Lightroom Tips

To DNG or Not to DNG?

I received a question in the comment section the other day from some one asking about DNG and what the rest of the folks thought about it. The question was answered by a person that said something to the effect that they thought most people using Lightroom were converting to DNG upon import. It got me thinking about whether or not that was true. Most people I run into DON’T convert to DNG. I get lots of questions on it because they think that maybe they should, but they’re not yet doing it. Personally, I think it’s because there’s still some confusion about what it is and what is does to your photos.

Most of the people I talk to are “afraid” of what DNG will do to their original. When they ask what happens to their raw file I tell them that it gets converted to this non-proprietary open file format that will stand the test of time even if a camera manufacturer isn’t around one day to support their legacy formats. Then they ask what the benefits are. Well, one of them is of course the fact that you’d be able to use your raw files 50 years from now even if your camera manufacturer wasn’t around or decided not to support their file format anymore.

The other added benefit of DNG is that the file size is about 20% smaller than its corresponding Raw file. Is that cool? Yep. But does it install this discomfort in people wondering how they squeeze 20% out of the raw file without doing some quality damage to it? Youbetcha! I can’t blame them either. It sounds hokey to think that you can have a smaller file without some sort of quality loss. Now mind you, there is no loss of quality in the DNG file but again, I’m just telling you what I hear from folks out there and reasons they give for not using or not understanding DNG.

One more thing. DNG file store all of your metadata and raw settings with the file itself – it doesn’t need a sidecar XMP file like raw files do. That’s great and all but I use Lightroom so I don’t have to worry as much about sidecars as I would if I just used Camera Raw. And Lightroom doesn’t automatically update the DNG file if you make changes. You still manually need to go to the Photo menu to save the settings.

Personally, I think the whole DNG thing is a good one. Everyone’s lives would be easier if all raw formats were DNG-like and consistent with each other. We wouldn’t have to worry about where and what programs opened them, and Adobe wouldn’t have the nightmare they have with Camera Raw and Lightroom and all those different file formats they have to support. However, I’m afraid its not catching on (at least from the folks that I talk) to for a few reasons. Here’s why:

1. People don’t like to think 50 years ahead, today. I have trouble just thinking about this weekend 🙂 And I always figure that if Nikon decides to not support my raw files one day, there’s some 15 year old in his room that’ll code up a raw conversion program in his sleep.

2. I think mentally, we have this barrier that prohibits us from throwing away our raw files. In reality, if you convert to DNG that’s what you’re supposed to do. Throw away the raw files and your DNGs become your new permanent images that you backup for ever and ever. But the raw files came from our camera and for some reason we have this block that just makes us feel like we can never throw them away because, well, they’re the ones straight from our camera. But that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. You’re not supposed to keep raw and DNG because then it gets even more confusing.

3. Speaking about raw and DNG files, don’t even give me the option to embed the original raw file into the DNG. Now I’m taking up almost twice the space of the original file. Again, its confusing. It instills doubt to a newcomer and is one more reason why I may likely just not do it if I have questions about it.

4. Most don’t understand how the DNG file can be 20% smaller than the raw file without losing some kind of quality. Again, it just sounds hokey even though it’s not.

5. There’s just too many scary choices when converting to DNG. If its the latest greatest format that I’m supposed to be using then just do it. Don’t let me see or deal with terms like “Linear Demosaiced”.

So, while I totally get the whole DNG thing and I know its a good thing I still don’t convert to it. I always hope to and I have the best intentions but I just don’t do it. Maybe one day when my camera shoots in the DNG format I’ll make the jump. Or, maybe some one will convince me to do it before then. Who knows?

How about you? What do you do with your raw files? And more importantly, why? Leave a comment and let us know.



  1. Steve Crist 15 March, 2017 at 21:40 Reply

    I just downloaded DNG converter version 9.9 to convert my RAW files. I use Lightroom 5.7 and plan on getting a new Canon camera that won’t work with my Lightroom version. Thus the DNG converter seems the logical workaround. Question – is there a way to have the RAW files automatically deleted after conversion to DNG? It would be convenient and a bit of a time saver. Thanks. Steve

  2. Kelly 17 October, 2015 at 08:10 Reply

    While you are correct about ownership… DNG still belongs to Adobe and is proprietorial but open source. Everything would be fine if the DNG file could be universal, then every software package could open DNG files correctly. Pentax DNG files open fine in one photo editor, but a transformed Samsung raw file (to DNG) gives an unknown file type error.

    Does the DNG file get altered or not? In its newest edition, Adobe adds metadata to the DNG file that can include editing carried out on that DNG to actuate how the final image should look. A copy of the original DNG will have its own editing steps for a different result proof.

    Lightroom works on a thesis of import once, edit once and forget it.
    My idea is that the ORIGINAL raw file is a negative and should remain untouched.
    The DNG is also a negative and in similar vein should remain untouched.
    If it has a structure, it should be one that is universal (like JPEG) that any program can read and display, be kept to a minimum yet readily understood.

    It has been suggested by some a copy of the original RAW could be embedded while an IFF image is held within the DNG file.

    So why does the DNG file get cluttered with the metadata and profiling and Lightroom moves?
    BLOATWARE of software files; and is the enemy of future proofing.

  3. Asif 18 August, 2015 at 22:13 Reply

    I don’t convert my RAW file into DNG either. First off, with storage being so cheap these days, one must not worry about it that much. I shoot a lot of photos and videos and still have only used 20% of my 3TB HD. External HD are cheap too. Secondly, I often to back to my old RAW files and do re-processing. Having not to have developed settings written directly to the RAW file helps doing the second processing efficiently. With Lightroom being advancing, many prefer to re-process their old RAW files to produce a better photo than you did before.

  4. KTR 9 April, 2015 at 12:40 Reply

    I convert to DNG and throw away the CRW or CR2 RAW files. Always have done. I am slightly shocked that a Photoshop guru, who writes books and gives courses, superstitiously refrains from doing the same.

    What I really don’t understand is why the camera makers carry on using proprietary formats instead of creating DNG files in-camera. It is not as if keeping their proprietary formats ties you in to their camera system.

    As for long term storage, I make large, archival quality prints of the handful of good photographs that I make, and also of selection of “family interest” shots. They are likely to survive whatever changes the future brings in disk technology, file formats, and digital storage.

  5. Paul 16 August, 2014 at 06:36 Reply

    I’m converting to dng today. I reimported a load of files into LR and lost all my processing, which amounted to hours of processing work. I have learned that in DNG you can revert back to the original capture at any time. The processing settings are not permenant, they are still seperate from the image data, just included within the header.

  6. shashi Ayer 28 September, 2012 at 18:26 Reply

    How do I burn DNG files to CD? I called Photoshop tech support but since I am in the trial period they would not help me unless I bought the version. Some trial!!!

  7. Grace X. 18 September, 2012 at 22:59 Reply

    I am not converting RAW to DNG at the moment. After reading all the above comments, I feel I better not do so. I found no problem currently with importing RAW directly. Storage these days is not a big issue. External hard drive costs almost nothing.
    My real issue is with my travel laptop been a Mac with Aperture3 and my desktop at home been a PC with LR3. Anyone knows anything about this?

  8. David Llewellyn 30 March, 2011 at 17:25 Reply

    I have a Pentax K-7 and have shot several hundred photos recently in DNG, then imported them into LR3. This worked very well, but I have a major problem. I shoot mainly away from home and load the photos on to a powerful laptop. When I get home I then copy them on to my main computer, which has more storage and a bigger screen, to do some final tweaking and perhaps modify the meta data. Finally, I like to synchronise the two machines. With the meta data in XMP files, this does not take too long, but with DNG, if one character of meta data or any other setting is changed, then the entire 10 Mbyte file must be copied. It takes AGES to copy several hundred photos!. So I want to convert my DNGs back to RAW + XMP!

    I think the idea of a standardised format is a good one, but for those of us who want to work with two computers, we need the XMP sidecar files separate from the image file so that synchronisation during and after processing does not take too long.

  9. Chuck Manley 15 March, 2011 at 17:18 Reply

    I shoot with a Pentax K2000 and I shoot in DNG. I do so for many reasons. First is that I have been using Adobe graphic programs for a long time. Much longer than the past 2 years I’ve been shooting with Pentax. Much longer than when I was shooting with my canon, fuji, and kodak point and shoots. It makes more sense to me to embrace a format that will be around when I switch to another camera maker.

    Then there is of course the file size.

    I think Adobe knows digital graphics more than pentax, sony, nikon, olympus, fuji, canon, or whatever you shoot with. When it comes to buying cameras, I’ll let camera makers handle that aspect. When it comes to digital graphics, Adobe just does it better than the rest. So I support that with confidence.

  10. Dan 6 February, 2011 at 15:16 Reply

    I’m using a Nikon D80. I can use View2 to see the focus points of any NEF file. It seems that converting from NEF to DNG looses the ability to view the focus points. I’m not sure if DNG is losing the focus info or I’m simply unable to view it since View2 does not support DNG.

  11. TomOnTheRoof 17 January, 2011 at 19:55 Reply

    I convert to DNG for one reason – dng files can store a custom camera profile. So if I move a photo with a custom profile from one catalog to another (even to a different machine), it looks the same. Also no worries if my catalog gets corrupted – i will not loose the custom profiles as they will be within the dngs.

    Initially i import my photos as raw files, so i can quickly start working on them and my edits can be backed up in almost no time (small xmps). I let the conversion to dng happen after i am done with the edits.

  12. Vince 27 November, 2010 at 11:33 Reply

    I’ve played around with DNG and like the format just fine (ie. I have no issue with output quality). My concern with using it as a single archive format is the lack of 3rd party support. Using any software that I’m aware of outside Adobe and their plugin partners, a DNG must be once again converted to another file format (tif, jpg, etc). Every subsequent conversion loses and corrupts at least some data – even if only a trivial amount. It’s a cumulative process. If you want to work in Photomatix, you can’t use DNG. DxO, no DNG. Forget integrating any Nikon software into your workflow, and while I only use the newest version of ViewNX, it’s still better that Adobe at retrieving in camera settings.

    My new year’s resolution (2011) is to “double” my initial workflow step in archiving both the NEF and the DNG. I’ll use the DNG format when working only in Adobe (which is 90% of the time). The NEFs will subsequently get burned (with keywords) to DVD and kept in an offsite location. With the NEFs intact, I have the option to work in more specialized software without a likely degradation resulting from further format conversion.

    Overkill? Likely. More versatile? Unfortunately. Safe? Definitely.

  13. william 29 August, 2010 at 07:59 Reply

    Coming to this a bit late, but I figure someone may still read the comment.

    Anyway, I’m not sold on the benefits of DNG for a few reasons.

    I don’t think it’s any more future proof than Canon RAW. Being probably the biggest name in photography, it’s pretty unlikely that they’ll disappear. I also don’t think they’ll suddenly stop supporting their old formats without giving fair warning and without offering a solution to convert. I imagine it would also be very easy for them to create a method of conversion being that they know the proprietary implementation.

    If they did, they would be screwing a huge amount of people in doing such a thing. There are probably millions of photographers and billions of photographs that would be rendered useless. The sheer backlash from such an act would be business suicide. Photography is far different that other things when it comes to the obsolete and the old. It’s not technology. It’s far more than technology. It’s artistic, it’s scientific, it’s business, it’s a million things all at once. And for most people — and the most important IMO — it’s historical. It captures time. To intentionally make obsolete and inaccessible all of that captured history would just be… for lack of a better word, retarded. It will never happen by their own power, and if it didn’t happen due to something else, you can be the farm that someone out there would find a solution in no time.

    Also, if I switch to DNG, that means I have to use software that supports DNG. I don’t need/want to use Lightroom for all my stuff — it’s way too slow. I still use DPP a lot because I don’t always need to do drastic things and DPP is very fast at doing minor corrections.

    Another thing. I would NEVER delete my original files. Never ever in a million years. It’s never a good idea to throw away originals of anything. That seems very foolish. Conversion, as it stands now, is a one way street. If for whatever DNG turns out to be inferior for its reasons or mine, I’m stuck. At least with the original, I’ll always have a choice of what I’m converting to. Who knows, maybe an even superior format comes out. I mean, DNG isn’t exactly that old. And besides, storage space is dirt cheap. You can buy TB’s of storage for a couple hundred dollars. Storage is too cheap to delete stuff these days. Better to just have a giant ‘junk’ folder haha. Who knows when you’ll want to hear that random song or read that random text file.

    I’m sure there are a bunch of other reasons why I won’t convert, but those are some pretty good ones I think.

  14. Balz 5 August, 2010 at 04:25 Reply

    Thanks to you, Scott, I convert all my RAWs to DNG since 2009. The main drivers for my decision were: I do not loose quality, I can be sure that all my DNGs can be used in 50 years. Think about the thumbnail view (or preview directly in Mac OS X), I don’t think that operating systems can do a simple preview with the 10 years old RAW files, but they can with the DNGs.

    If you have Nikon or Canon, RAW is probably equally safe. For all other makes, I doubt that.

  15. Jurgen Vogt 23 July, 2010 at 03:31 Reply

    With storage being dirt cheap these day, and getting less expensive all the time, I import my raw NEF images into Lightroom, edit, keyword, and add all pertinent info and then rename all the files. Once that’s all done I convert my images to DNG but keep the original NEF files on a separate hard drive, just in case I ever need to go back to them. Both sets of files have the identical file names.

