PhotoshopNews.com
Apr 22, 2005

Nikon Responds. . .

Source: DPReview
Advisory Release: Nikon Advisory – For Immediate Release

The Nikon D2X professional Digital Single Lens Reflex camera has received widely positive acclaim for its overall performance and image processing quality. Recently, speculative statements which appear to be based on misunderstandings and misinformation about the D2X camera’s “encryption” of certain white balance data have propagated on the internet.

The purpose of this advisory is to clarify this matter with facts and explanations.

The Nikon D2X is capable of producing high quality images that can be saved in a variety of file formats, including the proprietary Nikon Electronic Format (NEF), standard TIFF and several levels of standard JPEG compressed files.

The NEF, a Nikon proprietary raw file design, was introduced with the Nikon D1 Camera and Nikon’s original Capture software. The combination of Nikon camera, in-camera image processing, NEF file format and in-computer image processing with original Nikon Capture software was developed as a system that faithfully saved image files that represent the camera settings made manually or automatically by the photographer at the time a picture was taken.

Nikon’s preservation of its unique technology in the NEF file is employed as an action that protects the uniqueness of the file. At the same time, Nikon makes available a software developer kit (SDK) that, when implemented appropriately, enables a wide range of NEF performance, including white balance, for Nikon photographers and their productive use of the NEF file.

Since the inception of the system, Nikon has always provided photographers with choices about how they might use the system’s performance and enjoy high quality images. Nikon’s choices for opening and processing NEF files have been and continue to include:

* Nikon Capture software
* Plug-in for Adobe’s Photoshop
* Nikon PictureProject software
* Nikon View software
* Availability of Nikon Software Developer Kit (SDK) and the software that has been developed using the SDK

Through use of the Nikon Software Developer Kit, authorized developers can produce software by applying creative concepts to their implementation and adding capabilities to open Nikon’s NEF file and use NEF’s embedded Instructions and Nikon’s Libraries. Nikon photographers reap benefits from independent developers’ approaches, because it allows the photographer to open and process their NEF images.

After a developer’s software is created using the Nikon SDK, a NEF file can be opened, edited in either TIFF or JPEG format, and then saved in formats available in the developers’ software. This process has been available since the first Nikon SDK for NEF.

With each introduction of a new Nikon digital Single Lens Reflex model, Nikon updates the available SDK selection to provide new information; this is the situation with the D2X, D2Hs and D50 models. As stated above, application for the Nikon SDK is possible for bona fide software companies that send Nikon a written application for the SDK. Once approved, the SDK is provided to the developer at no charge and they are authorized to use it.

Nikon has provided its confidential SDK software to many software developers. With the Nikon SDK, developers may design excellent and creative compatibility between the NEF and their software, all without compromising the integrity of the NEF’s original concept, and ensuring that work done by the photographer during the picture taking process can be incorporated into the rendering of the image.

The trilogy of performance, from Camera-to-NEF-to-Capture, has evolved though several generations of Nikon Digital SLR models, improving along the way. As a proprietary format, Nikon secures NEF’s structure and processing through various technologies. Securing this structure is intended for the photographer’s benefit, and dedicated to ensuring faithful reproduction of the photographer’s creative intentions through consistent performance and rendition of the images. Discussions propagated on the internet suggesting otherwise are misinformed about the unique structure of NEF.

Nikon’s Camera System, NEF and Capture software are a tightly knit system, and they are all developed through the cooperative efforts of Nikon’s design teams, and this collaboration results in achieving the highest image quality.

Nikon strives to provide photographers with excellent picture taking performance, compatible Nikon in-system image processing performance and by extension, compatibility with additional software developers’ products, with the ultimate goal of delivering a high level of integrity for a photographer’s creative vision.

Nikon continues to welcome dialogue with bona fide software developers.

79 Responses to “Nikon Responds. . .”

  1. Mike Broadway Says:

    Nikon’s response is inadequate.

    The NEF format is the only one of the file formats the the DX2 supports that preserves all the information captured by the camera – it is my digital negative.

    The contents of the the RAW file are propietary to me, the photographer. The only way I can be reasonably sure that the full content of the RAW file will be accessible in 20 years time is if the file format is openly published.

    Further, as a photographer who is also a software engineer that understands the costs of using proprietary SDKs, I don’t want Photoshop or any other third party tool I wish to use in my workflow to be bloated beacuse it is forced to link in SDK code from Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Kodak and god knows how many other companies.

    Nor do I want the price of the tools I choose to use to be infalted because each of these companies claims a royalty, or might do so in the future.

    As a photographer owning camera from multiple suppliers I don’t not want to have multiple tools for the same basic purpose. I want to use the one tool I chose that suits my needs the best – Nikon’s software is either too crude or too expensive for what it does.

    Bottom line – I will not be buying the DX2 that I was considering until Nikon chages their policy on this question. If they take too long they will lose me as long time customer and advocate.

    Mike Broadway

  2. Richard Earney Says:

    >Nikon continues to welcome dialogue with bona fide software developers.

    Are Adobe, Bibble, Phase One not bona fide software developers??????????? Nikon sound like they are having a hissy fit, to which the answer is, “Grow Up”!

  3. Jerry Day Says:

    This is the equivalent of a film camera only working with one type of film. The great thing about 35mm is that the format was so universal and generic. A new roll of TriX will work in a 70 year old Leica.

    That is why we have to have a universal raw format such as DNG.

  4. Dave Michener Says:

    Back about 50+ years, Kodak used to ‘let’ you buy Kodachrome, provided you paid the included processing cost for Kodak to develop the film. After the government wacked them for restraint of trade, you could buy the film for only the cost of the film.

    Perhaps Nikon is testing the waters to see if any government is going to step up and wack them? Or perhaps they are trying to get a DMCA lawsuit going to test that issue? Or perhaps, they just plain stupid and like to watch their market share continue to erode?

  5. Alex Jones Photography Says:

    Nikon’s response shows that they do not understand the problem. The software that they make is not up to standard and the software of others is. They want to be able to sell the software to the people who also purchased the $6,000 body (or two) and another $10,000 in lenses. If the quality of NC was worth paying for then that would be a different conversation. As a loyal Nikon user this makes me wonder about the future and their loyalty to us. Nikon, please work with the people who can make great software and don’t be so irritating. You are way behind the curve on this one.

  6. David Grandy Says:

    I loved the clarification piece from Nikon. It said absolutely nothing. Does it mean that the Adobe engineer/founder was wrong when he gave that interview? They don’t address that at all. Will Nikon be making the information that Adobe needed available? Who can tell.

    I think that Nikon is back peddling as fast as they can. How many Nikon owners have deluged Nikon with cries of “What do you mean that the D2X’s software won’t be fully Photoshop complient?”. In the last few days how many pre-orders of Nikon high-end cameras (such as they are) have been cancelled in favour of Canon?

    I think back to the hubris of IBM when they actually thought that the PC computer’s industry standard was IBM, rather than Microsoft. Outside of Apple, would any company proudly state that their product was not fully Windows complient? The consumer would just keep walking.

    Nikon wants to sell software and restricting or encrypting their NEF RAW data should make the consumer do just that. But that presumes that ther isn’t any other place to go.

    As usual Nikon has missed the point and probably the bus. Nikon needs Photoshop, Photoshop doesn’t need Nikon. Photoshop is the digital photography universe and to be succesful Nikon had better be happy just being one of many stars in a constellation.

    Nikon, you sell cameras. Have you noticed all the white
    lenses at the Superbowl? They aren’t yours. I owned Nikon for 25 years and I bailed because nothing you make comes up to Canon specs. Now you want to create one more reason for people to go elsewhere.

  7. Gary Parker Says:

    I agree with Mike Broadway… The specific information I capture on my camera would not exist were it not for my own particular experience, sensibility, background, upbringing, values, years of training, etc. Nikon has nothing to do with it. Good or bad the images I make are mine to process as I wish.

    I see a capture along the same lines as a black & white negative which as a print will look entirely different if printed by multiple photographers. If with Nikon I no longer own the right to “print” digital captures as I wish then contact me if you wish to buy a very slightly used D2x…

    I also agree with Mike that Nikon’s response is inadequate. Mike is a software engineer/photographer who apparently understands Nikon’s somewhat technical official response. I have no problem admitting I’m a few hundred light years from being a software engineer and only vaguely “think” I understand what Nikon is saying. (no wonder Nikon claims there are “misunderstandings…”)

    Nikon’s response will be adequate once they tell us in plain layman terms what the hell they’re talking about and what they are going to do. Are they holding firm that we must use their crappy software as part of the process of taking the image into Photoshop OR are they saying they will gladly share their secret stuff with Adobe???

