DNG vs RAW: How to choose? This is one of the most important questions that a photographer may ask because it will affect the digital photography workflow. To help you make a better decision, we will compare the DNG format vs RAW format in this post.

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What Is DNG?

DNG is abbreviated to be Digital Negative Image File and is a patented format developed by Adobe Systems. It is a publicly available archive format for RAW files created by various digital cameras.

Although DNG was created by Adobe, many software manufacturers such as Apple and Google have developed support for DNG. And there are many famous camera manufacturers like Leica, Casio, Ricoh, and Pentax adopting this standard and using it in their cameras as their supported file format.

What is RAW?

RAW images, also known as “digital negatives”, meaning they are defined as the data which is not yet processed or manipulated in any way and coming directly from the camera sensor. Since these files are not processed yet, they are not ready to be printed or uploaded. RAW files preserve the most amount of information on an image and generally contain more colors and dynamic range than other formats.

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DNG Vs RAW: Quality and File Size

When it comes to the comparison of DNG format vs RAW format, the quality and file size are the important factors that need to be considered.

Generally speaking, DNG files are about 20% smaller than RAW files, but the difference in quality is minimal. It means you can store more of them on your computer. If you are limited in storage space, DNG might be a good option for you. Additionally, the DNG format includes checksum information in the file to detect and prevent file corruption.

Related article: How to Reduce Picture File Size? Everything You Need to Know

DNG Vs RAW: Compatibility

As an open-source and highly compatible format, DNG will always enable you to open the files on Adobe programs like Photoshop and Lightroom. Because DNG doesn’t require a proprietary decoding algorithm, there is wider support from a variety of editing software.

Because RAW files cannot be modified by third-party software, your settings will be stored in a separate sidecar file.

Tip: A sidecar is a separate XMP file that contains edits, changes, and settings.

Furthermore, the RAW files may differ from the camera manufacturer or sensor models. A RAW file from Canon will not be the same as one from Nikon. If you have a brand-new camera, you may need some time for the software to catch up with your model.

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DNG Vs RAW: Editing

Let’s move on to the DNG vs RAW issue, as image formats, the editing process is also an important factor we need to take into consideration. In comparison, DNG files are easier to edit. With DNGs, changes to images can be written directly into them with no need to create separate sidecar XMP files to store the data.

Editing a RAW file can take a while. You will need to use a sidecar or convert them to other formats first. Depending on your computer and software, this could take some time if you have many RAW files to deal with.

DNG files work well with Adobe programs like Photoshop and Lightroom. If you have many photos to edit, using DNGs can be a good idea.

In contrast, RAW files can store the basic exposure information and camera-specific data such as focus point, picture controls, and so on, the time to wait can be worthy for professional photographers.

If you are looking for a RAW photo editor, you can check out Top 6 Best Paid/Free RAW Photo Editors.

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To sum up, this post compares DNG vs RAW formats. As we mentioned above, neither RAW nor DNG is objectively superior, both of them have pros and cons. The choice will differ depending on your special needs.

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