  16. João Almeida 24 June, 2010 at 10:33 Reply

    “1. People don’t like to think 50 years ahead, today. I have trouble just thinking about this weekend And I always figure that if Nikon decides to not support my raw files one day, there’s some 15 year old in his room that’ll code up a raw conversion program in his sleep.”

    And what garantees you Adobe will support DNG in 50 years? Because nowadays DNG is an open format but is largely supported by Adobe. If DNG, or an equivalent format, will become a true standard (looks like it will) then that quote will become more valid.

    • Balz 5 August, 2010 at 04:28 Reply

      If you convert everything to DNG (in LR, select all, convert, have a coffee), you’ll safe for the time where DNG is around.

      If something else becomes THE open standard: go to LR, select all, convert to the new format, have a coffee). But if you have lots of different RAWs from different makes and even different bodies and versions… good luck! 😉

  17. SK 17 June, 2010 at 15:55 Reply

    Two more comments:

    1) Many of you wrote that you can always convert to DNG later, if the original RAW format is not supported any more. However, if you drop dead tomorrow, and your kids find your hard drives after 20 years, then it might be too late.

    2) Some photo contests accept only the original RAW, so you cannot participate, if you have only the converted DNGs. An example is GDT in Germany (Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen).

    Yours, SK

  18. James Ball 19 May, 2010 at 02:54 Reply

    What a lot of you are missing is the issue of quality.

    Here is what I recently posted on my blog…

    I used to be an avid LR user. I loved the way it did almost everything from camera download to final print via a web gallery for good measure.

    Then I bought a D700 and installed the trial version of Capture NX2. What a double edged sword that turned out to be. CNX2 is pretty clunky, hangs at least once a day and has no real DAM options. However, it does know how to talk to my NEF files properly. So it auto fixes any CA errors, high order lens distortion (not just pin cushion), does a better job of noise reduction and supports Active D-Lighting (what a life saver this is if you know how to use it!)

    Talk about giving with one hand and taking away with the other!

    Adobe have had to go with the one engine (ACR) so that Lightroom can handle many different RAW formats while maintaining editing options. However, by doing this they have made the choice to only ever give a pretty close, reverse engineered version of what the file actually looks like. I’ve done LOTS of testing to see if I could stomach going back to ACR conversion of my files but now I’ve made the jump to CNX2 I’m stuck there. If anyone tells you there is no difference in quality, they are either telling you a whopper or they haven’t really done a comparison.

    So to get to the point of this post; Converting to DNG means you are using the current best guess of what a NEF file should look like according to Adobe. Once you have converted the file you will never be able to go back to the original (assuming you dumped it like so many of you say you do) and run it through an updated converter some time down the line to get a better result. You’ll be stuck with how the file looked using today’s technology.

    An example of what I’m trying to say; Back when I had my D70 about five years ago, I tried the trial copy of Capture NX to convert some files. I’ve been able to go back to those files using the latest Capture NX 2 (v 2.2.4) and rework them so they look noticeably better than before. If I’d converted them to DNG back when I took them (using the version of ACR that was around back then) they would still look pretty much the same today. The issue of xmp side car files evaporated when I went over to CNX2 also, as it writes all changes back into the NEF file, even multiple versions should you want to try different development tweaks. And at any point you can revert an edited file straight back to the original, un tweaked version at the click of a button.

    So to summarise – if you think LR can give you a good enough rendering of your NEF’s then carry on using it. When they day comes that Nikon finally stops supporting your version of NEF (if it ever happens) then you can always convert them over to DNG at that point.

    But I strongly suggest you keep your original NEF’s because once they are gone you can never get them back. And lets face it, a couple of DVD’s to back up your originals isn’t going to break the bank.

    You’ll thank me for it one day…

    a techy photog

  19. Jeff Slesinger 25 April, 2010 at 22:50 Reply

    DNG is good medicine for the Tower of Babel disease. I’ve been using raw formats for about 5 years and already I have already accumulated Minolta MRWs, Panasonic RAWs, and Nikon NEFs along with customizations built on top of them. How many more raw dialects do you think I’ll accumulate in the next 15 years? 8?, 14? More? How many will you? Loss of vendor support will eventually orphan or impoverish most proprietary formats. The day may come soon (e.g., my Minolta MRWs) or it may come later but it always comes eventually. A plethora of proprietary formats is a big bag of snakes. Eventually one or more is going to get out and bite.

    Every dependency on a raw converter is a vulnerability. Standardizing on DNG minimizes the number of dependencies and the fully open nature of DNG makes it the safest of the bunch. It is the least vulnerable of the bunch IMHO.

    Even if DNG had no other advantages (and it certainly has many beyond this), this alone would be to me a compelling reason to standardize on it.

  20. Brian Smith 7 April, 2010 at 20:23 Reply

    I’m not afraid that converting to DNG will do anything to change the look of original raw image, but converrting to DNG leaves me with fewer processing options – so that’s hardly an “open file format.” Unfortunately, Adobe’s attempt to put an end to proprietary file formats has merely created one more proprietary file format – Adobe DNG.

  21. digital.stillfx 20 March, 2010 at 14:41 Reply

    Since LR 1.0 I’ve been using dng with the original raw data embedded. Doing so saved me from a huge problem wihen my LR database crashed that the LR backup didn’t work. I created a new catalog, imported the dng, hlost the LR history but the images were survive, as they were before the crash. No re-developing. A huge relief.

    My only reservation is that future versions of image software, including LR, may be able resource data in a raw file that was not captured during dng conversion. After all, isn’t dng conversion only Adobe’s best guess at the proprietary raw data?

  22. Carl 3 March, 2010 at 07:37 Reply

    I just got a Pentax K-7, and it has an option to save DNG in the camera itself, INSTEAD of the native Pentax format. Maybe more manufacturers will start doing this.

  23. Richard E 2 March, 2010 at 23:04 Reply

    Someone posted that “DNG is not universally accepted yet”… and I agree.

    Imagine my surprise to learn that, of all programs, a $250 slideshow program, ProShow Producer, which actually lists DNG as a file format it supports, in their latest version (Feb 2010), actually does support DNG but DOES NOT PRODUCE THUMBNAILS.

    Now, when putting together a slideshow from a selection of several hundred files, isn’t it a JOY to have to do it by FILENAME and not the image? That’s like back in the old days when we used actual SLIDES – what if we had to cover up the images and just use the numbers on the cardboard frames when compiling a show? Ridiculous.

    In order to use DNG images in ProShow (and see what you’re doing) you must first export the photos from Lightroom (or other editing program) in JPG and then ProShow will let you select from images… otherwise you just get a directory of filenames.

    I’ve alerted Photodex to the problem but so far, no fix. And that from a company that charges $250 for Producer and actually claims to support DNG!

  24. Gerry 4 February, 2010 at 14:41 Reply

    The first thing I do is convert RAW files to DNG. Them the RAW files are archived and all the work is done on the DNG files. In the workflow described in the link below, we used CS2 Bridge and ACR. Probably the main reason was to avoid messy sidecar files. Plus I don’t think it is a bad thing to have an archive of the original file, just in case the DNG is missing something.

    Our Digital Photography Workflow

  25. David H 22 January, 2010 at 08:47 Reply

    After playing a bit more, I notice that it does not save virtual copies as virtual copies, but instead as separate dng files when converting from already processed NEFs. Sorta negates the advantage of virtual copies and reduces an space saving that does exist.

  26. David H 22 January, 2010 at 06:57 Reply

    I would use dng in a heartbeat if it were certain that they save space over NEF, but I have found resulting dng files from a D300, lossless compressed are the same size or even larger than the NEF files. I just tried it again on 94 NEFs—1.06 gb, but 1.19 for the dng. (measure in Mac “get info”) Each time I have tried with D300 files has given similar results, There has never been anything close to a 20% savings. Where does the 20% come from? 20% at most, with certain files and file types under ideal conditions? I’d settle for 5 or 10%—reliable storage ain’t that cheap in Japan.

    It does seem to do better with D70 files, but not enough to mess with.

  27. Hans 18 January, 2010 at 10:57 Reply

    When I started to photograph, DNG was one of the first things I heard of. (I think it was MK – not sure!) But because I didn’t know much about all the RAW-Thing and the differences between DNG & RAW it sounds really good to me. One thing convinced myself: It’s open. And because of this small part somebody will support it even if Adobe goes out of business!

    So all my photos are in DNG and I’m still happy and everything is fine. I never had any problem with DNG.

  28. Paul 17 January, 2010 at 20:54 Reply

    I used DNG once, and it unfortunately happened to be in that lightroom version where there was an issue with DNG, I lost all the images I converted to DNG. I thought I would try it out, and converted, all worked fine, then they stopped working, and then there was a lightroom upgrade, and it fixed the DNG problem, but forever broke my images.

    So that experience (whether there was a fix at the time to get them back or not) clouded my experience with DNG. A faulty converter could render your library (or parts of it) useless.

    That said, a faulty module in the camera writing out the RAW image could cause the same issue.

    Anyway it always made me think that DNG was not mature enough, but there seems to be a lot of people using it now, so perhaps it is time to try again, and not just use it only to send out originals for processing elsewhere.

  29. John 15 January, 2010 at 23:08 Reply

    It’s interesting to sow the seeds of doubt, “What if your camera manufacturer goes out of business…”

    But what if Adobe goes out of business?

  30. John Wadleigh 13 January, 2010 at 10:51 Reply

    I just recently tried to apply some of my wildlife images to a competition. I only downloaded the images from my camera to Lightroom and directly to DNG format. The competition however required me to have the original RAW file and did NOT accept DNG format at all. So I was sad to realize I did not have the RAW files anymore and could not submit my photos.

    My point is, if you go DNG.. then either save the RAW files somewhere (backup) or worse case embed the RAW file in the DNG. Granted, embedding the RAW file of course increases the overall size but just be sure you have the RAW file somewhere. You never know when you are requested to show the original file to prove what modifications you have made to the file.

  31. James Pippenhal 13 January, 2010 at 10:38 Reply

    OK I’m sold. Currently I use CR2 in LR, back them up and convert originals to DNG to future-proof. Now I think I’ll back up the CR2s then convert to DNGs and import them to LR.

    The Q now is – is it possible to backdate my new workflow i.e. map my LR settings from each CR2 file to the respective DNG file automatically?
    Otherwise, from now on, I’ll have part of my LR catalog working with CR2 files and another parrt working with DNG files. Ideally I’d like every folder to be using the same workflow.

    Maybe an idea for a Lightroom Killer tip post?……

  32. emilio 12 January, 2010 at 18:05 Reply

    It took me a while to see the advantages of DNG so I import as DNG and back up the NEFs at the same time. Occasionally, I cannot figure it out in Lr &/or Ps, so I take the NEF into the less intuitive/user-friendly NX2 for enhancement, then back to Adobe, if necessary.

    I also have a NX2 “dream”

  33. Nick Marques 12 January, 2010 at 13:11 Reply

    I don’t convert. While the thought of DNG outlasting a file format like Canon’s CR2, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be “stuck” with CR2 file without some application being able to read it or some other program being able to convert it when needed.

    Now, say I have a Lightroom 2.6 catalog of some 80GB of RAW files. How do I convert them all to DNG, while retaining all of my Lightroom processing?

  34. Neal 12 January, 2010 at 10:56 Reply

    I wrote an article about this a while ago ( I could see the 20% drop in file size, but to be honest I still use my camera’s RAW files. Probably the main reason for this is that I have a problem deleting my original RAW files, so I would end up needing a lot more storage space to keep both. I also utilise the sidecar file for change backup (as described above), which saves some time.

    Of course if Canon and the rest of the industry moved to DNG, then I wouldn’t be upset, in fact it would be great.

  35. cashaww 11 January, 2010 at 06:21 Reply

    I converted some files to DNG, and was not happy at all with the colouring. Adobe, in my opinion, does not covert NEF, Nikon RAW, very well. But then again, maybe I did something wrong.

  36. JoeG 11 January, 2010 at 02:26 Reply

    It’s funny, all the arguments against using the DNG format are almost exactly the arguments I heard against the PDF format back when it first came out.

    Adobe going belly up before Canon/Nikon is NOT AN ISSUE (just like it wasn’t an issue with Microsoft Office for PDF files). The format will live on as others have mentioned, it’s open.

    Also as someone else correctly pointed out, there is no Canon/Nikon RAW format. Each camera uses it’s own RAW format. I have an XSi and an XT that both produce .CR2 files, but neither camera can be used to view shots from the other. Why? Different formats. This is precisely the problem that Adobe is fixing with the DNG format.

    I said it when PDF was young: this will be the way in the future.

    I’ll say it now when DNG is young: this will be the way in the future.

    It doesn’t matter if DxO or any other software doesn’t support it (yet), it’s an open format, they will support it when their customers demand that they do – just like it was (and still is in some cases) with PDF.

    I know good and well that not everyone that has commented in this thread has a license for the full version of Adobe Acrobat, but I also know good and well that every single person in this thread can view a PDF file. Same same.

    And if I can reclaim some storage space in the bargain, sweet.

    DNG is not going to be for everyone (just like PDF is not for everyone), but it’s going ot be for the majority. I’ve been working in IT for a long time now, and I’ve seen file formats come and go, and one thing is an undisputed fact: the ones that are open and universal stay, the ones that are not go, and leave a lot of people in a lurch when they do.

    Just a thought.

