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Photo file type: JPG and RAW vs DNG

Dec 21, 2017
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MidWest - Iowa
Reading through the various threads I've come across several areas that compare the photo file format options. The pro/cons of JPG has been communicated multiple times and file size is dependent on the photo bit makeup and compression giving a variance in size for selected resolution... generally from 500K to 8Meg, with avg 1~3 meg.

The part I've thought may not be clear are a few small differences in RAW vs DNG.
As communicated, DNG or more specifically "RAW DNG" is an Adobe developed standard that converts native RAW unique to each manufacture: Canon: CR2, Nikon: NEF, etc. to Adobe RAW DNG.

From the discussion of pre-post processing of files, there isn't any image bit difference. All the processing procedures will produce the same results. No loss of file data or processing. The key difference is the location of the metadata, stored embedded with DNG and a side cab for native RAW. At quick thought, it's better to embed and have a single file... but that actually has it's disadvantages as well as advantages.

As indicated, the main difference is file storage and file compatibility between applications: library storage and processing applications. The Adobe standardization of native RAW converted to DNG is a widely accepted standard for using multiple native RAW under a single format: DNG. But unlike the Adobe e-document standardization that converted native e-document files to a single format: PDF which practically every manufacture joined and produces their e-document files in PDF format. The photography platform hasn't adopted DNG as the standard, and primarily only Adobe products use the Adobe DNG format without a second conversion step to use within their application. The conversion normally doesn't alter the image bits within the file & metadata; it normally alters the file read/write to be accepted within their application and often changes the DNG extension to a proprietary extension for their product. Although, newer versions do offer the ability to maintain the DNG extension; if you compare the imported Adobe DNG size to another products DNG the file size will change without performing any image processing.

If you work with multiple brands of RAW and workflow is primarily within Adobe Lightroom, you'll probably use DNG... because Adobe has made it the default to simplify your workflow.

If you store your files on multiple systems: Notebook, Wk-Station, Mac / Windows, Cloud storage and you routinely perform backups. The DNG format may not be your optimal choice. With proprietary RAW files (NEF, CR2, etc) a small sidecar file is created. Every DNG edit changes the entire DNG file, not just a small sidecar file. Backups of Image files for workflow changes, are much faster using Native RAW since you're only backing up the small sidecar file compared to the full DNG image file for each small change.
Transporting your workflow changes to your notebook requires a large transport media for DNG, but very small USB stick if native RAW to transfer only the sidecar files. Backing up to cloud storage on successive / interval backups is blazing fast for native RAW using minimal bandwidth and data in comparison to rewriting the DNG file on the cloud.

If your workflow involves Photoshop, even though it's Adobe product, there isn't any advantage importing a DNG vs a RAW. Photoshop will accept both equally and save it's own file format.

If your workflow utilizes Library Storage or processing products other than Adobe, the native RAW will be the preferred format for input.

The image / metadata may be identical between Adobe RAW DNG and Native RAW, but there are differences in storage, transport of files & broad application acceptance.
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