To DNG or not to DNG?

Do you convert your RAW Files to DNG?

  • No

    Votes: 24 61.5%
  • Yes (I do not embed the original RAW)

    Votes: 15 38.5%
  • Yes (I embed the original RAW)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    39
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I could have written that article. Everything in it matches my experience. Other that a slight space savings, the article gives none of the benefits to DNG and there are some. The CRC checksum being the advantage that most DNG apostles cite.
I'll use DNG if the camera can create it but otherwise the proprietary RAW format is just as good.
 
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Murat,

This comes up every few months. I convert to DNG on import. I also use the make second copy feature so I have the original raw file if needed and I keep this in the backups.
So at the end of the day, the built in checksum for DNG files (which has saved me twice) is worth it.

If I drop Lr I will have to effectively redo all the edits. So I either find software that supports as many Adobe extensions as possible, or I go back to the raw files. I effectively starting over. The result is I am basically married to Adobe Lr for the remainder of my photographic life :D However with that stated, there are software which can read some of the Adobe extensions and data, unlike with Apple Aperture. I therefor believe there is better hope by having an open format that some other vendor can step into Adobe's place then someone catching up and supporting all the legacy camera formats.

The majority of the comments/complaints listed in the article just do not apply to me. I tend to import at the end of the day or while doing other tasks. So I really do not care if it takes five minutes or five hours (slight exaggeration, but you get the idea).

In terms of the last point, eventually I think Adobe will start dropping some older formats, Nikon and Canon both have for older cameras on the proprietary software. When will Adobe do so? I would guess within the next five or so years they will announce they are dropping support for a non-main stream early 2000s digital camera to test the waters. The reason I think this is, Adobe has been focused on performance, features and then stability for Lr in the past couple of releases. Eventually they will need to revisit the import aspects, specifically the ACR demosaic functionality. At this point, they will question the worth of supporting the legacy code bases and the value to continue supporting them.
 

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The reason, why I don't change my raws to dng anymore is, that it is not shure, that other software can read the dng-files. Some days ago I installed Cyberlink PhotoDirector 8. I was very astonished, when PD8 didn't show up my dng-files, I had converted wiht LR 6.7. Later I found out, that PD8 is only able to read the old dng-version 4.6, not the actual 7.1.

Adobe dng is not an generally accepted file format, it is an Adobe format only. This is the problem. So beware of dng. If it might be one day absolutely neccessary, to change my raws to another format, I'm shure I'd change to uncompressed tif.

Klaas
 
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Adobe dng is not an generally accepted file format, it is an Adobe format only. This is the problem. So beware of dng. If it might be one day absolutely neccessary, to change my raws to another format, I'm shure I'd change to uncompressed tif.
This is not a valid statement.
DNG is a published file format and generally accepted by most post processing apps. TIFF is also an Adobe owned file format as are several others The DNG format is a derivative of the TIFF/EP6 standard. As is CR2 & NEF. More than 6 camera manufacturers use DNG as their SOOC RAW file format. Leica, Samsung, Ricoh (Pentax) and DJI (Drones) all use DNG from their cameras. Any app that doesn't not support DNG won't support these cameras either.
 
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I offer advice that applies to most such "should I switch to..." questions in technology.

"Only if it is solving a problem you have, not because someone just said it was a good idea."

Now evaluating how much of a problem something solves, is it a real problem or fake, ... well, that's an exercise left to the students. ;)
 

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That article has some rather suspect assertions. Like this canard: "most post-processing software packages out there either do not read DNG at all, or read it poorly, making DNG a lot less useful than it was designed to be in the first place." Huh? My Pentax uses DNG and so far I haven't found any Mac software that can't handle the DNG as well as any other format like Oly's or Panasonic's RAWs. Software that doesn't read DNG generally won't read any other RAW either. Makes me wonder if the blogger really knows that much. And then he goes on to seemingly confuse the data stored in the metadata format used in DNG with the data itself. Yes, manufacturers have proprietary non standard data generated by their cameras, but it's not the format's fault that that data isn't universally recognized. Sheesh.

