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What does Copy as DNG in Lightroom mean?

September 1, 2019


If you are a Lightroom user and you go to the import dialog of Lightroom and you see that you want to import some files into your catalogue you might be seeing copy as dng as one of the options of how you can import your pictures from your source to your destination. By the way can I please request you to subscribe to this channel so that you get all the updates that we send. Also it’s a good idea to hit the bell icon so that you get instant notifications when we have new content. Now let’s understand what is a dng first dng is the digital negative format of a raw file which Adobe has actually made this about 15 years ago. This is actually an open source file format of the raw version of your photographs which means that there is no secret of how this raw file is, it’s open source and anybody can read through this raw file. But the question is what is the advantage of actually copying as a dng. Firstly Adobe claims to be doing something to the raw file when it’s actually a dng which makes it a little optimized when it comes to the file size. So for instance if you have a 22 megabyte Canon raw file or a Nikon raw file and if you imported that into Lightroom and while doing that if you created that as a dng file it seems the raw file which is a dng file now is only going to be about 18-19 MB which gives you a saving of 3 to 4 megabytes for this case. So it actually decreases the consumption of your hard disk space when you’re actually copying as dng and you are bringing files into Lightroom so that’s probably the first advantage. The second one I can think of is let’s say you are actually a photographer who has employed a couple of assistants to help you shoot this wedding and you have three or four photographers working together. Chances are some of them might be Nikon users or some could be Sony some could be Canon users and let’s say you are also a Canon user. When all of them give you their memory cards and your importing files into your catalogue of let’s say Raj and let’s say Mary’s wedding you are getting all these files together and chances are some of them are Canon raw files some of them are Sony raw files and some of them are Nikon raw files. So if you want to have a uniform file format of a raw file you would actually want to change that by copying these Canon, Nikon, Sony raw files as a dng by making also taking advantage of the optimization and decreasing the file size of these raw files because they’re already heavy 20-30 megabytes of size. So that’s something which is very important. One of the interesting features of a raw file which is actually a dng is if you make changes on your Lightroom’s develop module to a raw file here and you actually just send the raw file like lets say a Canon, Nikon or Sony raw file to your printer, he’s actually going to see only the bare raw file which came out of the camera and he’s not going to see the data that was changed by the metadata which was changed by processing. Now that is something you can do by sending a high resolution .tiff file along which is going to be a lot more heavier than the raw file or you can actually be sending a very small metadata file which is called as an xmp file along with your Canon, Nikon and Sony raw files. But if you actually send a dng file where you made edits this metadata is sitting inside of a dng file which makes it very easy for your printing professional to actually take your dng file and see how the original raw file was and what you actually made when you’ve said you post-processed. Now this is a very advantageous feature of doing copy as dng and it helps your printer actually see the processed version and also if he wants to he can revert it to the original and reset it to see how it was but there are some contests like the BBC which has a little bit of a you know a opinion about the dng files they actually don’t allow you to submit pictures if you have shot them in the Canon, Nikon, Sony format and the raw file format is .cr2 or .nef or .arw, you cannot copy as dng and send them the raw files in a dng format. If they ask you for the raw file in the final stages of the competition so it’s very important to know even if you actually use copy as dng, perhaps you should keep your copy of the original raw file somewhere because later on if you are close to winning a contest let’s say like BBC which can be a life changing experience if they ask for a raw file. If you don’t have the .cr2 or the .nef it would be a shame. So while there are advantages for the dng file format while you can. You can import them as dng It’s also a disadvantage in some cases because some of the contest judges don’t prefer to see dng files unless if you have shot it in a camera like Leica where it automatically renders raw files into a dng file format. By the way a lot such informative things is possible to be understood on nuggets every week, if you subscribe to our YouTube channel which is Toehold TV or you can actually be buying the Lightroom course for which the link is below in this description and we get into deeper aspects of how to manage files and develop them using Lightroom Classic CC.

1 Comment

  • Reply Dr.Nagaraja Sharma April 24, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Thanks for the useful information Dear Jyanth!

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