  37. Emil i Lönneberga 10 January, 2010 at 18:37 Reply

    The original discussion can be found here;

    I’d like to add one thing; The reverse of what Adobe says also holds true. If you converted your files to DNG and suddenly decides to use another program than Adobe’s you could be in trouble. Bibble Pro 5 is an excellent alternative to Lightroom but if your files are in DNG format you are locked out. Same holds true for Nikons and Canons own editing programs (that have a few features that makes them viable options).


  38. Linda Matlow 10 January, 2010 at 17:14 Reply

    I convert all of my RAW images to .DNG since Lightroom makes it so quick and easy. I think for the long term and prefer knowing I will not have a problem opening a raw file many years down the line.

  39. Shawn Daley 10 January, 2010 at 16:49 Reply

    I did a test with three different apps. I ran my ORF files through the DNG converter, Capture One 5 and then Olympus’ own Studio 2. Straight converts with no adjustments. Results ranked….Studio 2 converted to 16BIT TIFF slightly better than Capture One 5. The ORF converted by the Adobe product was unusable, by my personal standard anyway. It literally looked like total crap. So I think that I will stick with LR for post post (which amounts to the fine DAM capabilities, sharpening with the NIK Sharpener plug-in and sized JPEGs with the excellent LR print module) and Studio for the initial balanced TIFF. And has anybody else noticed that Adobe has a bit of a Canon fetish?

  40. Eric Mesa 10 January, 2010 at 15:47 Reply

    I always convert to DNG – I’ve been burned by proprietary formats before. The way I usually do it is first import all the CR2s and then delete the ones I don’t care about. That way I’m not converting files I’m not going to keep since it takes a while to do the conversion.

  41. Sara 10 January, 2010 at 11:44 Reply

    I just wrote a post that appears to have disappeared… anyway, I convert.

    My old .KDC and .K25 files from some of the first digital cameras are no longer supported. Conversion software is no longer supported by today’s operating systems… and I called Kodak… and they basically said, I’m sorry.

    Find the open standard and use it. Even if they companies are around, it doesn’t mean they’ll support old technology.

  42. Sara 10 January, 2010 at 11:34 Reply

    I convert to DNG – smaller file size and no sidecar to keep track of.

    For those who say they will convert later. I have old .KDC and .K25 files taken with some of the very first digital cameras from Kodak. Not only do they not support the file format any more… no one appears to support the conversion anymore either!!

    The old Kodak conversion software will not run on modern operating systems.

    Just food for thought. And if any one knows how to convert the old kodak files now, let me know!!!

  43. SamNW 10 January, 2010 at 09:41 Reply

    Human nature tends to be wary of all things new. I personally have been sold on DNG since it first came out for what I believe to be logical reasons. A universal format that aims to unite all existing formats, organizes them into one neat file, and foces them into a 20% girdle. Now given that not all new things are for the best, I haven’t yet heard anything “bad” about DNG apart from its being new, and its requiring the user to convert his existing RAW file. If the convert is part of an automated sequence, like importing into LR, then the only issue that remains is its being “new”, but aren’t we all in favor of progress? Afterall, how did we get LR3,CS4 or digital cameras for that matter?
    Be brave – GO FOR IT!

  44. Lance 10 January, 2010 at 03:28 Reply

    DNG is not universally supported. If and when it ever is, I may start using it. Until then one is greatly limiting themselves TODAY and probably more so tomorrow.

  45. JK 9 January, 2010 at 21:36 Reply

    Matt –
    The problem isn’t converting, it’s getting the manufacturers to use it in the first place. But most of them seem to be unwilling to change to DNG, and the main reason I won’t convert is that I want to be able to use Canon’s conversion if I want/need to in the future, as well as use software such as DxO. Because it isn’t practical to convert and save the original, as you note, I’ll just keep the original RAW files, thank you. All the other reasons pale in comparison, because one can always convert later if necessary and the space savings don’t trump the ability to use the manufacturer’s software (and others). Lastly, as noted, the sidecar file issue ISN’T one in LR. Great idea, DNG, but not subscribed to enough yet to become dominant.

  46. Billy MItchell 9 January, 2010 at 19:46 Reply

    As a user of Nikon Capture NX2, I cannot see giving it up. It works better for all NEF files than anything and it stores the changes in the NEF file and produces a TIFF for use in Photoshop. NX2 has features like D-lighting that Adobe does not support.

    I can always convert to DNG later if I need it then.

  47. R.J. 9 January, 2010 at 16:27 Reply

    I totally appreciate anyone’s reservations about messing with the original pixels, but for what it’s worth, I convert to .dng on download for every dslr shoot. It just helps keep things tidy & easy–especially when I’m shooting 20-45 GB a day.

  48. xlman 9 January, 2010 at 12:59 Reply

    @Don Harper (3 post before)
    Total agree with you. I use Nikon NEF format because lightroom can´t reproduce the correct colors and don`t keep the D-lightings of the NEF pictures. Neither with the Adobe-Nikon presets, the original NEF the files looks good on lightroom. I always use Nikon NX2 for editing NEFs, and only Lightroom for catalog, and a rapid exclude “off focus” job (and, keywording, etc…). Also dont use ACR for the same. The colors and blacks, d-ligthing dont mistmach.

    Only if i exported to jpg from NX2, then I try lightroom for presets or anything.

    DNG format? Noooo thank you. No with Nikon.

  49. Tim Ellis 9 January, 2010 at 10:48 Reply

    I read about DNG in Scott’s Lightroom 2 book. I tried it and have been doing it ever since. I do send a backup of my raw files to a separate larger dive. If I could convert them also I would. I like saving the extra space. Now I have my DNG and a raw backup. I haven’t noticed any quality loss in my pictures. It does take more time on an import but that really doesn’t matter to me. I’m never in that much of a rush and the time differences aren’t that great.

  50. Olly 9 January, 2010 at 09:34 Reply

    If Adobe goes bust, DNG is not propriety to Adobe anyone can take it up. it is an open standard.

    And BTW, I have problems with Adobe supporting Nikon NEF files from my Nikon Super Coolscan film scanner.

  51. Olly 9 January, 2010 at 09:31 Reply

    I’ve been converting for the past 2 years. DNG is in theory a great idea, and in real life even greater. The fact that I get rid of the side car is already good enough reason, even if I only use Lightroom.

  52. Aaron 9 January, 2010 at 09:14 Reply

    Why doesn’t anyone consider the possibility that Adobe will go bust?

    If Nikon files for bankruptcy, I’m sure Adobe will still support my old Nikon RAW files. What happens to DNG support when Adobe goes bankrupt?

  53. Karlosak 9 January, 2010 at 07:05 Reply

    It’s interesting to see the almost universal praise of DNG here. Until Nikon switches to DNG itself, I don’t see myself jumping aboard. Here are my reasons:

    1) With converting to DNG you *do* loose some data. The proprietary information stored in NEFs could be useful in the future when Nikon releases some superb version of CaptureNX (a dream). I like to leave my doors open.

    2) If we speak about long-term archiving, the point is quite moot now. NEF is currently more widespread than DNG. And even if it is no longer supported for you camera in the future, there will always be converters from NEF to “xxx” (substitute with future standard, there is no guarantee it will be DNG). Especially Adobe has a long historical record for breaking compatibility and cutting off their old (non-paying) customers. And DNG is not even a standard format yet.

    Just my 2 cents.

  54. danm 8 January, 2010 at 21:08 Reply

    @Doug Churchill or others who may know:

    Is there a way to make Lightroom read metadata from file automatically? I am moving back and forth between LR2.5 and 3 beta (don’t ask) and while saving to file automatically is possible I wasn’t able to find a way for the read to happen automatically, I always have to right-click/metadata/read meta-data to file….

  55. RichW 8 January, 2010 at 19:15 Reply

    Matt, a suggestion for a tip that comes out of me wasting too much time! How about a tip how to run Photoshop actions from lightroom. Can be done one way by saving droplets to the Export actions folder and then exporting Raw files selecting the droplet from the folder. Are there any other ways?

    Thanks for all that you do here,



  56. Timothy Mathews 8 January, 2010 at 19:10 Reply

    Not only does it take long, but I have found that 1 round of lossless compression is fine, but 2 is bad. I shoot Nikon NEF lossless compressed files. I have seen a loss of quality in images with a lot of black in them when converted to DNG. Adobe may have fixed this problem by now, but I’m not chancing it. Also if one converts to DNG then one loses the ability to use some of the unique features of Nikon Capture NX.

  57. Don Harper 8 January, 2010 at 18:05 Reply

    I shoot Nikon and knowing that Nikon isn’t sharing all of the specs of their NEF files prevents me from discarding Nefs in exchange for DNG.
    Although Lightroom is convenient for processing volumes of files it doesn’t currently accomplish the task of bringing out the best from a NEF file as well as Nikon NX.
    If NEF’s specs were open-source the issues would be different, but at this point in time regarding the best method to process a NEF file is with Nikon software. The future may change. Although I use LIghtroom for 95% of my work, when it comes to competition or special cases I revert to NX knowing it can accomplish more with the data.
    Regarding the future of companies; I see no reason to believe that Adobe is more viable than Nikon.

  58. George (Ontario) 8 January, 2010 at 17:41 Reply

    I started converting to DNG a year ago and back-converted many older files. It takes a long time during or after import so I only convert the “keepers”. Love the smaller file size and absence of sidecar. I see no downside to DNG.

  59. Mark Gillespie 8 January, 2010 at 16:56 Reply

    I originally started using DNG in 2005 but stopped converting by the end of that year.

    The initial reason for stopping was that I was interested in using some of the lenes correction profiles that are available in software like DXO and Canon’s DPP–these are the profiles dealing with color and distortion issues for different models of lenses. At the time, and i believe it’s still the case, DNG’s are not able to be used. (DXO could output demosaic-ed DNG’s, but will not start with one – nor will DPP.) So everything I had converted to DNG could not take advantage these tools. Although I don’t need to use the lens profiles very often, I became concerned that DNG might limit future improvements in processing of the image. I can always convert to DNG, but I’ll never get my CR2’s back. (I don’t want to embed the CR2 in the DNG for reasons of space).

    Additionally, I quite often return to images and add metadata or tweak the adjustments. When I do a back-up, only the XMPs need to be copied over, not the entire DNG file. This makes back ups a lot easier.

    I did like that DNG saved a preview that reflected adjustments that have been made to the processing “recipe” and internalizing the XMP file does provide some security.

    I can see a time where my CR2’s might become endangered spices, but i don’t think it will happend over night. I’ll still have a DNG converter that will move my files formats forward to DNG (over whatever DNG is in the future). I’ll probably have a much fast CPU then as well.

    In the meantime, I can only hope that camera companies and software companies like Adobe and Apple can find away to work together in a way that is more beneficial to the end-users.

  60. Mark Gillespie 8 January, 2010 at 16:51 Reply

    I originally started using DNG in 2005 but stopped converting by the end of that year.

    The initial reason for stopping was that I was interested in using some of the lenes correction profiles that are available in software like DXO and Canon’s DPP–these are the profiles dealing with color and distortion issues for different models of lenses. At the time, and i believe it’s still the case, DNG’s are not able to be used. (DXO could output demosaic-ed DNG’s, but will not start with one – nor will DPP.) So everything I had converted to DNG could not take advantage these tools. Although I don’t need to use the lens profiles very often, I became concerned that DNG might limit future improvements in processing of the image. I can always convert to DNG, but I’ll never get my CR2’s back. (I don’t want to embed the CR2 in the DNG for reasons of space).

    Additionally, I quite often return to images and add metadata or tweak the adjustments. When I do a back-up, only the XMPs need to be copied over, not the entire DNG file. Not a really big deal, but it makes back-ups a lot easier.

    I did like that DNG saved a preview that reflected adjustments that have been made to the processing “recipe” and internalizing the XMP file does provide some security.

    I can see a time where my CR2’s might become endangered spices, but i don’t think it will happend over night. I’ll still have a converter that will move my files formats forward to DNG (over whatever DNG is in the future). I’ll probably have a much fast CPU then as well.

    In the meantime, I can only hope that camera companies and software companies like Adobe and Apple can find away to work together in a way that is more beneficial to the end-users.

  61. John Tucker 8 January, 2010 at 16:22 Reply

    I shoot Canon raw, and I convert to DNG during Lightroom import. Smaller file size. No loss in quality. I can upgrade my camera without having to have the latest PS/ACR version. Long-term compatibility. While DNG is still relatively new, I believe it will catch on with camera manufacturers. For example, the Leica M9 shoots DNG as its raw format.

  62. Jon Adams 8 January, 2010 at 16:09 Reply

    I like the idea of the DNG, but being a Nikon shooter and having the wonderfulness of NX2 at our disposal with the u-point technology involved makes me keep my NEF files the way they are. Sometimes using NX2 is the best option and you just don’t get the same results if you bring in a jpeg or a tif file. So by keeping your original files intact you have access to the “Secret Sauce” the manufacturers put into the files.

  63. Narno 8 January, 2010 at 15:44 Reply

    there are already a lot of comments, I’m not sure if it has been said before but I would like to comment on your point about people being scared of loosing data because the DNG files are smaller.

    Most people in the photo industry see the compression as a loss of data because that’s what jpeg does or mp3 for music or mp4 for video, at a high level it removes pixels between 2 pixels from the file and approximates their value based on the remaining ones upon reading.

    However think it more as what a zip program can do to a text file or a word document. You can have a 10M word file, zipped into less than 1M without a loss whatsoever, and upon unzipping recover all the data.
    This is made (again at a high level) usually by using a better arrangement of the data inside the file allowing a better compression than raw without loss.

