Digital Negative (DNG):

My first thought was “Oh good – another image file format – just what I need”, but that’s a mistake. Adobe do have some very good points about why we need .DNG in their PDF file (see above):

“Camera manufacturers often drop support for a propriety raw format a few years after a camera is discontinued. Without continued software support, users may not be able to access images stored in proprietary raw formats and the images may be lost forever. Since DNG is publicly documented, it is far more likely that raw images stored as DNG files will be readable by software in the distant future, making DNG a safer choice for archival.”

This is pretty much the same sentiment behind Dave Coffin’s dcraw (the code of which isused in Adobe’s current RAW conversion tool) in that if the source code is out there that can easily be compiled, the format should never die out completely.

I’ve only given DNG a quick run around at the moment, and the data files to appear to be largely the same size as my current Canon Powershot G3 raw originals, which is nice (the 3.5MB RAW files end up as 22MB 16-bit PSD images) and do seem to have all of the metadata like ISO preserved. It’ll be interesting to see how this related to Elements 3 later next month: will that have support for all the formats except DNG to aid the sales of PS, or will is only support DNG and you will need PS if you wish to open RAW files directly ?

Personally I’d force Elements users to convert to DNG and help the spread of the format usage – one extra conversion step isn’t going to be that much of a bind considering that Elements is around £59 (pre-order) and PS CS is over £600 (not upgrade).

Update: This more informative announcement has quite a list of DNG ‘supporters’, but sadly missing is any camera manufacturer. Ok, so it’s maybe too soon for that, and it could be that the various RAW formats are tailored not around some desire to form a secret Cabal, but what is easiest for the camera CPU to generate from the CCD data, and so any form of processing will slow down image capture/file writing time and so DNG won’t be seen as a native camera option for quite some time.

Updated Update: Michael Reichmann also has a few (positive) things to say about DNG