw’ is sensor data and not a format but I disagree that adopting a standard raw format would inhibit future innovation. Did wireless network standard 802.11a prevent 802.11b or 802.11g from following in rapid succession with significant improvements?
    Standards could inhibit innovation in early fermentation periods of technology development but CCD and CMOS technologies were invented over thirty years ago and currently experience predominantly incremental improvements.
    Adobe’s goal is to foster dialog and continue the iterative process of achieving a standard that can evolve with the technology. DNG has already responded to industry feedback and updated the file specification to version 1.1.0.0. to accommodate camera manufacturer’s private metadata.
    Depending on the age of the technology, standards can be considered roadblocks or building blocks. I think it’s time the industry started building.

  • Barry Pearson — 3:45 AM on November 01, 2005

    Paul, DNG is a raw file format. In other words, a format for files that hold raw images.
    DNG isn’t intended to be a repacement for raw. Instead, it is intended to be an alternative for, (and as far as I am concerned, preferably a replacement for), other raw file formats such as PEFs, NEFs, CR2s, etc.
    DNG is designed to evolve, and has a neat version control scheme that lets the DNG specification, DNG readers, and DNG writers, evolve at their own rates. So it should not restrict camera innovation.
    If (say) Nikon can extend the NEF format for a new sensor type, why shouldn’t DNG be extended in an equivalent way? It probably already supports more sensor types than any camera maker’s raw file format, so it certainly has flexibility.

  • kevin m — 3:33 PM on January 08, 2006

    “Apple Aperture includes support for DNG. Aperture supports about 1/5th as many cameras as Adobe Camera Raw, but by dropping images from the 60+ cameras Aperture doesn’t support onto the free Adobe DNG Converter, you can make the files compatible with Aperture and all the other DNG-aware applications out there.”

    This is absolutely NOT the case. Try converting a Leica RAW file to DNG and you’ll find it is not compatible with Aperture.

  • John Nack — 3:49 PM on January 08, 2006

    Good catch, Kevin. At the time of writing this I believed that Aperture’s stated DNG support would give them compatibility with the 100+ cameras that ACR supports. Since then users have reported that that’s not the case. I’m not sure why that is, but members of the Photoshop team have been in touch with Apple to see whether they need more info. I’ll try to get an update.

  • Barry Pearson — 5:46 AM on January 09, 2006

    John, Aperture isn’t the only case where support for DNG doesn’t mean supporting all DNG files.
    It appears that a number of products only support DNG for cameras that they support the native raws of. They can read the DNG files, but rely on their own camera-model profile data, instead of using the camera calibration data in each DNG file.
    This is a useful first step, because it enables people to adopt a DNG-based workflow. But it falls short of the target.

  • Richard Ford — 9:33 AM on June 10, 2006

    I tried to do research before investing in Aperture….your website totally misled me with your Oct 5, 2005 unqualified statement that Adobe DNG converter would make my raw images compatible with Aperature. It is very irresponsible that you did not remove this totally incorrect statement, causing me to invest hard earned money for nothing. Your website lacks credibility and professionalism, so everyone should beware!!!!
    [Whoa–settle down, chief. I didn’t make any DNG-related statements on Oct. 5, so you must be talking about this: http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2005/10/dng_momentum.html What I wrote–that converting files to DNG should make them compatible with Aperture–is true. If it weren’t, then converting to DNG wouldn’t make new cameras compatible with Camera Raw 2.x (which is not actively updated).
    As to why Apple chooses not to support DNGs from cameras they don’t support directly, Joe Schorr, the Aperture product manager, has told me that they’d prefer to do per-camera profiling for their raw conversion, and without that for a particular model they don’t feel comfortable supporting DNGs from that camera. The upshot is that DNG does make it possible for Aperture and other software to support other cameras, but Apple chooses to go a different way. If you disagree with that approach, I suggest you take it up with them. –J.]

  • okto — 3:42 PM on October 03, 2006

    It’s a blog. Not a professional, take-this-as-gospel advice page.
    You paid nothing for the info, so you can’t get mad that it wasn’t 100% accurate. You got precisely what you paid for (and I suspect quite a bit more ^_^).

  • Siamack — 9:30 PM on January 17, 2007

    Aperture supports non-linear DNG only. This is the least sophisticated DNG as it’s nothing more than a container for a RAW file. Linear DNG support is a bigger development deal and Aperture does not support it. While Aperture team should be pushed to add support for linear DNG, the real focus of our demands must remain on camera manufacturers who for fear and marketing reasons will not convert to DNG and hope that we will become their captive customers… and what are the chances of that happening?!

  • Barry Pearson — 1:55 AM on January 18, 2007

    Siamack, non-linear DNG is NOT “nothing more than a container for a RAW file”!
    DNG is a true raw file format in its own right. Look inside a non-linear DNG and a NEF and you will see far more similarities than differences. DNG has more tags to enable it hold extra camera details & profiles, but it is not different in concept.
    Aperture mainly needs to be pushed to use those extra camera details. That is what will enable them to handle DNGs even for cameras where they don’t handle the original raws. (And handle all cameras that output DNG).
    Support for linear DNG as well will be a bonus, but is lower priority. However, my guess is that it wouldn’t be much extra work while they are doing the above development.

  • Nate — 8:31 AM on October 20, 2007

    I agree with what some are complaining about with this post. It would probably help the credibility of this site if you would update the information on Aperture’s inability to handle DNG files.
    [I take a certain pleasure in being criticized for being excessively charitable towards Aperture. ;-) –J.]

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