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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.

DNG


Part 1: What is DNG

Section 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

Section 2: Advantages of the DNG Format

Why photographers shoot in DNG instead of other RAW formats? Here’re some reasons of using DNG format. You can regard them as DNG pros as well.

1. There is no need to worry about the new camera adoption. DNG is an archival format, which is available to any third-party developer, including Lightroom, Photoshop and more.

2. You can check the condition of the archived files. DNG files can be validated.

3. DNG stores a standard-size preview. You can enable Fast Load Data to open an image faster in Lightroom or Camera RAW. Thus, you can speed up DNG file data read times with multicore processors.

4. Compared with original RAWs, DNGs are in smaller file sizes. DNG is a compact RAW image format.

5. DNG retains the RAW characteristics of the source image. Therefore, you can use DNG images to create Photo Merged panoramas or HDR images.

6. DNG supports R&D saving.

Section 3: Disadvantages of the DNG Format

Since there are so many positive comments about DNG, is DNG the best image format? Of course, the answer is No. It is not always good to shooting, saving or exporting in the DNG file extension. Here are some DNG negatives.

1. It is time-consuming to convert DNG from RAW files.

2. There is still a large amount of leading camera manufacturers not compatible with the DNG file format.

3. Though DNG is acceptable by all Adobe products, DNG is not widely supported by all image viewers and editors. You need to consider the DNG compatibility.

4. Saving the edited changes to a DNG image will slow down the backup process. The backup software needs to make a copy of the complete DNG file instead of the XMP sidebar files, not like proprietary RAW images.

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

Section 4: DNG VS RAW

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.

DNG vs RAW

Part 2: How to view and convert DNG files

Section 1: How to Open DNG Files on Mac

1. DNG Viewer for Mac - WidsMob Viewer Pro

To quickly open hundreds of thousands of DNG images on Mac, you can use WidsMob Viewer Pro. It is supported to open DNG and all RAW images in one window with multiple preview modes. No matter how many DNG images you want to open, you can browse and manage camera DNG images with 5x speed.

Moreover, it is more than basic DNG viewer software for Mac. You can apply video and image editing effects, as well as organizing features. For instance, you can resize, rename and convert DNG images on Mac in batch. It is also supported to crop, rotate and flip your image. Later, you can save or share RAW DNG images to anywhere you like.

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.

Download for Mac Version

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


Download for Mac Version

2. DNG Viewer for Mac - FastRawViewer

FastRawViewer offers the basic correction and technical analysis for RAW images, including DNG files. If you are not sure whether FastRawViewer is suitable, you can check the supported cameras for Adobe Digital Negative (DNG) from its official site.

Platform: Windows, Mac

Pros:

1. Display the actual DNG image and histogram.

2. Read DNG files stored from any memory card or network server directly.

3. Offer professional image editing and adjusting tools.

Cons:

1. There will be leftovers after you installing FastRawViewer.

2. FastRawViewer is not a user-friendly DNG viewer for beginners.

FastRawViewer

Section 2: How to Open DNG Files on Windows

If you want to open DNG files on Windows 10, you can use Explorer and Photos as DNG image viewer software. Windows 10 supports the DNG format natively. To open DNG files on Windows 8/7, you need to install Adobe DNG codec 2.0 from Adobe’s website. Later, you can run DNGCodecInstaller.exe to view DNG image files on Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Or you can use Adobe Photoshop to open and edit a photo on your Windows computer as well. It is super easy to open DNG files in Photoshop. Just drag and drop DNG files to Photoshop interface. Or you can use Adobe DNG Converter to convert camera RAW files to DNG before opening with Photoshop. You can also check the following DNG Viewer for Windows to open DNG files on your PC.

1. DNG Viewer for Windows - FastStone Image Viewer

FastStone Image Viewer provides free license for personal and educational use. You can use FastStone Image Viewer as your DNG viewer freeware for Windows. All major graphic formats and popular digital camera RAW formats are supported, including DNG, RW2, SRF, ARW, CR2, etc.

Platform: Windows

Pros:

1. Open DNG files with a familiar Windows Explorer-like interface.

2. Wide support of digital camera brands and related image formats.

3. True DNG full screen viewer with image zoom, editing and re-sampling features.

Cons:

1. The font in FastStone Image Viewer is too small.

2. FastStone Image Viewer can be sluggish sometimes.

FastStone Image Viewer

2. DNG Viewer for Windows - DNG Viewer

DNG Viewer is a free image viewer designed for DNG image format. You can view, convert and resize DNG files on your Windows computer. There are not many image editing tools. It is a free DNG Viewer for Windows 7 and earlier versions.

Platform: Windows

Pros:

1. Open DNG images for free on your computer.

2. Convert and save DNG to JPG, PNG and common image formats.

3. DNG Viewer is safe to download and use. No malware, spyware or virus contained.

Cons:

1. There is no DNG Viewer for Windows 10 and Windows 8 version.

2. DNG Viewer is not friendly to multiple DNG viewing.

DNG Viewer Interface

Section 3: How to Open DNG Files Online

Is it possible to open DNG files online? Well, there are some online DNG file viewers you can use, such as photopea, groupdocs and more. Thus, you can open a DNG file online on any device without installing. Raw.pics.io would be one of your best choice.

