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Converting .NEF to .jpg


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#1 Stoo

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 06:59 PM

I hope that this hasn't been addressed elsewhere... My search came up with nothing.

Does anyone know of a free Mac-based utility to convert .NEF files to .jpgs? The photo processor I use has a fancy upload system, but it won't acknowledge files with a .NEF extension. I am only using Elements 9.0 and even when I save my file as a jpeg, it still has the Nikon extension...

Just for fun, I just "changed" the extension and everything appears to be ok, but my wee brain tells me it can't be that simple!

Thanks!

Edited by Stoo, 07 December 2011 - 07:15 PM.


#2 ATJ

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 09:32 PM

What exactly are you trying to do?

NEF files are a Nikon raw format and as such there is no direct conversion to JPEG. The raw format stores the data pretty much directly from the sensor and it would have to be interpreted.

However, Nikon nicely stores a JPEG inside the NEF file based on the camera settings at the time the photo was taken. That's basically what gets displayed on the LCD. ExifTool can extract the JPEG so you can save it as a .JPG.

While that will give you a file as a JPEG, you really want to process the file as a raw otherwise there's little point to shooting raw. When you process a raw file you have a lot more options available to you. For example (and this is just the tip of the iceberg), white balance. A raw file knows nothing of white balance. It can store what the camera was set to when the photo was taken but it does not at all change the raw image. This means if you set the wrong white balance on the camera when you took the photo and you shot raw, you can set the white balance of the processed image to whatever you like. If you had the JPEG (including what is stored inside the raw file) the set white balance has already been applied and you are limited in how much you can adjust the image.

Best to shoot raw and process with something that can understand raw and give you the full value of raw. If your processing tool doesn't support raw, does it support DNG? Adobe have a free converter from raw to DNG.

Edited by ATJ, 07 December 2011 - 09:36 PM.


#3 loftus

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 04:05 AM

Stoo, I am going to go a little contrary to what ATJ said. Sounds to me like you are still fairly early in your post processing skills, and your adjustments, if any, are probably pretty simple. So I say, that for those who simply want to shoot a pretty decent picture in camera, just shoot JPEG. If you do decide to make some minor adjustments like tweaking color balance beyond that, the loss of quality on a JPEG will be minimal. As you get to understand all this stuff and you want to really start tweaking things, then switch to RAW (NEF) and do your tweaks out of camera and then export as JPEG. All images start as a NEF, but if you set to JPEG in camera, then they are processed in camera. If you set to NEF in camera, then the NEF has to be imported into a raw processing software program (which is part of Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture etc) and then exported from the program as a JPEG. You can't really convert a NEF which is a very large unprocessed file, to a JPEG which is a processed and compressed file, simply by changing the extension.

Edited by loftus, 08 December 2011 - 04:10 AM.

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#4 ATJ

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 01:44 PM

Stoo, I am going to go a little contrary to what ATJ said.

Actually, I do agree with what your saying, to a point. If Stoo isn't going to make use of the raw files he may as well shoot JPEG. It will be simpler, quicker and also save space. The only reason I didn't recommend it is that down the track when Stoo becomes proficient at processing raw files, there won;t be the opportunity to go back and reprocess some of the early shots which might include some gems that had some wrong settings and so the best can't be got out of them.

For the first month or so after I got my first DSLR (a D70 in 2005) I shot JPEG. I really regret it now as there are some shots (pets when they were young) that I'd really like to be able to get more out of.

#5 loftus

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 01:58 PM

Actually, I do agree with what your saying, to a point. If Stoo isn't going to make use of the raw files he may as well shoot JPEG. It will be simpler, quicker and also save space. The only reason I didn't recommend it is that down the track when Stoo becomes proficient at processing raw files, there won;t be the opportunity to go back and reprocess some of the early shots which might include some gems that had some wrong settings and so the best can't be got out of them.

For the first month or so after I got my first DSLR (a D70 in 2005) I shot JPEG. I really regret it now as there are some shots (pets when they were young) that I'd really like to be able to get more out of.