OTOH, developers seem to be adapting to a world filled with too many RAW formats. If you perhaps have RAW generated by Billy Bob's Bait Shop and Camera company, and fear support for that RAW might disappear, then sure, convert. But if it's stuff that's commonly used now then it's as likely it will be viable in the future. The gains of converting seem kinda marginal. I convert for other reasons, since I sometimes need to share without the hassle of sidecars. YMMV.
 
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I read this article and now I have doubts...

Why I No Longer Convert RAW Files to DNG

Thank you for sharing this Murat, it is an interesting article to read. To me, converting to DNG always felt like adding another layer of complexity and another step to the workflow. I know there are other opinions out there. But actually I do see a valid reason to convert RAW files to DNG: if you still process RAW files of a very old digital camera, you may find that the format is no longer supported. Knowing software companies, it is very likely that they will not forever provide support for older RAW formats. So think of DNG as a way to future-proof your (older, not current) digital assets.

Here is another article by Thom Hogan you might enjoy reading: Getting DNGed
 
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Thank you for sharing this Murat, it is an interesting article to read. To me, converting to DNG always felt like adding another layer of complexity and another step to the workflow. I know there are other opinions out there. But actually I do see a valid reason to convert RAW files to DNG: if you still process RAW files of a very old digital camera, you may find that the format is no longer supported. Knowing software companies, it is very likely that they will not forever provide support for older RAW formats. So think of DNG as a way to future-proof your (older, not current) digital assets.

Here is another article by Thom Hogan you might enjoy reading: Getting DNGed

Thom makes a few inaccurate statements. In order to use the raw file, Adobe has to reverse engineer the camera company's raw data regardless. At some point Adobe will normalize the data internally within Lr in order to process the image. Therefore raw/dng as a the image source is rather meaningless in terms of that specific argument. Next, he also stated that the raw file contains a JPEG image which can be utilized. This is incorrect as far as Lightroom goes, and is generally a small thumbnail image which is even more useless from a usability standpoint.

Tim
 
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This is incorrect as far as Lightroom goes, and is generally a small thumbnail image which is even more useless from a usability standpoint.

Some (many? most?) cameras have an embedded jpeg which has the same pixel dimensions as the raw image, and which is what's used by the likes of PhotoMechanic, which in turn is used by many photo-journalists for their field triage work. Both of my Canon DSLRs have that full-size embedded jpeg, though my Panasonic only has a 1920x1280 jpeg.
 
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Some (many? most?) cameras have an embedded jpeg which has the same pixel dimensions as the raw image, and which is what's used by the likes of PhotoMechanic, which in turn is used by many photo-journalists for their field triage work. Both of my Canon DSLRs have that full-size embedded jpeg, though my Panasonic only has a 1920x1280 jpeg.

But it is of a much lower quality. :D
That is why I consider it not "usable" for processing work.
 
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It's plenty good enough quality for making culling decisions. Many pros that I know have been begging for the ability to use that embedded preview in Lightroom so they can get to work while waiting for regular previews to be built in the background.
 
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It's plenty good enough quality for making culling decisions. Many pros that I know have been begging for the ability to use that embedded preview in Lightroom so they can get to work while waiting for regular previews to be built in the background.

That makes sense. But not how Thom in the article states the jpeg is better as source data.
 
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Again, it depends. If you have setup your camera to use its capabilities (picture styles, specific contrast, saturation levels, etc.) it would be entirely probable that the embedded jpeg would look initially far superior to the rather flat raw file immediately after import to Lightroom (because those settings only affect the jpeg, and are ignored by Lightroom during raw conversion). We continue to get forum posts from new raw shooters expressing frustration because "I just want my raw files to look as good as the picture that I saw on the back of the camera when I took it". So in that sense he's most certainly correct.

