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LR/PS - The Advantages of the DNG File Format

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[♪upbeat music♪] [ADOBE TV Presents] [♪♪] [The Complete Picture - with Julieanne Kost] Hi, and welcome. My name is Julieanne Kost. In today's episode of The Complete Picture, we're going to be talking about the advantages of the digital negative file format. Just to be clear, we're not going to be discussing whether or not you should shoot raw versus JPEG. I'm actually going to assume that you're already capturing raw files, and we're just going to talk a little bit about the advantage of using DNG, or the digital negative format, when you're working with the files as well as when you archive your files. So I want to start by asking you a question, and that question is, which of these are raw file formats? There's a lot of different file formats here, so can you tell me which are raw? Well, it's actually kind of a trick question because they are all raw file formats. So the term "raw file" is kind of loosely used in the photo industry today, and it kind of refers to just the file format that the digital camera captures and saves its data to. However, not all raw files are the same. So even though the Nikon shooters capture in raw and the Canon shooter captures in raw, those two file formats, the CRW and the NEF, are not the same. However, all the raw files do contain similar information. It's just that they're stored differently. So let's take a different example than a photographic example, and let's just assume that you and I both own four pairs of shoes and four pairs of pants and four shirts and four hats. You're going to store those in your closet, and I'm going to store mine in my closet. Now, how are you going to sort all of these clothes? Are you going to put the pants and shirt that go together, are you going to put them next to each other? And are you going to put your shoes on the floor, or are you going to put your shoes on the top shelf? And will you put your hats on the top shelf, or will you put your hats on the back of the door? And how will I sort mine? Am I going to put all my pants on the left side and the shirts on the right side? So you can see that even though we both have the same content, we can both store that content very, very differently. So now, to get back to the DNG file format-- and I'm sorry if there's any programmers watching this because this is totally, completely oversimplified, so I apologize in advance. But we're just going to imagine that this raw data on the left-hand side here, this is from Manufacturer A. And it doesn't matter who it's from, but you can see that it's got information like the file name and the date and then it's got the image orientation and the image width, which are TIFF properties, and then it's got some EXIF information and even some keywords down here and then some camera raw settings. It's even got a private maker note right here, which means really, if there's something that a camera manufacturer wants to encrypt that they don't want to share with anyone else, they can put it right there. Okay? So these are all things that can be stored inside a raw file. Now let's just take a look at another one. This would be raw data from Manufacturer B. All the same information is there--the private maker note is there, the camera raw settings are there, the EXIF data is there, the keywords are there--but they're just stored in a different order. So this becomes a problem if you think about it. I mean, it's not that difficult for a software company to read these files, but when you start supporting the number of cameras that Adobe does-- I think we're up to somewhere near 300 different camera manufacturer makes and models--what becomes very difficult is when you make a change to the file, how is it that we will know how to save back the information and put it in the proper place in all these different raw file formats? So you can see in this example here that we don't actually write back to proprietary raw file formats. Instead what we do is we create a secondary file called an XMP sidecar file. The XMP is just the file format. It's a standard file format. And the sidecar file is just kind of what we name it because it goes alongside the proprietary raw file format. So you can see here, for example, in the operating system, the CR2--that's Canon's raw file format--and there's the XMP file. Or over here we can see--this is actually in Bridge that we're viewing this, and what I've done is I've gone under the View menu and I've asked Bridge to show me the hidden files. So we can see the CR2 file right here plus the XMP file. Okay. So how is it that we can solve this issue so that we don't have to work with all these XMP sidecar files because they really do kind of complicate the workflow in that if I'm going to hand off my files to someone else, now I have to worry about these sidecar files. If the sidecar files get lost, then all my changes get lost. And this is when the DNG, the digital negative file format, comes into play. It's just a file format. What it does is it specifies exactly how a raw file should be written so that everyone knows what order to put things in, so they know where to put keywords, and they know where to put IPTC information like your copyright information or your contact information or your URL. They know where to put all of that. It is an openly documented and openly licensed file format. Adobe did make it, but we've promised to never license it or never charge a fee for it. In fact, we've even submitted it to the ISO Standards Body, and it's already supported in the industry by several dozen software manufacturers as well as camera manufacturers. And of course the big advantage to photographers here is that there's going to be an increased likelihood that you'll actually be able to open these files far into the future. So these are really the big advantages, but let's talk about some kind of secondary smaller advantages. First of all, a DNG file is typically going to be significantly smaller than the original raw file, anywhere from 15 to 50 percent smaller. They retain all of the original proprietary file format's information, so we don't throw anything away when you convert from raw to DNG. As new cameras come to the market, if you have a camera like a Leica that automatically captures in DNG, then it's instantly supported by the software industry because anyone who supports DNG could open those files as soon as that camera is available. There is potential with DNG that there could be several competing raw processors, and so as a photographer, that's fantastic because competition is always a good thing. It always leads to better technology. And if you're working in maybe education or in a studio that has multiple shooters with different cameras, it's really going to help simplify the workflow. Plus it's versionable technology. That just means that as we move forward-- for example, in Lightroom 3 you can now do the nondestructive lens correction-- all of that information can be stored into a DNG file format because we can update it with the technology so that it won't become obsolete. Okay. So how do we convert to DNG? There's a variety of different ways that we can do this because everybody's workflow is different. We're going to take a quick look at how you can do this with a DNG Converter with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, with Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop. So