NEF and JPEG
I began my photography adventure 2 weeks ago with the purchase of a D90. I'm trying to get my head around what software I need and have decided to stick with the Nikon software for now.
My question: Is there any advantage to storing both NEF and JPEG in camera over converting to JPEGs in the software?
Also thanks to all those who contribute to these forums -it is an unbelievable resource for a beginner just starting out.
#1. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 0
dohearne Registered since 07th May 2007Tue 03-Jan-12 11:52 AM
Suzy, I am sure you will get many different perspectives on this. But the basic issue is what works best for your workflow and image use. All NEF files contain an embedded jpeg file, otherwise you would not be able to see the image in your camera or on your computer. If you shoot just NEF, Nikon View (or many other programs) can generate a jpeg file for you from the NEF. Having the camera generate a separate jpeg file at capture can save you some processing time if you are wanting to share the pictures quickly, but the downside is that you have now doubled the number of files and modestly increased your memory needs. I personally shoot only NEF and generate a jpeg file as needed. I have found this to be a better workflow for me.
#2. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 0
> Is there any advantage to storing both NEF and
>JPEG in camera over converting to JPEGs in the software?
Nice camera. I have taken over 40,000 images with my D90.
The only advantage I can think of in storing both NEF and JPEG in camera is reduced complexity and time in processing images on your computer. JPEGs will be ready to go as they won't need conversion from NEF. The time and complexity of making this conversion isn't huge but it isn't zero.
#3. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 0
Advantage as noted by others - JPEGs are *mostly* ready to roll from the moment you pull them down. Note that the results will NOT be optimal - at the minimum, JPEGs all benefit from auto-leveling (to get the contrast right), resizing for intended display (web or hardcopy) and sharpening. So you still have some work ahead of you unless you've set expectations with your audience accordingly using the untouched JPEG exports.
Disadvantage - JPEGs will be subject to in-camera settings at time of capture. Example, if WB was calculated incorrectly, you'll need to fix it in post - it'll be easier to apply it to the RAW file rather than the JPEG. That means re-exporting out those impacted frames.
I want better control over the other factors that optimize the final output - things like tone curve/contrast, color balance, vividness, sharpness - I prefer to adjust it in post-process. This gives me a better overall control, but makes my workflow more labor-intensive.
If you wish to optimize your JPEG output for speedier results, you need to learn Nikon Picture Controls well and understand what the impacts are to your in-camera capture. Not all of those settings are optimal for all situations. At some point, you will have to touch the photo coming off the card. But if your interest is to minimize the re-touching, then Picture Controls is your best friend.
In that regard, get a hold of a trial version of Capture NX 2 and experiment with Picture Controls. Take some sample NEFs of your preferred subjects and see what the effects are when you apply different Picture Control sets. You'll find some of the preloaded settings are decent starting points. Then take extreme shots (low-light or high contrast for example) and see what happens to them in those same settings. In all cases, export the results to JPEG and see what they look like then. Good luck!
#6. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 0
My 2 cents...
Congrats on the D90. It's a great camera! In my opinion, there is no advantage of storing both NEF and jpeg files. Especially since you're using Nikon's software. It just takes up space. Since your edits are stored in the NEF file the embedded preview gets updated at the same time. The only real advantage with storing a jpeg copy is speed if you want to send out pictures to people quickly as Nikon's batch conversion (while better with Capture NX2 2.3) isn't exactly as fast as copying already-converted files.
#7. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations on the beginning of a wonderful hobby. Your D90 is an excellent choice for starting out on your adventure. The answer to your question depends on how serious you are about the end results of your photography. If you feel that you would mostly be happy with what ever results the camera offers and really don't have much interest in the editing and optimization of your photographs, then I would recommend tuning your D90 to produce results most likely to please you and just shoot the highest quality jpegs the D90 offers and don't even bother with raw nef files.