If, OTOH, you have the camera settings all at neutral (as I have) then the embedded jpeg would look pretty similar to the imported raw.
 

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I think Jim's right; the embedded JPEG is probably what you'd get if you did just JPEG with whatever WB etc settings you were using in the camera. Like him, my in-camera settings are so neutral I forgot that.

So I see why Lr ignores them. When I'm using say PM and want to cull they are quite handy. If you use browsing type photo software it's kind of like having a JPEG+RAW workflow without the hassle of the extra files. With DNGs I always thought it would be nice if Lr imported with camera settings intact, using the embedded JPEG, since Lr would know how to undo those and go back to a standard RAW preview. But I guess DNG isn't smart enough yet for that, so to speak.

And BTW using FastRawViewer is a really cool way to compare a RAW preview with the embedded JPEG quickly; far quicker than Lr. It's what the importer in Lr shoulda been.
 

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I teach Lightroom and I got tired of asking students who convert to DNG why they were doing so and never getting a good answer except they read to do somewhere. I decided to put together my own David Letterman (United States reference) Top Ten Reasons Not to Convert to DNG:

1. Precludes you from using OEM software You will never be able to use your camera manufacture’s software again. Ever. Features that are specific to certain cameras (like Nikon’s Active D-Lighting and Picture Control) are not supported in the DNG format. Do you really think that Adobe knows everything that’s in every proprietary RAW file format it supports?


2. Backing up images will take longer In Lightroom, many of the changes you make can be stored in small XMP sidecar files that accompany raw files, and are only a few kilobytes. When you convert to DNG, changes are made directly to the file, so when you back up your images (hopefully daily) the whole file, typically 20 MB or more, needs to be backed up instead of just the small XMP sidecar files.


3. Metadata can’t be read by other software XMP data, including keywords, stars, and metadata that you may have changed in Lightroom is not available if you want to use another program that can read XMP sidecar files but not DNG files.



4. Longer downloading times from your memory card If you convert images to DNG upon importing to Lightroom, processing times increase since Lightroom must import and convert all the files to DNG.



5. File sizes One argument is that DNG file sizes are more efficient and are up to 20% smaller. In 1956, the first IBM Model 350 hard drive weighed over a ton, cost $329,928 (in 2014 dollars) annually to lease, and stored 3.75 MB of data. It would have taken over 20 of them to hold a single Nikon D810 (36 MP) 14-bit RAW image file. Today, a 3 TB hard drive (formatted) holds the equivalent of 725,333 of the Model 350 hard drive and costs $100. The equivalent storage capacity, using the IBM Model 350 hard drive, would cost $14.9 billion to lease the same capacity (not to mention the 11.6 million square feet to store them, or the cost of electricity to run them.) I’m not concerned about the size of native RAW files!


6. Load times DNG files supposedly load faster in the Develop module. With faster processors and Smart Previews, RAW files load very quickly in the Develop module even from an external drive USB 3.0 drive.


7. Ability to read RAW file in the future. One of the other main arguments in favor of converting to DNG files is that if a camera manufacturer stops producing software that can read their RAW files, then their RAW files would be unreadable. I don’t think Nikon, Canon, or Sony are going away anytime soon, and even if they were, you could use their software to read their files. Worst case, you could always convert them to DNG.


8. DNG is not an industry standard, it’s Adobe’s standard. As much as Adobe would love the DNG format to become the industry standard, it’s not. It’s Adobe’s standard. While a few camera manufactures produce camera the shoot DNG file as their native RAW files, most do not. DNG requires a lifelong allegiance to Adobe.


9. Camera brand not easily identified. Converting all your files to DNG makes it harder to quickly identify the camera manufacturer when looking at the file name since the suffix will be a generic DNG, and not one associated with your camera.