    Honestly, I don’t care if Nikon’s software processes the image better than God himself. I don’t use a tenth of the bells and whistles they put on their cameras yet somehow the pictures miraculously “turn out.” With software I tend to soften, blur, tweak the contrast all over the place, shoot with broken filters and alter/distort the image and colors to taste. Nikon’s argument that only they know how to extract the best files is a moot point to me since I’ll be mucking it up anyway.

  8. Jeff Schewe Says:

    The battle looms. . .pick your side wisely.

    While the battle for supremacy in digital cameras should be a well fought battle, the battle must end at the point that the raw file captured by the photographer is saved. The battle ground should include the sensor, the camera, the analog to digital convertor, even the on-board processor for writing the files to disk. But the moment the file is written, it should belong solely to the photographer with nothing in the file to force a photographer to process it a certain way or be required to use certain software to access the data. Nothing in the file should be in any way undocumented or in any way restrict the access to the image data by the author of the photograph.

    The battleground for innovation and competition in digital photography must end at the point a file is written. To do anything to the file that in any way restricts, hampers, or impairs unfettered access to the digital photographic image is unjustifiable and should be deemed a hostile act against the photographer’s interest and the best interest of the photography industry.

    Long term preservation and conservation of digital photography must be the most crucial and respected principle. Proprietary and undocumented raw file formats puts digital photography and photographers at unacceptable risks and impose restrictions that far outweigh any commercial or proprietary interests of the camera companies. If the camera companies wish to compete, let them do so on a battleground that does not put the very industry in which they participate at risk or inhibit the freedom of the photographers that are their customers. To do so will subject them to the wrath and scorn of the industry. This applies equally to every camera company. In this issue, there are no bystanders.

    The raw file must belong solely to the photographer with no lien or encumbrance attached in any manner, what so ever.

  9. George Reis Says:

    It is essential that we have universal file formats to preserve image integrity, consistency and permanence. The DNG file format is one that promises to bring universal access to our digital negatives.

    As a consultant and trainer in the forensics field, there is an issue of image integrity that permeates digital imaging. Universal formats enable forensic users to be confident in knowing what their digital negatives contain, and that they can view them in the future with the same data and same settings as they have today. Proprietary formats cannot guarantee this – presenting a hurdle to those who need to maintain image provenance.

  10. Glenn McLaughlin Says:

    Typical self-serving, promotional, corporate, non answer.

    “I would just like to make it perfectly clear that:
    Things are more like they are now, than they have ever been before”……

    nikon has only our best interests in mind and needs to ensure that we only get the best that the camera is capable of……Then why give us the “OPTION” of MANUAL EXPOSURE? Left to our own means we could easily use an improper exposure thereby degrading the quality of the data. Oh dear! not an improper exposure…..?

    What fu&#ing bs.

    I’ve used ACR since it 1st came out.I’ve used it to process NEF files. Did Adobe (or rather Mr Knoll)have use nikons SDK? According to nikon I would assume so.
    Did they have to RE-APPLY for the SDK for each iteration of NEF??
    Good Question.
    Well Adobe, did you?
    I read in the other thread that Adobe requested the D2X info and nikons response was “use the SDK” that’s what it’s for” and adobe got it’s panties in a bunch.
    If they didn’t have to before with each change to NEF after D1, then I would have too. If they did,then we’ve been incited to riot for the wrong reason.

    Is this sdk even a solution to the problem of enabling ALL the features that ACR wants to make available,or is nikon just trying to limit how good a competitive product can be.

    I’d like to know what’s really goin on, but the bottom line is that DNG would stop this kind crap.

    And I WILL wait till this is settled before I attempt to buy a camera that nikon can’t even seem to make available in adequate quantities.

  11. Richard Weisgrau Says:

    Nikon’s response is as absurd as it decision to encrypt the NEF files.

    Above, Jeff Schewe gets to the heart of the issue with these words: “Proprietary and undocumented raw file formats puts digital photography and photographers at unacceptable risks and impose restrictions that far outweigh any commercial or proprietary interests of the camera companies.”

    Nikon has adopted a policy to protect and promote its interests rather than the interests of its customers. I have been a Nikon user for 40 years. I have two Nikon digital Slrs and was about to purchase a D2x when the news of the encryption broke. Tonight, I began to price Canon gear and to examine what my Nikon gear will get on ebay.

    Loyalty lasts until the trusted prove untrustworthy.

  12. Bob Hayes Says:

    Sounds like Microsoft. Well intentioned as Nikon may be, here is what I think has happened: Nikon believes that by developing their own standard, they can ultimately develop a camera/software/image format trilogy that body slam all other competitors. They may actually have something. But like Microsoft, they are ramming this down people’s throat without really telling you what is going on. They may not really know themselves – they may have just felt they were on to something, and while it may yet prove to be the earth-shattering leap in quality they desire, the relase is what is killing it. Sometimes corporations make long-view decisions with no clear short-term plan. And we all know how well we respond to “Just do it, its good for you…” Nikon should probably continue to develop their format – they just shouldn’t get so pissy about it. If it ain’t ready for prime-time, then start working on the update to the firmware that will gove photogrpahers what they want today. Admit it when you are wrong, Nikon. Then keep doing the R&D you are doing. WHen you really have something, show it to us. If there is a reason for a Nikon-exclusive workflow, show us what it is. Make me switch – show me.

  13. Martin Evening Says:

    It looks to me like Nikon are putting forward a defensive argument here. It is all very well saying that an SDK is available for approved third-party developers to engineer a plug-in for Photoshop or other developers. And they are trying to justify the mechanisms for processing the NEF files the way Nikon feel is best. But is this really the solution their customers want? Are Nikon really the best people to engineer this, because it has not exactly hurt Canon when other software developers such as Adobe and Phase One have successfully reverse engineered their raw formats and provided alternative ways to process their capture files. Far from it. Canon customers are very pleased with ther results they are getting.

    Nikon’s response implies that if you buy one of their Digital SLR cameras should adopt a workflow in which the photographer has to access the raw data either through Nikon’s proprietary software or a plug-in reader for Photoshop. This is such an out dated workflow proposal. Photographers who use Photoshop these days prefer to access their raw files via the File Browser using Camera Raw. They don’t want to use import plug-ins.

    And how long should Nikon customers be prepared to wait before an SDK is released and a third-party developer is able to build a plug-in that is compatible with their version of Photoshop? And what happens when they want to reopen a NEF file in ten years time? Which version of Nikon capture or which combination of a Nikon plug-in and Photoshop will be required then? Or imagine a Nikon D2X user who is shooting some important pictures this year and an archivist in say, 40 years time has the job of reprocessing those images from the NEF files shot on a D2X. How confident can we be that those files can be accessed 40 years from now? Will Nikon Capture still exist? These considerations are vitally important to any professional photographer who is concerned about the future value of their archive.

    As others have already pointed out, a solution already exists in the form of DNG. If Nikon want to offer true compatibility with Photoshop and other notable raw converters such as Capture One and Bibble, they should consider offering support for DNG in future models alongside NEF (if not instead of). They would be doing themselves a huge favour and they would be doing the photographic industry a favour as well by remaining in touch with the needs of their professional customers and remain competitive in the digital SLR market.

  14. Andrew Muchira Says:

    I think Nikon’s response was a tidbit arrogant especially that last part..working with bonafide software developers. The implication that adobe are less than bonafide then patronises all of us who consume adobe products.( and we are like the freaking whole world). I agree most with Bob Hayes’ reply. Don’t force it down our throats seduce us with your product and continue with your R&D, then we’ll listen.

  15. Jeff Buttel Says:

    Given that Bibble and dcraw both elected to reverse engineer the encrypted white balance information, and Thomas Knoll has stated that he can’t work with the Nikon SDK, it is apparent that the SDK is inadequate for serious software developers.
    Nikon makes it clear that outside developers must use the SDK: they may not reverse engineer the encrypted white balance data.
    It would be interesting to know how many developers actually use the Nikon SDK. It seems more likely that they use dcraw, since it is free and covers all raw formats.
    Their argument that only by using Nikon software can the image be managed as the photographer intended is bogus. If the photographer thinks the image is being handled as intended then it is.
    If Nikon wants Nikon users to use Capture because it does a better job of image processing, then make it the best program out there. Don’t do it by attempting to cripple the competition.
    As a hardware vendor, Nikon would obviously like to make it as difficult as possible to switch to another camera system. It is the reason they don’t make Canon mount lenses. If Nikon users all use Capture to process their images, then if they want to switch to Canon they are faced not only with a new camera, but with a new software program to learn. That strategy might work if their software were really really good.
    As photographers, we want one software platform where we can process our images. That way, whether we are shooting digitally, or with film, with a point and shoot, or with a 4×5, we can correct and output our images in the same environment.
    Also as photographers we want to use the best tools available. A lot of folks have tried to paint this as an Adobe/Nikon corporate war. I use Photoshop, but I also use Breeze Systems Downloader Pro for renaming images and embedding IPTC information, and iView Media Pro for organizing and storing images. I was just looking at software yesterday uses raw images to create output with infinite depth of field. These smaller developers are pushing the capabilities of digital images for all of us.
    I hope as photographers we understand the threats created by Nikons action and vote with our wallets.