Raw.pics.io is an online DNG file viewer and converter. You can open DNG images with any browser on your phone or computer. Or you can convert DNG to JPEG, PNG and other formats online.

Platform: Online

Pros:

1. Browse DNG images on any browser.

2. Convert DNG to other image formats online.

3. Edit, compress and change the pixel size of your DNG picture.

Cons:

1. Require the Internet connection to run the DNG viewer online.

2. The price of Raw.pics.io is a bit higher than its competitors.

RAW.PICS.IO

Section 4: How to Open DNG Files on Android and iPhone

In the recent iOS update, iPhone allows third-party camera apps to save images in DNG format directly. Thus, a DNG viewer app for iPhone does not matter a lot. This section will focus more on DNG viewer apk for Android users.

1. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - DNG viewer app for Android and iOS

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is powered by Adobe Photoshop technology. You can open and edit DNG images on Android as a pro. With the built-in Lightroom presets, retouches and image editing tools, you can unlock your photography potential.

Pros:

1. Open DNG image files while preserving all details.

2. Retouch and apply enhancements to any part of your DNG image.

3. Get pro-level camera controls to take a picture with exposure, timer, instant preset and more.

Cons:

1. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom crashes occasionally.

2. Thumbnails may be invisible in the DNG viewer Android app after importing.

Just read and see how to open a DNG file on Android or iPhone.

Step 1: Upload an unzipped folder with DNG files contained to Dropbox or other cloud services.

Step 2: Run Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for Mobile app on your phone.

Step 3: Tap the three-dot Settings icon on the top right corner. Choose Add Photos. Navigate to the location of DNG image files.

Step 4: Double-click on a DNG file. The image file with .dng extension will be downloaded to Lightroom.

Step 5: Choose this file and then select Copy Settings from the Settings menu. Tap Select All but unselect Crop. Later, choose OK to move on.

Step 6: Select a DNG picture you want to edit in Lightroom mobile. Choose Paste Settings from the Settings menu.

Adobe Creative Cloud Lightroom

2. Snapseed - DNG and JPEG viewer app

Snapseed supports both JPG and RAW files. You can open and tweak RAW DNG files on Android. Moreover, you can make an Instagram-style image easily via Snapseed presets and filters.

Pros:

1. Open DNG images on Android with the RAW develop support.

2. Bring out the surface structures of DNG images.

3. Edit DNG image files with 29 tools and filters.

Cons:

1. Some icons in Snapseed need to be improved.

2. There are many complaints about Snapseed UI.

Snapseed

3. Manual Camera - DNG file viewer app for Android

Manual Camera can turn your Android phone as a digital camera. You can shoot with ISO, shutter speed, white balance and other controls. Of course, you can use Manual Camera as your DNG file viewer app for Android via its RAW support.

Pros:

1. View and export DNG images on Android.

2. Get full manual control of RAW shooting.

3. Turn your phone into a manual camera with simple clicks.

Cons:

1. Manual Camera is not free to use. You need to spend $2.99 to access it.

2. Many Android phones are not supported.

Manual Camera

4. VSCO - Edit RAW DNG images on Android

You can open and edit RAW DNG images on Android with amazing filters from VSCO. It is also a social platform. You can see the followed photographers and communicate with them as well.

Pros:

1. Open DNG images and apply effects with 10 free presets.

2. Capture RAW images for further editing.

3. Analog film effects to images captured by your phone or digital camera.

Cons:

1. Need to join VSCO membership to unlock the complete preset library over 200 presets.

2. VSCO freezes or crashes after the new update. It is slow to open a DNG image with VSCO.

VSCO APK

4. Adobe Photoshop Express - Android DNG viewer

Adobe Photoshop Express is more than an Android DNG viewer. You can create picture collages, generate memes and make corrects on images at your fingertips.

Pros:

1. View DNG image file with multiple touches and presets.

2. Upload images from multiple sources and formats, including RAW DNG, TIFF and more.

3. Share your DNG images in email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Flickr and more after editing directly.

Cons:

1. Need to register an account to run the DNG viewer and editor app.

2. The user interface is complicated for novices.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Conclusion

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.

All in all, you can open DNG files on Windows, Mac, online, iPhone and Android with the above programs. If you don’t require many image editing filters, using WidsMob Viewer Pro can be your better choice on macOS. The program focuses more on RAW DNG viewing. You can also get image editing and managing tools. Compared with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, you can get the intuitive interface, lightweight package and reasonable price. For people who want to open files in DNG and other RAW formats, it is worth to free download and have a try.

Do you have any other questions about desktop and portable DNG viewers? You can feel free to share anything about DNG viewing here.

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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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