  64. Tom Hogarty 8 January, 2010 at 15:00 Reply

    I’ve responded to a few folks directly but to Matt’s 5 points above, I have this to add:

    1. People don’t like to think 50 years ahead, today. I have trouble just thinking about this weekend 🙂 And I always figure that if Nikon decides to not support my raw files one day, there’s some 15 year old in his room that’ll code up a raw conversion program in his sleep.

    TH: I have no doubt that some 15 year old will be able to handle the task in the future.(Although that statement smacks of the days when, given no other choice, I had to drop off a roll of film at the local drugstore and hope that the 15 year old knew how to turn on the machine, mix the chemicals and feed the film correctly. Because it can be done doesn’t mean it will be done right.) But I assumed the same thing about my old WordPerfect files and PhotoCD files. The top internet search results on converting WordPerfect files to a more common Word document format look perilous at best. Do you think there are more raw files from your specific camera model than the entire universe of WordPerfect files? Ultimately the topic of file format obsolescence may or may not drive your workflow decisions but it is something a photographer should be aware of. Wouldn’t it be ludicrous if you needed a proprietary storage card for every new camera or needed to create a proprietary JPEG format for every different web browser? The reasons those scenarios don’t exist is because there’s a customer benefit in standardization that overwhelms a manufacturer’s desire to lock in a customer to a specific workflow.

    2. I think mentally, we have this barrier that prohibits us from throwing away our raw files. In reality, if you convert to DNG that’s what you’re supposed to do. Throw away the raw files and your DNGs become your new permanent images that you backup for ever and ever. But the raw files came from our camera and for some reason we have this block that just makes us feel like we can never throw them away because, well, they’re the ones straight from our camera. But that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. You’re not supposed to keep raw and DNG because then it gets even more confusing.

    TH: Yes, fear, uncertainty and doubt drive many or our decisions and if you’re in this camp, you may want to follow Peter Krogh’s advice on the topic and save the proprietary format, untouched, and use DNG file in your workflow.

    3. Speaking about raw and DNG files, don’t even give me the option to embed the original raw file into the DNG. Now I’m taking up almost twice the space of the original file. Again, its confusing. It instills doubt to a newcomer and is one more reason why I may likely just not do it if I have questions about it.

    TH: If you’re not going to use an option, just ignore it. It does solve the concern referenced in point 2 above for many photographers.

    4. Most don’t understand how the DNG file can be 20% smaller than the raw file without losing some kind of quality. Again, it just sounds hokey even though it’s not.

    TH: Think about the processing power of a DSLR. Think about the processing power of the laptop(that’s currently roasting my lap) or the desktop computer with fans blazing. With limited processing power, cameras make tradeoffs about the processing power and time required to compress the image data vs burst rates and other camera operations. No tradeoffs are required with the DNG conversion process that can utilize up to 8 CPU cores and employ the most efficient algorithms.

    5. There’s just too many scary choices when converting to DNG. If its the latest greatest format that I’m supposed to be using then just do it. Don’t let me see or deal with terms like “Linear Demosaiced”.

    TH: We set default settings for a reason so use them and ignore the other choices. Because the DNG format encompasses over 300 proprietary formats, including more uncommon data from non-Bayer chips like the Foveon chips in Sigma cameras, additional options can be helpful if not required.

    One additional point, I posted the most common near term benefits of DNG here:

    Tom Hogarty
    Adobe Systems
    Lightroom, Camera Raw, DNG Product Manager

  65. Chuck 8 January, 2010 at 14:34 Reply

    If you have some jpegs in addition to the RAW files on your card, won’t this selection also then convert the JPEGs to DNG?

    * I’m not talking about when shooting RAW+JEPG, but when you shoot some JPEG, then switch to RAW *

    Would this actually use more space, if you take a low quality JPEG file and and convert it to an uncompressed DNG format?

  66. Steve P 8 January, 2010 at 14:30 Reply

    I convert to DNG and have no problems or issues or loss of quality. The biggest benifit for me is no XMP files. This alone was why I made the jump.

  67. Terry Crooker 8 January, 2010 at 14:20 Reply

    I use have used DNG since the day I first heard about several years ago when I purchased my first digital camera that can save in RAW. As a long time Pentax user I was very happy to find that many of their DSLR models save directly to DNG. So that it was I use. I just don’t trust any of the camera companies when it comes to software. Heck you can’t even trust them to keep the same lens mount.

  68. Tom Hogarty 8 January, 2010 at 14:16 Reply

    A more efficient process is to convert your images to DNG after the import process. If you wait until after your first pass edit, you’ll convert to DNG and embed all the latest metadata and have a preview within the DNG file that reflects your visual edits instead of the default interpretation.

    Tom Hogarty
    Lightroom, Camera Raw, DNG Product Manager

    • Sabino 30 March, 2010 at 11:14 Reply

      Newbee to Killer Tips ( loving it)
      I am really interested in converting all of existing Large RAW files lots of Gigs and my Lightroom adjustments to DNG . Can you point towards some instruction to do it from Lightroom after import. (really woried you about loosing images)


  69. Tom Hogarty 8 January, 2010 at 14:10 Reply

    The DNG file format is openly documented for use by the industry. The .CR2 format is a proprietary format that is not documented and use of that format requires a license agreement through Canon. A similar example is the Kodak PhotoCD file format. It is a proprietary format that Kodak no longer supports or licenses use of so it could no longer be included as a supported format in Photoshop. So yes, Kodak fails, the format fails. In the case of an openly documented format that is on the path to industry standardization through ISO, it’s not tied to any single company’s future.

    Tom Hogarty
    Lightroom, Camera Raw, DNG Product Manager

  70. Craig Beyers 8 January, 2010 at 13:50 Reply

    I use DNG: convert on import, but backup .CR2 images as part of the import process. Does it take a little longer? Yeah, some, but then I end up with DNGs and my .CR2s, with standard metadata applied to the DNGs and any presets applied (when needed). I back up to a portable HD.

  71. KF 8 January, 2010 at 13:19 Reply

    I do convert to DNG but later in the workflow. After doing some kind of polishing to the photos they still sit there as Raw files. But once every 3-4 month I convert them.

    1. Much faster imports. When I am home from shooting, i often want to have a quick look to the photos. So: no DNG @ import.
    2. Initial changes to photos are stored in sidecars…so incremential backup will not have to “work” as hard. But after 3 month changes are seldom.

    All the Pros for DNG when it comes to Multiformat-RAWs vs 1 OPEN format and size I use a little later.
    I use a smart list : “Show every Raw-File which ist picked AND shooting time is NOT in the last 3 month”.
    I go to this list, just mark all and DNG them when I don’t need the computer for the night anymore. Also my automatic backup ist done during this night for the now “new” DNGs. Timeline or whatever Backup you use will take care of the new files. Next morning everything older is converted and backed up for the future.

  72. Rick Lieder 8 January, 2010 at 13:06 Reply

    I’ve converted all RAW to DNG. No more sidecar files is a big plus for me.

    Current camera: 5DMII. I trust Adobe as a company more than Canon, especially concerning software.

  73. Stephen Shankland 8 January, 2010 at 13:04 Reply

    I shoot CR2 and convert to DNG, on import if I have time but afterward if I’m on deadline or have a lot of duds I know I’ll be deleting. One part of my reasoning is that, especially with Adobe’s attempt to standardize DNG through ISO, it’s more likely to be a format with some longevity. When I look at the prospect of storing data forever either on my own or in the cloud, the file formats in widespread use will be easier to manage. That includes automated conversion to future file formats–think DNG 8.0 in the year 2025. There are probably a lot more CR2 and NEF files out there today than DNG, but I’m guessing in the long run that will change. And at a minimum, DNG is well documented.

    A second reason, and I didn’t appreciate initially how important this is, is metadata. XMP sidecar files are a recipe for disaster–file renaming and other tasks impose too many risks of separating the data from the metadata. The integrity of my Lightroom catalog is also less essential since the editing is baked in. In the long run, I expect metadata to become more and more important. We have EXIF today, and I geotag and add keywords. In the future, software will do things like face recognition tags and perhaps more.

    I’m not convinced the 20% file size savings is universal–I think that might vary from one raw format to another, though I haven’t looked into it.

  74. Robert K 8 January, 2010 at 12:49 Reply

    Several years ago I started converting my raws to DNG in Lightroom then deleting the raw and have never looked back. A couple of points for discussion:

    – No sidecars, files sizes smaller, etc as stated above.

    – Older raw camera files WILL become obsolete. The software required to read them will not be supported forever. Nikon and Canon are not in the software business and the costs to write code into the newest versions that supports every old raw format will become prohibitive and limiting. Ask any programmer how hard it is to make the latest version of their software work with every previous version. Already some of the first raw files from some manufacturers are obsolete. Ask a Minolta shooter digital shooter.
    20 years from now. If you want/need to load your old NEF’s or CR2’s and your plan is to load the last working version the software (View, Capture, Lightroom, Bridge, whatever), luck will not be on your side. How many copies of software from 1990 run reliably on your current computer? How many file formats from 1990 are obsolete today? Who can say with any assurance that your grandkids will be able to see your photographs from decades past.

    – DNG’s are PDF’s for images. Do you prefer to get PDF’s or Word DOC’s via email. Which format will guarantee more people will be able to open and view it on the web? Now the argument makes more sense. Want to open that old Wordperfect document from 1986? Maybe you can, maybe you cant. . But if it was converted to a .PDF file at some point your chances of using it today increases dramatically. A PDF retains the formatting, layout, and style of the original. If you don’t have the same version of Word that I use, your .DOC file may look different when I open it on my computer. The same principle applies to your raw files. Just as with PDF’s, DNG’s add more options and settings with each version, ensuring support. Sure there will always be hacks, converters, translators, 12-year olds writing code in the future. Hopefully. Maybe. Crossing your fingers is not a responsible method of archival.

    – In the end, the downside weighs less then the upside. After scanning over 4000 old family photos back to the 1890’s, I realized that the benefit of “analog” is durability. Even with the fading, yellowing, and the age, they only require eyes, hands, and some light to use them. Digital images require more planning and future-proofing. CD’s, DVD’s, Hard Drives, File Formats, are all subject to change or obsolescence. DNG’s are currently our best ” least worst” option, so that’s what I go with. Only time will tell.

  75. Ed Macke 8 January, 2010 at 11:24 Reply

    I follow Jack Kelley’s approach: Import NEF with auto-backup; toss the garbage and edit the remaining; convert to DNG as the last step. Probably a waste of space, but it lets me sleep well at night and that’s certainly worth the price of a 1TB HD 🙂

    One point that I haven’t seen is that RAW file formats actually differ by camera *model*, not manufacturer. There’s no such thing as a Nikon RAW format, there *is* such a thing a Nikon D80 RAW format. A D70 .NEF is a different file than a D80 .NEF, that’s why Adobe has to keep coming out with new versions of LR / ACR when new DSLRs come out. As of today, by my count there are actually 33 different Nikon RAW formats.

    So the question of whether Nikon will still support its own “RAW format” in X years is really a question of whether they’ll still be actively supporting the RAW format for a specific camera model. In other words, in 2020 Nikon may support its newest D99999 RAW format, but will its software (and any other software you use) still be supporting for the 20-year-old D1 format? Today alone, they’re already supporting 26 different

    Finally, Matt… can you clarify your comment about having to manually save to DNG… I, like others, wonder whether the “auto-save changes” option has any effect on DNG, or is that only for XMP?

  76. JimG 8 January, 2010 at 10:35 Reply

    I shoot Pentax so I shoot PEF to conserve space in camera and convert to DNG upon import into LR2. I get the point that the conversion could be done down the road if ever needed and that it takes longer to import when doing the conversion like I do. Who knows the future of Pentax? Anything could happen to them or to any of the others. Has anybody wondered how long it would take to convert 30,000 or 100,000 or however many files in the future if it had to be done?:-)
    I backup my files after import and after I’ve culled the bad ones and keyworded etc and maybe basic editing. So I’m backing up DNGs. You guys have got me thinking of backing up the in-camera PEFs also……..

  77. David 8 January, 2010 at 09:43 Reply

    soooo will adobe be around in 20 years….will canon,Nikon? what works best today…. tomorrow, I honestly am not to worried about…. glass plates, negatives,raw files,dng files,something not yet invented….. there will always be images … both past and future… your choice …mac /pc, nikon/canon, raw/dng

  78. gene lowinger 8 January, 2010 at 09:38 Reply

    I have been using DNG conversion since I started using Lightroom. Of course there’s the argument ‘What if the camera manufacturer goes out of business’, Nikon? out of business? But what happens if Adobe goes out of business? It’s just as likely, or rather as unlikely, at least in my lifetime. And as was said in an earlier post, if it’s good enough for Leica, it’s good enough for me. Now if only an M9 dropped in price by a few grand…..

  79. Shawn Daley 8 January, 2010 at 09:26 Reply

    Lightroom still does a crummy job with my ORF files and DNG exacerbates the problem so I stick to converting my raws to TIFF with the Olympus proprietary software and take those to LR for anything further (sharpening and print output). I find I get superior results.

  80. John Guest 8 January, 2010 at 09:20 Reply

    Hi Matt

    I’ve been digital for around 4 years now and have had the dilemma of file storage and workflow to the extent that I many copies of the same image in various formats etc which is causing me grieve when I cannot find an image

    Over the Christmas period I took the time to rethink how my workflow was best handled and the following “Belt and Braces” approach is what I have settled on ( New Years Resolution !!)

