Converting To DNG After Importing To Lightroom

First off I just wanted to give a HUGE thanks to everyone that came out to my seminars this week in Indianapolis and Columbus, OH. I had two awesome crowds and, while I’m really happy to be on my way home, I had a blast getting to meet everyone who came out.

Anyway, I’m on the plane back, and had some time to think about common questions I get. One of those questions is about converting to DNG and whether or not it’s possible to convert to it after you do your Lightroom import. See, the Import dialog has a Copy as DNG option in it. But what if you’re just adding photos that already exist on your computer and you choose the Add option? No DNG right? No sweat!

Just select your photos in the Library module. Then go to the Library menu at the top and choose Convert Photos to DNG. You’ll get the usual DNG conversion dialog where you choose your options and you’re good to go.

Once again, thanks to everyone for coming out to the seminars this week. I’m at Photoshop World next week teaching lots of Lightroom, but as soon as I get my newest seminar schedule I’ll be sure to post it here (btw… you can see all of my upcoming workshops on the right sidebar on any page on this blog).

See ya!
(top image courtesy of


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  1. I use Camera Nikon D7200. I import .NEF files in LR5 and want to copy as DNG. I am failing because I get a message “some import operation were not performed” in a new dialogue box showing all files I was importing. It asks to check for UPDATES I click it and get another message your software is update, No updates are available at this time.

    I can send the screen shots if you need, dont know how…. Please HELP!

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  2. I am REALLY trying to like DNG format, but(t) … it seems to me that every time I do, Lightroom just)loses will to live – it is so slow that it is unbearable. My i7 (4 cores, 8 threads) machine seem to turn into a single 8086 PC from 1984. Funny thing is, when I edit Canon CR2 or Sony raw files, all things get snappy, immediately.
    What gives? Any ideas Matt?

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    • Sorry – it’s not something I’ve seen before. Are you update to on Lightroom (LR 5.6?). I don’t personally use DNG but I’ve never heard anyone say it was slower. In fact, some say its’ faster in LR>

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      • Hi Matt, I love the room I saved converting thousands of raw NEF files to DNG but am not nearly finished. I would love to have a shortcut key to convert as DNG, NEF and JPG are all mixed together. Therefore, I cannot convert everything at once. Also, am slowly but surely deleting all the JPG files attached to the NEF files. I love shortcut keys, help!

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    • A possible explanation is that if you save metadata to file, then with DNG files it means rewriting the whole file on disk because the DNG format contains all the metadata (XMP included)

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  3. I have an earlier version of LR that doesn’t recognise Raw files from a Nikon D7100.Is it possible that I could import the RAW files by using Convert to DNG on import.Thanks.

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  4. Hello Matt

    I just came across this thread on your site…
    prompts me to ask you, the One-and-Fabulous-Guru – seriously, love your style and teaching !
    Here my question :
    Lightroom ( CC from the cloud) is extreeeemely slow in converting to DNG from memory card-import..
    actually, it seems it is the step of ‘Building 1:1 Previews’ that is taking ages ( ages means about 5 – 6 hours for about 450 images from Sony99 Raw )
    I am aware that 1:1 Previews are larger, but I don’t remember it being that slow in the past –

    On a side question, please – I keep getting the brush tool in Photoshop CC2014 now, too, doing that stuttery-delayed painting serveral seconds *after* the actual brush strokes… impossible and useless tool this way; cannot paint anything accurately !
    What setting might I have wrong and where??

