Last Updated on November 26, 2021 by Peter Wood
NEF is the abbreviation of Nikon Electronic Format. If you take pictures with Nikon cameras, you can save your photos with the NEF file extension. NEF files are uncompressed. You can get extremely high image quality from NEF images. For instance, you can know the camera model, lens information, and other settings from a NEF image.
The problem is that you need to install a NEF viewer to preview and extract data from Nikon RAW image files. Though Windows users can install NEF codec to view NEF images on Windows 10 and earlier, you may still fail to preview some Nikon NEF files, not mention to other devices.
This article collects highly rated NEF file viewers to open NEF files on Windows 11/10/8/7, Mac, iPhone, and Android. You can read and choose your best NEF viewer here.
Though Nikon released Capture NX2 and ViewNX 2 as NEF viewer software, most users still need to install a third-party RAW file viewer to open NEF files. NEF viewing software does not update for a long time. For Windows 11/10 and the latest Mac OS X users, you can download and install a NEF file viewer due to the incompatibility issue.
If you want to open and fully control RAW images taken by Nikon cameras, using WidsMob Viewer Pro is your fastest and best choice. You can get the folder-based browsing features to browse all NEF files in one window without extra clicking. You can view all images and videos in the same or different folders. It is supported to open Nikon NEF files in thumbnail mode, full-screen mode, slideshow mode, favorite mode, and EXIF mode. You can even copy a NEF image by extracting EXIF metadata within the program.
The NEF viewer software offers fast speed. No matter how many NEF images you view, you can get 5x faster than other NEF viewers. The program will not exit or stop working due to importing too many Nikon RAW files. Moreover, you can use WidsMob Viewer Pro as your NEF editor as well. You can apply video and image editing tools to your NEF images captured by Nikon.
1. Open NEF files with 5x speed in one window based on folders.
2. Browse Nikon RAW images in different preview modes.
3. Extract EXIF metadata to check the camera model, lens, F-number, exposure time, ISO, Flash, and other details.
4. Organize your media gallery with built-in sorting tools.
5. Edit NEF files by rotating, cropping, flipping, converting, resizing, renaming, etc.
6. View multimedia files on Mac from Nikon and other 50+ RAW format cameras.
Step 1: Run WidsMob Viewer Pro. Click + next to Library on the left pane of the software. You can see all folders and subfolders stored on your computer.
Step 2: Scroll down to quickly browse your Nikon NEF images. If you want to view the NEF file carefully, you can double-click on it to preview it. Or you can choose Enter Full Screen from the View drop-down list to enter into the full-screen mode.
Step 3: If you want to know how to take the same NEF picture, you can choose Show Info from the View list to check the detailed settings. Later, you can use four direction keys to view NEF files.
Step 4: To collect NEF files from different folders, you can click the five-pointed star icon. You can add the selected NEF files to the My Favorite folder. You can click the icon below to view and manage your Nikon NEF files.
NEF files captured by Nikon cameras equal RAW files. You can extract much information from the uncompressed NEF images. RAW files are with different file extensions due to the camera manufacturers. Thus, you may need to update Photoshop to open Nikon RAW images successfully.
Note: You had better not transfer NEF images to your computer with Nikon Transfer software. Because those NEF files may corrupt while being transfer, it would be better to copy NEF files with File Explorer or other default programs.
Step 1: Run Adobe Photoshop. Choose About Photoshop from the Help drop-down list.
Step 2: If you use Adobe Photoshop CS6 or later, you can update the Photoshop camera RAW plugin to open NEF files. As for Photoshop CS5 or earlier users, you need to convert NEF to other formats first.
Step 3: Click Update to update Photoshop to the latest version. It takes some time to complete the Photoshop update process.
Step 4: Restart Photoshop after updating the RAW plugin. Now you can drag and drop NEF files into the Photoshop interface directly.
FastRawViewer supports most Nikon cameras that use NEF RAW format. There is a detailed list of currently supported digital cameras and RAW file extensions. You can get a fast display of Nikon NEF images on your Windows and Mac computer.
1. Have a quick view of NEF shots from Nikon cameras.
2. Get a visual and technical analysis of the RAW images with the NEF extension.
1. FastRawViewer is a simple NEF viewer only.
2. It is hard to uninstall FastRawViewer.
Platform: Windows, Mac
FastStone Image Viewer is a free NEF viewer for Windows. You can open Nikon NEF images with multiple preview modes for personal and educational use. Moreover, you can view RAW images with FastStone Image Viewer of other camera RAW formats.