    Import CR2 as raw from my Canon EOS CF card using Canon software into Date Folders with date and description in folder /image /number on my Desktop computer

    Copy and Convert to DNG these folders Via Lightroom with a similar folder/ file image /structure into a Master Folder into an External Hard Drive (1)

    Copy these folders into another Lightroom Catalogue with Identical ref system but rename images and folders with Edited onto my Laptop

    This third LRCat is the images I work on and then when I convert to TIFF or JPEG I export these images into another LRcat Named FINAL

    All of these are then further backed up onto another external hard drive (2)

    I know this is a extreme approach and I am not sure if I will continue with the CR2 EOS backup stage for long due to time & storage capacity

    I hope this give me a consistant approach and as I do not “throw away” any images unless they are really bad this FINAL stage just shold give me the best images in one placew with backups if I wish to go back at a later date

    I have found as lightroom and my skills improve I am able to make previously “average images” into “good picures” and I am sure this will be the case over the coming years

    Any comments fom anyone on this would be appeciated as I am still unsure if this is a good system as it appears OTT


  81. al 8 January, 2010 at 09:02 Reply

    Also one other thing about DNG is some program can not read the metadata on them like Optics Pro. It opens the picture perfectly however when I try to process the photo it seems like it can not because it is missing some metadata code. However I still convert to DNG and keep the backup photo RAW just in case.

  82. Bwyan 8 January, 2010 at 08:37 Reply

    But DNG beeing open doesn’t really make it more withstandable of time!?
    If Nikon goes bust tomorrow the ability to convert to DNG from NEF will not be removed from Lightroom the very same day?! Hence I should have plenty of time to convert…might take some time..but still!

  83. Mike Weeks 8 January, 2010 at 06:11 Reply

    Great topic Matt. Personally i have always converted to .dng, the reason behind this is that is what the guru 😉 Scott Kelby says to do in his LR2 book, and based on an earlier comment it appears that it what you also said in an instructional video -so the bigger question appears to be are you following your own advice, is Scott following his own advice or is this advice just sponsored by Adobe and in practice you are not in fact doing this?

    Whilst I admit to following blindly the advice to convert, I also back up the original RAW to a second hard drive (also followed blindly advice from Scott on this but it seemed logical !)


  84. Stibbons 8 January, 2010 at 04:57 Reply

    DNG use P compression ( similar to zip compression, that is a fully reversible compression. 20% of space reduction is just a typical figure, and could change with two different pictures.

    I’m glad to use Pentax that is able to shoot directly in (uncompressed) DNG. I can’t see any advantage of using proprietary raw file. If by change you use one of the proprietary extension available in your raw file, it’s likely that you’ll have lost its ability within 20 years. So just don’t, or if you do, always export to DNG!

    Digital photography, like all digital world, have a huge issue with time compatibility. A hard drive cannot be left 20 years and still deliver its content like old vinyl disk could do. And file format is a mess. So, for the sake of compatibility with yourself in several years, always prefere open standard.

  85. Dennis 8 January, 2010 at 04:29 Reply

    I’m not 100% sure of the internal workings, but DNG use lossless compression. One example of this is run length encoding. If there’s a lot of consecutive WHITE in the image, instead of storing “WHITE WHITE WHITE WHITE WHITE” it stores “WHITE x5”. Same thing, just more efficient. Standard raw files is like going 5 times to the grocer to buy 5 apples. With DNG you go once to get all 5 apples. You still have your 5 apples, but you saves a good bit of time!

  86. Mike Forsberg 8 January, 2010 at 04:20 Reply

    I was converting to DNG but stopped due to the following:

    *It takes a while to convert a normal shoot of over a hundred images
    *I cannot convert the backup images to DNG in Lightroom at the time of import, which means I have to convert them later taking even more time!
    *I’ve noticed a lot of pro’s not converting

  87. Brian Gooch 8 January, 2010 at 03:29 Reply

    I recently switched to converting on import. With a Konica Minolta camera I figured that the ‘obsolete raw file format’ was going to hit me before most others!

  88. Jim Hawksworth 8 January, 2010 at 02:50 Reply

    Pentax for the win in the DNG arena! If I had a K7 I would be shooting DNG, and testing the difference with PEF for sure.

    I shoot Canon and Nikon and save all the CR2’s and NEF’s, then import to Lightroom for management. I will always save the off-camera files in a separate location from Lightroom, and then import. This policy has never failed me yet.

    Serious kudos to Pentax though, I think that is really excellent.

  89. Thomas 8 January, 2010 at 01:31 Reply

    I converted some files to DNG a while back, then found that some of the SW just does not support the format. As long as this is the case and the format is not widely adopted, I see more disadvantages that advantages – so I stick to raw.

    I understand the “50 year from now” argument, but somehow don’t buy it. My understanding is that Adobe is the company that maintains DNG: What if they are no longer around? Is it more likely that they will stay vs. e.g. Nikon? So, unless more SW and camera companies adopt DNG, I see no advantage to converting. Don’t forget that if a manufacturer goes bust, we can always convert at that point in time.

  90. Jim Gilliland 8 January, 2010 at 00:21 Reply

    I do not convert because I have always thought there may be some new software that someone might bring out that will not recognize DNG and that would limit access to all converted files.

    I know like you said it probably is the thing to do but just not now for me.

  91. Mike Mahaffey 7 January, 2010 at 23:59 Reply

    I alway’s convert to DNG and do it on import to Lightroom. I burn the nef files to DVD date by day and shoot and throw it in a box in the closet. DNG files are the only thing left on the hard drives.

  92. Josh 7 January, 2010 at 23:56 Reply

    Maybe someone else mentioned this, I stopped reading comments about half way through.

    I use DNG for my kids and grandkids. For all I know, 50 years down the road, when I croak, my saved photos will get stuck on a drive and shoved in one of my kids’ basements. Then 20 or 30 years later, a grandchild will dig out the drive, load it up (hopefully they’ll be able to connect to it some how, image finding a SCSI drive today?).

    If my original files are in Canon RAW, then 80 years from now, I’d put money on not being able to find a converter/interpreter. (I know the pains I’ve had when I find a Word 2.0 DOC or WordPerfect file and can’t get it open.) DNG? It’s Open, so there’s a better chance. Worse comes to worse, they can roll their own.

  93. Michael Albany 7 January, 2010 at 22:44 Reply

    I don’t use DNG. I want Nikon to start using it though, then i would probably convert.

    Another reason is space. All my drives are to 70% capacity.

    Matt, if you buy me a Drobo I will convert. I only need the small one. 4 2tb drives will solve my space problems. 😉

  94. SWright 7 January, 2010 at 22:31 Reply

    I see merit in many of the reasons people don’t convert to DNG that you listed in the article. My concern is that even the big guys (Canon and Nikon) are not on board with DNG. I’m a Canon shooter, and until Canon declares that they are behind DNG, I won’t convert. The thought that Canon or Nikon would ever stop supporting their proprietary format is unthinkable. I can’t imagine that that would ever happen since they would most likely lose customers for doing so. If by some chance, they did, I would simply convert what I have. Going through the effort of converting to DNG to save a few megabytes per photo is simply not worth it with storage so cheap these days (and I have about a terabyte of photos). I have read numerous articles on the merits of DNG, I still don’t see any huge advantage.

  95. marc 7 January, 2010 at 21:55 Reply

    To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about converting to DNG, but you’re making some sound arguements, I’ll look into doing it for this year and if I like it, then I’ll consider doing it to my archive.

  96. Bill V. 7 January, 2010 at 21:16 Reply

    Matt, you forgot one other fundamental cause of unease with DNG files. In 50 years, which company is more likely to be around, Nikon or Adobe? Anyone remember Macromedia and Freehand?

    Another legitimate question: why would Nikon be so stupid as to piss off its long term clientele (e.g., National Geographic and NASA) by not providing backward compatibility with RAW files? They certainly have set an example–with the possible exception of Pentax or Leica–of providing backwards compatibility with their lenses.

    The bottom line is that all digital RAW files consist of 1s and 0s in binary code, which is not a permanent media by any standard. There is a reason why major Hollywood studios always archive their movies–even digital ones–with digital film recorders. Check out the ARRILASER at

  97. Michael 7 January, 2010 at 20:37 Reply

    I’m a big fan of standardized formats so using DNG instead of RAW is something I’m going to do from now on. Closed formats are bad for consumers as you’re pretty much held to ransom by corporations. Sure, there will always be free RAW converters, but for me DNG is starting to make a lot of sense.

  98. Ian Worthington 7 January, 2010 at 19:53 Reply

    @Lloyd: The most important letter in “hard drives” is the “s”. They go bad too, file formats and interfaces change. How many disks from 10 years ago can you read now? Your IDE drives won’t plug into any new machine in a few years from now.

    Its all a crap shoot I’m afraid. I backup to a SATA drive in a USB box, do an occasional backup to another, keep a DVD, and do an online backup. The idea is to copy the backup disks to newer and larger disks every few years as my storage needs expand, that way hopefully sidestepping those issues.


  99. Ian Worthington 7 January, 2010 at 19:18 Reply

    I don’t convert to dng. Why? Because I don’t trust in Adobe to unpick all of the secret sauce ingredients Canon put in their cr2.

    And I reckon that if cr2 support ever looks like its going away I’ll have plenty of time to bulk convert then.

    But what I *have* done is export all my raw files as full resolution 90% jpegs from lightroom so that all my finished (and unused) images will always be accessible to my family.should I get hit by a bus tomorrow.

  100. Tom Li 7 January, 2010 at 18:42 Reply

    I have a 5D Mark II and usually shoot in sRAW1 (9Mpixels instead of the full 21Mpixels). One of the commenters mentioned the same thing with the cRAW format of another manufacturer — DNG files are significantly bigger than sRAW1 files. So, there is no benefit for me in terms of disk space. I’m not particularly worried that the raw formats from Canon will someday be forgotten 50 years from now so I’m pretty comfortable with saving as the files as is.

  101. Jase 7 January, 2010 at 17:57 Reply

    I shoot Nikon and… well storage is cheap but time isn’t.
    Who knows if we’ll all be using Lightroom in 10years?
    If i shoot Nikon I’ll use their NEF format then and if Canon or another I’ll use their format then

    I figure Canon and Nikon are likely to be around for longer than Adobe if crunch comes to crunch as their business is more diversified

    Just my 0.02c

  102. JasonP 7 January, 2010 at 17:48 Reply

    No DNG here until recently. My main reason for XMP side cars is the oft mentioned faster backups of my work. I often go back and add keywords, GPS coordinates, titles and captions long after I’ve already backed up the RAW files to another hard drive. A simple syncronize of the backup software therefore only takes a handful of minutes.

    The recently part: I now convert my flattened PSDs to DNG. Following Matt’s advice of flattening layers that you know you’ll never need to go back to, once I have a panorama stitched perfectly or cloned out what I need to from an image, it gets flattened, saved back to Lightroom, then converted. My tests came out to it being MASSIVELY smaller than a PSD, and a marginal but always smaller than a TIF. Of course I still keep the source files, but now I have a “negative” at the top of the stack that I can treat like the rest of my files.

  103. Mike Lynch 7 January, 2010 at 17:38 Reply

    I meant to second the remark about Nikon Camera JPG beating Adobe Rendering of Nikon RAW on a (correctly exposed) image.

    Chris G says:
    January 7, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I recently discovered that Nikon’s in-camera JPG production does an amazing job in some situations. In a recent test it took me nearly 30 minutes to match the same result the camera created when the picture was shot.

    One disadvantage of converting to DNG is that I can no longer retrieve the original JPG the camera produced. Having the NEF file, the Nikon software can retrieve it….saving time.

  104. Rick 7 January, 2010 at 17:37 Reply

    I’ve only converted my old Digital Rebel CRW files to DNG, and then only because CRW doesn’t allow geotagging info to be written to the file in the way that CR2 does.

    While there are a number of reasons to convert to DNG, for my workflow and methods, it just doesn’t seem worthwhile. I own and use most of the major RAW processors out there, and I just don’t have the confidence that, for instance, Capture One is going to process a DNG the same as a CR2, and that matters to me.

    Another case that came up recently – the Canon 7D had “preliminary support” in ACR 5.5, but ACR tended to produce bad “mazing” artifacts (LR3 beta still does). Capture One and DPP both showed fewer artifacts, so what would have happened to someone who converted to DNG via the “preliminary” ACR support, didn’t notice the mazing issue, and disposed of the CR2s? It would have been silly on their part, but it could happen.

    Changes in processing algorithms can easily happen between versions of any RAW processor, even when we’re not dealing with “preliminary” or “beta” support, so does this mean going back to the original RAW file when a major improvement is made in the RAW or DNG converter? What if the RAW file no longer exists?

    For moving files from DxO to LR/PS, it makes sense, but for just about any other use, there are too many downsides for not enough upside.

  105. Bob 7 January, 2010 at 17:26 Reply

    After reading recommendations at , I converted my next batch of RAW files to DNG during Camera raw import. It took a bit longer, but not significantly longer. Using them seemed little different than working with NEF & XMP. Loss of the sidecar seems a nice advantage. I see no need to go back.

  106. klickblitz 7 January, 2010 at 17:15 Reply

    One question: I have read that LR3beta is using a totally different algorithm (or mechanism) for encoding the RAW files coming out of the camera.

