Why are my D3 NEF files SMALLER than my D2X?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by John Smith, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. John Smith

    John Smith Guest

    I just shot some test images today with my new Nikon D3.

    I noticed that a number of .NEF images today (FX format, ISO 200, 14 bit
    RAW) are 15-16mb each in size.

    Two years ago I shot a number of .NEF images with my D2X that are 19-20mb

    Can anyone help explain why they would be SMALLER in a D3?

    I want to make sure I'm getting maximum quality out of my D3.

    BTW, I am simply thrilled and stunned with this D3's features, performance
    and everything else about it!


    John Smith, Jan 1, 2008
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  2. Nikon is simply using better streamlining techniques to make the file as
    efficient as possible. Their lossless compression scheme is also better.
    The D3's default setting is set at "lossless compression."
    You will. Don't worry about what the file size is, worry about if the RAW
    file is efficient or not. The D3 is so good you can shoot lossless RAW or
    not and you aren't going to be able to tell the difference.
    Yep, same here. Its performance and build quality is stunningly Nikon. My
    first impression is the camera is severely under priced for what it gives

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jan 1, 2008
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  3. The D2x has two modes for saving raw data with NEF
    files. Both are 12 bit files, but one uses a look up
    table to compress the data by reducing the total number
    of values from 4096 down to less than 700. Using the
    compressed format results in 9-14Mb files rather than
    the 19-21Mb files of the uncompressed mode.

    Unfortunately the compression is lossy, though only
    slightly so and only in the highlights (where it usually
    is not important).
    I haven't seen anything yet that gives the exact details
    on what the D3 and D300 NEF files use, though it very
    clearly is available (granted, I haven't even tried to
    find out what it is).

    As you will note on Page 68 of the D3 manual, in
    addition to switching between 12 bit or 14 bit data, the
    D3 has two compression formats, as well as the
    uncompressed format.

    Here is a chart showing file sizes that I got for the
    different format with one particular image:

    12 bit 14 bit

    Compression 12.0 Mb 15.1 Mb
    Lossless Compression 12.8 Mb 15.9 Mb
    Uncompressed 19.6 Mb 25.0 Mb

    First, you'll notice that 12 bit uncompressed NEF is
    just about the same as with the D2x uncompressed NEF.

    Next you'll note that 14 bit files are indeed
    significantly larger. And it appears that, at least for
    this particular image, the lossless compression is
    almost as good as the lossy compression.

    I didn't take a similar image with the D2x, so I can't
    compare the compression between that and the D3. I've
    seen the D2x (lossy) compression generate files from 8Mb
    to 13 Mb, so the above is within that same range.
    Go to the "Shooting Menu", the scroll it down almost
    half way, to the "NEF (RAW) recording" item. That gives
    you two selections.

    The top selection is "Type", go there and select
    "Uncompressed" or "Lossless compressed". Probably
    "Uncompressed" is the best choice, given that we aren't
    really sure what "Lossless compressed" actually is. I
    would _not_ advise selecting "Compressed" until you are
    aware of exactly what it does.

    The bottom selection is "NEF (RAW) bit depth", and there
    you can pick 12 or 14 bits. I'd recommend 14 for
    absolute best performance.

    Just be advised that you'll need a *lot* of disk space!

    You can use only half the disk space by using 12 bit and
    the lossless compression, but you'll also have less
    performance. I'm not sure what "Lossless compression"
    does, but the regular compressed format will lose fine
    detail in the upper two zones. That would be important
    for white wedding dresses, bright flowers, and that sort
    of object. The difference between 12 bit and 14 bit
    files is probably about 1 zone worth of dynamic range
    added to the the low end, though in theory it would be 2
    fstops, and in fact at higher ISO settings it probably
    is less than 1 fstop (due to noise).
    In the last three weeks I've shot only a few images that
    a D2x is able to get (tonight I got some fireworks, and
    that probably would not have been much different, for
    example). But this week I've been shooting local
    "Arctic Games", which are traditional Eskimo indoor
    sporting events, at a location with poor lighting where
    I've just never been able to get good available light
    images before. I'm shooting at ISO 3200 and 6400, which
    provides the ability to adjust shutter speeds up or down
    depending on how much motion blur is desired.

