Do you want to future proof your images …….
DNG, well what is it and should you be using it. Two very good questions….
Well lets start off
The DNG is an open source RAW file format that was developed by Adobe and released in 2004. It does offer some substantial benefits over your camera RAW format so may be worth you considering converting. If you don’t you could end up with an archive of images that in the future that you can’t open.
The Benefits of
At the moment most camera manufacturers are developing their own Camera RAW format. If you shoot Canon you might have noticed your files end with .CR2, or with Nikon it’s .NEF, Olympus its .ORF.
Digital photography is an ever changing medium, camera models come and go and what’s to say the RAW formats associated with them might do the same.
These proprietary formats have not been openly documented and whose to say that support from the manufacturer will always be there.
At the moment its hard to imagine not being able to open up say Canon and Nikon RAW files but in the future nothing is guaranteed.
The format is open source,it’s not limited to Adobe software like Lightroom and Photoshop. There are also no license restrictions so camera manufacturers could use as their default format instead of their proprietary format. Some camera manufacturers like Leica and Hasselblad already capture in the format.
It is likely that if and when other camera manufacturers adopt a universal format it is likely to be DNG.
Smaller File Size
around 15-20% smaller in file sizes than proprietary files without any loss of quality. You also have the option to embed the original file in the which effectively doubles the file size, but this seems to be a bit of an overkill.
No XMP Sidecar Files
XMPs are metadata files that are linked to the original file (.xmp).
They are text files that contain instructions about how the file should be processed. If you’re using a program like Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom to edit your images any changes to the sliders like exposure and temperature would be stored in the file.
Because the data is a separate file it can get lost, corrupted or deleted. Depending on your folder settings in windows it may not display the XMP files at all. Where they are displayed sometimes people don’t know what they are and delete them. The great thing with the format is the the data is included in the file, so you don’t have to worry about the data getting separated from the original . Makes things quite a bit simpler.
Embedded File Verification
The format includes a feature that can detect file corruption. With regular files it can be impossible to detect as the XMP file is separate. This is a pretty important archival feature for an image format to have.
Where You Can Convert To
Using Lightroom you can convert to right on import.
Or you can select “Convert Photos to …” from the Library Menu in the Library Module.
In Adobe Bridge there is the Photo Downloader which offers an option to convert to DNG as a preset.
You can also use a free stand alone conversion tool.
Should You Convert JPEGs To ?
It is possible to convert JPEGs to but the benefits are limited. is already a standard image format that will be supported far into the future. By converting to you do gain most of the benefits listed above but you also increase the file size a little.
The big advantage is that by converting JPEGs to you gain the non-destructive characteristic of and files. The biggest reason not to convert JPEGs to is that the format is already compressed and missing a lot of the original image data. It makes a lot more sense to capture in and convert to than to capture in and convert to .
I shoot in the format (Canon .CR2). I use Lightroom for my main editing software and use the DNG option on import so don’t think about it any more it just happens as part of my workflow. I plug in a memory card from a shoot, Lightroom opens up and my import preset takes care of the rest.
Working with DNGs has been just as easy as working with proprietary files. There’s no real difference in how you edit the files or the quality of the photos.
In my opinion DNG is a win win win situation, smaller file size, lossless compression and future proof… magic.
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