Make your photo files immortal

What is a DNG file? Should I shoot RAW? I hear questions like these all the time from photographers and friends. It’s confusing out there, with each camera manufacturer using a different, proprietary type of RAW file. Sometimes the file type changes between cameras of the same manufacturer. How do you ensure that your files are readable years down the road, when that format may be obsolete (many have already come and gone)?

The best answer right now is the Adobe-sponsored format .DNG (Digital Negative). This is a standard supported by Lightroom, Aperture, Adobe Bridge, Photo Mechanic and many other image browsers, catalogs and PIEware. It’s not yet universally supported by the major digital camera manufacturers, but it’s probably just a matter of time before that happens.

It’s a good idea, if you shoot RAW–to either save the original RAW images and then convert your take to DNG, or to convert immediately to DNG and save those as originals (which they technically are). Most professional image browsing software will convert proprietary RAW files to .DNG during the image ingestion process–that is, as the software copies the images from your digital media card and deposits them on a hard drive. If you don’t have a browser software that does this for you, you can download a .DNG converter from Adobe.

For ultimate forward-backward compatibility, add .DNG file conversion to your workflow. Your future self will thank you.

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