However, I suspect that description does not fit you at all, otherwise you wouldn't have posed the question in this forum. If you are interested in making each photograph the best it can be, then shooting raw nef files is in my opinion a requirement, not a choice. As to whether to capture jpegs in camera in tandem with the nef file, I can tell you where I stand on that issue. I shoot exclusively nef files, even in my Nikon compact cameras. The reason is quite simple. Every image that isn't scrapped from the initial culling step of my post production workflow will ultimately be edited to some degree. It could be something as simple as leveling the horizon by a degree, or a complete overhaul of white balance, level adjustments, crops, color adjustments and more. Since each photo will ultimately be opened in Capture NX2 (my raw converter and editor of choice) anyway, why would I have any need for a jpeg file that didn't take advantage of these editing steps? I save my Capture NX2 edits in the nef file, and then create a jpeg with a simple save as for the final step in the process. The jpeg files is created with no effort at all, and takes full advantage of my editing work done with the nef file.
As far as which raw converter and editor to choose, I think you're on the right track with starting out with Nikon's software. By all means download the latest version of View NX2. I use it almost every day. I use it as a catalogue to find finished photos, I use as the first step of my post processing worklow to cull out the images that won't making it to the processing stage, and it has a great email function. But as my editor and raw converter I use Capture NX2. The outstanding benefits and frustrating limitations of this software have been discussed thoroughly in this forum, but I can tell you of a couple of its strong points. First, the results can be truly outstanding, probably the best results possible from your Nikon camera. Second, and I think this is CNX2's most under-rated feature, is the ability to store your edits right into the orignal nef file without having any permanent or destructive effect on the original raw data. I can't tell you the number of times I've looked at an image long after it was edited and saved, only to see some little thing that I missed or would like to have done a bit differently. Since my orignal work, which might have taken as little as five minutes or perhaps an hour, is still there, step by step in the edit list, I can open the nef file, go to an individual edit step, modify or delete it, add additional edit steps if necessary, and re-save the file, all without having to start from scratch. I can also save multiple edited versiono of the the image inside the same original nef file. Or, I can revisit the nef file and revert to the original raw data and start from scratch if that is what I want to do. All this can be done with just one file on your hard drive. Jpegs of any size and quality level can be saved from this single nef file. Someone has already suggested downloading the trial version of CNX2, and I think that's good advice. There are things that CNX2 won't do, and for those rare occasions, another editor will be needed. For that, I use Photoshop, but Photoshop Elements, which can be bought for under $100, would do nicely as a companion editor for CNX2.
#8. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 7
bobtail Nikonian since 20th Sep 2006Wed 04-Jan-12 10:00 AM
Spot on, Russ !
However, Suzy could also look at Corel's 'Paintshop Pro ' which now in version X4 is also a good choice as an adjunct to Capture NX2. ( at a similar price to Elements) The latest 'Ultimate ' version even includes Color Effex Pro 3 as a free plugin.
Chris. ( another happy D90 shooter )
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#11. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 10
Thu 05-Jan-12 01:35 PM
Neil, thanks for the tip on Pixelmator, I looked it up and it sounds good and even in my price range.
Eric, Chris, Russ, Mick, Armando, Peter and David - Thanks for taking the time to offer advice - it is really appreciated; hopefully others will find it useful as well.
I plan to look at the Nikon software, shoot in NEF, look at pixelmator - oh and take a few photos.
#14. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 7
Second, and I think this is
>CNX2's most under-rated feature, is the ability to store your
>edits right into the orignal nef file without having any
>permanent or destructive effect on the original raw data. I
>can't tell you the number of times I've looked at an image
>long after it was edited and saved, only to see some little
>thing that I missed or would like to have done a bit
>differently. Since my orignal work, which might have taken as
>little as five minutes or perhaps an hour, is still there,
>step by step in the edit list, I can open the nef file, go to
>an individual edit step, modify or delete it, add additional
>edit steps if necessary, and re-save the file, all without
>having to start from scratch. I can also save multiple edited
>versiono of the the image inside the same original nef file.
>Or, I can revisit the nef file and revert to the original raw
>data and start from scratch if that is what I want to do. All
>this can be done with just one file on your hard drive. Jpegs
>of any size and quality level can be saved from this single
>nef file. Someone has already suggested downloading the trial
>version of CNX2, and I think that's good advice. There are
>things that CNX2 won't do, and for those rare occasions,
>another editor will be needed. For that, I use Photoshop, but
>Photoshop Elements, which can be bought for under $100, would
>do nicely as a companion editor for CNX2.
