To DNG or not to DNG?

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

You shoot in RAW don’t you?

If not, I would highly recommend that you do as the ability to pull more information from you digital negatives.

The next question is  – how do you save your RAW files?  Do you keep it in the native NEF or CR2 file format or you do you convert to DNG?

When you import your RAW files into Lightroom a menu at the top of the screen will give you the option of converting your RAW files to the DNG file format when saving.

To DNG or not to DNG?

A few years ago there was a bit of a push for the DNG file format so I though I would give it a bash.  No harm right?

For a period of about six months I converted all my Nikon’s RAW files to DNG when importing them to my Lightroom catalog. As far as I could tell there really was no difference between the two except that the DNG files were quite a bit smaller than the NEF files created by my Nikons.  The way I viewed, processed and ultimately saved my images did not change as all.

Then, a certain Muddy Lion image was disqualified from final round of the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition because I was not able to upload the original NEF file.

They did not accept the DNG file as it was not the ‘native format shot by my camera’.

Just a tad unhappy, I decided then that the benefit of saving a little bit of hard drive space was not worth it and and I have been saving my RAW files as NEF ever since.

Reading through a number of forums it seems that the decision whether to convert to DNG or not is ongoing and will be for some time.

Looking through all the benefits of DNG I am sure that there are very good reasons to use this file format but I still won’t do it.

In my mind my camera shoots in NEF and therefore that must be the best way to save the originals.  I might be wrong but I would rather fork out for a little more storage space over time than having to have any kind of doubt about whether my RAW files are ‘real’.

Worst case scenario – should there ever come a day when NEF and CR2 files are now longer recognized by the major software developrs I can always take my old RAW files and convert them DNG at that time.

For now, I choose not to DNG.  not because of the competition thing, to me is just feels better!

What about you?

To DNG or not to DNG?

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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Comments 0

  1. Morkel Erasmus

    Eish Gerry! That’s rough! I remember Mark also having to refrain from submitting to the WPOTY because of using DNG. I have luckily never dabbled with it, though it was tempting before knowing this piece of information. Of course, if you don’t partake in any competitions ever, it doesn’t really make a difference…did you notice a difference in image/file quality after conversion to DNG?

    1. Post

      No difference in quality that I could see. Import took a bit longer as it doesn’t use a sidecar (XMP) file along with the RAW file. Other than the space saving issue – about 20% less – no real difference. 🙂

  2. Mike

    When I was still using LR I tried the copy to DNG option, but I found it took singificantly longer to import each image so I stopped.
    Now I’m using Aperture – not an issue anymore. Original files are saved in the Aperture library and can be extracted as needed.

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