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Choosing a native raw file or a digital negative (DNG)

From: Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6

Video: Choosing a native raw file or a digital negative (DNG)

As the photographic community and others know, capturing images in the RAW format is unquestionably better than any other format. Therefore, you will even hear the joke which says you should always shoot in the RAW, but don't shoot in the buff, because you might get arrested. And it's true, working with RAW files is superior to any other format. Yet, one of the questions that we need to consider is which type of RAW format, especially as we start to work with Adobe Camera Raw. Now, we have two options. We can either work with the Native RAW file that comes straight off the camera.

Choosing a native raw file or a digital negative (DNG)

As the photographic community and others know, capturing images in the RAW format is unquestionably better than any other format. Therefore, you will even hear the joke which says you should always shoot in the RAW, but don't shoot in the buff, because you might get arrested. And it's true, working with RAW files is superior to any other format. Yet, one of the questions that we need to consider is which type of RAW format, especially as we start to work with Adobe Camera Raw. Now, we have two options. We can either work with the Native RAW file that comes straight off the camera.

That's going to be the NEF file or the CR2 file, or whatever file format your particular camera manufacturer creates when you capture an image in the RAW. Or we can take this RAW file, and we can convert it to a format, which is called the Digital Negative, or DNG file. What I want to do here is simply take a look at how we can work with both of these formats. Take a look at some of the pros and cons. So that you can make an educated decision about which format will work best for you. All right. Well, let's start off with the Original or Native file format.

Now, let's say that I am shooting with my Canon 5D Mark II and I capture this image. It's a .CR2. Well, if I then open that image up inside of Adobe Camera Raw and make some adjustments, those adjustments will be saved in a Sidecar XMP file. Now, the Sidecar file is simply a set of text instructions. And these instructions say, "Display this image with more contrast, more color saturation, or a little bit of this color shift or just a creative effect or whatever it is." That's really the beauty of working with Adobe Camera Raw, in that we are not actually modifying pixels, rather we are simply changing a set of instructions.

Now, the nice thing about this is it works really quickly, doesn't increase file size, and it's just a great way to go. Now, the down side of this is that let's say we decide to move this image onto another hard drive. Well, as I move this image, there is a chance that the connection between the RAW file and the XMP file could be lost. For example, we could kind of leave this file behind, so to speak. Then we would lose actually all of our processing. While on the upside, one of the reasons why many people like keeping their files in this Native format is that then they can actually process their files in Adobe Camera Raw and also open them up in the camera manufacturer's software.

And the argument goes that you can then take advantage of some proprietary information that the camera company knows in order to process your image in perhaps a more effective way. All right. Well, how then does that compare to the DNG format? Well, the same thing happens with the DNG format. We start off by capturing our image in the Native RAW format. Then what we can do is convert our image to this DNG format. Now, when we do that, it's as if it puts the RAW data, the file, and also all of this XMP information in a little container.

The nice thing about this is we don't really ever need to know that any kind of XMP file actually exists, because it puts it all in one location. And not only that, this little container, which contains RAW data and this XMP data, has some compression. In other words, it makes our file a little bit smaller. So the argument or the advantage goes that what you can do is, when you move this or if you move this to another hard drive, all of this information travels together. There's no chance that the information will ever be lost or separated.

And the nice thing about this is it gives us a little bit more of a safety net so that we are not going to lose all the work that we have invested into a particular photograph. All right. Well, let's take a look at this perhaps in a little bit more particular terms. So what exactly is this DNG format? Well, really what it is it's Adobe's way of saying, hey, let's have an open, non-proprietary RAW format. In other words, let's kind of lift the lid on things, rather than keep secrets. Let's say that this is a format that anyone can access and understand. Well, why would you want to do that? Well, some of the pros for this are we don't need XMP files.

It also contains some previews. There's some compression. In other words, the file will be significantly smaller. And also, it's going to increase our archival confidence. In other words, let's say 40 years from now, the software manufacturer, which, i.e., is the camera manufacturer, may actually not support certain file types. Well, in this case we have this assurance that moving forward this DNG file format will be more supported, especially since Adobe is behind it, which is a software company. The other advantage is that it give us a single RAW processing solution.

