DNG in the News

Recent weeks have seen a number of DNG related announcements:

  • Casio EX-F1: A 6 megapixel camera that captures 60 full resolution DNG files per second!(John Nack scooped me on this one)
  • Pentax K20D and K200D: These new 14.6 and 10.2 megapixel cameras from Pentax can capture directly to the DNG raw format.
  • Samsung GX-20:  The new DNG-capable Samsung 14.6 megapixel model is similar to the Pentax K20D but DPreview also looks at how it is different.
  • Noritsu Koki has announced their intention to support raw workflows at the photo retail level by utilizing the DNG format. 

For those not familiar with DNG, it’s the archival raw format that Adobe created to address the proliferation of proprietary raw formats.  With hundreds of undocumented formats introduced since the advent of raw capture, it’s no wonder that the concept of a raw standard has elicited quite a bit of discussion.   Much of the discussion revolves around the topic of file format obsolescence: Will I be able to open my raw files in 50 to 75 years from now?  This is a good question and a valid reason why photographers choose to use the openly documented DNG format but there are other more immediate benefits to using a DNG workflow:

  • Lossless compression of the raw data can reduce file size anywhere from 10 to 40% or more.  In a completely unscientific test I converted a small folder of Nikon D300 raw files to DNG and the folder went from 243MB to 125MB!  You could almost double the number of photos stored on a single drive.  I know ‘storage is cheap’ these days but it’s not free!  
  • It provides a documented file structure that can support writing metadata back to the file.  (No need for XMP sidecar files)
  • You can store an updated preview of the image in the DNG file that accurately represents your latest non-destructive rendering settings.  I think of it as a job jacket for my images.  I have the negative, the processing instructions and a ‘work print’ of how I last processed the image all within a single file.

With all of those benefits it’s no surprise that 40% of Lightroom users who aren’t shooting with a DNG-native camera have already decided to utilize the Convert To DNG option while importing their photos.

28 Responses to DNG in the News

  1. Gio says:

    Tom, given that take up of DNG, how soon can we expect to see the Codec for Windows?[Good question Gio. We are working on a DNG Codec for Vista but I can’t share a release date with you. -TH]

  2. Thomas Bouve says:

    Converting to DNG is the first step in my workflow. Ever since I started using Lightroom I’ve used it.The main reason for me was to get rid of the XMP sidecar files and have a single file with all the info inside.

  3. Tom,In all my Lightroom (and Bridge/ACR workflow) classes, as well as my book, I stress the very benefits of DNG that you list. It’s great to know how many folks are seeing those benefits and taking advantage.Everyone with whom I discuss DNG gets it immediately. I just wish there was more discussion of it in the photo education world.[Steve, thanks for spreading the word. I agree that there could be more DNG discussion in many communities but format standardization is not always the most exciting topic. -TH]

  4. I love DNG. I have both a Canon EOS 20D and a 40D, and it makes no sense at all for me to have two different kinds of CR2 files around when everything could be the same (i.e. DNG). Lots of photographers have multiple cammeras, sometimes from different manufacturers, and it would be silly to have all those different file types floating around your drives and archives.Kudos and cheers for the continued growth and success of DNG!

  5. Ardfry says:

    We have written a DNG codec for Vista.http://www.ardfry.com/dng-codecA free trial is available.[Thanks for the note Ardfry. It’s great to see a company taking advantage of an openly documented specification to provide support for the format. It proves the point that the format has longevity and relevance even if Adobe were no longer in the market. In this case a smaller more agile company has been able to support the Vista DNG Codec implementation before Adobe is able to complete our own internal effort. I just want to reassure customers that Adobe will be providing a free DNG Codec in the near future. -TH]

  6. I love DNG……..its the top of the line format……..from a long time user of Adobe

  7. CascadeHush says:

    I have a Pentax K10D and have always shot in DNG rather than Pentax’ own RAW format.But actually it’s more of a pain than a benefit. The DNG files are not compressed by the camera (I guess that would take too much processing power). When importing to Lightroom, it decides that because it’s already in DNG format, it won’t bother trying to compress it, even though I have the relevant option ticked.In other words your better of shooting with your camera’s own format than shooting direct to DNG, if you want Lightroom to compress your RAW files. (And why wouldn’t you?)The only benefit to shooting to DNG is if your software of choice does not support your RAW format.[I realize that this is a relatively hidden feature but if you import your native DNG files, Lightroom can compress them after they’re in the Library. Make sure that your DNG preference is set for lossless compression and then choose the Photo > ‘Update DNG Previews and Metadata’ command. While the previews are updated the raw data will be compressed with the lossless compression algorithm. -TH]

