Sep 6, 2005

Nikon and Adobe Talking?

In a release posted by Nikon as well as a statement on the Adobe web site, indications are that Nikon and Adobe may have resolved certain differences with regards to Nikon’s NEF raw file format.

In a story posted by PhotoshopNews last April, Nikon encrypts D2X white balance metadata, it was disclosed that Nikon had taken the step of adding encryption to several newly released cameras’ white balance data stored in the EXIF metadata. After which, considerable controversy ensued. Nikon released a press release, or what was called a “Nikon Advisory” (see the PSN story Nikon Responds. . .) but failed to resolve the issue.

In this most recent release Nikon said:

Nikon and Adobe

MELVILLE, NY (September 2, 2005) – Nikon Inc. notes the recent announcement made by Adobe(R) with regard to the mutual interest of both companies for the advancement of digital photography and the RAW file format. Nikon looks forward to future developments in this direction. Below is a copy of the announcement made by Adobe:

Adobe and Nikon are both enthusiastic about the continued innovation of digital imaging technology. Both companies recognize that ongoing advancement in current RAW formats is bringing a new level of control, precision, and quality to the photography community and are excited about helping to foster that innovation.

Adobe is committed to working with Nikon to ensure that our common customers have an excellent experience when using Nikon cameras with Adobe software, and the company is disappointed that there has been confusion about this in the market. Adobe wants to ensure that our common customers get the very best quality from their photos when using our products together.

Nikon has endeavored to develop the raw image concept for digital photographers through its Nikon Electronic Format (NEF) file, supporting software and compatible system components. Nikon envisions its role as an innovator, and values its participation within the industry’s organizations, so that the future for RAW images will expand in importance and acceptance among the market’s photographers.

Nikon believes that the NEF file has provided important image quality through Nikon’s pioneering developments. For the future, Nikon intends to cooperate with Adobe and other industry members in order to pursue its objective of providing images with better quality, convenience and usefulness
to end users.

SOURCE Nikon Inc.

It’s not entirely clear what either the Nikon nor Adobe statements mean at this time. However, Thomas Knoll, primary engineer on Adobe Camera Raw has indicated that Nikon has added a new “mini-SDK which has the sole function of reading the white balance parameters from a NEF file (while still allowing the host application to do its own raw conversion).” He goes on to say that “the upcoming Adobe Camera Raw 3.2 and DNG Converter 3.2 will use this Nikon “mini-SDK” to provide “as shot” white balance support for the Nikon D2X, D2Hs, and D50.” (see the original thread on the Camera Raw User to User Forum)

Camera Raw 3.1 could not decrypt the “As Shot” white balance metadata for the Nikon D2X, D2Hs, and D50 cameras. However, DNG Converter 3.1 did migrate the encrypted white balance metadata to DNGs made from those cameras’ raw files.

4 Responses to “Nikon and Adobe Talking?”

  1. Rod Wynne-Powell Says:

    As a Canon digital user and a longtime analogue Nikon user, I feel in a reasonably neutral position from which to make comments and ask a question.

    I naturally welcome the fact that Nikon’s digital users can now make a choice to use either Adobe Camera Raw or Nikon Capture to perform the conversion from RAW, but I feel that unless camera manufacturers offer both their raw formats and the option to shoot directly to DNG, we the users are losing some of the potential to be gained from shooting RAW.

    An example of note is that Epson make a truly great device to offload some of our shots and to view them using their P2000 Multimedia Storage device, but if you shoot RAW, then you can only view these images at their fullscreen size, whereas JPEGs can be enlarged on screen – the reason is obvious, Epson cannot read the data from RAW files, whereas they can read the JPEGs. It would be a large R&D effort to attempt to translate all the proprietary RAW formats, whereas if the major camera manufacturers supported the option of DNG at the taking stage, Epson would only have to make the one conversion to be able to enhance the functionality of our RAW captures.

    After conversion or including conversion, proprietary software could still offer specific advanced features within their programs to ensure we still purchased their software offerings, but please do not stifle our workflows by encrypting our basic image data.


  2. ewelch Says:

    Today’s RAW files are the equivalent of Nikon, Canon and others of making their camears take non-standard film formats. Imagine if Kodak had to manufacture different film sizes for specific cameras. Photography would be much less successful in the past.

    Imagine – no wait it’s a fact – cell phone manufacturers disabling bluetooth sync features in their phones to keep you from actually having control over what data ends up on your phone? Purposely disabling the ability to use bluetooth to transfer files and photos (and songs – get it?) is S.O.P with many of them.

    When are manufacturers going to clue into the fact that they hurt their own interests by purposely disabling their products artificially?

  3. nunatak Says:

    I prefer to view this as a positive +++, but short term step on Nikon’s behalf.

    As one of the most vocal critics, and early evangelists in this quest to remove encryption from my NEF picture data, it’s worth acknowledging that Nikon has responded positively to their customers concerns.

    Of more intermediate interest is whether encryption will be entirely removed and a new open raw format, like DNG, adopted for purposes of portability and archival conservation. My feeling is photographers need to constantly remind camera makers of how significant an issue this is to them, or they will lose a portion of their ownership.

    In the long term, will photographers prefer to own their data, or simply license it from the camera vendor?

  4. Bernard Says:

    Although the adoption of an open RAW format (DNG or another one) would have clear value regarding the perenity of the RAW data, it appears that manufacturers still have valid reasons to be reluctant to this as Phase One explained to MR a few months ago.

    Unless a valid solution is provided to these color/calibration issues, I personnally prefer to use a camera producing the best possible colors in a proprietary file format, rather than one settling for slightly less accurate ones in an open format.

    For now, Nikon has rejoined Canon and the other guys in enabling third party vendors to convert their RAW data using their own demosaicing algos without any hinderance. I am personnally very happy that Nikon and Adobe could work together on a reasonnable technical solution away from the cheap bashing that was done in various places on the web. I will now seriously consider purchasing a PS CS2 licence.

    Best regards,

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