Please forgive me if this should be a new thread and also my ignorance but are you saying if I make changes and then save then it it is still all in one file?
I assume this is also true for View NX 2. How can I have the original and a changed version side by side?
Also is there a save button? I just had to move to a new image and then got asked if I wanted to save previous changes. I couldn't see where to save before that.
I hope you can understand what Im trying to ask. I would like to persist with Nikon software but to be honest so far even the help is confusing.
Thanks for your (unconfusing) help
#15. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 14
Sat 07-Jan-12 01:22 AM
Sorry for the confusion. The comments I made pertained to the use of Capture NX2, Nikon's full-blown editing software. Although I use View NX2 for may other things, I never use it as an editor. But to reply to your question, I made a couple of changes to a Nikon raw file in VNX2, and then saved those changes. And you are correct, there is no save or save as entry in the file menu, nor is there a save button on the tool bar. The only way I know to save the changes to an image in VNX2 is to select another image and then the program will ask you if you want to save the changes. Say yes. It's a very odd convention. This would also mean that the part about saving different versions of the image in the same file doesn't apply to VNX2 either.
Here's the best advice I can offer. Stop trying to use VNX2 as an editor. It is severely limited as an editor, doesn't even begin to show you what Capture NX2 has to offer as an editor, and ultimately will just frustrate you. View NX2 does a lot of things quite well, but serious editing isn't one of them. Instead, I would strongly suggest that you download the free trial version of Nikon's Capture NX2, and then you can see what a real editor has to offer. It's like night and day. If, after downloading the free trial, you think Capture NX2 has potential, but you're having trouble wrapping your head around it, there are a number of how-to books and tutorials available on the web, not the least of which are offered by Nikonian's own Jason O'Dell. his "The Photographer's Guide to Capture NX2", is available as a downloadable ebook. He also does online workshops on CNX2. Nikon's website has some nice free tutorials as well. The answers are out there, I just think you're trying to find them in the wrong place in View NX2. I believe that Capture NX2 holds the key to your ultimate satisfaction and enjoyment of editing your photos.
Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
#16. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 15
Sat 07-Jan-12 01:33 AM
Thanks for quick response. I was the one that got confused.
Could I just clarify one thing - if I use Capture NX2 after using Transfer (in View NX) do the images have to be transferred to Capture or does it just read them straight out of View?
#17. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 16
Sat 07-Jan-12 01:51 AM
Capture and View are both organized around file folders. You just select the folder or image you want to see.
View is a much better browser than Capture. Capture is for in depth edits of a small percentage of images. It has a lot of capability - just a level of detail you want for only your best images as it takes more time than a cursory edit in View.
Nikonians membership my most important photographic investment, after the camera
#18. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 17
Sat 07-Jan-12 02:00 AM
That makes sense. It is so good to have these 'little' things clarified.
I can't believe how much I have learnt in the last few weeks and if it wasn't for Nikonians I hate to say it but I might have thrown something (not the D90 but possibly the computer keyboard).
#19. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 16
Sat 07-Jan-12 08:41 AM | edited Sat 07-Jan-12 08:50 AM by russg
First, using Transfer is an option, not a requirement. I've never used it. Let me give you a quick step-by-step of my editing workflow process. There are many ways to skin this cat, this is just one of them.
1. I remove the memory card from the camera and insert it in a card reader. I then copy the files on the card to a temporary working folder that I always use for receiving raw unedited files using Windows Explorer. Someone earlier mentioned you were using a Mac, so you would use Mac's equivalent file utility. Or you could use Transfer. I never saw the point of Transfer, but many people use it.
2. Once the files are in the working temp folder, I use View NX2 as a browser to study the files. Since I always bracket my shots, I always have many files to cull out and remove from the editing process. In this step I evaluate composition, exposure and focus, and then ultimately decide which are keepers, or at least have the potential to be keepers, and which are losers. The losers get deleted from the temp folder directly from VNX2.