You can still edit JPEGS and actually make quite a lot of changes without huge loss of quality. Where one tends to start seeing more quality loss is when one does multiple saves. So in general when processing JPEGS complete all the steps in one processing session.

Edited by loftus, 08 December 2011 - 01:59 PM.

Nikon D800, Nikon D7000, Nauticam, Inons, Subtronic Novas. Lens collection - 10-17, 15, 16, 16-35, 14-24, 24-70, 85, 18-200, 28-300, 70-200, 60 and 105, TC's. Macs with Aperture and Photoshop.

#6 ATJ

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 03:53 PM

You can still edit JPEGS and actually make quite a lot of changes without huge loss of quality. Where one tends to start seeing more quality loss is when one does multiple saves. So in general when processing JPEGS complete all the steps in one processing session.

If the shot was well exposed, etc., in the first place. If it wasn't, JPEG can be quite limiting. Raw gives you much better capabilities if the original shot was less than ideal.

#7 Bentoni

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 05:31 PM

To answer your original question, try this free (at least I think it's still free) simple app. It is called, 'Dragoman.' It is very simple and has come in handy for me several times as a quick way to convert a variety of file types. It will 'convert' .NEF raw to simple .jpg.

Find it here:

http://download.cnet...2_4-196176.html

I hope this helps.

Randall
See my work at:
www.randallbenton.com

#8 loftus

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 05:37 PM

If the shot was well exposed, etc., in the first place. If it wasn't, JPEG can be quite limiting. Raw gives you much better capabilities if the original shot was less than ideal.

I'm not arguing that, I shoot RAW routinely. I just think that RAW, for folks who don't want to mess with their images too much is overrated, and that limited manipulation of JPEG is just fine in most cases. Unless one really knows what to do with a RAW image, you are better off with JPEG. Stoo has not checked back in on this discussion, so I have no idea what his abilities are with editing RAW images. If one keeps the original JPEG, so that if you do revisit the original image and edit it in a new way, rather than repeatedly editing and saving a JPEG, quality loss will be limited.
Many pros, particularly wedding and event photographers, don't even consider RAW.
Getting back to Stoo's question though - when you say photo processor though, what do you mean? Is Elements not your photo processor?
The other thing is that you should be able to use Nikon's software like View NX, which is free and should come with the camera, to bring your files in from the camera and view them as JPEG, NEF or TIFF and do some limited editing. View NX will incorporate the camera profiles as it processes the NEF to JPEG. Then you can further process them in Elements if you like.
Having said all that, if you in invest in a non-destructive RAW editing and storage program like Lightroom (or Aperture with Mac), this whole discussion becomes mute.
http://www.nikonusa....2/ViewNX-2.html

Edited by loftus, 09 December 2011 - 01:08 AM.

Nikon D800, Nikon D7000, Nauticam, Inons, Subtronic Novas. Lens collection - 10-17, 15, 16, 16-35, 14-24, 24-70, 85, 18-200, 28-300, 70-200, 60 and 105, TC's. Macs with Aperture and Photoshop.

#9 TomR1

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 09:20 AM

I advocate always shooting in RAW underwater and never purchasing an underwater camera that cannot capture in RAW.

In my view it is the single thing that can improve a novice photographer's shots. It is really not difficult to do basic RAW processing and setting the white balance, exposure, clarity and saturation will turn many throw-away shots into decent shots.

Regards,

Tom

#10 Stoo

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:32 AM

Sorry for the delay responding... I've been busing hounding dealers for my new housing! :D

In spite of my question, I am not a complete neophyte in the "theory" of post-processing. I've been in the print and publishing industry for years, but not in a hands-on way.

The reason I asked the question is that I ended up publishing a calendar this year. I relied on the printer to convert the RAW files to CMYK which opens up some interesting colour shifts in some images. I would have preferred to do all this converting and tweaking myself prior to sending them off. When I asked this question, I was still trying to get by with Elements. I've since realized the limitations and acquired Photoshop and Lightroom.

In terms of "hands-on" I am very green, but fortunately, I am surrounded by PS experts who are happy to share their knowledge... so far.

Thanks for your help!

Edited by Stoo, 19 February 2012 - 10:32 AM.