DNG – a universal file format?
Adobe’s Digital Negative format goes some way to providing a file format that can be read by any RAW processing software
DNG (or Digital Negative) is an Adobe initiative to design a ‘universal’ RAW image file that can be opened in any RAW software. Using Adobe software like Photoshop or Lightroom, you can save a RAW file as a DNG and retain all the raw data.
Most camera manufacturers design their own RAW file formats, and keep improving them to work best with their cameras, so there is no common standard.
This is one of the problems that DNG is designed to solve, the concern being that it may be impossible to read old RAW files in the future. This is hardly likely, given that first, once a RAW file format has been opened there is no reason why this ability should ever be lost; and second, that reverse engineering all RAW files has been simple to date (dcraw does this).
In practice, DNG polarises opinion, but the choice between it and RAW (in our case .NEF) hinges on workflow rather than quality, where there is no difference whatsoever.