3. After the intitial culling process, the remainder of the files are opened in Capture NX2, either one at a time or maybe as many as a half-dozen at a time. There is a button on the tool bar in VNX2 that will open selected files directly in CNX2. Files can also be opened directly from CNX2.
4. After the nef files are editied in CNX2, I save the edits in the nef file. After the raw file is saved, I then immediately save a high quality jpeg of the image in the same folder, using file save as. I now have a jpeg that exactly matches the edited nef file. The folder where the edited files are saved is part of a folder structure I have on my hard drive that organizes my images by content. Since I shoot mostly landscapes, they are mostly location based, but a folder could represent an event, or certain people you have photographed. As Eric mentioned, both VNX2 and CNX2 are folder centric. Find an organizational scheme that works for you, and start using it right away. You'll also want to develop a file naming convention that works for you. There are as many as those as there are photographers, I think. But for me, I think it's important to be able to easily link the nef file to the jpeg file. I use a very simple system. I don't rename the nef file, I use the filename assigned by the camera. Once the nef file has been edited, it is rarely revisited except for a re-edit. All future browsing, viewing, emailing and posting to the web is done from the high quality jpeg. So as an example, if the raw file is named DSC_1234.nef, and let's say that shot was taken at the Grand Canyon, I would name the jpeg 1234 Grand Canyon.jpg, or more likely some specific location at the Grand Canyon, such as 1234 Mather Point.jpg. Both the nef and the jpeg are saved in the same folder (Grand Canyon), so if I happen to be viewing the 1234 Mather Point.jpg file and feel the need to open the nef file from which it came, I know I'm looking for DSC_1234.nef, and I know it will be in the same folder. Having the file number (1234) at the beginning of the jpeg file name also offers the advantage of having the file displayed in a folder or browser in chronological order. This way if you're reviewing a photo trip in a browser or slide show program, you automatically will be viewing the photos in the order that they were taken, which for me makes the most sense. Again, this is just one of any number of ways to name files. Anything works as long as it works for you. The important thing is to develop a system early and be consistent with it.
5. After the edited raw files and jpegs are saved into their appropriate folders, I back them up to an external hard drive and then delete all the files in the temporary workng folder to make it availble for the next set of files to be tranfered from the next shoot.
This is just a broad overview of my process. I've left out a number of the finer points, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how you might wnat to structure your workflow. It's called weorkflow for a reason. It really is a flow that your photos will consistently follow from capture in the camera to a final presentable image.
#23. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 22
Sun 08-Jan-12 02:56 AM
I guess that depends on what type of metadata you're referring to. I have my camera set up to automatically embed copyright and user comment data into each file as it is recorded. Your D90 can be configured to do the same in the setup menu. I will often add lattitude and longitude data (geotagging) to my landscape photos. Neither of those involve Capture. I typically don't add IPTC data. There have been a couple of times where IPTC data was required to be added for submission to a publisher, and in that case I added it either with Capture or View.
#9. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations on your new camera.
Software and post processing can be a bit of a jungle. Most of us just use the NEF for our images since it is so easy to create a JPEG when you need one, and because there is no need to maintain an extra file with the associated space it takes.
A NEF file must be processed in software. With Nikon products - View or Capture - the NEF will look exactly like the JPEG using all the camera settings. (Once you have edited the NEF, it will look different, but you can choose to have your NEF and JPEG linked so changes to the NEF are applied to the JPEG.) If you use other editing programs, camera settings may not match what you see on the screen. The JPEG can provide a point of reference if you are trying to use other programs for rendering and editing a NEF.
Nikonians membership my most important photographic investment, after the camera
#21. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 20
Sat 07-Jan-12 03:21 PM
For good reason. VNX2 has no way to deal with the complex edit steps that would likely exist in a nef file that was edited in CNX2. I'm not sure why anyone who has the ability to edit a nef file in CNX2 would ever want to further edit it in VNX2. It doesn't make any sense to me. If the file needs further editing, why not just re-open it in CNX2 and pick up where you left off with all of CNX2's tools available to you? The good news is that all your CNX2 edits will be represented when viewing the edited file in VNX2.