  16. Jamie Harrison Says:

    As a camera reviewer, I agree with Martin’s comments about a need for manufacturers to adopt the DNG format. I would prefer to analyse files for each camera in the same way, using the same software (ACR) but usually have to use the manufacturers own as Adobe can’t support new cameras and update ACR quick enough for me. The problem I have to overcome is to find optimum settings for the files in each software that will provide a fair comparison with raw files form other cameras. The slow processing times of most of the manufacturers own software is the bane of my life, especially as I often have several gigs of pictures to go through. ACR,and especially ACR3 is for the most part a much faster solution.
    As well as the open standard though, I believe the camera manufacturers should make the all of the information about the files available to third party developers (possible via licensing or something). In this way the tools availble in Fuji’s Hyperutility for the S3 Pros sensor, for example will also be availble in ACR (there is a dynamic range slider that otpimises the smaller, second photosite’s data and of course adds the 12MP function which appears better than ACRs interpolation method.)
    We are still in the early days of digital imaging and I’m sure we will see much more improvement and advancement of sensors. We don’t want to lose our archives or functionality.
    Pernhaps we need to draft a petition and get as many people to sign up and present it to all the camera manufacturers. If enough users put proessure on, they’ll have to listen.

  17. Pierre Courtejoie Says:

    “Nikon’s choices for opening and processing NEF files have been and continue to include:
    * Nikon Capture software
    * Plug-in for Adobe’s Photoshop
    * Nikon PictureProject software
    * Nikon View software
    * Availability of Nikon Software Developer Kit (SDK) and the software that has been developed using the SDK”

    As discussed, Capture does not exist under Linux, has been reported as very slow under OSX…
    If Capture is the preferred software to develop the NEFs, why is it sold rather than bundled with the camera?
    So you buy thousands dollars worth of the best equipment that Nikon produces, and receive inferior software?

    The Nikon Photoshop plug-in has only two controls, and replaces ACR when you open a NEF. It is installed without your agreement, and is the cause of hundreds of irate posts in the Adobe User to User forums.

    The SDK does NOT contain the info that the developpers need… What software uses it, by the way?

    Encryption is put ender quotes, then we read “Nikon’s preservation of its unique technology in the NEF file is employed as an action that protects the uniqueness of the file.”
    Interesting concept: I have yet to see a RAW converter that changes data in the RAW file.

    “Nikon photographers reap benefits from independent developers’ approaches, because it allows the photographer to open and process their NEF images.”
    That’s exactly why Nikon should document its file format, or support an already documented file format.

  18. Jack Goodman Says:

    We will learn a lot about Nikon as we watch them scramble to control the damage. The argument Martin Evening advances, that we as photographers own our images and must not be dependent on Nikon to process our images, trumps Nikons unintelligible response.

    Nikon is in danger of losing its hard fought for reputation by affronting and antagonizing the professional photographers who have always made Nikon’s name synoymous with quality and customer support.

    Nikon has, at best, a week or two to end this stupid ruckus. Those of us with D2X’s and an abiding desire to process those images in Photoshoop CS 2 will not tolerate this greedy and indefensible argument much longer.

    Please, Nikon. We love the D2X. Just do what you have to to make RAW open in CS 2 and all will be forgiven. By showing us that you hear the professionals, can admit a mistake, and can correct an error, you will gain much respect and approval. If you stonewall, you will set the Nikon brand back 50 years.

  19. Seth Resnick Says:

    Nikon’s response misses the very heart of the problem. It is absolutely a necessity in guaranteeing the long-term viability of our digital files. The ability for us to create art for society is based on licensing and relicensing creations for future generations. If future generations can’t open creations, digital photography at itself is at a risk of demise. My personal retirement plan is based on licensing my imagery for future use. Every camera manufacturer must recognize that every digital file from every digital camera MUST be able to be opened. At the moment that a file is created, the file belongs to the photographer and mechanism which impedes this process in even the slightest way is not acceptable.

    best,

    seth resnick

  20. kieran Says:

    In order to give rise to a DMCA infringement, Nikon must argue either that copyright in the white balance data or in the photo itself rests with them. I think it’s pretty clear that the photographer owns copyright in the photo, and white balance data surely doesn’t qualify as an artistic work capable of being subject to copyright (and even if it was the copyright in it would probably rest in the photographer not Nikon, the WB being the result of a computer program, which is triggered by the photographer).

    If Nikon has no copyright in respect of the photo or data then the DMCA is a closed book.

  21. AJM Says:

    I agree that Nikon response doesn’t really add anything to what we knew before.
    There is an SDK available for software developers (and there is nothing in Nikon statement that says that Adobe is not a bona fide software developer, is there Richard?). Why Adobe doesn’t want to use it I still don’t know. We should ask Adobe about that. Maybe it is bloated, maybe it doesn’t work well. I wish Thomas told us.

    But for all the people whining that Nikon is forcing them not to use PS, please re-read Thomas statement: “This has absolutely no effect on the quality of the final result out of Camera Raw (it is just the starting point and is nearly always fine tuned in any case), and the new multiple file features of Camera Raw 3 actually make it nearly painless to perform similar adjustments on a large number of images. Beta testers of Camera Raw 3.1 are very happy with the Photoshop CS2/Bridge/Camera Raw workflow when processing D2X files, despite the white balance issue.”

    And yes it would be nice if it was possible for everybody to use DNG, but that wouldn’t guarantee access to these files 40 years from now. The documentation may be available, but there could be no software that still opens it, we may have moved to a much better file format. Then you are left to write your own software, same as with NEF (and since people have already done it, see Bibble, there is no reason you couldn’t do it)

    Also, Nikon has not claimed that the picture you took is not yours. All of the data captured by the sensor is in the NEF file, available for you to use in PS or other software. I don’t understand why people think that it isn’t so. Let’s be clear. All of the “info” that YOU put into the image (the image itself, the choice of aperture, shutter speed, etc) is there for you to use. The only thing encrypted in the NEF file is the calculation of auto WB that the camera software did. This does not change your image at all, and you are free to calculate and change WB with PS or however you want. That is the beauty fo RAW after all, isn’t it?

    Yes, I wish Nikon response clarified a few things and so I am disappointed. But I am equally disappointed at the matter in which this situation has been blown out of proportion and how people are reacting to it.

    AJM

  22. Martin Evening Says:

    Enabling another programs to decode the raw data from a proprietary file is not exactly a trivial matter. It may look painless and easy to get around the missing ‘as shot’ white balance data, but to engineer the ACR plug-in to make that happen, Thomas Knoll has to do a lot of work to make the raw image processing look effortless in Adobe Camera Raw. And if you follow the link in the latest Photoshop News story about the OpenRaw website and read what software engineer Mario Westphal has to say about working with camera manufacturers and getting the SDK specification for their raw files! Anything that is done by a camera manufacturer to hinder such progress has to be seen as being counter-productive and against everyones’ interests.

    So far, DNG is the only serious option for the future. And I see no reason why it could not become an industry standard that is still in use in 10 or 40 years time. For example, in all my years of working with digital imaging the TIFF file format has been compatible with almost every image editing/management/RIP program I have encountered and I don’t see TIFF being replaced any time soon just yet. Whereas, I have raw files on disk from camera tests I did 7 or 8 years ago that I will probably never be able to open unless I can rig up a Mac computer running Mac OS 8.5 and locate the software disk a camera manufacturer gave me.

    Somehow I don’t think Thomas Knoll will not want to carry decoding proprietary raw files for us in 40 years time! And I wouldn’t count on there always being someone around to make it easy to open NEF files.

  23. nunatak Says:

    perhaps, encryption is what nikon had in mind when they assert it’s
    “at the heart of the image”?

    who’s image is it anyway?

  24. Charles Phillips Says:

    Like many people, I switched from Nikon to Canon as I made the transition to digital. Part of me has always missed Nikon; for some reason, the brand still held a certain romance for me. Not anymore! So much has been made of the 1.5x DX crop factor vs. Canon’s full-frame approach, but that difference is trivial compared to the raw debate. Integration into my Photoshop workflow is so more important to me than the relatively minor differences between the two systems. Nikon is truly missing the point. I hope Canon supports DNG shortly.