  8. What happens when you choose to embed the original raw file, besides the large file size, and why would you do this?[Marc, photographers who want to have access to the original proprietary file can store the original raw file, bit for bit, within a standardized DNG file. You’re essentially putting two image files into a single document. Generally, this is valuable for photographers who feel that the camera manufacturer may deliver significant processing improvements in the future. (Camera Manufacturer software traditionally is only able to edit the proprietary format) The proprietary file can be extracted using the DNG Converter tool. -TH]

  9. keefeeb says:

    I’ve been converting the raw files from my D80 and the resulting DNG files are not much smaller? It’s less than 10% smaller. I expected a bigger difference?[Two additional factors can affect your final DNG file size: The amount of compression used on the proprietary raw file in the camera and the size of the embedded preview you choose for the DNG file. (Small, Medium or Large) -TH]

  10. I have organized over 20,000 images in LR so far. I was thinking of converting them to DNG with the “Convert to DNG” command. In one LR collection, there are ten subject folders, each with multiple folders for different shoots. A few of these also have nested folders.1. Should I convert these one folder at time, or can I do so all at once at the root “subject folder” level?2. Is LR pretty efficient at releasing the extra HD space or is there something else I need to do?3. Is there anything else I should know?Thanks.[Conversion to DNG should be done at the Folder selection level and it will respect your folder hierarchy. The way to conserve hard drive space is to choose the option to delete the proprietary originals. -TH]

  11. Sten-Ake Sandh says:

    Despite DNG should be a general and open picture file format it rises problems in the real life. I guess the DNG format is not to blaim here, but it’s definitely a problem how it’s implemented in many RAW converters. If I convert a file (of any format) I expect it would be possible to open it in any converter able to read DNG in the future. That’s the whole idea about it, isn’t it? Just make the experiment to open a Sony A100 RAW-file converted to DNG in Pixmantec Rawsooter for example. You will find it’s impossible. RS can read RAW from KM 7D converted to DNG because it has an import profile built in for that camera, but it lacks one for the A100 (which was released after RS was discontinued). If the idea still is that DNG should be a universal format, possible to read in any program with a DNG-importfilter, then Adobe need to inform software developers not to implement obstacles like the ones found in so many raw converters that counter act this great initiative. Why can’t the software packages have a neutral default import profile (if they need to have one) that let you import DNG-files converted from “unsupported RAW files”.[It’s true that several raw processors have incomplete DNG support. Pixmantec’s Raw Shooter products were only just starting to implement DNG support before they were acquired by Adobe Systems. Everything required to support DNG files natively in any software application is provided in the DNG specification. It’s up to third party software manufacturers to implement full or fractional support. -TH]

  12. joshua gene says:

    wow, cool stuff thanks for sharing. I’m gonna have to start importing as DNG’s

  13. Jason Smith says:

    When I import my Canon raw files with attached .wavs the sound files disappear. This severely hampers my ability to successfully caption photos when those files previously had sound files attached to them.

  14. Adobe DNG RAW on Google Android (gPhone)http://teavuihuang.com/dngTea Vui Huang’s “DNGwriter” is a Google Android library that allows gPhone (Google Android Handset) camera images to be saved straight to the Adobe Digital Negative (DNG) Raw image format. This product includes DNG technology under license by Adobe Systems Incorporated.

  15. Tea Vui Huang’s DNG Phone Camerahttp://teavuihuang.com/dngphonecameraWith the “DNG Phone Camera” monile software, you can now capture photos directly to the Adobe DNG (Digital Negative) RAW image format from your Nokia camera phone. Previously, DNG is available only on high-end cameras like Hasselblad & Leica.

  16. Ryan Rowell says:

    I was interested in knowing if DNG supports 14bit and higher raw information. I have had a hard time finding the information anywhere.[Ryan, check out the DNG specification on http://www.adobe.com/dng/ . Chapter 3 indicates support for up to 32 bits per sample. -TH]

  17. Harvey Wilson says:

    This is a pretty pedantic quibble with the “digital negative” analogy, but isn’t the raw image data more analogous to a latent image (exposed, undeveloped film) in traditional wet photography? The negative itself is actually a developed image, therefore there exists the possibility of losing or altering the “data” represented by the latent image. I suggest, therefore, that Adobe rename their raw image format a “Digital Latent Image” or DLI file.[Harvey, Latent Image may be the more accurate description but I think ‘Negative’ rings true right away for many photographers. -TH]