#25. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 21
Sun 08-Jan-12 02:31 PM
Russ, are you saying that edits of NEF files with Capture NX2 that includes steps that are not in View NX2 will be honored if the NEF file is then opened in the edit mode of View NX2 and if so will a jpg output from View NX2 look the same as one output from Capture NX2?
If this is the case, I don't see why it's would be a problem to allow editing of the parameters that View NX2 include and leave the other parameters that were generated in Capture NX2 unchanged.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#26. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 25
Sun 08-Jan-12 03:13 PM
No, I said that CNX2 edits to a nef file would be represented when *viewing* the file in VNX2. I ssid nothing about those edits being honored when re-editing the file in VNX2. I don't use VNX2 as an editor. I don't even consider it an editor. I consider it a viewer and browser, and thats how I use it. I realize that VNX2 does have some limited abilty to make edits to a nef file, and will easily convert a nef file to other formats. But since I'm more than comfortable using CNX2 as my editor, I see no reason to muck up the works by trying to go back and forth between CNX2 and VNX2 with edits to a file, trying to force compatibility that clearly isn't there. I can't speak to the strategy of the development team regarding their intent as it relates to the inter-operability of VNX2 and CNX2, but I would imagine that the editing provisions of VNX2 were meant to serve those who did not want to make the investment in time, effort and capital to use CNX2 as their editor. Which I think is sound policy. Not everyone will want to take photo editing to the degree that some of us do. I can see where VNX2 would serve the needs of many nef shooters, and I think it's great that Nikon provides such a nice program to its customers at no cost.
As to the technical reasons why the two programs could or couldn't be more compatible with respect to honoring each others edits, you're asking the wrong guy. It's a good day for me if I can just get the program to do what I want it to do, without understanding how the moving parts work. There are others here who can speak to that much better than I. But I do know it's a complicated history with different development teams and corporate entitites involved over the years in the development of these two programs. I'm just happy that they work together as well as they do.
#27. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 26
Sun 08-Jan-12 09:19 PM | edited Mon 09-Jan-12 04:49 AM by b2martin_a
Russ, thanks for the input - guess I read what you posted wrong. I think the way you explaned it was confusing. You said "The good news is that all your CNX2 edits will be represented when viewing the edited file in VNX2". The only edited file is the NEF file, which is how I read the comment - A JPG or TIF file output from the edited NEF file with CNX2 is not edited, so I assumed you were talking about viewing the CNX2 edited NEF with View NX2.
I have View NX2, Capture NX2, and Photoshop CS5. I use View NX2 for viewing, but have experimented with it's editing capability and noticed if I had edited an NEF in Capture NX2 that I could no longer edit it in View NX2. I do all my NEF editing with Photoshop CS5 Adobe RAW converter.
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#28. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 26
Mon 09-Jan-12 03:12 AM
I tried to crop a photo in VNX2 to post to my gallery. It appeared to save but when I loaded it to the gallery it was the unedited version.
I used iPhoto and will wait until I have downloaded Capture before I do any more editing I think.
#29. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 28
bobtail Nikonian since 20th Sep 2006Mon 09-Jan-12 08:46 AM
If you are using ViewNX2 as an editor, which it can do perfectly well, even if without all the Capture NX2 options, then you can SAVE or SAVE AS using the buttons at the bottom right of the screen. They are actually rather indistinct at the bottom of the Adjustment or metadata panel, together with the Re-set button.
Why they are not as usual in the File menu, I don't know.
Hope this helps,
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#30. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 28
Mon 09-Jan-12 11:25 AM
In View NX2 you need to either double click on the cropped image or select Apply in order to apply your crop. This is a extra step and not very intuitive. Then of course, you do need to Save.
Nikonians membership my most important photographic investment, after the camera
#31. "RE: NEF and JPEG" | In response to Reply # 30
Mon 09-Jan-12 12:45 PM
Thanks Eric and Chris for your advice (as well as everyone else who has contributed). I'll have a go at saving some changes and see what happens.
I've just downloaded trials of CNX2 and Aperture 3, so I'll probably have plenty of questions, although I will try to work it out for myself first.