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Digital Negative Format – Everything You Should Know About DNG Files

DNG is a file type that was developed by Adobe Systems Inc. to address a number of issues that surround raw file image processing. You can just take it granted as a RAW format. Actually there are some key differences between DNG and RAW. When you want to take full advantage of the Digital Negative Format, you should learn more detail about the pros as well as the cons of the files from the article.


Part 1: The definition of DNG

DNG is short for Digital Negative format. It is a patented, open, non-free lossless RAW image format written by Adobe. The name DNG is taken from the concept of a Digital Negative. As Adobe’s open standard that was created to store image data in a generic, high-compatible format. All the Adobe photo manipulation software supports DNG file.

Adobe submitted the DNG to the International Standards Organization (ISO) in 2007 as a standard raw file format. The format provides the standardizing basic information structure, processing instructions, image metadata, verification tool and more. More important, it also has the important functionality for preservation of your image file and processing intent in a photographic archive.

DNG Format

Part 2: Pros & Cons of DNG

Pros of DNG

DNG’s greatest strength is the ability to pass information between applications. Since the DNG format is open source anyone can write software to read and write the format. You are not only able to use DNG file with Lightroom, Photoshop by Adobe, but also many other different software developers support DNG format. What’s more, some camera manufacturers like Leica and Hasselblad already capture in the DNG file.

Actually DNG files are around 15-20% smaller in the size than RAW format. When you use the format, you can open the photo within a shorter period without losing XMP files to store important data. DNG format also includes checksum information in the file to detect and prevent file corruption. For Adobe is updating the format, you can find more functions will be added to the format later.

Cons of DNG

As an Adobe standard, DNG has some special features of its own. Just as mentioned, the DNG files are smaller than the RAW files. It is because it strips out some of the unrecognized metadata from RAW files, such as Active D-Lighting and Picture Control. When you convert RAW to DNG, you might not able to retrieve the data back from DNG in the future. So it is impossible to convert a RAW file and retain all the rawness.

Since the above reason, after converting RAW to the format, some graphic programs will not know what to do with the converted DNG files. Another problem is that the format cannot be turned back to CR2 or other RAW file later. Just remain the original format of RAW format is very important, whenever you want to convert RAW to another format, you will lose some features of the original files.

Premiere CC DNG

Part 3: RAW V.S. DNG

What are the differences between RAW and DNG? Actually we are talking about the differences between different RAW formats. All RAW files are not created equal, especially for DNG format. Just learn more detail about the similarities and differences between RAW and DNG.

Similarities between RAW and DNG

1. Both DNG and RAW formats store RAW image data produced by the camera. Then the image quality is much better than JPEG and TIFF files.

2. The formats contain a full color JPEG version of your RAW files and metadata. Metadata includes camera information or EXIF data of the digital camera.

3. Camera raw files are typically some flavor of the TIFF/EP format, which is a type of TIFF file that is specifically designed for “electronic photography."

Differences between RAW and DNG

1. DNG has a special well-documented and published specification. And then third-party software can manipulate the format to the software safely.

2. Compared to other RAW formats, DNG can embed different profiles. It requires at least one color profile as well as custom camera profiles and profiles from third-party manufacturers.

3. It has a very robust metadata storage capability, which means that the settings you use to render your images can be imbedded in the format for added security and portability.

4. While proprietary raw files do have an embedded JPEG for previewing, that file is generally not updatable as the file gets edited. This means that the preview will show the original version.


Part 4: How to view and convert DNG files

Just as mentioned above, when you download some photos online with DNG format, how do you view the files on your computer or even convert them to JPG files? WidsMob Viewer Pro should be the ultimate media viewer, which supports most of the photo and video formats, including the RAW and DNG files.

1. View DNG, JPG, PNG, RAW files as well as the video formats with ease.

2. Import one image to DNG viewer to view all files within the same folder.

3. Different viewing modes to check thumbnail, full screen and slideshow.

4. Apply effects, convert to JPEG format and even organize the files.

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Step 1: Import DNG files to DNG viewer

Download and install the DNG viewer on your computer. Launch the program and drag-n-drop the DNG files into the program. You can view the DNG files directly with advanced hardware acceleration.

View DNG

Step 2: Manage the DNG files with ease

Besides the basic editing features, such as rotate, flip and delete DNG files. You can also click the “Edit” option to adjust the different parameters and apply a desired effect for the DNG file.

Apple DNG Effect

Step 3: Convert DNG files to JPEG

When you want to save the DNG to JPEG or other formats, you can click the “File” menu and choose the “Save as…” option. You can convert DNG to JPEG, JPEG-2000, PNG, TIFF and Microsoft BMP.

Convert DNG to JPEG


When you want to learn more about DNG files, you can find the definition about the file formats, cons and pros, as well as the comparison between RAW and DNG files. If you get some DNG files online, you can use the WidsMob Viewer Pro to view and convert the DNG files according to your requirement.

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Peter Wood
Peter Wood
Peter Wood, a senior editor, focus on photography design and editing software and devices.

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