  18. Mike D says:

    What is lost when converting from native RAW (such as .NEF or .CR2) to the DNG format? Some people claim that the camera manufacturers include info in the raw file that can only be interpreted by their own proprietary software, and thus programs like Capture NX are able to produce superior images compared to ACR or Lightroom. Is this true? Until the day the manufacturers release this secret data, is it wise to erase the original files?[Mike, the DNG specification was updated to include proprietary camera manufacturer ‘Maker Notes.’ I suppose my question is, “Is the secret data providing any value now in any application?” -TH]

  19. Mark says:

    I see this DNG nonsense quite frequently, and it surprises me that consumers are so gullible. This is Adobe brainwashing, you realize. When they say “Will you be able to open your files in 75 years?” what they mean is, do you think WE (Adobe) will be able to open your files in 75 years? ACR is already not rendering D100 files as well in subsequent versions yet Capture NX renders them BETTER and hell, if you have a D1 lying around you can still use it and open the files without concern. Nikon and Canon have been around many more years than Adobe…..who do you trust more?[Mark, Lets chat in 75 years shall we. Also, please show me an example of how the D100 rendering has changed at all let alone for the worse. There are DNG benefits available right now as I’ve pointed out previously: http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/2008/01/dng_in_the_news.htmlThe key to DNG is that it doesn’t matter how long Adobe, Nikon, Canon, Kodak or anyone is around, the specification is already available in the public domain. I wish I could say the same for the format found on Kodak PhotoCDs, a proprietary, undocumented, unsupported image format. But clearly Kodak has been around far longer than other companies so we shouldn’t be worried, right? -TH]

  20. John O'Brien says:

    i have close to 41,000 images in lightroom currently…JPGs, TIFFs from scanned film, and an assortment of RAW files, CRW and CR2. i really want to believe in DNG (but when i convert i still embed the original raw file hoping i’ll be able to get it back if i ever need it) is there any way to store all my image files as DNGs? i realize you don’t have the control over JPGs like you do with raw… but it would be nice to have a single format…[John, I’m not sure I understand your goal. JPEG and TIFF are perfectly valid formats. There’s not a great deal of value in converting those formats to DNG. -TH]

  21. xram says:

    Just couple of question regarding DNG and LR, how can I convert all my raw files to DNG in one shot? (any batch work?) Using LR, how can I make the LR AutoImport to import not just to my Picture directory but also to appropriate shooting date directory?[xram, when your files are in the Library you can select all of them and choose to convert them to DNG in place.(From the Library file menu) In the Auto Import and Import settings you can specify exactly where you want the files to go. -TH]

  22. Emily says:

    I have been converting to dng for some time and just realized (oops) that I’ve been embedding the RAW files as well, resulting in much larger files than necessary. Is there any way to convert these files into dng WITHOUT the RAW file embedded while still maintaining the files’ integrity (edits, labels, etc) within Lightroom?[Change your preference not to embed the original and convert them again. -TH]

  23. Jesse Valley says:

    I want to use DNG, but I am not finding the right button to compress my Canon files in Lightroom 2.5, so they are larger when I convert. The only options I see when I select “Library” then “Convert Photo to DNG” is:Only convert Raw filesDelete originals after successful conversionFile ExtensionCompatibilityJPEG PreviewEmbed Original Raw FileCan someone help me out?

  24. David says:

    I am considering converting all my .NEF files to .DNG files. I have been doing a test and it works fine. However, it seems to 1) leave the .nef files in place on the HDD file structure, 2) remove the .NEFs from the catalog only and 3) create the .dng files with all the metadata intact.My question is this. If I don’t want to keep both the .dng and .nef files I guess i need to select the option to delete the originals otherwise I am going to manually have to deleted them. I am just nervous about deleting the originals until I know all is well. Is the best way to make a backup of the library (images and .xmp files), convert & Delete. This way I can always go back to the backup library.Thoughts and thanks in advance.

  25. gary walters says:

    How would a place like Sam’s or WalMart handle a DNG if a client went in there with a cd of DNG files. Will a print mach read and print them?

  26. Scott says:

    I’ve read adobe articles from a couple years back with talk about converting jpeg files to DNG. As I undestand it, the reason is so that the origional file is retained, and edits are stored seperately. However, the lightroom 3 beta doesn’t appear to allow me to convert my jpeg to DNG at the import stage. Can you clarify please? thanks.

  27. Patrick says:

    As a test, I converted a Raw file to DNG on my laptop, and made a virtual copy to which I made some adjustments. I clicked on Save Metadata to file under the Metadata heading. Then I imported it to the catalog on my desktop computer, but it does not display the virtual copy. Should the virtual copies not also show up? Is there something I should be doing differently? (This is true when I import a Raw file as well.)Thanks.

  28. BJ says:

    Can I safely delete the raw files once I’ve converted to DNG ? There’s no reason to keep both files is there ?