    Given that one had already converted all of his RAWs to DNG in the past, would this person be able to benefit from these new LR3 algorithms in some way? Or would he regret that he has thrown away the RAWs, not being able to use LR3’s new algorithms?

    In other words: Is is possible that converting a RAW to DNG today led to worse results than converting the same RAW to DNG later (once converting algorithms have been improved…)?

    Maybe useless question, but I would like to know….


  107. Lloyd 7 January, 2010 at 17:08 Reply

    All of you using DVDs to store your RAW files (and anything else) should be aware that those DVDs can start to deteriorate in as little as two years. (This according to my brother, who is a Digital Archivist for a major library, and who works with The Smithsonian, and has worked on The Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Scrolls from Herculaneum, and more.) DVDs ARE NOT archival, by any stretch of the imagination. Check out your oldest ones. If they’re 18 months old, or older, I’d be very surprised if they aren’t already showing some data loss. Two words: Hard Drives! (BTW, CDs are much more archival, just store a redundant copy of each shoot on a good quality CD… in addition to on a hard drive.)

  108. jezza323 7 January, 2010 at 16:45 Reply

    My camera (Pentax K200D) is capable of shooting in DNG format, but I still choose the Pentax RAW format (PEF) over it as the in camera DNG’s are uncompressed, and therefore significantly larger than the corresponding PEF file.

    I also disagree with a 20% saving (comparing my PEF to a compressed DNG). I notice almost no difference in file sizes. Having said that. The final step of my workflow in Lightroom is to Export to DNG for archival.

    Only the shots I would call keepers get the full workflow, so I end up with lots of PEFs (which I store seperately to my processed DNGs) and few archived DNGs.

    It seems to work for me!

  109. Daniel Austin Hoherd 7 January, 2010 at 16:39 Reply

    DNG Saved my ass. I DEFINITELY use it from now on.

    I had a hard drive crash recently and had to recover a lot of photos, some that I had not backed up. Some were DNG and some were Nikon NEF files. After the recovery the files all had random names, not their original names. This was a problem for two reasons…

    1) I couldn’t dump the files into the old LR directory because the names changed, breaking the link between the LR reference and the file.

    2) The XMP files were not named in relation to their NEF counterparts, all of the file names were random. Sidecar files became useless.

    The DNG files, however, had imported their XMP data into the file, storing keywords, ratings, develop settings, etc. etc.. inside the file. When I re-imported those into Lightroom they were immediately useful.

    On top of that, another thing that helped me get my data back was renaming files to YYYY-MM-DD-HH-MM-SS.dng on import. After recovering files, re-importing them into LR renamed them to their old filenames except in some cases where I had taken a several shots in the same second, but those are close enough to the original that I can find them with little fuss because the ratings stuck with the ones I had chosen.

    So yeah, I totally recommend DNG. It’s pretty much a super-format that encompasses everything you get from other formats with additional features that can seriously save you time.

  110. Benoit 7 January, 2010 at 16:35 Reply

    Hi all,

    Pretty much everything’s been said. Like T-Bone mentionned, to each his own. But isn’t that exactly why DNG will never be mainstream ? If not enough people adhere, a white paper format, as good as it may be, can never be a standard. Unless all companies adhere to it, which is not the case right now.

    Just remembre, NOTHING is forever ! we might not even use computers in 50 years !!!! Just look where we were 25 years ago !!


  111. Chris Fuller 7 January, 2010 at 16:29 Reply

    I burn the original NEFs to DVDs and then convert to DNG on the hard drive to save some space. As much as I understand the benefits of DNG and however often I can adjust them in Lightroom just to my liking, I still have this nagging, “What if I need to use NX2 for this one?” feeling in the back of my head.

  112. T-Bone 7 January, 2010 at 16:20 Reply

    There is really no right answer here. You can see the passion in each person’s opinion…and isn’t that what this all about. Whatever works for you. BTW – I not saying what I do 😉

  113. Rod Dugmore 7 January, 2010 at 16:15 Reply


    I like the advantages in file size but for me the thing that stops me
    is that it shuts off options for using non adobe raw converters which in some cases do a better job than Lightroom. So until Canon supports DNG in their
    software and cameras I feel I am giving away some options.
    I believe that even should canon abandon their existing formats then I will be able to convert to DNG should that as others have mentioned still be around anyway.

  114. Douglas Pierre 7 January, 2010 at 16:04 Reply

    I had been converting to DNG, but I recently noticed that in Windows Explorer on Windows 7, a preview is rendered on Nikon RAW files but not for DNG files. It I am wrong on this perhaps someone can correct me. Due to the foregoing, I don’t know whether to continue with DNG or resumed storage in RAW.

  115. Philippe 7 January, 2010 at 15:58 Reply

    I don’t use DNG files because I don’t see any upside other than the 20% size reduction. There are a few downsides however:

    The DNG format may be open (i.e. documented) but proprietary file formats (eg NEF) are already supported with open source software, which is and will remain open, as long as the Internet exists. Even some commercial programs use that open source software. Check out for more details.

    There is no guarantee that a DNG conversion produces all the quality inherently existing in the proprietary file that proprietary software could extract; in fact there is evidence of the contrary (read the article “Two Paths Leading Nowhere” at True, this is a moot point when using LR as one’s only raw converter, but still, why box oneself in using LR as a raw converter exclusively, when at least some images may actually be rendered better by other converters?

    As for the XMP elimination issue, I see this is as irrelevant as well, as I don’t generate XMP files at all: the edit steps are kept in the LR database and are written to XMP files only when explicity requested (Ctrl/Cmd -S), unless you turn the auto-save setting on, but why use that? If sharing a few images, exporting an LR catalog alongside the original raw files is easier than shipping the XMPs, just as DNGs are…

  116. Libby 7 January, 2010 at 15:57 Reply

    I’ve converted to DNG for quite awhile. I also have Lightroom back up my files to a different drive on import. I’ve noticed that those backed up files are still in the CR2 format. So, it seems that I still have the original CR2’s if I ever feel the need to use them.

  117. Mathias 7 January, 2010 at 15:40 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I don’t see the point.
    To be more specific – there are more negative then positive aspects of converting to DNG.
    – It sounds great but isn’t. So do the math and sum up the arguments made so far.

    By the way….
    Thanks for a great 2009, (presets, videos, tips etc) and best wishes for the new 2010.

    Best regards

  118. Detlef H. 7 January, 2010 at 15:28 Reply

    No need for DNG in my workflow: file size is almost similar to my Nikon NEFs, there is more software support for my NEFs than for DNGs and I do not want to think about which compatibility version of DNG to use when converting.
    The idea of DNG is not bad, but I always have in mind: software/hardware manufacturers love more to get licence fees (e.g. for the DNG format, I suppose “open” is not the same as “for free” …) than paying them.

  119. Alex 7 January, 2010 at 15:22 Reply

    I went to DNG for quite a while but came back to RAW.

    I liked the fact that with DNG you get all in one file… as opposite to RAW + XMP (sidecar). BUT that became a problem with mi backup strategy because any change on the file (metadata, keywords, development) made the file to be selected for backup and it did slow my backup process.
    I rely on RAW+XMP and now only the XMP do travel around the backups (of course for the first time the RAW also travels around).


  120. DJ 7 January, 2010 at 15:13 Reply

    I do not use DNG. Why? Well, simply because my original RAW format may become obsolete in the future is no reason for me to start converting. In that case I will do the conversion to DNG (or another new format) at that moment. I am very sure I am still able to convert Canon CR2 files to DNG in the future. I have no guarantee that it will be possible to convert DNG files back to CR2 or a new type of ‘digital negative’ in the future! Anyone any comments about this?

  121. Jack Kelley 7 January, 2010 at 15:12 Reply

    Excellent summary, Matt.

    To save space and time, I’ve arrived at this routine:

    1) Import Raw with Lr backing up the Raw files to two drives holding “Temporary Backup” folders.

    2) Make selects, eliminating all the crap and marginal images I’ll never look at again — about 60-80 percent of any import.

    3) Backup the Raw selects to “Permanent Backup” folders on two drives, and trash the Temporary Backups.

    4) Convert the Lr selects on my working drive to DNG.

    For me, this results in a best-of-both-worlds workflow: crummy photos gone, DNG working files, duplicate Raw backups.The DNG working files are automatically backed up nightly (using Sync).

    I do hear those of you saying there is no “need” to convert. True dat. But also true that some camera makers, Canon included, have already stopped supporting older proprietary Raw converters. DNG is not proprietary; it’s open-sourced, so it won’t go away simply because Canon outlives Adobe.

    The DNG conversion is so simple that, for me anyway, it encourages efficient housekeeping. The downside is, I cannot boast of having 80 gazillion images scattered across 50 mega-whumps of CDs, DVDs, and electronic ankle monitors — a price I’m willing to pay. 🙂

    • tifkat 14 October, 2011 at 20:37 Reply

      Note: Open (as in fully documented; nothing hidden) does not equal Open-Sourced. DNG is patented and copyrighted by Adobe. No one else can change it. They grant a royalty free license which they can revoke, and/or change at their disgression. I can understand OEMs not adopting it.

      Prehaps Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Ricoh (who now own Pentax) should form an association with Adobe, the developers of GIMP and other software developers and create a truly-open, “free” and un-incumbered, standards-organisation-ratified format (this would be a format AND a standard). That way all can have input, all can adopt it without fear of being refused a license and the entire community (from ameteurs to professionals, for private and business purposes) would truly benefit. Then widespread adoption would make sense.

      DNG IS NOT A “Standard”. It’s a format. We need a standard, and an “open community” one at that.

  122. Patrick 7 January, 2010 at 15:08 Reply

    I have decided not to convert my raw files for an single reason : it seems to be impossible for the software editors or for the hackers to decipher the whole data of a Sony raw file. For example, the focus distance is encrypted and this information is important for a good optical correction (in DxO Optics Pro for example).
    For the time being, the Sony software is almost unusable, but perhaps in the future it will be better. Perhaps also the encrypted informations will be hacked, one day or another, and they will be definitely lost if I convert in DNG and remove my original raws.
    One of the main lesson we’ve drown from the past years is that the software of tomorow will do a better job with our today raws. That’s why I prefer to preserve the future keeping my original raws instead of converting them in DNG, even if Lightroom is my favourite raw converter till its birth.
    Cheers from a French photograph, Matt 😉

  123. Jack 7 January, 2010 at 15:00 Reply

    I stopped converting to DNG after noticing that LR is *a lot* slower when processing DNG’s, compare to processing the raw files from my Sony Alpha camera! When I process DNG’s I often see LR take up one core and response is very bad. I almost threw LR out of the window, and was about to go back to Camera Raw for my workflow, when I processed a few raw files and noticed the difference.

    • Brian 20 October, 2014 at 01:26 Reply

      I’m thinking this person has ‘automatically write changes to XMP’ checked in the catalog preferences. For that reason, I leave that unchecked and periodically (often) use ‘CTRL-s’ to save the metadata to the files – so I can have a ‘backup’ of develop settings, keywords, etc in the files themselves should the catalog become corrupted. That way it would be possible to re-import the images with all the settings should I need to. Although I do backup the catalog on each LR exit (sometimes pressing ‘skip’), it’s still nice to have that insurance.

  124. Glyn Dewis 7 January, 2010 at 14:47 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Yep been converting to DNG ever since I started using Lightroom. File size and the ability to open images in the future clinched it for me.

    Great Post which is clearly promoting alot of conversation,

    Best wishes,

  125. Eric 7 January, 2010 at 14:39 Reply

    Simply, I don’t see the point.

    Initially I resisted DNG because I *like* having a separate .xmp sidecar file. It makes differential backups a lot faster when a little 2k file changes as opposed to a big 10-15mb file.

    Secondly, the 50 year argument doesn’t really cut it. I can appreciate the difference between open and closed formats, but the reality is that if you want your data to stick around for a long time you have to actively maintain the archive as technology changes. Having DNG files does no good if they’re all on modern hard drives which in the future will be about as readable as 5 1/4 floppies. There’s also no guarantee the DNG format won’t change in the future, requiring another conversion, or that software will exist in the future which can read DNG files – no matter if it’s open or not, I doubt most of us have the chops to read the DNG spec and write an interpreter. If for some reason .NEF stops being supported by Nikon in the future, I can convert when that happens.

    As of right now, the case simply hasn’t been made for why I should make the effort to convert anything.

  126. Doug Churchill 7 January, 2010 at 14:34 Reply

    I’ve converted to DNG when I started using Lightroom 2.0 for many of the reasons stated above. I toss the RAW files. Currently using the Nikon D700 and Canon G11, it’s nice to have all my files in the same format.

    The question about LR not automagically updating the meta data, I have the option ticked to automagically save the meta data. It appears to work for me when I open Bridge to batch a bunch of images using Dr. Brown’s 1 2 3 all my edits, captions, title and keywords are there.

  127. Otto Rascon 7 January, 2010 at 14:26 Reply

    I recently converted an entire wedding to DNG and was pleasantly surprised with how much space it saved. I am still not a fan of the DNG file, but only because I am unfamiliar. Perhaps this post will change things 🙂 Thanks Matt, you ROCK! Much love from Chicago.

  128. Albert 7 January, 2010 at 14:15 Reply

    I’ve got a question about number 5. Would creating a demosaicked DNG lead to a much larger file size since the software has to compute RGB values for each pixel? Then it’s not so “raw” anymore is it?

  129. Eduardo Mueses 7 January, 2010 at 14:11 Reply

    I definitely convert all my raw files to DNG. Started about a year ago when I started using Lightroom.

