Nikon - stupid NEF format statement

This is old news, but is probably worth writing about.  On April 22, 2005 Nikon issued an advisory about their NEF raw format, which basically says that the only legal way to convert a NEF file to an image is through their SDK because “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.”

Adobe has stated that they may not be able to fully support RAW files from the Nikon D2X and D2H in their Camera Raw plugin because the white balance information in the new NEF files are encrypted.  Before incorporating D2X and D2H NEF support into Camera Raw, they will have to consider the legality of decrypting the information.

Luckily, both Dave Coffin, author of Dcraw, and Eric Hyman, founder of Bibble Labs, have broken the code, so Nikon users will for sure have options in third-party RAW converters.

The RAW format problem is not unique to Nikon, but I believe that they are the first to issue a statement and encrypt file information in a way that might prevent other companies from wanting to support their RAW files. .

Interesting links:

- More about Nikon’s statement on RobGalbraith.com

- Dave Coffin interview on DPReview

- OpenRAW - an effort to convince manufactures to go public with RAW formats