10. No obvious benefit. For all the reasons touting the DNG format, perhaps the biggest reason not to convert is that there is no obvious benefit. DNG files don’t contain more information (maybe less), are negligibly smaller, don’t load appreciably faster, take longer to download because the must be converted, and ties you to Adobe forever! They simply are, understandably, a greater benefit to Adobe than you, and have not been embraced as a standard format.
 
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Greetings all. Newbie Richard here, from the USA, full of turkey.
There are many reasons not to convert all your files to DNG, which reasons have been
thoroughly presented above. I'll add one more: occasionally some RAW converters do a
better job than LR on certain files. Many of my astrophotography files are very high
ISO images. DXO Optics Pro has a noise reduction engine that for many of these files
outperforms LR noise reduction.

DXO Optics Pro will only apply that noise reduction to the original OOC RAW file.
So I copy my RAW files to a drive before choosing which converter processes the RAW file.
I then export a TIFF to LR.

I use Sony gear, by the way, so the RAW files are "ARW" files.
 

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Maybe the OEM issue is true for Nikon users. Dunno. But not for some other manufacturers who support DNG, like Pentax. And I'd rather go to the dentist than use most OEM software, but that's me.

I don't necessary write changes to DNG files, so I don't have the backup issue you mention. XMP sidecars can be handy, though, I agree. I wish that I had to use them optionally with DNG in Lr. I can with some other stuff.

Metadata can't be read by other software? I've yet to run across something on the Mac or PC that can't read DNGs, save that proprietary software like say Olympus's. But Oly can't read NEF, or ARW, or any other RAW format but Oly's. So I rather don't understand this objection. In fact, I think this is an area where non-DNG RAWs stink. Since the sidecars to say a NEF are where the keywords are, searching utilities find that XMP...NOT the image itself. One must manually associate the image to the XMP. Spotlight on the Mac, to just name one example, can find keywords IN DNGs so it finds the image itself when searching on the keyword. Just like with a JPEG. This is one reason why I use DNGs sometimes instead of other RAW file formats.

Lifetime allegiance? as opposed to say to Nikon? Even though DNG is an Adobe creation, it's certainly more open than NEFs or ORFs or whatever. I'm not too worried about it either way, since there are developers ranging from Adobe to Apple to Phase One to On1 etc etc who reverse engineer RAW all the time. And other Adobe formats like PSD have become defacto standards. And they offer a free converter. Sheesh, even Apple does DNG now with their phones. There are LOT more of those than Nikons out there.

I do agree that slavishly converting all RAW to DNG isn't necessarily useful. I don't think it hurts though; six of one. I do find it very useful when I need to send RAW to others who use Adobe or other products that can use DNG well, like DxO or Mylio. Or where I want the customized features of DNG, especially the ability to info inside without using sidecars, but also rendered JPEG previews. I also like the ability to have a checksum, although that's mostly just to insure integrity in certain transferring situations.
 

Hoggy

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Maybe the OEM issue is true for Nikon users. Dunno. But not for some other manufacturers who support DNG, like Pentax. And I'd rather go to the dentist than use most OEM software, but that's me.
.....
Lifetime allegiance? as opposed to say to Nikon? Even though DNG is an Adobe creation, it's certainly more open than NEFs or ORFs or whatever. I'm not too worried about it either way, since there are developers ranging from Adobe to Apple to Phase One to On1 etc etc who reverse engineer RAW all the time. And other Adobe formats like PSD have become defacto standards. And they offer a free converter. Sheesh, even Apple does DNG now with their phones. There are LOT more of those than Nikons out there.
......
I also like the ability to have a checksum, although that's mostly just to insure integrity in certain transferring situations.

Yep, I'm personally never going to use any OEM software. I don't have the inclination to learn each new camera's software. I'd rather spend that time learning some of the ones that do ALL the cameras.

Lest not also forget that TIFF is an Adobe creation too..

And the checksum part is the single reason I even converted all my old JPEGs to DNG.. Not to mention that my Pentax cameras write DNG natively anyways. That image-data checksum has saved me several times - even from plain 'ol bitrot.