    I’ll like to make some comments though:

    Even if I do, I don’t really like the concept of throwing away the RAW files. What happens if the conversion fails half way? What happens if I want to use another program like Capture NX to work on my image? What happens if I don’t like what Adobe is doing to the files (in some future) with the conversion?

    I guess my main issue is with the ability of working with DNG files, as it is right now, it’s very Adobe-Centric…

  130. MattDJ 7 January, 2010 at 14:09 Reply

    The new Leica X1 shoots to DNG. One of the reasons why it comes with a license for Lightroom.

    I’m with you 100% on this one MattK. The whole “manufacturer not support the format” benefit doesn’t do it for me as I can never see Canon or Nikon doing that to it’s loyal customers. Think about the outcry…and customer service wait times! And we thought the transition to over-the-air digital TV was rough!

    If my camera had a DNG setting, I would likely use it. If anything, to save on space that it somehow saves for me.

  131. Walter Beck 7 January, 2010 at 14:07 Reply

    DNG is simply another format that has advantages and disadvantages as we have read in the posting here. Yes, Adobe could disappear or be purchased by another entity and the question of DNG support could come about. The difference is that DNG is an “open” format meaning that anyone can develop around it and use it where as the RAW formats from the manufacturers are not.

    It makes marketing sense to keep a proprietary format if I am a manufacturer as I can build special features in that are only available to software that I as the manufacturer produce thus giving me an edge in the market. The question, in my mind is, will DNG always be able to represent the features of a proprietary RAW file created by a manufacturer?

    Its sort of the same problem that Adobe has keeping up with RAW file formats already. Also, using DNG really only works if its truly universal, that is, all software dealing with imaging recognizes and uses DNG. We have already seen that DxOptics does not. Will they? If not, and I am a heavy user of their software or another package that does not directly use DNG, then I am forced to adopt to that software’s constraints.

    I have toyed with using DNG vs. RAW and find that there is a benefit to going to DNG for size. Have I done it, no :-} Will I do it? Probably as soon as it really becomes a standard throughout the industry both with camera manufacturers and software developers.

    My $0.02

  132. Robert Walters 7 January, 2010 at 14:05 Reply

    My first step is to download my raws from the CF to an external h/d. The h/d folders are originized by date filename convention. The raws are then backedup on dvd and stored away (1 copy). Next the raws are imported into lightroom as dng in separate folders. The dng are then backed up on dvd. This gives me two copies of the original data – covering my bases if the camera manufactor goes under. I work only with the dng files. I am hoping that dng will catch on and become a standard by all manufactors at some point.

  133. Dave C 7 January, 2010 at 14:03 Reply

    I convert. Multiple cameras and multiple raw formats don’t cut it. Many years down the road when your camera’s proprietary raw format is no longer supported, do you really want to backtrack to save hundreds of thousands of photos just so you can still access your archive? Do it now while your archives are still managable.

  134. Dawn in NJ 7 January, 2010 at 13:44 Reply

    I do not convert to DNG, mostly because I have enough to worry about just getting my photos into LR and working within.

    As I read the comments another thought came to me why it might be better to wait- Isn’t it quite possible that the DNG format will be improved in the future? And if so, I would rather wait until I had to convert, because by then I’l be converting to the latest iteration of DNG format.

  135. David S 7 January, 2010 at 13:35 Reply

    I convert all to DNG – no reason to repeat all the good reasons that people have mentioned – my great grandchildren will thank me when they find my old hard drives stashed away somewhere.

  136. Pete Latham 7 January, 2010 at 13:31 Reply

    I stopped converting to DNG. As soon as I converted to DNG I lost the flexibility of being able to use Canon Digital Photo Pro since DPP doesn’t (AFAIK) understand DNGs.

    Enjoying the quicker imports and haven’t noticed the difference in size.

  137. David 7 January, 2010 at 13:30 Reply

    If the time comes when my camera manufacturer no longer supports my RAW files I’m still not worried. I can always convert to DNG then, when I need to. Storage space is somewhat cheap and I like the results I get from NX2 better than Lightroom.

  138. Ed weaver 7 January, 2010 at 13:28 Reply

    I’ve been converting to DNG since the very beginning. I’ve never had an issue. For me the two biggest benefits are having no sidecar files (huge), and from the 40,000 + images I’ve taken, that equates to approximately 400 gigabits of data I don’t need to manage.

  139. Justin 7 January, 2010 at 13:02 Reply

    Just to play devils advocate, one of the biggest arguments people make for converting to DNG is that if your RAW format is not supported someday, DNG still will be. Well, what happens if Canon is still around but something should happen to Adobe? Who supports DNG then?

  140. suzy walker 7 January, 2010 at 12:49 Reply

    I still use my RAW files. I dont convert 2 DNG because it takes too long, also if I did I wouldnt throw my RAWs away. Maybe I’ll convert the whole lot one day… who knows.

  141. Tom-O 7 January, 2010 at 12:42 Reply

    I convert my RAW files in DXO Pro Optics to DNG and then import them to Lightroom 2.0. DXO takes a long time to process the files but I like the RAW conversion it produces. I really like not having to pay attention to the xmp file after it’s converted.

  142. amz 7 January, 2010 at 12:37 Reply

    I’d like to mention one aspect of this that seems to get lost in the discussion…

    Even when converting to DNG (which I do), only the oprimary import is converted, the ‘backup copy’ you create during the import stays in the camera’s native raw format.

    So, other than maybe speed of ingestion, FOR ME, there just doesn’t seem to be a downside.


  143. johnny 7 January, 2010 at 12:28 Reply

    i’m starting to convert my raw files to DNG, and i’m doing so only because the 20% reduction of size. But is like u say, some of us are afraid to delete our original raw files…

  144. Steve Hyde 7 January, 2010 at 12:24 Reply

    I’ve been converting to DNG on import for some time now. I recently started shooting tethered (using both Nikon Camera Control Pro and OnOne DSLR Remote) and can’t find a way with LR2 or LR3 to automatically convert to DNG when importing from a watched folder. Is there a reason for that?

  145. Stephen Cupp 7 January, 2010 at 12:22 Reply

    I don’t see the need to convert to DNG. It’s not like Adobe is going to reach into my house and delete my copy of Lightroom and Photoshop leaving me without a way to view my RAW files. Like others have said disk space is cheap and I would rather be doing other things then waiting for the files to convert.

  146. Artesiano 7 January, 2010 at 12:18 Reply

    I think that should be the manufacturers to encourage us to use the DNG, I say as an injection of confidence, only then can we begin to think that I create to do so.
    I have some doubt now about the use of DNG, hopefully better in the future.

  147. Gary 7 January, 2010 at 12:18 Reply

    I convert every raw file to DNG, and will continue to do so until the camera manufacturers convert their raw files to DNG out of the camera.

    You’ll lose nothing. You’ll gain more hard disk space, you’ll gain an accepted standard.

  148. Jason W 7 January, 2010 at 12:16 Reply

    I’ve always converted to DNG file. I much prefer open file formats that proprietary ones. Look how PDF does. I’m hoping the EPUB format is similar and becomes accepted. With proprietary formats, manufacturers can keep changing them which requires updates to software, etc. Think of the Microsoft’s DOC format, though they have become much more open with it.

    One thing I don’t like about converting to DNG is the time it takes to convert them when importing the files. Maybe its time to upgrade the computer 🙂

    I’m also a little confused by this statement: “And Lightroom doesn’t automatically update the DNG file if you make changes. You still manually need to go to the Photo menu to save the settings. ” I didn’t think there was a ‘Save’ button in Lightroom. Does this mean I can’t just go find the DNG file in a folder and send it to someone that includes all the latest updates? Is there a way to perform a batch save all to move all metadata into the DNG file for my entire library?

  149. Stephen 7 January, 2010 at 12:16 Reply

    It’s a tough call. I was a strong supporter of DNG but have recently changed my opinion and no longer convert.

    1: Backing up. It’s much easier to backup xmp file changes then entire DNGs every time.

    2: I’m confident that when the time comes, I can always convert everything to DNG at that point. Even if Adobe no longer supports the RAW files, it should be easy to use an older dng converter. I’m assuming I’ll notice when support is removed and that yesterdays version of the software still works.

    3: Convert to DNG if you’re archiving or exporting.

    4. I think the bigger concern is will Adobe, Apple etc support my 50 yr old RAW files? I don’t care if the manufacture does as I don’t use their software.

    However, I do like the smaller file sizes of DNG.

    If my camera saved as DNG, I would absolutely use it.

  150. Alan 7 January, 2010 at 12:15 Reply

    You read my mind Matt, I go through the exact same thoughts and am still using RAW only. I think the future-proof argument, although legitimate, isn’t much of a concern, the current Canon and Nikon raw formats, although not open, are easily reverse engineered and is Adobe just going to start dropping older cameras from it’s converter, probably not and if they do we’ll have fair warning.

  151. Kevin 7 January, 2010 at 12:09 Reply

    I have been using DNG for a while now. I import from SD card and convert to DNG when doing that. We use it at work, as well, since we have Canon and Nikon equipment. It means we deal with one format when it is all said and done.

    When dealing with non-photographers, digital negative makes more sense to them, than a raw file, as well.

    Saves space, open format, removes sidecars. It is all win. Those companies that do not support DNG need to catch up to the current decade.

  152. Simone 7 January, 2010 at 12:07 Reply

    I’ve used DNG ever since I started with Lightroom. Why? My first DSLR was a Minolta and I somehow I had more confidence in Adobe than in Minolta, and right I was.

    My library with DNGs gets into some 4 backup sets, off-site, Notebook etc.

    But, additionally, when importing my DNGs, I use the option “Backup to”. This creates yet another (5th or what ever) backup and without any settings from my part, Lightroom uses the original RAW format for this backup. The disk used for this backup does not get synchronized with the Notebook etc.

    I’v never needed these RAW files because of a problem with DNGs, but quite often because of me doing something stupid and then being very, very glad I still had untouched RAWs around somewhere.

  153. Szabi (szabiakanich) 7 January, 2010 at 12:04 Reply

    Well. You see. DNG is an open source format. So anybody can write software that “understands” DNG. It’s nothing Adobe specific. You can’t say the same with Canon, Nikon etc, that are all proprietary formats.


    • tifkat 14 October, 2011 at 19:13 Reply

      Actually, it’s NOT “open source”. It’s created and patented by Adobe, who grant a royalty free license, WHICH THEY CAN REVOKE at will, to use. They also reserve the right to change that license.

      Potentially, Adobe could get everyone on-board and then change the license to require software and hardware developers to start paying royalties.

      A truly open standard which is ‘owned’ by no one specific company, but a community based ‘standards organisation’ is what is really needed.

  154. Stan 7 January, 2010 at 11:55 Reply

    After losing all the sidecar files for one of my shoots (don’t know, they just disappeared!) I now convert to DNG and save the original raws to dvd, memory is cheap. As time goes on I think DNG will be more used and accepted. I would have bet money that you Matt would be using DNG.

  155. Hammondovi 7 January, 2010 at 11:50 Reply

    I love DNG! I have been converting to it since I found the stand-alone DNG converter. The space it saves is wonderful. It works great as a RAW file should. I import to DNG straight into Lightroom and don’t look back.

  156. Mark 7 January, 2010 at 11:46 Reply

    I don’t convert to DNG. I don’t see the need. I’ve never understood the position that DNG is more future proof than Canon’s own raw format. Is Adobe so sure that it’ll outlast Canon? If we’re worried that Canon might one day tell us all to go fly a kite and stop supporting their own raw format, why aren’t we afraid that adobe will do the same thing with DNG?

    I don’t like to talk about companies failing, but it happens. Who would’ve guessed 5 years ago that GM and Chrysler would declare bankruptcy within one month of each other? I wish Adobe a good long and healthy life. I love Adobe and its products!
    …but I don’t understand why DNG is more ‘future proof’ than Canon’s or Nikon’s format.
    Just a thought.

    • Jorge 24 July, 2010 at 06:00 Reply

      Hey Mark, about your comment on whether Adobe is sure to outlast Canon, the point is that with if you use DNG it doesn’t matter. DNG is an openly documented format, not really a propietary Adobe format. The formats used by camera manufacturers, such as Nikon NEF or Canon CRW, ARE propietary. Not only that, but every time a new camera comes out the format structure of the RAW file changes. So the structure of a NEF file from a Nikon D90 is not the same as the structure of a NEF file from a Nikon D300 or any other Nikon camera model for that matter.

      Camera manufacturers don’t share the inner workings of their file formats, so when a new camera comes out software makers (like Adobe) have to do reverse engineering so that the new images can be interpreted. This is a pretty complex process, and it forces all these programs, like Camera RAW, to keep access to vast libraries containing the ways to interpret all the different RAW formats that are out there, and update these libraries every time Nikon comes out with a new NEF structure.

      Since DNG is an openly documented format it doesn’t matter if Adobe goes out of business. It’s a much safer bet that you’ll be able to open a DNG file 30 years from now in whatever digital imaging software is all the rage then than, say, a NEF file from a Nikon D70.

      This situation is in fact already happening, as Peter Krogh explains in the second edition of “The DAM Book” (I can’t recommend this book enough). Manufacturers have already dropped support for some of the older Kodak image file formats. So if you have image backups from pictures that you took back in the 90s with a Kodak digital camera and you want to take a look at them now there’s a good chance you won’t be able to do it. Not unless you keep some old computer with an discontinued operating system running some obsolete piece of software that is also not supported anymore.