  25. Andrew Rodney Says:

    I have no problem with Nikon doing all kinds of cool and proprietary functionality when they render the RAW data and encode in sRGB or Adobe RGB (1998). That’s where they SHOULD be working to produce the best results. For RAW, they data should be fully up to the user to control rendering. As such, putting proprietary areas inside RAW is fundamentally wrong and does no one any good. Nikon (and others) should do everything they can to produce better in camera conversions since for some users, this is a key advantage to one product over another. I have nothing wrong with someone wanting the best possible in camera conversions but this has no role with respect to the RAW data. Nikon doesn’t get it.

  26. Tom Roskay Says:

    I suppose the folks at Canon are reading and enjoying this. I hope they’re smart enough to take advantage of this situation in a manner that adresses the concerns of photographers as noted in this thread. What better time to distinguish themselves by adopting the DNG raw format?

    Canon! Are you listening?

  27. AJM Says:

    Andrew,
    you say: “For RAW, they data should be fully up to the user to control rendering.”
    This is still true for the D2x, the NEF file contains all of the RAW data captured by the sensor, and you can do what you want with it, even in PS, so you should have no complaint there.
    The NEF file also contains an auto WB calculation (if you choose auto WB) made by the in camera software (which is a first step in doing “the best possible in camera conversions”) which gets encrypted. This info may be unavailable without using Nikon’s SDK (and yes I think it is an unfortunate choice) but has nothing to do with the RAW data, in the sense that you can still access the RAW data and use it as you wish, even doing auto WB in PS.
    I seem to be repeating myself here, but unless someone tells me I am wrong, this is the situation and people who think they can’t use PS or access part of the image they took are mistaken, or they are misrepresenting facts for the sake of bashing Nikon.

    AJM

  28. Dave Jones Says:

    Money talk…

    Don’t buy Nikon…

    And I predict a reversal of their position on RAW…

  29. Victor Aberdeen Says:

    Dear Nikon,

    Please let go! We photographers want to control our photos with out hinderance or interference. You Nikon, would have objected if Kodak had changed the size of the sprocket holes or created an emulsion that failed only with Nikkor lenses.

    Your SDK is confidential, the format of a NEF file is only for the bona fide in Nikon’s opnion, then you forget who has given you this respected place in the photography industry. Revealing the data structures of the NEF file is not going to harm your business, in fact the evidence is overwhelming that being open and supportive of the industry that surrounds Nikon, will benefit Nikon far more than you can on your own.

    So please go and read Good to Great, The Cluetrain Manifesto and The Essential Drucker, then you will understand that it is the photographers who define who Nikon is in the photography business. Send you product managers out into the rain and let them listen to working photographers, understand what we do, and what we need.

    Now you, yes you Nikon – listen, listen, your customers are talking to you. Time is short…

    Vic

  30. Dan Bachmann Says:

    While I’ve already purchased a DSLR which I am very happy with that has great backward compatablility with old lenses (Pentax), Nikon also shared this trait – I appreciate being able to use full manual and robust film bodies with a collection of lenses.

    I always keep my eye out on the developing technologies and I have to say this crosses out Nikon for the moment. If I want a Nikon mount, take a look at Kodak or FujiFilm bodies.

    In the ideal world, I’d like to see all the DSLR companies comeout with firmware updates that replace the RAW output with DNG. Now that would be a great thing to keep everyone happy. Let the new Nikon go the way of the Betamax.

  31. g.haika Says:

    While AJM is desperately trying to defend Nikon, and is right in saying that we can still use all functions of NEF, he/she misses the crucial point: RAW/NEF/DNG are to be digital negatives, and no part of any negative should be encrypted.
    To give another simile to film photography which AJM might understand: Nikon’s approach equals, say, a “blue” encryption by Fuji films, which would mean only Fuji C-41 developers could bring out any blue hues in their negatives, and no other C-41 developer could. There is no point whatsoever a film company could make to justify making the photographer work harder in the darkroom, just to get the encrypted blue shades back out after developing film in generic C-41 chemicals.

    For the time being, I have postponed my decision to buy the D2X, and might not buy it at all, unless Nikon reverts to a user friendly policy.

    G. Haika

  32. Jack Goodman Says:

    Consider this: Nikon opens the Wall Street Journal Monday morning and learns that Canon and perhaps several other camera companies have adopted the DNG standard.

    I wouldn’t want to be a Nikon share holder.

    Nikon, you have precious little time to change your policy.

    This could easily spin out of your control in 24 hours.

    This froum is a very fortutious wake up call.

    Nikon, if you fail to take correctiv action, don’t blame your loyal customers. You have been very clearly warned.

    JLG

  33. AJM Says:

    G. Haika,
    you say that I am “right in saying that we can still use all functions of NEF”. I am glad that you agree with this. I am repeating this because it seems that a lot of posters are missing this point, either because they haven’t spent the time to get all the info, or because they are just happy to bash Nikon with whatever partial info they have.

    You also say that I am missing “the crucial point: RAW/NEF/DNG are to be digital negatives, and no part of any negative should be encrypted”.
    I agree that if that was possible (in other words if it was possible for companies to protect their IP without using encryption) it would be much preferable. It would also be much preferable if all companies used DNG and we had the highest number of choices for camera, lenses, and software. Yes I would be happier if both Canon and Nikon, and other camera manufactures adopted DNG (with my partial knowledge of how DNG works)
    I have one question though (not only for G. but for all): DNG allows for “the addition of private metadata to DNG files, enabling differentiation” (from Adobe website). Now if Nikon (or Canon) put their algorithm products in these private metadata and encrypted them, would you still be happy? (I guess G.’s answer would be no). So is adoption of DNG sufficient to solve these problems?

    AJM

    P.S. One more thing. You say I am “desperately trying to defend Nikon”. I admit it may seem that way. For full disclosure though, I don’t work for Nikon nor I am affiliated with them. And I own a Canon and a Nikon… :-)

  34. Andrew Rodney Says:

    –>I seem to be repeating myself here, but unless someone tells me I am wrong, this is the situation and people who think they can’t use PS or access part of the image they took are mistaken, or they are misrepresenting facts for the sake of bashing Nikon.

    You’re right which makes the encryption even more silly. It’s a screw you attitude of Nikon’s that serves no purpose. It’s the fact that Nikon has done this and then written a silly marketing piece about not needing Photoshop that makes so many upset. What are these guys thinking? It’s just a dumb move on their part.

  35. AJM Says:

    Andrew,
    you say that “it’s a screw you attitude of Nikon’s that serves no purpose”. Now do yu seriously believe that the Nikon heads, after maybe having too much sake, decided “let’s just screw our customer for no reason”? I am guessing you don’t believe that and just think that Nikon may have had their reason, but it just was a bad decision. And given the reaction of people, it may be so (though I still think the reaction has been exagerated).

    Also, it is possible to work on an image without PS right? (I do use PS). I mean, there are plenty of other programs that are decent, and GIMP is even free. Not as powerful, but many people don’t depend on PS…

    One other thing that is unrelated to your response. It seems many posters think that Nikon is doing this to sell more copies of Nikon capture. Do you really think so? Do you think that after making you shell out $5000 for a camera Nikon hasn’t made enough of a profit?
    I have also read that once you buy Nikon Capture for $100, you have future updates for free. I don’t know if this is true or not (don’t have it). What I do know is that just like any other company, Adobe does try to get your money whenever it can and it is not out there just to help photographers out of some humanitarian principle. Consider for example ACR. There was a plugin that could be bought for $100 for PS 7. When I got my Canon, I decided to buy the plugin to work in RAW. Unfortunately, as soon as PS CS was introduced, the plugin for PS 7 was gone. Now I had to pay $150 to get PS CS (which I didn’t care for) instead of the previous $100 for the RAW plugin, which they already had and just pulled from the website. In other words, if I wanted to work in RAW in PS now I HAD to upgrade (and pay MORE in the process). Does this seem like a “let’s help photographers” attitude? Or a “we want to make more money” one?
    I don’t want to bash Adobe (especially in this forum :-) , but people should be a little more objective when they say that Nikon is out there to screw customers and that it should take example from Adobe. Adobe, like any company that wants to survive, does care about the bottom line and will continue to do so with whatever mean they think necessary. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t, well tough luck. It’s business
    (as it is for all these companies)

    AJM

  36. nunatak Says:

    dear AJM …

    competition is a good thing. i feel nikon should compete on the merits of a better product, and not hide universal betterment behind encrypted walls. for better or for worse–i’d like to access all my RAW data with the tools of my choice. not just part of it.