    Thanks very much for any reply you might find time to type in, quickly –
    peter v quenter

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    • Hey Peter – flattery will get you everywhere πŸ™‚
      Anyway, I honestly don’t know why its taking so long. I do know that 1:1 previews take a while, but 5-6 hours on 450 images seems excessive. I wonder what happens if you create a brand new catalog, and try that same import into an empty library?
      As for the brush thing in Photoshop. I hate it. Still bugs me too :-/

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      • Thanks much, Matt –

        will try the new catalogue –

        and slow brushes… well,
        so be it, then;
        we’ll await Adobe updates to hopefully fix it…

        take care

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      • Thanks much – Matt

        Aha – will try the new catalogue –

        and re slow brushes…
        so be it, then –
        we’ll await Adobe updates to hopefully fix it…

        take care

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  5. The only problem with suggested method is that you “Convert Photo to DNG”, not “Convert Photos to DNG”, i.e. you can convert it only one-by-one, which makes the method almost useless for already existing photos.

    PS: In fact, you, most probably don’t want to touch your old photos, so, you will use DNG for new photos only… πŸ™‚

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    • Hey Alex – if you select multiple photos you can convert them all at once πŸ™‚

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      • I’ve just understood, that I’m doing the same mistake – select photos in bottom strip, while I have to do it in Grid view in Library.

        Thanks, everything works like a charm πŸ™‚

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        • Thanks for this, I couldn’t figure out why it wasnt working on all of them for me either lol.

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  6. Hi Matt,
    So I am looking to have a clean workflow for importing Photos using lightroom. I want to test out the ‘convert to dng’ option, but I dont want to copy to a new location. I basically want to transfer my photos from cf, then bring the folder into lightroom under the ‘add’ option. Is there a way to only convert to dng upon import rather than copying to a new location?

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  7. I’ve just upgraded to LR 5.4 in order to be able to deal with Nikon 4s NEF files. However when I try to import from the camera to LR, the camera is recognized, but I’m only offered the import option of “copy as DNG”… the “ADD” option is greyed out. I then connected a Nikon D4 and discovered the same lack of an ADD option. (Prior to the upgrade I had been importing NEF files to LR after they had been put on the hard rive via Nikon Transfer.)

    Is this normal behavior?

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  8. I apologize for being a little off topic…

    What I found works best for me (important distinction) is to save photos from the SD card to the photo file I maintain on hard drive using IE. I then Import them to LR from the hard drive location and leave them in their current location and in their legacy format (I shoot RAW using Cannon and Nikon). I have yet to experience any benefit from converting to DNG.(My former workflow converted everything to DNG which then required telling LR where I would like to place these converted files, what I would like to name them, etc…. resulting in duplicate files and a few “oopsies” that left me searching for files.)

    Are there any potential issues with this revised process I am not aware of?

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  9. Hi Matt…

    Any info on LR 5.4? ACR 8.4 has been out for several months and LR users have been left holding the bag with regards to the new Dfx from Nikon .

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  10. Hey Matt,

    What if you have already done some LR development changes (adding a xmp file) to some photos and want to convert to DNG? Will, the original xmp file still exist? How would you handle this situation?

    Thanks and have a safe flight home!


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  11. Hi,
    the question is “why should I need to convert my file to DNG?”

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    • You don’t have to. But one should consider lossy DNG which is great option to save space. Say you took 1000 shots, and have 10 keepers that you want to keep RAW. The rest, say they’re not that great but worth keeping, then you can convert them to lossy DNG instead of JPG because with DNG it is similar to RAW you can always go back and change all the settings and save a lot of disk space.

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      • lol, I really like this site πŸ˜€ Thanks Matt.

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      • If I have chosen “copy as dng” and have a mix of Raw and JPEG files in the folders what happens to the JPegs?

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    • I recently bought the new Fuji XT1 and since I normally shoot in RAW and import to Lightroom. Unfortunately at this stage Lightroom does not read their raw files and so I have to convert to DNG in order for them to read the files. I imported the Adobe DNG converter and have to conver the files before uploading them. I suppose it is not possible to import them and then change to DNG from Lightroom as you suggested above, but I was wondering if there is a more efficient way to do this. I’ve been now shooting in RAW and JPEG but I’m wondering what the benefit is of doing so since I get double the files? Thanks so much!

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      • Good news Diane – they just released an update today so it’ll read your files now πŸ™‚

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