      I would urge you to read The DAM Book or at least visit Peter’s website ( and take a look at the forum discussions about the DNG format.. Even if you decide not to adopt it they are both great sources of information for someone interested in managing an image collection.

  157. Benoit 7 January, 2010 at 11:45 Reply

    I currently don’t convert to DNG for a simple reason. Sidecar files are really really small compared to the size of a RAW picture. My backup solution includes Time Machine, which backs up files everytime they change (not exactly, but almost). When I update my photos in Lightroom, only the sidecars are modified, and Time Machine only backs up the sidecars (the raw file is of course backed up, when I initially import my pictures on my computer). This makes for fast and small incremental backups. If I were using DNGs, Lightroom would be backing up my photos everytime even though the raw data in the DNG is still the same.

  158. Joe Vermillion 7 January, 2010 at 11:45 Reply

    I too am a little scared of saving to DNG and deleting Raw…..I am currently in the process of getting my degree and it has been beating into our heads that RAW format is the only way to save all of the information on the image. I know this is bunk but I have been brain washed by the best. (;>)

  159. jan 7 January, 2010 at 11:39 Reply

    Matt, I agree with your reasoning and don’t convert to DNG either. As a user of the original LR I learned not to have the software automatically write to sidecar files but wondering now that we are nearly to LR3, do you have it automatically write to sidecar or not? Thanks.

  160. carlos 7 January, 2010 at 11:34 Reply

    I have converted some files to DNG but there are downsides to the process itself.

    If I convert on import the import slows waaay down (and it’s already considerably slower than a straight copy from the card).

    If I use the DNG converter there doesn’t seem to be an option to delete the raw file after the conversion so I have to have roughly twice the space of all the files I’m converting and then go back and delete the raw files myself. I get a bit paranoid at that point because if Adobe doesn’t have the confidence to delete them I’m a bit afraid to do so.

    I did write a script that does the conversion, checks to see that the size of the DNG is at least 60% of the raw file and then deletes the raw and the .xmp files. It did this on a file by file basis so that as the conversion progressed I was gaining disk space and not losing it. I can’t seem to get the command line for the raw converter to work on my Mac.

    Lightroom should know it’s not the only program a photographer may want to use. I want the metadata embedded in the DNG in case I use another program like Bridge and want to keep my raw adjustments. Give me a preference setting so that it does it automagically.

    • Nick Eakins 14 January, 2011 at 02:21 Reply

      Hi Carlos.
      I notice you say that you wrote software to check the DNG file is at least 60% the size of your original file. I have started converting to DNG (as well as keeping the NEF’s) and notice that ALL my DNG files are about 60% the size of the original 14 Bit NEF. This reduction in file size to only 60% of the original NEF worries me a little when i see that nearly everyone else talks about only a 20 % reduction in file size. What do you think ?
      I also notice that when i open a DNG file in Photoshop it shows as only an 8 bit image. Is this because i am looking at a jpeg preview instead of the actual DNG image or are DNG’s made as only 8 bit files? When exporting as DNG from Lightroom there are no file/bit size preference choices

  161. Marc Murphy 7 January, 2010 at 11:31 Reply

    I’ve been converting to DNG since the format became available. No fears, no worries. There is no loss in quality and a greatly reduced fear of future proprietary changes.

    It simply seems logical to convert to DNG and illogical not to.

  162. Kristian 7 January, 2010 at 11:18 Reply

    I’ve started converting everything to DNG since I downloaded the Lightroom 3 BETA which automatically converts on import. I find DNG files much easier to use due to lack of sidecar files and smaller space.

    DNG all the way for me!

  163. janet 7 January, 2010 at 11:12 Reply

    i convert to dng upon export – once i’m done with everything. for client photos, my jpg files are backed up to offsite storage, so theoretically there is no need for the raw file anyway.

  164. Brian 7 January, 2010 at 11:10 Reply

    I’m wondering as well about the statement regarding LR not automatically saving metadata changes into the DNG. As another commenter asked, isn’t that exactly what that auto save changes setting is for? I backup from one external HD to another using rsync, so only the differences (not necessarily the entire file) get copied. I avoid having 2 files per image if possible (less chance for me to mess something up).

  165. Marc 7 January, 2010 at 11:04 Reply

    It’s a non-issue for me as I shoot with a Pentax K-20D that saves directly in DNG.
    What a great decision by Pentax!

  166. Greg 7 January, 2010 at 11:01 Reply

    I’ve read a lot about RAW (CR2) vs DNG recently and have made the switch. No regrets, however I do burn the RAW (CR2) files straight to DVD from my memory cards for backup purposes.

  167. sandy 7 January, 2010 at 10:56 Reply

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve been in a personal to DNG, not to DNG battle for about a year.

    I like the idea of DNG’s, I’d really like to use them. But when I convert my camera profiles go away, and I happen to like them. Also, I do use DXO frequently and as mentioned, it’s not compatible with DNGs.

  168. rosbif 7 January, 2010 at 10:49 Reply

    I shoot DNG directly (Pentax), but still “convert to DNG” on import, because Pentax’s DNGs are not compressed whereas Lightroom’s are. Yet another situation where the import dialog is potentially confusing. Adobe really needs to think hard about how to improve the dialog…

  169. updeinva 7 January, 2010 at 10:40 Reply

    Is it safe to assume that the DNG converter will always be able to convert a raw file into a DNG file? In other words, if my old Nikon D70 files are no longer supported by Nikon or Lightroom, wouldn’t the DNG converter still be able to convert them to DNG? Are there old raw files that are no longer able to be converted to DNG? If that ability to convert old files does not become obsolete, why not wait to convert until you had to?

  170. marcus 7 January, 2010 at 10:36 Reply

    In theory, I think DNG is a great idea. However, my biggest concern with the format is supposedly its biggest advantage, future proofing. In my experience the file formats most likely to become obsolete are those that have the lowest industry support. Until the industry especially the big camera manufacturers, adopt the standard then it’s likely to get lost in oblivion, and all the time spent converting files to DNG will have been wasted. I think once DNG becomes a true standard (recognized by ISO) then it will gain more acceptance from manufacturers, but until then it’s not worth the extra effort to convert my old files

    • armando 20 December, 2010 at 15:40 Reply

      True but I think it would become a standard even faster if more people adopted it. Personally, I recently switched my whole catalogue to DNG and I have to say, I’m quite happy with it. I guess the backup stuff other people mentioned is true but then again, I don’t want to be worrying about two files when switching from one computer to the next… it doesn’t make sense. Either way, I hope more people switch to DNG so we have to stop worrying about compatibility and start focusing more on photography.

  171. kiraly 7 January, 2010 at 10:30 Reply

    You wrote “And Lightroom doesn’t automatically update the DNG file if you make changes. You still manually need to go to the Photo menu to save the settings.” Isn’t there a setting in Lightroom to automatically save? Or does it not apply to DNGs? Actually, I like this setting, because I can always be sure, that my settings are not just in the catalog (which might be corrupted) but also in my JPG or an XMP. Speaking of XMPs, there’s actually and advantage to have them: you can save your photo’s settings to it without touching the RAW, which means, that once Time Machine in Mac OS X has backed up your RAW file, it doesn’t have to do it again in the future, but only the small XMP file, which saves lots of space on your backup drive.

    • Andrew Federman 25 October, 2010 at 15:52 Reply

      This seemingly small point is actually huge. For Time Machine users (and probably most other backup solution users), the minimizing of large files that change frequently can really keep your backup database from getting too big, too fast. For example, if you convert to DNG and add one keyword to a folder of 1000 photos, ALL of those photos would be backed up again with Time Machine, whereas if I make that same keyword change to a folder of CR2 (Canon’s RAW format) photos, only the XMP files will register as new with Time Machine and be backed up, potentially saving massive amounts of backup drive space over time, not to mention the time it takes to perform those backups.

  172. Derek 7 January, 2010 at 10:30 Reply

    I”ve used “Convert to DnG upon import” ever since I’ve seen Matt’s Lightroom training video. It works well for me with no issues, and if I can save some storage space with no loss of quality from original RAW image then that’s a bonus.

  173. Casey Wright 7 January, 2010 at 10:27 Reply

    Just an FYI, I use Pentax gear, and they have the option to shoot Pentax PEFs or DNG! I’ve been debating on flipping the switch to DNG for a while, just never get around to it… maybe this weekend I’ll set aside some time to do some quick comparison shots…

  174. Fortunatas 7 January, 2010 at 10:21 Reply

    Well, personally I am somewhere near to the point number 2. I do convert my raw files to DNG but I also keep my original RAW files untouched and burned to DVDs. Why? Because the concepts written in The Digital Asset Management for Photographers by Peter Krogh relate to me. To be more exact, I don’t want to mess with the sidecar files – these are saved with DNG, DNGs are smaller. With regard to keeping the original raw files, I still don’t feel confident with my current workflow thus and burn them to DVDs “just in case”. After two years of owning Pentax K10D I have 25 DVD disks with originals archived so it is not a “big deal” yet. We’ll see after the year or so. By the way, Pentax K10D has the ability to shoot in DNG. I’ll check what’s the difference between the in-camera DNG and converted from PEF.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog and contribution to photographers’ community.

    Best regards,

  175. Chris G 7 January, 2010 at 10:19 Reply

    I recently discovered that Nikon’s in-camera JPG production does an amazing job in some situations. In a recent test it took me nearly 30 minutes to match the same result the camera created when the picture was shot.

    One disadvantage of converting to DNG is that I can no longer retrieve the original JPG the camera produced. Having the NEF file, the Nikon software can retrieve it….saving time.

  176. Troy Breidenbach 7 January, 2010 at 10:17 Reply

    I do not use dng. I just don’t see the upside. I understand the 20% less space, but storage is sooo cheap, I don’t mind just adding more. Dng files take a lot longer to import and I don’t like to spend that amount of time waiting.

    If the day comes that Adobe quits supporting Canon Raw files, I’ll make sure to convert my files BEFORE I upgrade to that version 🙂 I’m pretty sure when that happens, they won’t take the capability out of existing software…it just won’t be added to the newer version.

  177. Dominik 7 January, 2010 at 10:10 Reply

    Just want to mention two side effects of using DNG (well, I DO convert to DNG anyway):

    1) If using cRAW (or how ever your manufacturer calls the compressed RAW format – I can only tell this fact for Sony), the filesize of the DNG won’t be smaller than the cRAW – BUT it will be about the same amount LARGER!

    2) If you want to use “DxO Optics” software for “tuning” your shots in some means, you can not work on the DNG files after conversion! DxO needs to use the camera’s RAW file! Anyway – you can work on exported TIFFs. But you are restricted in the workflow.

  178. jimmy 7 January, 2010 at 10:04 Reply

    I still you the Raw format. It doesn’t require any extra work and if there comes a day when my raw format (canon’s cr2) isn’t supported anymore, I can still convert the pictures to dng at that time.

    Also, since I use Lightroom, the sidecar issue isn’t a problem for me. The interesting argument is that a dng-file is 20% smaller. When people have tens of thousands of pictures, that will sum up. On the other hand, storage is constantly getting cheaper.


  179. BH 7 January, 2010 at 10:03 Reply

    You have no desire to reduce your storage requirements (both primary and backup) by 20%? The switch is nothing momentous. Just check the box in the import settings. It’s the beginning of a new year, so it’s a good time to make the switch.

  180. Szabi (szabiakanich) 7 January, 2010 at 10:03 Reply

    Well. As I understand it, the DNG format is just another container/file format, but the “raw” data that’s in it is exactly the same as the one found in the original CR2 or NEF file, right?

    I started converting all my raw files to DNGs. Why? Mostly because it’s smaller. And when you have say a 1000 raw files that’s a lot of data (say at 12mb, that’s 12gb of data) and if you can loose 2GB that’s pretty neat I would say. And the idea that in a DNG file you have all of your changes that you made in Lightroom or CameraRAW is great. Basically I can take that DNG and copy it to another computer and open it up and already have all the settings there, without having to worry about XMPs and stuff, like you pointed out.

    So for me it basically boils down to these two things: filesize and the ability to have your settings in the file itself. And since DNG is as flexible as the original RAW format I don’t see the reason not to convert, really.

    Or am I completely wrong with any of my assumptions that I wrote about?!


    P.S.: great topic, Matt!

  181. Doug 7 January, 2010 at 10:01 Reply

    I’ve been converting my files to DNG since the beginning. I would rather have this long term solution then to worry about how long the camera company is going to support it. I also have the Adobe DNG converter to convert my older files to DNG.

  182. Doug 7 January, 2010 at 09:59 Reply

    I’ve been converting my files do DNG pretty much since it came out. I would rather have this long term solution then to worry how long the camera company is going to support it. I even got the Adobe DNG converter to convert all of my older files to DNG.

  183. Martin Tomes 7 January, 2010 at 09:58 Reply

    I convert to DNG because there is nothing to lose. I get exactly the same pictures out of Lightroom as I would with the Canon RAW files and the data is stored in an open format. That open word is important, it means that if I wanted to I could write a program myself or pay someone else to write a program which would read my image data. The same isn’t true for the proprietary formats. So if you own a not so popular make of camera which generates RAW files and that company goes bust and Adobe lose interest in supporting its file formats then you will be glad you converted to DNG.

  184. Frank 7 January, 2010 at 09:53 Reply

    There is one downside…importing photo’s take much longer. I still use the Camera Raw format, but just like you, I don’t know why…

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