    if nikon denies me choice, then they need to immediately advertise that on the hardware i buy from them. e.g. full access only available via NC. anything less is dis-trustful.

    this has created a kerfuffle amongst photographers around the globe, and nikon would be short-sighted not to reverse themselves.

    just my thoughts and thanks for sharing yours. :-)

  37. Mark Says:

    I’m a little confused…
    AJM, in your “April 23rd, 2005 at 11:20 am” post, you say that Nikon are encoding the “Auto WB”… does this mean that if I select a white balance, or use the “pre” setting, that it *won’t* be encoded?
    Martin Evening, in your “April 23rd, 2005 at 12:14 pm” post, you say, it is the “as shot” white balance data that is encrypted… what do you mean? Can you be more specific?
    In the original “Nikon encrypts D2X white balance metadata” topic, I can only see that Thomas Knoll has said that the white balance data is encrypted, without further explanation. Does that mean whatever white balance setting is used that the data is encrypted?
    So which is it?! If, as AJM says, it is the auto white balance data, then I guess it’s not unreasonable for Nikon to protect it’s algorithm for calculating that, by encrypting the result (otherwise, it could be reverse engineered)… if it is white balance data no matter what the camera setting was, then thats a different matter… So, WHICH IS IT?!
    Just as a matter of curiosity, I wonder how many of the posters here are Nikon users… and how many have actually used the latest version of Nikon Capture?! ;-)

  38. AJM Says:

    Mark,
    I have never used Nikon Capture, and I don’t own a D2x. So with that out of the way, I leave it to you to believe what I say :-)
    From what I read, the D2x encrypts the white balance data. Now, if you set the WB yourself (say for sunshine, or cloudy, or flash, etc), even if it gets encrypted, it doesn’t matter because the same info is in plain text form in the EXIF of the file.
    If you choose Auto WB, the EXIF only says “Auto WB”. The WB calculated by the camera, using Nikon’s algorithm, is encrypted, and apparently can’t be accessed without using the Nikon SDK, or NC, or “breaking” the encryption. Some people think Nikon does this to protect their algorithm, as you say. Some people think Nikon is doing this to screw customers. Some people think Nikon is just testing the waters.
    Yes, I also would like to hear from someone who really knows about how the D2x is encrypting the WB data. (Not someone from Nikon, but someone who is actually looking at the files from the D2x)

    For Nunatak,
    I also like competition. That’s why I worry if lots of people really abandoned Nikon for Canon, and Canon became the only major player. Microsoft anyone?

    AJM

  39. JBB Says:

    I don’t pretend to fully understand all this. I only have a lowly D100 to play with. And I was irked by the fact that they expected me to buy software with my new, (then) $2000 camera plus $500 lens. I almost got a canon at the time and started out wanting a Fuji S2. My question is: Why is no one as worried about Photoshop seeming to have the market cornered on photo software? I use it, but what about Corel, and others that may pop up in the future?

  40. Andrew Rodney Says:

    –>you say that “it’s a screw you attitude of Nikon’s that serves no purpose”. Now do yu seriously believe that the Nikon heads, after maybe having too much sake, decided “let’s just screw our customer for no reason”?

    It’s either too much sake or someone in the states (in Marketing) is smoking some powerful stuff. Either way, I can see no good to Nikon for two seriously stupid marketing decisions that’s being heard around the web.

    As I said, encrypting the white balance in no way does anything to really hurt anyone but Nikon and more, Nikon customers. This is a further sign that they have no intention of working with an open RAW file format (just the opposite). They would be much better served working in really good in camera rendering and encoding for all those that simply can’t afford to shoot RAW but want pleasing color from the in camera conversions. That Nikon can control to the 9th degree. Screwing with the RAW file doesn’t do any of this.

    –>Also, it is possible to work on an image without PS right? (I do use PS). I mean, there are plenty of other programs that are decent, and GIMP is even free. Not as powerful, but many people don’t depend on PS…

    That’s true but doesn’t explain why Nikon would take the time, money and political heat to say this. It can only piss off a lot of Adobe customers (and we both know there are far more than Nikon customers), and send an ugly message to Adobe. What’s the point? This company is producing some really silly behavior and frankly, they deserve to be bit in the ass for this. Someone isn’t thinking.

  41. AJM Says:

    Andrew,
    you say that it “doesn’t explain why Nikon would take the time, money and political heat to say this.”
    I agree that they should be more careful about what they say and how.

    I also agree that “it can only piss off a lot of Adobe customers.” But I hope that Adobe customers are peeved because there may be a slow down in their workflow in PS because of this, and NOT because someone is suggesting there are other programs out there. People shouldn’t be religious about the programs they use or the programs other people use. PS may be the best program out there, but it is not essential for everybody.
    (But yes, I think Nikon has everything to gain from making the D2x files first class citizens in PS. But Nikon and Adobe both need to do their part)

    And as JBB says: “Why is no one as worried about Photoshop seeming to have the market cornered on photo software?”
    I am. Are you?

    AJM

  42. GMA Says:

    P*ss on Nikon and Adobe too. From what I’ve seen all ether one wants is to empty your wallet. I have used Nikon for 35mm since the late ’80s’ (FM2′s & AIS MF lenses). When I went digital I found I had to have the top of the line body get my MF lenses to meter. (If it can meter with MF lenses why can’t the D70?) I did the right thing and left Nikon and went to Pentax. Pentax MF lenses meter with their bodys! Amazing! Now Nikon is encrypting parts of files that you shot!!? This (any encryption) just adds insult to injury.

    GMA

  43. W.B. Baer Says:

    I am not a professional photographer but a serious amateur. I have a long association with computing but I am not a software engineer. I have a strong interest in the preservation of images for posterity, near and long term. I can see clearly the disadvantage of proprietary formatting of images. As previously noted, .tiff and .jpeg files are universally documented and accessible. It is unlikely that they will not be readable in 50 years. Camera raw files, amounting to digital negatives, are the next step up in flexibility of the digital image. They are an advancement, as glass negatives were an advancement over Daugerre’s plates, tintypes, etc. Stable film negatives were the next step forward over glass. The negative by definition has more information than does the positive made from it. The camera raw file has more information than the .tiff made from it, or for that matter, the .psd. Any barrier to the image’s owner accessing that data is improper and in the long term a theft of that data. Making it accessible only through proprietary software is indeed like the secret ingredient metaphor of g.haika noted above.

    I have cancelled my order for the D2X I had been avidly anticipating.

    I too, look forward to the day when DNG or something like it becomes a universal standard. Do not all digital cameras offer .jpeg images, universally readable? Why are we subjected to Nikon’s game when it comes to a file with more information in it?

  44. John Huber Says:

    “JBB said: Why is no one as worried about Photoshop seeming to have the market cornered on photo software?”

    Photoshop will only have the market as long as they are considered the best solution by the majority. They can’t stop other software company from writing photoediting software. And if this competing software turn out to be a much better product then Photoshop, users will slowly switch.

  45. Aran Says:

    I was on the fence on what to buy, I am now going with canon… I need long term assurences that my $8,000+ puchase will leave me empowered to process the file that I am in the end really paying for. shame on you nikon!

  46. Victor Aberdeen Says:

    I am not sure AJM understands the issue; this is not about – “(in other words if it was possible for companies to protect their IP without using encryption)” – it is about who owns the image and the data used to create it. Can you name a successful film emulsion that used proprietary chemistry… no, because we all need to work within standards. And you protect IP with patents.

    There is only one reason for not publishing the file format; greed, but this is folly as proved by Du-Point and Nylon.

    In a darkroom I used the same workflow regardless of camera, a simple step by step process from exposure to print. With a computer we should do the same and leave the innovating to the creative aspects of the process, not have to chop and change for each camera. That would cause me to choose another camera!

    Vic

  47. Raphael Soetan Says:

    I’m really sorry I’ve heavily invested in Nikon! When friends ask me to help chose between Nikon and Canon, the decision is now much simplier – CANON!

    Nikon makes cameras, Adobe makes software! I’m still having problems getting PictureProject to come up on my WinXP the first time I click on it!

    If NIkon has any real Marketing managers, they’ll see that Nikon is close to comitting a marketing sucide. There is still time to fix things…but the clock is ticking and Canon is enjoying every minute of it!

  48. Mike Fulton Says:

    JBB Said: My question is: Why is no one as worried about Photoshop seeming to have the market cornered on photo software?

    Mainly because Photoshop doesn’t have a monopoly by any means at all, nor even necessarily a majority share of the market at the lower end.

    Is Photoshop the best software package for photo/image editing? I would agree with that idea, certainly. And I’d go so far as to say that Photoshop is probably what most professionals use. But you can’t define a monopoly on the basis of something as nebulous as “the professional photography market” because nobody can say with any authority where that market begins or ends.

