Are you converting your RAW images to DNG?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JC Dill, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. JC Dill

    JC Dill Guest

    Reading the DAM book (chapter 1, online), it suggests that RAW images
    be converted to DNG. Googling on DNG I find that it's a format
    created by Adobe in September 2004, over 2 years ago. This is the
    first I've heard of this format, so apparently it's not getting widely
    adopted and discussed. I'm curious if anyone here is using DNG, and
    if so why you made that choice.


    JC Dill, Oct 8, 2006
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  2. Check it out.
    /\\BratMan/\\, Oct 8, 2006
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  3. JC Dill

    Pete D Guest

    Probably not so many using it unless they have a new camera thats RAW format
    is not supported by their favourite photo package. Only one camera I can
    think of supports DNG directly from the camera and that is the Pentax K10D.
    Pete D, Oct 8, 2006
  4. JC Dill

    John Bean Guest

    ....apart from models from Ricoh, Leica, Haselblad ;-)
    John Bean, Oct 8, 2006
  5. JC Dill

    pbdelete Guest

    Not read up on these raw formats so much, but maybe it's possible to set some
    default postprocessing directives + raw pixels or have several profiles. Such
    that you can *always* change your mind later?
    pbdelete, Oct 8, 2006
  6. i'd say it's kinda risky to stick with DNG...format is relatively new, not
    used very often and we don't know if it will stick. IF it will, there's
    always a way to convert later, if not and someone would have all pics in DNG
    it would be hard time to get a software who will read it, while i think it's
    not a matter when using RAW, since almost all decent photo software reads
    I think it's best to wait for a while and see what happens...
    Protoncek \(ex.SleeperMan\), Oct 8, 2006
  7. JC Dill

    Bill Hilton Guest

    I'm not converting (and no one I know or photograph with converts
    either) for a couple of reasons ... first, the RAW converter I prefer
    doesn't read DNG format, so it's primarily a Photoshop thing right now.
    Second, the early versions of the Adobe converter deleted some of the
    EXIF info so if you just converted without keeping a copy of the
    original RAW files you would have lost potentially valuable
    information. Supposedly this has been fixed in later versions but
    there's no way to be sure since the programs I sometimes use to get
    EXIF info don't accept DNG and Photoshop doesn't make use of a lot of
    the EXIF info that's available in my camera files.

    You can convert a few and play with them in Photoshop, it's simple to
    do this ...what you'll quickly learn is that to Photoshop a DNG file
    looks identical to a RAW file. So as long as you have native RAW
    support it's hard for me to find an argument for converting.

    DNG came about because people were worried that their proprietary RAW
    format files might not be supported in the future. This is a good
    long-term reason to have a universal format like DNG but it's not an
    immediate concern to most of us, especially if you have a mainstream
    camera like a Nikon or Canon.

    It seems to me there are three advantages to DNG ... one is the "in 20
    years you may not be able to convert .cr2 or .crw files" ... if this
    comes to pass it won't take long to batch convert copies to DNG though.

    Second the DNG files are a bit smaller than RAW files so if storage
    space is an issue this is a bonus. I think the DNGs I converted were
    about 80-85% the size of my Canon files for example, but with external
    HDs available for well under $1 a GB this isn't important to me.

    Finally when a new camera comes out and you have no converter for it
    except the camera maker's software you can convert to DNG (if Adobe has
    a converter for it) and then use your current DNG-supported converter
    with it. For example if you have Photoshop CS and buy a Canon 400d or
    Nikon D2xs or D80 you will find there will be no native RAW conversion
    support for these from Adobe, but once Adobe brings out a RAW -> DNG
    plug in for these you can convert to DNG and then use the earlier
    version of Photoshop.

    I don't use it myself but I can see the advantages in some situations.
    But I can get useful EXIF info like a grid of the auto-focus points
    with the one(s) active in red, or the total number of shutter
    actuations from programs that read only the RAW files so it would make
    no sense to me to convert to DNG.

    Bill Hilton, Oct 8, 2006
  8. It is widely adopted and discussed. Towards the end of last year, a
    survey identified that about 17% of professional photographers in North
    America were using it. More than 140 (not-Adobe) products from more
    than 130 companies support it in some way. The Library of Congress
    identifies DNG as preferable to using any other raw formats for
    purposes of digital preservation. It is discussed in DPReview most

    For many people, the main obstacle to using it at the moment is lack of
    support from Canon, Nikon, Capture One, and Bibble. (There are other
    companies and products that don't support it, but in comparison they
    are relatively insignificant). Capture One will support it in version
    4, recently announced. However, writers who advocate DNG typically use
    Canon or Nikon so that isn't a total blocker. (Peter Krogh, the author
    of the DAM Book, uses Nikon).

