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What are NEF files?

Nikon Electronic Format (NEF) is a RAW file format that contains digital photos taken by Nikon cameras. It is basically a digital negative of the captured image without compression or loss of quality.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the NEF format?

The NEF format is a multimedia standard in the current world of digital content. And it shows the following advantages and disadvantages:


  • This format stores the metadata of the captured images, which includes the camera model, description of settings, lens information, etc.
  • Image processing, such as adjustment of white balance, hue, sharpness, tone, is never permanent in this format. Therefore, the user can alter the image without losing the original quality and details.
  • Depending on the camera, the NEF file format retains 12-bit or 14-bit data, resulting in an image with a much greater tonal range than an 8-bit JPEG or TIFF file.


  • The RAW file is much larger to store, and also takes longer to process on the computer.

NEF Format FAQs

Is a NEF file the same as RAW?

Exclusive to Nikon cameras, NEF is Nikon's RAW file format. RAW image files, sometimes referred to as digital negatives, contain all the image information captured by the camera's sensor.

Can I open a NEF file in Photoshop?

In order to open the NEF file in Photoshop, the NEF file must have the latest version of the Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in. The latest version of this plug-in is not available if you are running Photoshop CS5 or earlier, so converting the file is the only way to open it in Photoshop for editing.

What is the difference between JPEG and NEF photos?

When an image is captured on a nikon digital camera, it is recorded as raw data. If the camera format is set to JPEG, this raw data is processed and compressed before being saved in JPEG format. If the camera format is set to NEF , no processing is applied and therefore the file stores more tonal and color data.

How do I view a NEF file?

If NEF files do not open in Windows, install the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack which allows the use of NEF, DNG, CR2, CRW, PEF, RW2 and other RAW images. NEF files can also be opened with Able RAWer, Adobe Photoshop, IrfanView, GIMP, AfterShot Pro, and probably other popular photo and graphics tools as well.