1. Open Nikon RAW files in the browser, thumbnail, windowed, and full-screen view mode.
2. Compare 2 or 4 NEF images side-to-side.
1. The NEF viewer freeware lacks the photo sharing feature.
2. Its user interface needs to be updated.
IrfanView is a free RAW image viewer for Windows. Be aware that you need to download and install NEF plugins first. After that, you can open NEF files on Windows for free with Irfanview.
1. Get the thumbnail and preview options to open NEF images on Windows.
2. Show EXIF information of your Nikon NEF files.
1. The free NEF viewer software for Windows is a bit less manageable.
2. Need to download Nikon camera RAW plugin to get NEF viewing in IrfanView.
The latest Microsoft camera codec pack for Windows 10 is released already. You can view NEF files on Windows 10 with Windows Photos Gallery. You can open RAW files on Windows 8 and Windows 7 after installing the RAW image extension too.
There is also an official NEF codec in the Nikon download center. The latest version is NEF codec 1.31.0. You can install the NEF codec with Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Live Photo Gallery, and Windows Photo Viewer to get NEF playback.
Step 1: Download and install the NEF codec on your Windows computer.
Step 2: Right-click on a NEF image. Choose Open with program, and then select Windows Photo Viewer.
Step 3: You can see NEF images on Windows in the main interface.
Though iOS and Android support the RAW image capture, you still need an app that can open, organize and edit RAW files. If you want to view NEF images on your phone, you can take a look at the following NEF file viewer apps. Just read and compare which one can be your best NEF viewer app.
Snapseed is a free NEF viewer app that allows users to open images with the .nef extension. You can also get many photo editing tools to touch up NEF and other RAW files.
1. View NEF files with great presets and editing functions.
2. Open and tweak native RAW camera images with the RAW development tool.
1. Beginners may have difficulties while using Snapseed.
2. The photo-sharing and saving options are not intuitive.
Platform: Android, iOS
Step 1: Download and install Snapseed from Google Play Store or App Store.
Step 2: Tap on the Snapseed app icon to run the NEF file viewer app.
Step 3: Tap anywhere on the screen. You can get a popping-up browser.
Step 4: Find and open NEF files on your mobile phone.
Adobe Photoshop Express can be not only your NEF viewer but also the NEF editor. You can view, manage and customize all Nikon RAW camera images on Android and iPhone in one stop.
1. Open Nikon NEF files with cloud integration.
2. Get photo editing tools to edit NEF image files.
1. Need to pay for in-app purchases to access all advanced features.
2. The portable NEF viewer version has simplified some features.
Platform: Android, iOS
If you want analog film effects to your Nikon RAW image, you can use VSCO as your NEF file viewer app. After opening NEF images, you can add VSCO montage and other editing tools.
1. Open, edit and share NEF images within the VSCO app.
2. The VSCO community is a place to communicate with photographers with the same interest.
1. You need to subscribe to VSCO to use advanced filters and tools.
2. The latest VSCO update is controversial.
Platform: Android, iOS
RAW Power is not a free NEF viewer app. You need to pay $6.99 to open NEF files on iPhone with RAW Power. Later, you can preview, make edits and organize NEF images with excellent features.
1. Open, sort, and organize NEF images with personalized options on iPhone.
2. Use the RAW Power extension for macOS to continue editing Nikon NEF files on Mac.
1. RAW Power lags while editing RAW files.
2. The screen of RAW Power may darken suddenly.
ProShot is more than a NEF viewer app. You can take RAW images with personalized camera features. For instance, you can get full manual controls, auto max ISO and shutter options, auto-manual focus assist, and more to shoot in RAW.
1. Open NEF images on iPhone and Android with excellent screen layouts.
2. Capture photos with advanced controls on your phone.
1. The ProShot options are unintuitive.
2. Some toggles of RAW capture are not working.
Platform: Android, iOS
It is easy to find out the differences between RAW and JPEG. You can get the comparison of RAW VS JPG in many aspects. But what about RAW and NEF? Are RAW and NEF the same? NEF is one type of file extension of RAW and from Nikon cameras. The current Nikon DSLR cameras support the NEF RAW file format. You can still get the original RAW data from your Nikon NEF files. By the way, there is also a compressed NEF for Nikon products. You can use NEF compression as the visually lossless compression method to reduce file size.
All in all, you can use the above NEF viewer apps to open, manage and even edit Nikon RAW images with the NEF file extension. The advantages and disadvantages of each NEF file viewer analyze in detail. Thus, you can read and choose the best NEF viewer in 2021 you like.