Rather than having to jump between different applications, we can all process our images in one context. Now, the cons I have alluded to a little bit. One of them is that we are converting our proprietary RAW files to another format. And also, once we do that, we can't go backwards and then use our camera manufacturer's software. So then what's the conclusion? Well, you need to make the decision for yourself, but for my own work, I have adopted a complete 100% DNG workflow. And I have done so because of these different advantages listed here.

Whenever I can get a smaller file size, I am all about that. Also, dropping the need for XMP files, having the single RAW processing solution, and also the confidence that this brings, in regards to having these images being able to be accessed and opened in the future. Now, of course, you are going to need to make your own decision. So if you want to learn more about this DNG format, what you can do is go ahead and navigate over to Adobe's site. And if you navigate to Adobe.com/products /dng, there you can read and learn more about this DNG format.

I also want to highlight here that if you do decide to adopt this DNG format, here at the same location you can actually download what's called the DNG Converter, either for Windows or for Mac, which allows you to convert your Native RAW files into this format. We will be talking a little bit more about saving to DNG, or converting to DNG in the next movie. So let's pick up this conversation in the next one.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6
Photoshop CS5 for Photographers: Camera Raw 6

121 video lessons · 20182 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
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  1. 8m 57s
    1. Welcome
      54s
    2. Should I use Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop?
      3m 22s
    3. What is Camera Raw?
      3m 45s
    4. Using the exercise files
      56s
  2. 21m 7s
    1. Bridge overview and preferences
      4m 9s
    2. Camera Raw preferences
      3m 17s
    3. Raw vs. JPG or TIFF files
      3m 5s
    4. Choosing a native raw file or a digital negative (DNG)
      6m 13s
    5. Converting or saving to the DNG format
      4m 23s
  3. 28m 44s
    1. Project overview: Cover photo shoot
      2m 6s
    2. Auto-toning and correcting white balance
      3m 3s
    3. Cropping and composing
      2m 35s
    4. Enhancing color and tone
      2m 39s
    5. Removing distractions
      2m 46s
    6. Sharpening and noise reduction
      2m 29s
    7. Converting to black and white
      2m 24s
    8. Adding a vignette
      2m 10s
    9. Making a localized correction
      1m 45s
    10. Creating snapshots of memorable looks
      3m 11s
    11. Re-editing Camera Raw settings
      57s
    12. Working with multiple adjustments
      2m 39s
  4. 16m 13s
    1. Navigating the interface and the toolbar
      5m 5s
    2. Image adjustment tabs and panels
      5m 8s
    3. Using the histogram
      2m 4s
    4. Previewing before and after different adjustments
      2m 4s
    5. Working with multiple files
      1m 52s
  5. 23m 17s
    1. Opening raw files in Bridge
      6m 3s
    2. Opening JPGs and TIFFs in Bridge
      3m 28s
    3. Accessing Camera Raw from Mini Bridge
      2m 57s
    4. Resizing in Camera Raw with workflow options
      3m 35s
    5. Saving from Camera Raw
      3m 5s
    6. Opening an image as a Smart Object
      1m 41s
    7. Creating a duplicate file
      2m 28s
  6. 13m 56s
    1. Using the Crop and Straighten tools
      2m 23s
    2. Working with the Crop tool
      3m 39s
    3. Cropping with an aspect ratio
      2m 26s
    4. Composing with the Crop tool
      2m 33s
    5. Creative cropping
      2m 55s
  7. 10m 29s
    1. Improving color balance
      2m 23s
    2. Using the White Balance tool and controls
      1m 35s
    3. Color correcting with white balance cards
      2m 31s
    4. White balance vision and creativity
      2m 22s
    5. Color balance resources
      1m 38s
  8. 30m 17s
    1. Deconstructing the basic adjustments
      3m 59s
    2. Recovering highlights
      2m 29s
    3. Making basic exposure enhancements
      1m 59s
    4. Making basic adjustments more quickly