    It's astounding...
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 1, 2008
  4. None of the above appears to be true. It's simply "Rita" trolling.
    You apparently aren't, and "Rita" wouldn't know, or care.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 1, 2008
  5. John Smith

    Annika1980 Guest

    Speaking of giving back, when does your current rental period expire?

    On a related note, I notice that rentglass.com is now renting DSLR
    bodies as well as lenses. So far they offer the D300 for Nikon and
    the 5D and the 40D for Canon.
    So maybe I'll get the 5D or a week and put it through its paces.
    Annika1980, Jan 1, 2008
  6. John Smith

    C J Campbell Guest

    One big reason is that the D3 has fewer pixels than the D2x. However,
    the file compression may be set differently on the D3 than it was on
    the D2x as well.
    C J Campbell, Jan 1, 2008
  7. John Smith

    C J Campbell Guest

    Actually, Rita is correct on all counts.
    C J Campbell, Jan 1, 2008
  8. John Smith

    John Smith Guest


    Thanks kindly. This is exactly the information I was looking for I
    appreciate your help very much.

    Enjoy your D3. I absolutely love mine!

    John Smith, Jan 1, 2008
  9. John Smith

    John Smith Guest

    I pay less attention to "Rita" (whoever he is) that I do to Paris Hilton
    (which is zero).

    John Smith, Jan 1, 2008
  10. Er, ah, counter-facts, uh, directly in evidence! :)

    But I know what you mean. I may make him my bitch again this year after
    taking a year off.
    John McWilliams, Jan 1, 2008
  11. The lossless compression scheme is better? Than what?

    Rita's advice was to totally ignore settings that give
    better results, and stick with settings that reduce the
    file size. What the OP asked for was better results,
    not smaller files.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 1, 2008
  12. Enough idle talk. Take pictures, post evidence, or stop
    teasing us with only the potential for the best laugh ever.
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 1, 2008
  13. John Smith

    John Smith Guest

    Exactly. Thanks again for your help Floyd.

    John Smith, Jan 1, 2008
  14. John Smith

    Jim Guest

    I read Rita's post to mean that the lossless compression scheme that Nikon
    has implemented
    in the D3 is better than the one they implemented in the D2. Which
    statement may or may not
    be correct.
    Jim, Jan 1, 2008
  15. I got it all week.
    Cool! Give it a try. I highly recommend you renting the 500/4L IS and the
    500/4 Nikkor w/adapter. Ask for Pete and he'll give you a discount. Tell
    him I sent you.

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jan 1, 2008
  16. Someone with a great deal of reading comprehension. Thank you.

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jan 1, 2008
  17. How precious. An idiot sock puppet happy to get advice from the master

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jan 1, 2008
  18. John Smith

    Sosumi Guest

    Actually both Rita and Wandering Eagle ;-) are right; you're wrong.

    The lossless compression scheme NOW is better than before; hence the fact,
    that for the D3 and D300 files, a new version of NX and ACR is needed. Not
    only hardware is made better; new algorithms are found for software and
    No other settings give better results than 14 bit, lossless or uncompressed.
    That's why they call it "lossless" or without losing anything.
    So the OP can have both: small files with best quality.
    Some people would like no compression, because perhaps it could be slightly
    faster with editing and rendering.
    Sosumi, Jan 1, 2008
  19. Plus, don't forget to mention that Nikon found that having the compression
    on has other added benefits as well. Supposedly it helps when in 11ffs
    machine gun mode. I like Floyd for his insatiable lust for striving in the
    utmost stupidity.

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Jan 1, 2008
  20. John Smith

    Guest Guest

    the number of pixels in the d3 and d2x are basically the same. the d3
    has 12.1 megapixels and the d2x has 12.2 megapixels. the difference is
    not really anything significant.
    Guest, Jan 1, 2008
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