To DNG or Not to DNG?


The Professional Photographer’s Digital Workflow


Lesson Info

To DNG or Not to DNG?

To DNG or not to DNG, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind. I have no idea. You may or may not know what DNG is. A DNG is if we go into these files. Let me just open these picture folders here. And show you the actual files And let's go to raw images. I'm going into raw images and this right here, this is a file name for one of my files but I'm only looking at those last three things The .NEF. So .NEF is Nikon Electronic File. That's Nikon's suffix for their electronic, their raw file. Canon I think it's CRD or CR2. I don't know which one it is these days. Sony, I'm not sure what it is but it's a very different ending. And so, every camera manufacturer has their own secret sauce built into their raw file. Its color, all these different specification for that file type. And what happened is, back in the day, let me keep advancing the slides here. Early digital days, there were cameras and they started seeing like, well Kodak went out of business but they made them digi...

tal cameras. Will software in 10 or 20 or 50 years be able to read their raw files from those digital cameras? Ah, that's a good question. So those images shot with those cameras might be lost to the dustbin of history if we can't even open them anymore in software and nobody has a computer that can go back and open them. And that's already happened. The first Canon 1DS, there's only one or two things of software can open those raw files anymore. The Kodak 14n, from 15 years ago. I'm not sure there's any software that can open those raw files anymore. So this is an issue that you may not have thought about but it's happening. You know, whether or not we knew about it. So what they did is, Adobe came up with an open source standard file type called the DNG, the Digital Negative file. If we look at these DNGs here, you'll notice there have a DNG file ending at the end. They are also... Well, there's the file. They are also, O single file with the XMP file embedded into the wrapper of the DNG. Where's if we go back to these other ones, you'll notice there's the .NEF file and there's the same exact file name with the .XMP files so that's what happens if you stick with Nikon or Canon or your camera's raw file type. You'll have these two files and the .XMP describing any adjustments you've made in Lightroom or Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw to that file or any meta data you added in Bridge or Lightroom. So DNG kinda simplifies the whole thing, it creates one file type. There's upsides and downsides to DNG so its up to you to decide whether this is something you want to convert your files to. You know there's only a few cameras I think there's Leica and there might be one other camera that actually outputs DNG files from the camera directly. I think Adobe was hoping the camera makers will convert to this open source thing but not all of them have because they have their special sauce and their own raw file type. Which makes a lot of sense. It's more archival, obviously. But also... It is more archival for the future so you'll be able to open these files forever. Hopefully. Even if Adobe goes out of business, the thought process is that this file type is open source so its in known quantity so even some of the company could create software to open these files. That's the thinking. It's a more efficient work flow because you don't have these .XMP files running all over the place. It's all in one single wrapper and it's also 10 to 40% smaller than then the original raw file from the camera manufacturer because it has pre-advanced compression ratios. So let's say you have 10 terabytes of images and you converted everything to DNGs. Now you have six terabytes of images. So that's a pretty significant savings. That's pretty good. So we've said that... You can actually embed the Nikon original raw file whatever, Canon, your original raw file inside the DNG file that actually doubles the file size so that if someday you want to extract the original Nikon file out of the DNG, that's a little bit more of the advanced way to do it but that doubles your file size. So, I don't know that many people are doing that. The downside of DNG though, is that not all software will read or open these files. Like, if you're in Lightroom and you decide you want to move to Capture One at some point and you converted everything to DNG well, I don't know if Capture One now reads DNG. It might. but in the old days, Capture One didn't read DNG so you're just Sorry, you can't do it. You know? So not every software will open these DNG files. There's also a penalty when you import into Lightroom. You can convert them to DNGs as you import or you can export them as DNGs but you still, There's an extra step you have to do that may take a significant amount of time. So it might slow you down in the import, export process. So and the other thing is you know, like I said, if you convert to DNG and you decided you want to use Nikon software to work on your images down the road but you converted to DNG, you just can't do it. So a few decisions. There's good and bad here. For me, I do a little bit of both. I keep everything in the Nikon files or houseable files and then for one of my backups, I convert them into DNGs so I have both files. We'll talk about my backups tomorrow. I have several backups of stuff. If I'm sending a raw file to a client, which does happen occasionally, I definitely send them a DNG file because my adjustments to the file are within that file type and it'll look the way I adjusted it. If they want to readjust, they can but at least they're seeing it the way I intended them to see it and not just a plain raw file with nothing done to it.

Class Description

Setting up a practical and efficient workflow with your photography feels like a daunting part of your business. Internationally recognized photographer Michael Clark introduces you to techniques to allow you more time to shoot the images you want. His workflow philosophy is that you must first know how you are going to edit the image in post production to know how you need to shoot it.

In this class Michael teaches:

  • Best practices for a shooting workflow from setting up your camera to histograms and exposure
  • How to clean the sensor on your DSLR camera
  • Color management workflow including your work environment and monitor calibration
  • An overview of Lightroom® and multiple ways to speed up your workflow including file folder and batch naming as well as metadata and archival processes
  • Techniques to finalizing your images in Photoshop® with basic adjustments and retouching
  • Making fine art prints, choosing your printer, paper, understanding ICC profiles, and much more!

Michael covers everything you need to know in order to streamline your post production workflow in Lightroom® and Photoshop® and best practices for printing your art at home. Digital photography is far more complicated than shooting film ever was. Knowing the best practices for a digital workflow will make you a better photographer.


1Class Introduction
2Shooting Workflow: Set-up The Camera
3Shooting Workflow: Histograms and Exposure
4Shooting Workflow: Sensor Cleaning
5Overview of Color Management
6Color Management: Monitor
7Color Management: Workspace
8Color Management: Monitor Calibration
9Color Management: Do I Need This?
10Introduction to Lightroom®
11Download & Import Images With Lightroom®
12Lightroom® Preferences
13Six Ways to Speed-up Lightroom®
14To DNG or Not to DNG?
15A Logical Editing Process in Lightroom®
16File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®
17Batch Renaming in Lightroom®
18Entering Metadata in Lightroom®
19Managing Images in Lightroom®
20Introduction to the Develop Module in Lightroom®
21Lightroom® Develop Module
22Sharpening, Chromatic Aberration & Vignetting in Lightroom®
23Graduated Filters & Spot Tool in Lightroom®
24Converting images to Black & White in Lightroom®
25Creating Panoramas in Lightroom
26Creating HDR Images in Lightroom®
27Lightroom® to Photoshop® Workflow
28Export Images to Photoshop®
29Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Basic Adjustments
30Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Retouching
31Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Saving Master Files
32Make Fine Art Prints: The Cost
33Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Printers
34Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Papers
35Make Fine Art Prints: Understand ICC Profiles
36Make Fine Art Prints: Sharpen Image
37Printing From Photoshop®
38Printing From Lightroom®
39Compare Monitor to Physical Prints
40Printing Black & White Image
41Extended Workflow: Back Up Images
42Extended Workflow: Storage Options
43Extended Workflow: Archiving Images
44Submitting images to Clients
45Prepping Images for Social Media
46Alternative Workflows
47Final Q&A