Let's face it, it's pretty much a religion at this point.. ALL must bow down to the mighty DNG! Let thy image be saved! :humble::D
 
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I'll just pick off a couple, but TBH that list is a bit of a "project fear".

2. Backing up images will take longer In Lightroom, many of the changes you make can be stored in small XMP sidecar files that accompany raw files, and are only a few kilobytes. When you convert to DNG, changes are made directly to the file, so when you back up your images (hopefully daily) the whole file, typically 20 MB or more, needs to be backed up instead of just the small XMP sidecar files.

That's just sloppy thinking, failing to fine tune the backup procedure for a different workflow.

With a DNG workflow, you backup your catalogue and you backup the DNGs when they are new - that gives you 100% coverage of your photos and the work done on them. You don't keep backing DNGs up whenever you happen to write to them - there's no need, you have 100% coverage. Remember too that those little xmp files don't contain all your Lightroom work - these sidecars designed for interchange with other apps, not backup.

8. DNG is not an industry standard, it’s Adobe’s standard. As much as Adobe would love the DNG format to become the industry standard, it’s not. It’s Adobe’s standard. While a few camera manufactures produce camera the shoot DNG file as their native RAW files, most do not. DNG requires a lifelong allegiance to Adobe.

Tell Apple and Google that. It is not Adobe's standard at all, but a non-proprietary standard created by Adobe. Big difference.

9. Camera brand not easily identified. Converting all your files to DNG makes it harder to quickly identify the camera manufacturer when looking at the file name since the suffix will be a generic DNG, and not one associated with your camera.

That's a joke, right? You figure out the camera manufacturer by looking at the file name? I hope you don't teach people that.

And remember, a raw file's proprietary information is retained in the DNG and in Lr, even if you don't see it displayed in Lr. If camera makers' secret sauce has any value, it can be extracted.

I actually like David Letterman. This list is more Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hanitty.

John
 
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I'm sure you're right. It's still a joke. But hey, I'm going to change the file extension of all my JPEGs so I know which camera brand they came from - er, no.
 

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... And then the issue comes up, what happens if you have two different models of Nikon??

If one really wants to determine camera make/model from the filename, then add the metadata option "xx - camera model" in a LR-rename operation. For myself, I actually make what many might likely call a ridiculously long filename ---- but I can determine all sorts of info by just hovering over the thumbnail in the filmstrip.
 
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I'm sure you're right. It's still a joke. But hey, I'm going to change the file extension of all my JPEGs so I know which camera brand they came from - er, no.

I don't understand the joke. Of course this doesn't apply to JPEG or TIFF, only to raw. DNG is an alternative for proprietary raw, so that's what we're talking about. The file extension of my Canon cameras is .CR2 and the file extension of my Sony A7R is .ARW, so I can indeed see which camera brand (not which particular model) I used by simply looking at the file extension (but no longer if I convert all raw files to DNG). No, not a big deal, but it's a valid point nevertheless.
 
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I don't understand the joke. Of course this doesn't apply to JPEG or TIFF, only to raw. DNG is an alternative for proprietary raw, so that's what we're talking about. The file extension of my Canon cameras is .CR2 and the file extension of my Sony A7R is .ARW, so I can indeed see which camera brand (not which particular model) I used by simply looking at the file extension (but no longer if I convert all raw files to DNG). No, not a big deal, but it's a valid point nevertheless.
I agree with John. Once I import into LR, I don't use any other app to look at my images, I ignore the file name and the extension. I ignore the Folder panel in LR so that I am completely dependent upon the metadata carried in LR to filter my images. If I want to separate the Sony from the Nikon, a single metadata filter will do that. Most of my images are shot with a Nikon D800E & a D810. A Metadata filter lets me know which were which.
I don't convert to DNG as it is a waste of my time and computer processing at import. Still the original file name or extension is irrelevant.
 
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