I'm not actually going to launch all those applications and walk through them, but we'll be able to see enough with these screen shots. So the DNG Converter, this is a free converter. You can download it from You can either use this URL right here or just Google "Adobe DNG Converter" and you'll find it. There's the little icon for it, so it's an application. You double click on it, and it will launch the DNG Converter. It's very easy. You select the images that you want to convert, you tell it where you want to put the converted images-- if you want to rename them that's fine-- and then there are a few preferences, so let's actually look at those. If you click Change Preferences, you would get this secondary window where you can choose the Compatibility, JPEG Preview size, and whether or not you want to Embed the Original Raw File. I'm going to point this out just because some people are very conservative and so when they convert their images to DNG, they also want to embed the original raw file. Obviously, this is going to make your file size quite a bit larger. So I think if I was really conservative and I, for some reason, still wanted my original NEF files or CRW files, I think I would just archive those to a hard drive and then batch convert all of my other images to DNG and use the DNG files as my working files and then just kind of archive those. If something really bad happens, I would still be able to go back to my original proprietary file formats. There might be one other reason as well, and that is the camera manufacturers' software today does not support DNG. So if I did want to use the camera manufacturers' software, I would need to use those raw files; I couldn't use DNG. So that might be a reason to save it. But again, I would probably do it. I would split them out. So I would have my originals in one folder archived somewhere, and then I would have my DNG files, and I would not embed the original raw file because that would just make the file size twice as big, and I don't want that. Okay. So once I'm done with the Preferences-- and you actually don't even really need to go in here, you can just leave them alone because these are the defaults-- then you just click the Convert button and it brings up a little Conversion Status, and you just watch them convert or go get a cup of coffee, and when they're done, they're done. You've converted from proprietary raw file format to DNG. So that's using the free DNG Converter. Now, what if you're in Lightroom? In Lightroom I'll show you three quick ways that you can convert. The first way is on Import. So as you import your files, in the New Import Dialog box you can Copy as DNG, so that would be the first way. The second way would be after you've edited your files-- I don't convert on Import just because I don't want to spend the time converting on Import when I know I'm going to throw away a lot of files. So I actually go through my edit sequence. I import my files and I just leave them as the proprietary raw file format, I add my star ratings, I make all my changes, I go to the Develop Module, I throw away all the files that I don't want. And then when I'm finished, I convert to DNG underneath the Library menu, Convert Photos to DNG, and I get this Dialog box, and it just says Convert Only Raw files. Yes. I don't want to convert my JPEG files or anything. And then I just Delete originals after successful conversion because that way, I'm not spending the time up front to convert all the files that I'm just going to throw away, because I throw away a lot of files. Okay. All the other options are here, including that one to Embed Original Raw Files. So that would be if you want to convert after editing. And then the last one in Lightroom is on Export because maybe you want to keep your images in the proprietary raw file format but when you hand them off to someone else, that's when you want to hand them off as DNG files. So I wouldn't do this to the end client. Like, if someone bought some images of me, I'm not going to send them DNGs, I'm going to send them JPEG files. But if I was handing them off to a retoucher who wanted the highest quality and wanted to see all the things that I've already done-- maybe I've already made tonal adjustments and I've done some dust spot removal or something-- then I can send them the DNG file, which is going to be so much better than sending them the proprietary raw file plus that sidecar file because the sidecar file could get lost, and then they wouldn't see all the changes that I've made. Okay, so that's Lightroom. If you're using Bridge instead, you can download using the Adobe Camera Downloader. You can download your images from the camera, and you can see right here that you can Convert to DNG. If you've never used this, it's really easy. You just go under the Edit menu and you say Get Photos From Camera, or there's a little icon that you can just click in Bridge, and it will bring up this Dialog box where you can Convert to DNG. You'll notice that there's a little Settings option, and if you click on that, you get basically all the same settings that we've been looking at. All right? And that would be how you would do it. And then we can look at Adobe Camera Raw. So if you wanted to do this, this is kind of like analogous to after you've edited it, after you've edited your files in Lightroom. And the first one, obviously, when you're downloading the files would be equivalent to Lightroom when you Convert to DNG on the Import. So this would be after you were editing. So you've gone through and you've edited your files and you've made all your changes. You'll notice in the lower left there's an option to Save Images. And if you click on that, then what you get is this Dialog box where you tell it where to save the files and then you can choose a file format. So here's where you would choose the Digital Negative. And if we wanted to embed an original raw file, we could here too. It's not letting me at the moment because I'm starting with DNG files. It's kind of silly, so it grays that out. All right. And that's it. That would be using the DNG Converter using Lightroom, using Bridge, or using Bridge or Photoshop, the Adobe Camera Raw Dialog box, to convert your images. Well, excellent. I hope that answers all your questions about DNG and the digital negative file format. As you can see, it's important for me as a photographer because I want to make sure that I can still open the files that I take today and the photographs that I capture--I want to make sure that I can open those in 20 and 30 years. And I think the fact that the DNG or digital negative is an open standard and is accessible and is publicly documented is really going to help with that. Thanks for joining me. I'm Julieanne Kost. I hope you'll join me again next time on The Complete Picture. [♪upbeat music♪] [Executive Producer - Bob Donlon] [Producer - Karl Miller] [Director - Kush Amerasinghe] [Post Production - Erik Espera] [ADOBE® TV PRODUCTIONS] [♪♪]

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 52 seconds
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Genre: None
Views: 102
Posted by: adobetv on Oct 7, 2010

Discover the advantage of working with and archiving to the DNG raw file format over proprietary raw file formats as well as choose which tool to use to convert your files as you move through your workflow.

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