    And if you consider just “the photography market” without distinguishing between “pro” and “amateur” users, then you have to acknowledge that there are at least four or five competing programs that do 95% of what Photoshop does, even if not as well, or as easily. Many of them are much less expensive and much more oriented towards the mass market, and Adobe certainly doesn’t rule that market like they do the higher-end. And yet, any one of these programs is potentially an upgrade away from being significant competition for Photoshop.

    Mike

  49. Martin Evening Says:

    Mark asked a question about the encrypted white balance data. Is it the ‘Auto white balance’ data or the ‘as shot white balance data’? the answer is both. But if you want to be pedantic, it is more accurate to describe the ‘as shot white balance’ as being what is encrypted, since the camera could be set to auto white balance or a fixed white balance setting.

    Basically, it is whatever the white balance that was recorded at the time the capture was made that is being encrypted in the D2X raw file. If you are using the latest Photoshop CS2 program, the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in will not ‘officially’ support the Nikon D2X but is supported nonetheless, but with the limitation that the plug-in will not be able to read in the ‘as shot’ white balance data. You will be able to overcome this problem by manually setting the white balance using the adjust panel controls. So it is not insurmountable, but all the same a hassel to deal with.

    I think the issue here is that this is a retrograde step on Nikon’s part. Meanwhile, companies like Hasselblad are declaring that the IxPress backs will in future will support DNG. It is really not too late for Nikon to repair the damage done to their reputation here. And it seems to me that the people from Nikon marketing need to have word with their camera/software engineers in Japan about what the most sensible way forward should be.

  50. Richard Earney Says:

    >AJM said “I agree that Nikon response doesn’t really add anything to what we knew >before.
    >There is an SDK available for software developers (and there is nothing in Nikon >statement that says that Adobe is not a bona fide software developer, is there >Richard?). Why Adobe doesn’t want to use it I still don’t know. We should ask >Adobe about that. Maybe it is bloated, maybe it doesn’t work well. I wish Thomas >told us.”

    There is nothing explicit in Nikon’s statement that Adobe is not a bona fide developer. But read between the lines and what do YOU think it refers to? Any guesses?

    Also Thomas has told us – check on the Adobe Forums or on DP Review.

  51. Stephen Panarelli Says:

    This part of Nikon’s response interests me:

    After a developer’s software is created using the Nikon SDK, a NEF file can be opened, edited in either TIFF or JPEG format, and then saved in formats available in the developers’ software.

    One possible way to read this is that in order to get at the decryption algorithms for the white balance information, one must also use the raw conversion algorithm provided by Nikon in the SDK.

    Are all third party raw converters created equal? Does Nikon have the best of breed raw converter in their SDK? This section, with the language “consistent performance “, further implies that to use the SDK, you are totally locked into Nikon’s first step in the conversion process.

    Securing this structure is intended for the photographer’s benefit, and dedicated to ensuring faithful reproduction of the photographer’s creative intentions through consistent performance and rendition of the images.

    I suppose, on a positive side, since all the converters using the SDK will produce the same quality image, software vendors can now concentrate fully on their workflow features.

    I use Canon. I’m happy.

    /Stephen

  52. Glenn McLaughlin Says:

    Well, this thread has really taken off and it seems there are alot of misconceptions about what ACR can and can’t do with D2X NEF files. I feel like I’ve just come in from an all night witch hunt and after some sleep and reflection, went back and read Thomas Knolls original post. Which said something to the effect that theD2x RAW files will be ‘supported’ in ACR 3.1. apparently without the encrypted white balance data.
    OK fine, as I said then most of us shoot a white/gray card so setting a base WP
    is not a big deal in fact it’s how I do it 95% of the time anyway and then tweak from there.
    For those that don’t do it that way, with a calibrated system it should’nt be a big deal to do it visually, then you’re close enough to get anal with your eyedroppers in PS.

    What the thread seems to really have become is the opening an important discussion as to whether this first shot over the bow by Nikon is the start of a slide down a slippery slope for all of us.

    Also a good place to examine whether Adobes actions are alltogether altruistic toward photographers and our precious data, or that and a combination of good old
    oportunistic use of momentum to it’s own ends.

    At present my own feelings are that DNG is truly meant to be and stay an ‘open source’ (of sorts) non-proprietary format to help guide everyone thru this ever expanding mine field.

    It’s been a great wake up call and we all now have the opportunity to get our friends and colleagues involved to help achieve some sort of consensus.

  53. Mark Says:

    AJM and Martin Evening, thank you for your responses in regard to my query with what exactly is encrypted.
    So, Nikon are encoding the white balance information (ie the setting selected on the camera, or the setting selected *by* the camera), but not encoding the data captured by the sensor in any way. I think it’s important to understand the difference.
    Is the “intellectual property” AJM sugest Nikon is trying to protect, it’s algorithm for automatically calculating the white balance setting (used both in it’s camera software and in it’s computer software)? Thomas Knoll says that he has reverse engineered camera manufacturers raw file formats for ACR to work, instead of using their SDKs… Perhaps Nikon is trying to prevent someone from reverse engineering it’s auto white balance algorithm?
    I have another question though… is the white balance setting, when selected by the user, availible through the SDK, and is the white balance setting when it is calculated by the camera, *not* availible through the SDK? If this is the case, perhaps it *would* point to Nikon protecting it’s intellectual property.
    With digital capture, Nikon is now in the software business, and I think Nikons move into computer based software is to the benefit of its customers. If Nikon is truely trying to protect its intellectual property (and it’s computer software business), is that wrong?
    The other question is, what is wrong with the SDK? Why can’t Adobe use the SDK as Nikon recommend?
    One thing is for sure, whatever Nikons motivation, it has not handled this situation very well. Nikon needs to be honest with it’s customers if it wants it’s customers to trust them.

  54. AJM Says:

    This is going to reply many posts, please forgive me.

    Victor,
    you said that “this is not about – “(in other words if it was possible for companies to protect their IP without using encryption)” – it is about who owns the image and the data used to create it”.
    I think it is not about this at all. We are making it about this. But Nikon is not saying that the image is not yours, nor it is limiting you in any way in what you do with the image that YOU took. The only part that is not accessible to you is the Auto WB calculation that the camera software did. In a sense, you didn’t do those calculations, and your image IS NOT affected by them either (it is RAW we are talking about. All the info of your image is in the RAW file UNMODIFIED and READY for you to use as you please). I will give you a hypothetical scenario at the end of this message.

    Richard,
    you say “There is nothing explicit in Nikon’s statement that Adobe is not a bona fide developer. But read between the lines and what do YOU think it refers to? Any guesses?”
    I don’t really see it that way. I am sure Nikon consider Adobe to be a bona fide developer. I think Nikon wants all of the software developers (even if their name is Adobe) to go through some steps to obtain the SDK, which requires them to be bound by some legal agreement. This is not unusual. If you try to obtain (download) Canon’s SDK, you have to agree to some legal terms and a NDA too. Check it out yourself.
    You also say that “Also Thomas has told us – check on the Adobe Forums or on DP Review.” Could you tell me where. I got lost with all these messages. This conversation is going on in too many different places. Thanks.

    Glenn,
    I agree with what you say.

    Mark,
    I agree that “Perhaps Nikon is trying to prevent someone from reverse engineering it’s auto white balance algorithm?”

    Finally for ALL :-) and especially those who say they don’t want a D2x anymore (I offer to help you get rid of it. I’ll even pay a small fee…)
    Consider the following scenario. Suppose there is no D2x. Suppose Nikon has a new camera out called the D2y. The D2y is exactly the same as the D2x, same price, same specs, everything except one thing: when shooting in RAW, it doesn’t have Auto WB. That’s it. You can have auto WB for jpeg or tiff, and you can select whatever WB you want in RAW. But no auto WB in RAW. That means that when you import the nef files in PS, you just run a batch auto WB and then you can tweek to your heart content (sp?). And of course all of the images the D2y produces are yours, you own them.
    Would you NOT buy the D2y, with all of its great features, because it lacks auto WB in RAW?
    Sorry, I don’t believe you are serious if you say you wouldn’t buy the D2y just for that. And this is at WORSE what is the situation for the D2x.

    What I think is to be considered seriously (so Thomas doesn’t reprimand me…) is if this ” is the start of a slide down a slippery slope for all of us” as Glenn said.

