On The Topic of DNG Conversion

Before attempting to do anything foolish, I spent about an hour doing the necessary online research on this well worn debate of whether you should store your photographs in proprietary RAW format (CR2 on Canon/NEF on Nikon) or convert them to DNG.

DNG is Adobe’s attempt to create an across-the-board and openly documented raw image file format. There’s a lot of pros and cons on the subject and the best way to see which format suits you, I suggest reading this Adobe article on DNG as a starting point.

We’re halfway through the year and I’ve photographed a lot more than ever so the biggest rationale behind wanting to convert to DNG has been to save space on the Macbook Pro even though I still have plenty of space on 2 external hard drives.

As a practice run on an exiting folder containing RAW files, I took a before and after shot of the size of the folder and there was a difference in size. From what I’ve read, DNG files are generally 10-40% smaller than their original proprietary format, depending on the size of the preview one chooses to embed. I opted for a medium.

In addition to file size, DNG files store all of your metadata and raw settings with the file itself – it doesn’t need a sidecar XMP file like RAW files do, so there’s less crap floating around for you in a folder.

Converting Photographs from RAW to DNG in Lightroom 3

People are worried that with the conversion to DNG, their photos won’t be compatible with other software but that’s the least of my concerns. I’ve been using Lightroom exclusively for 3 years and as long as they’re around and I keep consistent backups of my work, I have nothing to worry about.

I haven’t converted all of my past work to DNG format yet. At the moment, I shoot exclusively in RAW format because we all know that provides you with extra headroom in post-production. Just recently did I begin converting to DNG when importing into Lightroom. I’m curious to see what everyone else does. I don’t lose sleep over which format I should stick with but this is one of those details in my workflow that I like to nail down and move on. Anything that takes from actually being out and shooting ultimately becomes a distraction.