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Improvements in working with DNG files

From: Lightroom 4 New Features

Video: Improvements in working with DNG files

Here we're going to take a look at a new feature in Lightroom 4, which has to do with speed, efficiency, and flexibility, and in particular, what we're going to do is look at how we can work with the DNG file format inside of the new Lightroom 4. Now this is going to seem a little bit confusing at first, yet as we move along, I think it'll become more clear, and by taking some time to understand it, it can really help you out in your overall workflow. Well for starters, there are a couple of different ways that you can work with DNG files.

Improvements in working with DNG files

Here we're going to take a look at a new feature in Lightroom 4, which has to do with speed, efficiency, and flexibility, and in particular, what we're going to do is look at how we can work with the DNG file format inside of the new Lightroom 4. Now this is going to seem a little bit confusing at first, yet as we move along, I think it'll become more clear, and by taking some time to understand it, it can really help you out in your overall workflow. Well for starters, there are a couple of different ways that you can work with DNG files.

By default, there is a new preference in Lightroom. Let's go ahead and take a look at it. Navigate to the Lightroom pulldown menu and then choose Preferences, and then go to File Handling. Now you and I know that you can import and convert your raw files to the DNG format when you're importing. Now when you do that, you can actually choose or this by default is chosen to embed what's called a Fast Load Data. Well what this is, is it's a new way to actually include in this DNG file a preview, which allows you to work with this file eight times faster inside the Develop module.

The advantage of doing this obviously is speed. Now what's the downside? The downside is that when you have this option turned on, you are actually going to increase the file size just a little bit 200 or 400 k. Now that's just a small little drop in the bucket compared to that speed that you're a get out of this particular file. So again, when importing just know that that option is turned on. Well, let's go ahead and leave the preferences for a second. What about with the file like this? This one was converted to the DNG format in a previous version of Lightroom.

What if I want to convert all of my older DNGs to this new Fast Load option? Well, all that you need to do is to select the image, navigate to the Library pulldown menu, and then choose Convert Photo to DNG. Although this is already a DNG, what I can do is kind of upgrade this file to this Fast Load option here. When you're working with the DNG format, stands for Digital Negative, what's happening is it's using what's called Lossless Compression.

In other words, it compresses the files, so you have a smaller file size with no loss of quality, and that's been one of the reasons why the DNG format is so widely used. People love it for that reason. Well, now we have this new option, Use Lossy Compression. Well, you're actually already familiar with that, that's the same compression that happens when you create a JPEG File. In other words, it throws information away. It makes a smaller file size but you lose some of the data in that file. Well, we now have this option to do that with DNG files.

Well, why would you want to do that? Well, you may want to do that because this compression, it's a ton better than JPEG compression. So you can now use this Lossy Compression, have a smaller file, but still be able to take advantage of all of that raw data which is inside of the file. So there are a number of different reasons why you may want to do this. Yet before we get to those, let's also look at another feature for working with DNG files. All right, I am going to click Cancel just to cancel his dialog and leave this image as is.

Another way that we can work with these files is on Export. You can navigate to the File pulldown menu and go to Export. Well, one of the things that you can do is you can export your files using these different types of file settings. Here you can see I am going to export to a certain folder, rename the file, say to Lossy Compression, and then choose that Lossy Compression option. Well, let's go ahead and export that file and then see what it looks like. Here it's creating this file and you can see that it's given us a certain file size, 6.2 megabytes.

Well, that's helpful but we don't really know how big the original file was. Let's go back to Lightroom and export the original file to compare. File > Export, here I am just going to go ahead and name this Original, and then turn off this option, no Lossy Compression, no Fast Load Data, just the DNG file as it is. Click Export. This will then export this file and here we can compare the two, right. This one was 22.4 megs.

So it compressed this significantly. Well, while we're making this comparison, let's see what it would look like if we use that Fast Load option. How much file size is going to be added here? What's the disadvantage, in other words of using Fast Load? Well, we can find that out. File > Export, and then here we're going to go ahead and call this one Fast, and then, of course, turn on Fast Load Data, and Export. Well, this is a photograph that I captured of my friend Shaun, and this is the image as it was just capture, the raw file.

Well, we can see that the original file, the raw file, as it was captured was 22.4 megs. When I added Fast Load to it, it just added .4 megs, really small amount of file size for the speed advantage that I am getting out of that file. And then of course we can compare those two to Lossy. Now Lossy is just 6.2 megs, it's a really small file size. It's a compression which is better than JPEG compression. Well, the last thing we have to do of course is take a look at these files inside of Lightroom.

We want to see, how does all of this actually look. Well, one easy way to get an image in the Lightroom is to click on it, drag it to Lightroom icon. That will then open up the Import dialog. Let's import all three of these photos. We're just going to add them to the Lightroom catalog, choosing that. I want to see how the quality looks on these three images. Here we'll go ahead and click Import. This will then bring those files into Lightroom. Currently, I have the Fast Load Image turned on or visible here.

Well, if I zoom into 1:1, say let's look at the eyes here. We'll be able to see how the image looks. So far so good. Let's compare that to the one with Lossy Compression. This is the one which is just 6 megs, right. We went from 22 megs down to 6 megs. Let's take a look at how this particular image appears. Pretty good, if you compare that, let's go back and forth between these two. Well, there isn't much difference at all. Now there is a little bit more noise, which I imagine would be hard to see, a little bit more artifacts there, but for the most part, that image looks great.

And this original file here is just going to show us all of the data that we have in this DNG file as it is. So as I click through these different files, one of things that you're noticing is that while this file is compressed, it's still a pretty good file. All right! Well, as you can see this new feature inside of Lightroom 4 is actually kind of fascinating. It gives us new flexibility when working with this DNG files, which ultimately and hopefully will speed up our overall workflows.

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Lightroom 4 New Features

27 video lessons · 8926 viewers

Chris Orwig
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