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Thread: D800 NEF vs LR4 DNG

  1. #1
    New Member
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    Apr 2012
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    D800 NEF vs LR4 DNG

    I just ordered a D800 (mainly for sports) and am interested in raw files in LR4 in relation to image quality of the final print. My set up includes LR4, Nik software such as SEFx 2, an Epson 3880 and Imageprint 9.

    Using my Leica M9, I import to LR4 as copy (keeping the Leica compressed DNG format).

    I am not familiar with the raw Nikon NEF format so when I import into LR4, do I copy and keep the NEF format or convert to Adobe DNG? Would converting to DNG save space and maintain quality?

    For the D800, I plan on shooting 14 bit lossless compressed as from the threads on this forum, this does not impair the file quality.

  2. #2
    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Jupiter FL/Atlanta GA
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    Re: D800 NEF vs LR4 DNG

    Best practice is too either (1) reference the raw file in its native form or (2) import and create a folder of images without modifying the raw format . You do not want to import the files to be stored in the lightroom library because it makes LR grow to a massive size. By having separate folders ..they can be taken off line on external disks and referenced by LR .

    The majority of the work flow books and videos suggest that you never alter the original and store any new information in an XMP side car . This preserves the ability to resprocess from the raw for any future purpose or switch software etc.

    The Leica DNG is the Leica Raw as produced by the camera and may not be up to date with Adobe s version of the DNG file big deal but are you saving the original or creating a updated DNG .

    There is another school of thought that says convert everything to DNG its all you will ever need ..except you can t go back to Nikon s software it expects a .NEF . Some stock photographers do both and create a DNG repository in addition to the originals .

    My vote is keep everything as it came out of the camera and let LR refer to the originals as .NEF files .

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    New York, NY
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    Re: D800 NEF vs LR4 DNG

    I import the NEF files into Lightroom. LR4 supports the D800 NEF files and even has a few camera profiles for it (Adobe's attempt to match the Neutral, Standard, Vivid, Portrait and Landscape picture control settings). I don't see much point in converting to DNG, and I'm not sure if the picture controls would still be available if the image isn't NEF. I realize NEF isn't an open standard like DNG, but I'm increasingly confident that if 3rd party software can handle D800 NEF files today, they'll be able to read them in the future as well.


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