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Author Topic: Observations regarding lack of support of DNG as input to RAW converters.  (Read 3725 times)
Louie Sherwin
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« on: February 23, 2010, 01:22:35 PM »

I have been using a simple workflow starting with ImageIngester to import and convert my RAW image files to DNG and the editing them with Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw and then cataloging with ExpressionMedia. Since Microsoft has apparently stopped selling ExpressionMedia I started the process of evaluating all of my tools including RAW converters. While Lightroom is a obvious possibility I wanted to look at alternatives.

The big three seem to be Capture One, Bibble and DxO and they all have recently come out with major new releases with a lot of interesting features.  As I researched each one, however, I was disappointed to discover that none of the them supports DNG as an input format.

With all the discussion about DNG being an "open" and "documented" format this actually came as a bit of a surprise to me. I knew going into my decision to convert to DNG that I would be abandoning manufacturer's RAW converters, But I must say that I had the expectation that there would be wider acceptance of DNG as a standard format.

To date, however, it seems that none of these developers have been able to satisfactorily resolve their issues with DNG.  I am sure that the reasons for this are complex and varied and I can't say that I blame them. At least one view of some of the challenges was expressed on this forum  back in 2007.  Bibble Pro instead of ACR?

The fundamental problem, I believe, is that DNG is an Adobe proprietary format not an "open standard". There is really no motivation for Adobe to give up control and release DNG as a truly "open standard" because that would potentially affect their market share. Furthermore, there is no motivation for other software developers to adopt DNG as a standard to become subject to the whims of a much larger company. Basically what we have a Mexican standoff. Unfortunately the losers are all us photographers wondering exactly why is it that we cannot put our hands on the "negative" anymore.

Today for all practical purposes converting to DNG also means that you are restricted to using only Adobe image processing tools from that point forward. Nothing I see today leads me to believe that this will change any time soon. Because DNG is in effect a single vendor format it doesn't, in my opinion, rise to the level of an acceptable archival format, even though it does offer excellent enhancements to workflow and file management.

Unless and until there is a truly "open standard" for RAW files adopted by the majority of image processing software developers I am convinced that it is much safer to archive all my original RAW files as the original masters and treat DNG files if I end up using them at all as just one of possibly several derivative formats.

I am very glad that I hedged my bets and decided to also save and archive all my original RAW files along the way. I still have the ability to evaluate and choose one of several different RAW converters rather than having to just take what Adobe is able to offer. I just need to go our and buy some bigger disks now. ;-)

I hope that you will find my observations and thoughts useful in your own decision process.

-louie
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MacOS 10.5 Intel, Photoshop CS5, EM2.0.2 , IIP 3.2, LR3
Louie Sherwin
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2010, 12:01:04 PM »

Just an update to my original post. On another thread Peter noted that Capture One does support DNG as an input format. My  source was the 5.x user guide which does not make any mention of using DNG as input must output. Apparently the user guide is out of date.

On the Phase One web site there is a list of supported RAW formats and DNG is listed there. However, they make the following disclaimer:

Quote
Adobe: DNG (raw DNG support only). The DNG support is not optimized for specific cameras

An unfortunate limitation since presumably at least one reason for using C1 would be to take advantage of those optimizations.

-louie
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MacOS 10.5 Intel, Photoshop CS5, EM2.0.2 , IIP 3.2, LR3
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