      2m 18s
    5. The relationship between tone and color
      2m 40s
    6. Enhancing color and tone
      1m 9s
    7. Demystifying clarity
      3m 36s
    8. Increasing clarity
      3m 48s
    9. Understanding Vibrance and Saturation
      2m 28s
    10. Improving color with Vibrance
      2m 4s
    11. Using Vibrance and Saturation together
      1m 38s
    12. Color creativity
      2m 9s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Learning about the parametric and point tone curves
      4m 53s
    2. Using the parametric curve
      2m 7s
    3. Using the point curve
      1m 55s
  10. 15m 29s
    1. Removing blemishes on a face
      4m 36s
    2. Cloning away small background distractions
      3m 37s
    3. Removing distracting background elements
      1m 55s
    4. Cleaning up a studio background
      1m 31s
    5. Removing dust on the lens or the camera sensor
      2m 25s
    6. Removing red-eye
      1m 25s
  11. 46m 13s
    1. Demystifying the Adjustment Brush
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting exposure by brightening shadows
      2m 23s
    3. Painting an effect into a photograph
      4m 41s
    4. Increasing visual interest by brightening shadows
      4m 3s
    5. Increasing visual interest by heightening saturation
      5m 0s
    6. Whitening teeth
      3m 33s
    7. Adding color to makeup
      5m 58s
    8. Changing color
      4m 12s
    9. Selective sharpening
      6m 8s
    10. Eye sharpening and skin smoothing workflow
      4m 28s
    11. Creating custom Adjustment Brush presets
      2m 10s
  12. 11m 33s
    1. Enhancing the foreground and background of an image with the Graduated Filter
      4m 55s
    2. Reducing exposure with the Graduated Filter
      3m 15s
    3. Creative effects with the Graduated Filter
      3m 23s
  13. 33m 26s
    1. Noise reduction
      6m 33s
    2. Reducing noise and sharpening
      6m 36s
    3. Sharpening more effectively
      7m 18s
    4. Edge sharpening in an architectural photograph
      3m 1s
    5. Sharpening a portrait
      2m 3s
    6. Using the Detail panel to soften skin
      7m 55s
  14. 16m 18s
    1. Introducing HSL
      3m 38s
    2. Modifying color and tone
      3m 52s
    3. Enhancing a fashion photograph
      3m 5s
    4. Enhancing color and tone with HSL
      3m 16s
    5. Getting creative with color
      2m 27s
  15. 13m 59s
    1. The black-and-white controls
      2m 43s
    2. A simple black-and-white conversion
      2m 5s
    3. Using multiple panels to create a black-and-white image
      3m 52s
    4. Creating a dramatic black-and-white landscape
      5m 19s
  16. 6m 40s
    1. Traditional black-and-white toning
      3m 26s
    2. Toning a color photo creatively
      3m 14s
  17. 11m 17s
    1. Deconstructing the Lens Correction controls
      3m 48s
    2. Correcting lens vignette
      1m 59s
    3. Correcting lens vignette more quickly
      1m 21s
    4. Correcting chromatic aberration and defringing
      4m 9s
  18. 16m 30s
    1. Understanding the Effects controls
      5m 54s
    2. Using the Post Crop Vignette for creative effects
      3m 23s
    3. Adding film grain to a black-and-white image
      2m 18s
    4. Adding film grain with Camera Raw and Photoshop
      4m 55s
  19. 14m 4s
    1. Introducing the Camera Calibration panel
      3m 39s
    2. Comparing color options with Snapshot
      2m 47s
    3. Creative color with the Camera Calibration controls
      4m 48s
    4. Camera Calibration resources
      2m 50s
  20. 9m 41s
    1. Introducing presets
      2m 27s
    2. Applying presets to multiple images
      3m 9s
    3. Preset resources
      4m 5s
  21. 10m 0s
    1. Quick raw processing of multiple files
      4m 38s
    2. Recording an action
      3m 15s
    3. Batch processing multiple images
      2m 7s
  22. 13m 52s
    1. Creative vivid color
      3m 30s
    2. Working with split toning
      2m 14s
    3. Applying soft and warm colors
      1m 25s
    4. Adding warm, muted colors
      2m 28s
    5. Adding and reducing false color
      4m 15s
  23. 7m 58s
    1. Additional resources
      3m 11s
    2. Camera Raw and Lightroom
      4m 19s
    3. Goodbye
      28s

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