A definition of DNG (Digital Negative)

DSLRs and compact system cameras, as well as some compact cameras, have the ability to shoot Raw images, although the format in which this information is stored depends on the manufacturer. Unlike JPEG or TIFF files, which are widely used and supported across many different devices and software packages, Raw images have no universal file format. Instead they are stored in one of many file types, which face minor changes as new generations of cameras are introduced.

The idea of updating a format’s specifications is not exclusive to Raw files, but the most obvious disadvantage of this concerns compatibility with different programs. If you buy a new camera and you want to open its Raw files, you will typically have to use the software supplied by the manufacturer. The alternative is to either wait for other programs to begin supporting the format, or to use the Digital Negative (DNG) system proposed by Adobe as a universal Raw standard.

Although only a handful of cameras use DNG as their native Raw format, Adobe’s free-to-download DNG Converter can quickly process proprietary files into DNG versions. In this way, they can be immediately recognised by programs such as Photoshop without the user needing to update their software, or to use the manufacturer’s software should they prefer not to. This also solves the issue of file archival, as with so many different formats being continuously updated, there’s a good chance that many will at some point become obselete. Not only that, but should the software used to recognise these files also be discontinued, the user will be left with no way of opening their images.