    There are aspects where DNG is uncontroversially better than
    alternative formats:

    1. It is openly documented.

    2. It is supported by a freely-available optional source-code-based

    3. There are public royalty-free licenses for anyone to use the
    specification and the SDK and to supply products based on these.

    4. DNG is based on the principle of "no unnecessary differences"
    between manufacturers and models.

    5. DNG files contain parameters describing camera and sensor

    6. DNG has a version scheme that enables the DNG specification, DNG
    readers, and DNG writers, to evolve at their own paces, under control.

    There are several cameras and digital backs that use DNG in-camera; 3
    were announced during September 2006, including the Pentax K10D. A
    number of camera manufacturers supply their own DNG Converters to
    convert their own formats into DNG, and a couple of them provide
    software that can process DNGs for their own cameras. Some other DNG
    Converters have been developed by "amateurs" to enable the raw files
    from their (niche) cameras & digital backs to be processed by
    mainstream raw converters.

    There is a lot of information here, including more about all of the
    Barry Pearson, Oct 8, 2006
  9. [snip]

    I believe the main advantage of DNG isn't one of those you listed. But
    it IS the trigger for this thread.

    DNG is a good format for holding rights management and asset management
    metadata. And that is why Peter Krogh, the author of The DAM Book,
    advocates it. It enables a single file to contain:

    - The raw image data.

    - Metadata describing the camera & sensor so that it can be processed
    in future by software that hasn't got built-in details for that camera.

    - Rights management metadata (name, copyright, website, etc) which will
    get copied into derivatives (JPEGs, TIFFs, etc) by aware-software.

    - Asset management metadata (keywords for the shoot, subject, etc),
    which will also get copied.

    - Previews of various sizes chosen by option, including a full-sized
    JPEG preview generated using raw converter values (in particular, ACR
    values) so that for many purposes further raw conversion isn't needed,
    just extraction of the preview.

    I don't believe today's raw files will be orphaned - there will be SOME
    means of processing them in a decade or two, at SOME cost. The
    advantage of DNG is that it will be supported in a decade or two with
    the workflow and tools of YOUR choice, not just by SOME means.
    Barry Pearson, Oct 8, 2006
  10. On Oct 8, 3:48 pm, "Protoncek \(ex.SleeperMan\)"
    When judging DNG, it is important to judge any alternatives by the same
    criteria. Otherwise there is the risk of using a bad alternative
    because of some (real or imagined) imperfection in DNG.

    DNG is an older format (more than 2 years old) than the specific raw
    files of most cameras on sale today (mostly less than 2 years old).
    Don't be fooled by "CR2" or "NEF" - we know that most raw converters
    don't process images just because they are "CR2s" or "NEFs", but
    because they recognise the specific camera model, hence the delays in
    supporting the 400D and D80. (That delay could have been avoided if
    Canon and Nikon had supported DNG, of course).

    I believe more DNGs are created every day than the raw files of ANY
    camera model. That isn't because many cameras and digital backs use DNG
    in-camera - several do, but they tend to be niche and minority models.
    It is because so many photographers convert their original raw files
    into DNG. (Since June 2005, I have converted from the memory card and
    discarded the originals. Observation says that many other people do
    likewise. Other people backup both the original raws and the DNGs).

    Across this planet are lots of people with images in DNG format who are
    ALSO coders! DNG has an open specification and an SDK. There is NO
    chance that DNG files will be orphaned.

    In summary, the main problems (not insurmountable) are lack of support
    by Canon, Nikon, Capture One, and Bibble. Capture One will support DNG
    in the next release. Canon and Nikon files can be converted to DNG by
    not-Canon and not-Nikon software. So ... Bibble! Eric, Eric .... Please
    get your act together!
    Barry Pearson, Oct 8, 2006
  11. If one is using a camera that's not from Nikon or Canon, it might be
    prudent to use DNG; far safer than relying on XYZ camera mfg to update
    and release its RAW converter for Vista or Mac os 11, for example. Or to
    rely on any other software company to update its converters to handle
    new or updated OSes.
    John McWilliams, Oct 8, 2006
  12. if what you say is true, then great. It's just...if canon, nikon and similar
    big companies doesn't support DNG, it's already one pretty good reason to be
    at least somewhat concerned. That's why i say we should wait and see what
    happens. It would be great if one format would be the one for all, but i
    strongly doubt it will ever happen...anyway, what would be "the one" reason
    to convert anyway? I mean, what would a man gain by doing that ---and that
    that thing would compensate for time wasted by yet another conversion? I'm
    open for all good suggestions.
    Protoncek \(ex.SleeperMan\), Oct 8, 2006
  13. Where ccould I download a typical DSLR DNG file as a sample to experiment
    with? My Paint Shop Pro X is supposed to read DNG and I'd like to verify
    that for myself before I buy a Pentax K10D.
    Charles Gillen, Oct 8, 2006
  14. i think it will have to be original file from above camera. I did convert
    one image and upload it, but i don't know if it's quite the same. Check out
    below image, it's a start:
    Protoncek \(ex.SleeperMan\), Oct 8, 2006
  15. Barry Pearson, Oct 8, 2006
  16. On Oct 8, 5:30 pm, "Protoncek \(ex.SleeperMan\)"

    Whether particular photographers can get any benefit from DNG depends
    on their workflow and the tools they use. (The situation gradually
    improves over time). Not everyone can get immediate benefit yet, or
    enough benefit to counter any perceived disadvantages. So any
    photographer who sees no current personal benefit in using DNG, and
    assumes therefore that there are no benefits to any other
    photographers, is wrong!

