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What is DNG? And Why You Might Consider Using It

If you have imported photos into Lightroom, you have probably noticed the words “Copy as DNG” at the top.  Likely, you have just skipped over this option because a) you have no idea what it is or b) see no need to use it.

Today I wanted to let you in on the secret of what a DNG files is and a reason or two why you might consider using it.

What is a DNG file?

DNG stands for digital negative file and it is an open-source RAW file format created by Adobe. Essentially, it is a standard RAW file that anyone could use—and a few camera manufacturer’s do.  Right now, most camera manufacturers have their own proprietary RAW format (Nikon’s is .nef, Canon’s is .cr2 or .crw, and Sony is .arw).  

But because it is “proprietary” they don’t share the information that makes up that file or how it is processed in-camera with anyone else. (’s a secret!) If, at some time in the future, those companies are no longer around (I know it is hard to imagine now) their proprietary files may become hard to read.


Why You Might Consider Using It?


No Sidecar Files 

This is the main thing that got me using DNG a few years ago.  I was tired of all the .xmp sidecar files.  Lightroom (and Adobe Camera RAW) create one of these .xmp sidecar files for every photo edited.  With a DNG file the information is embedded in the file so there is no need for a sidecar file.

Slightly Smaller File Size  

Another great reason to make the leap.  DNG files are slightly smaller than their proprietary RAW counterparts.  And don’t panic, they still retain all the same information.  Taking up a little less room on my hard drives is always welcome.

How to Convert? 

In Lightroom you can convert files to DNG at any time.  You can convert when you are importing files.  You can also convert when you are exporting files.  

And you can convert the files anytime in between.


Happy Lightrooming!


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