    AJM

  55. AJM Says:

    Sorry, when I wrote: “(so Thomas doesn’t reprimand me…)” I meant Victor…

    P.S.
    It seems I am the only one playing Devil’s advocate. Maybe I should ask Nikon to start paying me for PR ;-)

  56. Andrew Rodney Says:

    The issue isn’t that what Nikon has done affects what ACR can eventually do. It’s not about locking users from their data (well all of it). The encryption doesn’t mean we can’t convert to .DNG or use a converter to get the WB we want. As such, this makes what Nikon is doing even more suspicious since it really serves no direct purpose. It shows how they are thinking about RAW issues, none of which is a good sign to the photographer. The fact that many photographers are giving Nikon shit all over the web is good and may cause them to rethink how they handle .DNG, encryption and marketing pages like the recent one pulled concerning ‘you don’t need Photoshop’.

    There isn’t anything Nikon has done so far that really affects anyone but them. It makes them look rather silly which they cannot afford at this point in time.

  57. Richard Earney Says:

    AJM:

    This is the URL for the Thomas Knoll thread http://www.adobeforums.com/cgi-bin/webx?13@436.kbsUebcbfPc.1@.3bb6a869.3bb9e9e8/133 but it is probably my login – so you’ll have to use yours.

    If not go to Adobe Forums > Photoshop & Image Ready > Adobe Camera RAW > Nikon D2X white balance encryption

    -

    re: the bona fide developer

    I still think it was a bit of a snyde throwaway line – maybe aimed at more than Adobe, but coupled with the pulled “Photoshop is useful for removing lampposts” puff for Nikon Capture seems like they have a big case of the sulks.

  58. Alex Gonzalez Says:

    Nikon response is 100% corporate non-sense…no wonder their market share continues to decrease. Enough said, I want to be in control of my digital raw pictures, which software I pick is my choice not Nikon’s!

    This is by all means the final straw…my days with Nikon go back to the F2AS days, currently D1-D100 plus quite a few lenses…and it will stop here!!

    Nikon, your are giving me no choice but to go elsewhere after 25 years! You did it to yourself… don’t blame anyone else!

  59. AJM Says:

    Alex,
    you say that “I want to be in control of my digital raw pictures, which software I pick is my choice not Nikon’s!”
    Well, you still are, and the choice is still yours, despite all of the storm Thomas message has caused. So, don’t worry. (But if do want to sell your lenses for cheap, let me know :-) )

    Richard,
    thanks for the links. But it seems I can’t read all of the messages (just loggin in as guest). Does Thomas say something more than what he says in the first message? Because in the first message he doesn’t seem to say why Adobe doesn’t want to use Nikon SDK. They don’t want to be bound by the legal terms? They don’t want to use a slow SDK?
    But I do find his remark that “Nikon clearly does not want third party raw converters reading their files (they would much rather sell you a copy of Nikon Capture)” very gratuitous. It really doesn’t do anything but get people more excited against Nikon.
    And how about “Nikon apparently thinks they own the information inside the NEF”. Now we have a lot of people saying that Nikon wants to own their images… (look at many posts above)
    I am starting to think that Thomas is doing this on purpose, just to further Adobe’s DNG format, without really caring about photgraphers interest. In other words, it is typical corporate arm-wrestling on Adobe’s part too. Business as usual.

    AJM

  60. Jack Goodman Says:

    Martin Evening, You state that CS2 will support D2X NEF’s (minus the white balance function). Every time I try to open a D2X NEF in CS2 I get a message that says that CS2 does not recognize this type of file. Am I missing something/

    JLG

  61. AJM Says:

    Jack,
    I think the keyword is “will”.
    From what I understand ACR with support of the Rebel XT and the Nikon D2x is due soon. (If I remember all of this correctly)

    AJM

  62. John Huber Says:

    AJM,

    I have a hard time understanding how Nikon can protect theyr WB calculating algorithm by encrypting the WB metadata in the RAW file. The result of an calculation does not show the algorithm.

  63. Rodrigo Gómez Says:

    Hello there.

    I think the real concern here is not the white balance data. That certanly can and is modified in a picture by picture basis by almost everybody, I guess. At least I know I do, with the pictures that really matter. That of course is a matter of taste and workflow, and there will be photographers that do not modify this data and use the As-Shot parameter in ACR.

    The real problem, from my point of view, is not encrypting that value. The problem is that if they started with this value, what’s next? They seem, for what I have read, trying everybody (software developers, end users) to use their software to open their files. Maybe they’ll even charge software developers to be able to read NEF files (like MP3, and so on). I’m a software developer and really see the value in having all that info public and free. That’s why I use OggVorbis instead of MP3, where I can avoid (in my own apps, to begin with).

    I really don’t know why Nikon could be doing this. They said is to give the best possible conversion, and so on, but that’s not a decision they can make. That’s a decision we, photographers, do when comparing the output from ACR, CaptureOne, etc. And that needs, in my opinion, to be like that, now and in the future. Nikon business is selling lenses and cameras. They can, for sure, try to open up and start selling software if they want to, but they can’t make their software the only choice.

    I insist, encrypting the WB maybe is not a big problem. The real problem is what they might want to encrypt later.

  64. AJM Says:

    John,
    I read your message in the original thread on Nikon’s WB encryption. It was well written and informative. You also say you are a software developer, so you probably understand this better than I do.
    Reading various posts, I had picked up the idea that Nikon would encrypt the Auto WB results so that a third party could not reverse engineer the algorithm. I guess this third party could shoot a bunch of different and controlled pictures, see what the results are and reconstruct how the algorithm works. I agree that if this is indeed possible, it could still be done by using the SDK, or by breaking the encryption, if it is so easy to break.

    So maybe Nikon is doing all of this just so that if you do want to work with NEF files, you have to download the SDK, and therefore agree to some legal terms. If you don’t and you just break the encryption, you could get into other legal problems.

    Or maybe Nikon is introducing a new philosophy, one in which you don’t buy just a camera and lens system, but also a computer program (or at least a way to deal with RAW files, through third-party program developed with their SDK). After all, digital is a new medium, and there is no reason the same rules should apply. Maybe the program is an extension of the camera (granted, then it should come WITH the camera, “free” or just by hiding its cost in the camera cost). From the reaction to all of this, the market is obviously not ready for such an idea, nor maybe it will ever be.

    But I still would like to know if people would buy a D2y, a camera exactly like the D2x, but that doesn’t do Auto WB in RAW.

    AJM

  65. Rodrigo Gómez Says:

    Hello there.

    I think the real concern here is not the white balance data. That certanly can and is modified in a picture by picture basis by almost everybody, I guess. At least I know I do, with the pictures that really matter. That of course is a matter of taste and workflow, and there will be photographers that do not modify this data and use the As-Shot parameter in ACR.

    The real problem, from my point of view, is not encrypting that value. The problem is that if they started with this value, what’s next? They seem, for what I have read, trying everybody (software developers, end users) to use their software to open their files. Maybe they’ll even charge software developers to be able to read NEF files (like MP3, and so on). I’m a software developer and really see the value in having all that info public and free. That’s why I use OggVorbis instead of MP3, where I can avoid (in my own apps, to begin with).

    I really don’t know why Nikon could be doing this. They said is to give the best possible conversion, and so on, but that’s not a decision they can make. That’s a decision we, photographers, do when comparing the output from ACR, CaptureOne, etc. And that needs, in my opinion, to be like that, now and in the future. Nikon business is selling lenses and cameras. They can, for sure, try to open up and start selling software if they want to, but they can’t make their software the only choice.

    I insist, encrypting the WB maybe is not a big problem. The real problem is what they might want to encrypt later.

  66. Martin Evening Says:

    To respond to Jack’s question about Camera Raw 3. Here is an extract of what Thomas Knoll wrote in the original posting he made about Camera Raw and Nikon D2X files.

    “…Adobe is still going to support the D2X in the upcoming Camera Raw 3.1 release. However, because of the white balance encryption, Camera Raw will not be able (unless Nikon backs down real soon) to read the “as shot” white balance from the camera, and users will be more likely to have to adjust the while balance manually in the Camera Raw dialog, since Camera Raw’s default white balance will not match the cameras default white balance.

    This has absolutely no effect on the quality of the final result out of Camera Raw (it is just the starting point and is nearly always fine tuned in any case), and the new multiple file features of Camera Raw 3 actually make it nearly painless to perform similar adjustments on a large number of images. Beta testers of Camera Raw 3.1 are very happy with the Photoshop CS2/Bridge/Camera Raw workflow when processing D2X files, despite the white balance issue.”

  67. George DeLoache Says:

    I have, what I think is a good idea; let me know what you all think. Couldn’t one of the super geek computer programmers write a program that would convert NEFs to DNG format. DNG is Adobes RAW format and once converted it would take the whole issue out of the hands of the camera manufactures and let us return to a sane workflow, with only a short conversion process.