    Here are the benefits that many photographers gain:

    DNG is becoming the de facto standard raw file format, for those
    reasons. It is up to YOU when you jump on board. It is YOUR decision to
    make, because you are the one who benefits / loses. No one else will be
    impacted by your decision.
    Barry Pearson, Oct 8, 2006
  17. why do i get this feeling that all companies that do support dng are doing
    that as (maybe last) desperate attempt to swim out of "being forgotten" by
    buyers...? Samsung, Pentax, Hasselblad...
    Either this or this DNG is exclusively ment for high end pro users and not
    for normal photographers, using Nikon, Canon, Olympus etc...
    Protoncek \(ex.SleeperMan\), Oct 8, 2006
  18. [snip]

    Hasselblad-Imacon - H2D digital SLR

    Hasselblad-Imacon - Ixpress CFH digital back

    Hasselblad-Imacon - Ixpress CF digital back (2 models)

    Leica - Digital-Modul-R digital back

    Leica - M8 Camera

    Pentax - K10D camera

    Ricoh - GR Digital camera

    Samsung - GX-10 camera

    Samsung - PRO815 camera
    Barry Pearson, Oct 8, 2006
  19. JC Dill

    JC Dill Guest

    I don't consider 17% to equal "widely adopted".

    Here's my concern - remember in the early 90s when Adobe introduced a
    new portable document format (PDF)? Adoption was very slow in the
    beginning because most people didn't have PDF readers and downloading
    one was problematic (before the days of high speed internet
    connections). Further, if you converted your document to PDF and then
    discarded the source document you couldn't edit the PDF without an
    expensive Adobe-only software program (Acrobat).

    Over time, PDF readers were freely supplied by Adobe and alternative
    PDF editing programs have emerged (open source). However, none of
    these programs or projects is robust enough for me to consider
    converting my photograph image library to a similar type of format
    that would necessitate that I rely on either Adobe or one of the open
    source or alternative software programs to read and manipulate my

    PDF is ~15 years old, but it's still a relatively "locked-in" format -
    you must rely on Adobe software or a kludge of open source software to
    access (and edit) PDF files.

    I'm concerned that DNG will follow a similar path. I don't relish
    the idea of needing to pay an annual ~$500 "Adobe tax" to upgrade to
    the latest and greatest Adobe software (new Photoshop every XX months)
    because I converted all my files into a format that *requires* Adobe

    I spent a lot of time figuring out how to format my large external
    drives in an OS-agnostic format (fat32 partitions larger than 200 GBs)
    so that I could access my data from any OS in the future. I want my
    files to be similarly easily accessible, and I'm not yet convinced
    that converting ~700 GB of photo archives from RAW to DNG is going to
    be an improvement.
    I found and bookmarked your most excellent site yesterday before I
    posted my question here. I'm going to read all that information and
    follow all your links, when I have more time. :)

    For now, the question I have relates to real-world DNG use by other
    photographers today.

    Someone mentioned that DNG is discussed regularly on other forums.
    Since I don't read web forums regularly (I find the UI of most web
    forums horrible to use), I haven't found those discussions, and I'm
    not having a lot of luck finding the discussion posts by searching.
    If those of you who visit those other forums could share DNG
    discussion thread URLs the next time you run across them it would be
    very helpful.


    JC Dill, Oct 8, 2006
  20. I hope you're right. I guess we'll se in a couple of years. Adobe is strong
    enough to make it happen. But, first some big companies (like Canon, Nikon)
    must except it .Then and only then DNG WILL become true de-facto standard
    for photos. They still sell too many cameras so they are far from being too
    small to mean anything. Personally i don't care much. If it will happen,
    i'll just convert all my RAW's to DNG and period. But for now, i still see
    no reason to do so. No real benefit. AS long as big cameras as Canon will
    make CR2, Adobe and others WILL support RAW and there's nothing to worry
    about. But when native format in those cameras become DNG...then....
    it's a slow transform. very slow. Like always....same like windows from 16
    to 32 bit took years, same as 32 to 64 bit will take years...far enough time
    for all to safely decide, see and convert if needed. No fear for lost
    photos, not being able to open them.
    Protoncek \(ex.SleeperMan\), Oct 8, 2006
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