  68. Richard Earney Says:

    AJM:

    Here is Thomas’s oft repeated view of the Tennis Match. Presumably from this they do have access to the SDK.

    Adobe: Can you please document NEF format?

    Nikon: No, but you can use our SDK.

    Adobe: But the Nikon SDK does not provide what Camera Raw needs to operate, and using it would limit Camera Raw’s speed, UI features, and quality of results (e.g. Camera Raw’s special highlight recovery algorithms).

    Nikon: Then redesign Camera Raw to work within the limits of our SDK.

    Adobe: No, we don’t want to cripple Camera Raw. Please document NEF format.

    Nikon: No, redesign Camera Raw to work within the limits of our SDK.

    etc.

    This was followed by Jeff Schewe’s following comment:

    The Nikon SDK does NOT allow access to the raw file data, only the Nikon library processing of the raw data. It’s slow, poorly optimized (if at all) single threaded, poorly written for Mac (notice all the Mac Nikon shooter complaining about Capture crashing) and, did I mention, denies access to the raw image data?

    What good is it? It isn’t useful for most of the 3rd party raw processing software and it’s essentially useless for Camera Raw, which needs to access the actual raw data of the file.

  69. AJM Says:

    Richard,
    I had read that somewhere. I thought it was just a simple outline of what the exchange might have been like. I don’t think Adobe and Nikon would talk to each other that way… But thanks for posting it.
    Jeff’s comments seem to answer what I was asking. Does he know this stuff well? If so, I am partially content with that answer.

    Now, I just read Dave Coffin statement on
    http://www.cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw/
    and he states quite clearly that Nikon is NOT the ONLY ONE encrypting data in their RAW format. Canon, for example, does the same.
    If that is true, that this whole reaction to Nikon seems to be misplaced or at least reductive. If encrypting data is common, then we either boil this argument down to the slight pain of having to deal with Auto WB in a different matter for NEF files, OR we have to decry all of the camera manufacturers that encrypt data. Because as many posters said, if they already encrypt data, how far wil they go? Will they encrypt the whole image? Let’s not blame only Nikon and ask the same question to Canon and others then (here is my Devil’s advocate cap again)

    AJM

  70. Jack Goodman Says:

    Martin, Richard, AJM do any of you have any more specific information as to when Adobe will support D2X raw? Right now, all there web site says is May.

  71. Harron Says:

    Dave Coffin… states quite clearly that Nikon is NOT the ONLY ONE encrypting data in their RAW format. Canon, for example, does the same.

    Shhh, AJM. You’re ruining it for those of us who are hoping for a glut of Nikon DSLR gear on eBay.

  72. J. Bokor Says:

    You’re all focusing on the wrong thing. This is simply an attempt by Nikon to create a pathway toward charging Adobe for the right to convert NEFs in Photoshop. Since Adobe will pass the cost along, Nikon really wants to charge YOU, but they knew that if they came out and said that from the start, there’d be a major revolt. So they’re taking an interim step of saying to Adobe “don’t worry, we’re not going to charge you for the SDK or ask for a royalty on every copy of Photoshop”. But Adobe, quite correctly, knows that that’s the next step, so that’s why they’re objecting. If they wait until Nikon springs the trap, there will be too many photographer’s stuck with Nikon gear and they’ll have to knuckle under and pay. If Nikon gets away with it, then Canon and the rest will follow and we’ll all have to pay. The solution is that Nikon shooters must say no, we’re going to switch to Canon if Nikon doesn’t give up this insanity.

  73. AJM Says:

    Jack,
    that’s all I know too.

    Harron,
    oopsss, sorry.
    (But as the message after yours shows, you shouldn’t worry about me ruining anything :-) )

  74. Richard Earney Says:

    Jack Goodman:

    Adobe don’t really announce products (unless Thomas Knoll does!!) The concept is that Photoshop ships in May (ahem) and the update to Camera RAW 3.1 comes out about then.

    Apparently :-)

  75. AJM Says:

    This is quite interesting and shows why we either worry about all camera manufactures (including Nikon AND Canon) or we don’t:

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0504/05042701davecoffininterview.asp

    I understand it is also on PSN main page, but why are comments not allowed?

    AJM

  76. Victor Aberdeen Says:

    AJM,

    Yes you are correct the algorithm Nikon use to create the auto white balance is their IP, but the white balance is the photographers, it is part of the data belonging to the photograph. If you consider the analogy, Fuji could claim that the green emulsion layer is their IP and so all the photos taken with green in are … – stupid yes?

    This is a simple line, what process is used in the camera to get the image onto the storage device is the IP of Nikon. What is on the storage device is the copyright of the photographer and any restriction, impedance or interference to hinder the photographers access to the image is an abuse of the photographers copyright.

    To most this will never matter, they will produce fine photographs with out ever considering this issue. But when the D3X arrives and the RAW file is locked to except to users of Nikon capture, who will be to blame, all of us for not demanding that Nikon and others open up the raw format to their customers.

    Nikon and others have yet to answer the question, are they in the cathedral or the bazaar?

    Vic

    REF: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cathedral_and_the_Bazaar

  77. Roger, L Says:

    Simple, customers’s decision shape the market; hey, we are the one that make windows popular, can’t denied their contribute to the computer world. (And once consumer had choose, war over) Who’s looking forward for Longhorn XP? Not me~

    AJM and all the valuable opinions are great, but motivation is what “WE” can do. My personal motivation is to join “No” nikon group; if I (“WE”) lose, I go for Canon, simple~ (or what ever is great in the future)

    Trust me, the file format war will simply end. I don’t give comments simply because everyone has their needs, for fun or for living. (Nikon capture is still one of the top choice of simple workflow– even though I hate it too)

    Do you know nikon softwares (all), once installed, they replace the photoshop plugin with their crappy one; without mention it: personally I think this is a greater issue then this one, Nikon actually “Invade” our personal freedom!!!!

    Personally this war made photoshop so…. slow and bulky, I get tired of both nikon and adobe. (can anyone tell me how can I read DNG file in photoshop v7.0.1??)

    The worse thing I’m worry is “will nikon change their mount, so DSL only can use their DX series?” If this happened, I probabily will support the develope an digital film device that can use on tranditional cameras, If I am capable of doing so. (or the money for R&D)

  78. V. Whittier Says:

    Adobe “File Browser/Bridge” needs to get a LOT better before I would consider it a “state of the art” tool for basing my workflow.

    I am extremely frustrated by the fact the CS2 offers MANY ways to automate, all of which (except the only semi-automatic Bridge) suffer from the same limitations that block the one thing that I seem to need to write a custom automation solution to achieve — batch processing metadata. I finally came to the conclusion that the most acceptable (but still poor) solution was to use Bridge to create sidecar XMP files with my NEFs. To my horror I find that UNLESS I use Adobe’s converter, I cannot merge my metadata into the new files I am batch creating. Adobe supports sidecars ONLY through Camera Raw!

    From my point of view propagation of Metadata is a CRITICAL digital workflow issue that has absolutely nothing to do with the file format used. If I embed XMP in a jpeg, tiff, or psd, I want an automated way to extract it and load it into another file. No matter WHAT RAW file editor I use.

    There are many aspects of this debate that are as much a product of limitiations or weaknesses in Adobe’s solutions as they are Nikon’s. I am very happy with my Nikon cameras, I have no problem with Capture except that it doesn’t offer a rich enough metadata editing capability. I see no evidence that Nikon is attempting to replace PhotoShop with Capture. I would buy it no matter what because it will let me control my cameras from my computer.

    From the point of view of a hardware manufacturer, it does make sense that you would want to keep your “native” format proprietary so that it is free to be tweaked as part of the engineering equation that makes your overall product superior to your competitors (i.e. companies like Canon, NOT Adobe). This is essentially why the NEF format has changed in response to different Nikon digital camera offerings. The reason that a company offers an API in these circumstances is that it becomes burdensome to externally support all of the variations.

    This is very similar to Adobe’s motivation for wanting a standard Raw format. However, standardization does pose a risk that camera manufacturers would be hampered in their ability to exploit the full potential enabled by technological advances. Generally, you can find generic drivers to operate your hardware for most purposes, but if you want to fully exploit all the capabilities of your specific hardware, you are better off using the drivers provided by the hardware manufacturer.

    What Nikon is doing here is not that abnormal and should not be taken to imply that they are trying to become the Microsoft of Digital Photography. It should be very clear by now that if THIS is the risk that concerns you, you should be aligning with ANYONE but Canon and Adobe!

  79. sportshooter Says:

    As I recall, one of the main reasons Sports Illustrated switched to all canon was the ability to get raw + jpg quickly for editing. It was a software issue that over time ended up seriously hurting thier “high profile” sports photography market.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.