Imagine you’re holding a magical key that unlocks the full potential of your photographs, revealing their true essence and allowing you to unleash your creativity. Nestled within this key lies a hidden treasure called NEF files, also known as Nikon Electronic Format files. These files hold the power to transport you to a world of unparalleled visual possibilities.

In the realm of photography, NEF files are akin to digital negatives, capturing the raw beauty and unadulterated essence of your images. Just as a master painter begins with a blank canvas, you, the photographer, start with a blank sensor. When you press that shutter button, the sensor awakens, meticulously capturing every nuance and detail with utmost precision.

But wait, there’s more to these NEF files than meets the eye! They possess a secret cache of information known as metadata. Think of it as the camera’s own little notebook, chronicling the story of each photo. Inside, you’ll find the camera’s unique identification and settings, as if it were leaving its signature on every image. This metadata also unveils the lens used to capture the moment and a plethora of other fascinating details.

As you delve deeper into the realm of NEF files, you’ll uncover a world where every pixel holds a tale waiting to be told. It’s a world where the raw potential of your photographs remains untamed, allowing you to shape and mold them to your heart’s desire. With NEF files in your possession, you hold the key to unlock the true magic of your images, transcending the ordinary and venturing into the extraordinary.

So come, dear reader, join us on this captivating journey where technology and art converge. Let us embark together, as we unravel the mysteries of NEF files and the limitless possibilities they bestow upon your photographic adventures.

Key Takeaways

  • NEF files, also known as Nikon Electronic Format files, are the RAW format of Nikon photos and contain the unprocessed image data captured by the camera’s sensor.
  • Metadata is the additional information embedded in NEF files, including camera settings, identification, lens information, and more.
  • Nikon Capture and Adobe software like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Bridge are popular choices for editing NEF files due to their compatibility and advanced editing capabilities.
  • Online platforms like offer the convenience of editing NEF files without downloading them.
  • Converting NEF files to DNG format using Adobe DNG Converter allows compatibility with various versions of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Adobe Lightroom provides efficient importing and organizing of NEF files, offering options for renaming, adding metadata, and exporting to social media platforms.
  • GIMP is a free and open-source software alternative for editing NEF files, offering customization options and a range of editing tools.
  • Editing NEF files in their native format preserves the original image data and provides greater control and flexibility compared to JPEG or TIFF files.
  • Non-destructive editing allows you to make edits while preserving the original file, while destructive editing modifies the original file directly.
  • It is recommended to use non-destructive editing techniques to have the flexibility to revert to the original file and make further adjustments.

How Can I Edit NEF Files?

It is easy enough to open RAW files or NEF files on your computer with almost any operating system.

Photoshop is widely used for editing the NEF file format. The camera RAW software comes with a plug-in with Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. This boosts the functionality of Adobe Bridge.

Camera RAw allows each application to import and work with camera raw files. Camera Raw can also be used with JPEG and TIFF file.

Nikon D7500 20.9MP DSLR Camera with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens, Black

Opening Your NEF file Online

1) If you do not want to work with a downloaded image, then you can work online. You can simply open your RAW file with to start working on editing images.

2) On the landing page you can drag and drop the images you want to edit. You can also select Open files.

You will find the convert button at the right bottom corner of the screen. One of the first steps is knowing which format you will convert nef files into.

We convert nef files because the NEF file might be months or years old. The RAW file might also be specific to your Nikon camera.

The compatibility between your file version and the app is essential. This is what enables you to make any changes to your images.

Your NEF file is converted into a JPEG file. When you select the Convert Button you will notice that your image has been changed.

It is important to note that the images have not been uploaded. This program does not work as a server base.

You are free to edit the RAW files as you want. There are no editing parameters.

3) As soon as you finish editing you can directly export your images to Google Drive, Facebook, or other social media platforms.

Please note that this editing software is not for free. Once paid for you are able to use the photoshop features.

Using Adobe Photoshop

1) As a photoshop user your NEF files will work with a NEF file extension. They are then known as RAW files or more specifically known as Nikon Raw image files.

It is best to work with an extension because operating systems like Windows Explorer need to link the file image with a specific photo editing program.

2) Once your NEF file has been converted to a RAW file it becomes simple to open your files. You will need to make sure that your version of NEF files and Photoshop are compatible.

Sometimes your Nikon RAW image file can be specific to your Nikon camera model. If this is the case you might find it difficult to open your Nikon RAW image file in Adobe.

Do not panic! You simply need to change your file type to another one. Try to change the files to a file format that is compatible with all versions of Photoshop.

The most commonly compatible raw image editing type is DNG.

3) How do I convert my Nikon RAW files to a DNG type file? You will need to download the user-friendly Adobe DNG converter.

Once downloaded, select the installation package and install it on your computer. Luckily the Adobe DNG converter is compatible with Windows and Mac. Now you can launch the photo editing software to convert files.

4) Once the DNG converter has been downloaded, installed, and launched you can Select the Folder. Here you can choose the one you want to make edits in.

Lower down in the same window you will find a “Select location to Save Converted images.”

Under that, you will find “Select Name for Converted images.” Here you can decide on a name that you want to save your edited images as.

When you are happy with your preferences you can select Convert. Once the conversion is complete you can select OK.

When you go back into your folder the RAW file will now be a DNG file. You can go ahead and open your images.

Sometimes when you browse your photos you might find that a few of your photos have gone missing. Lucky for us there is an easy way to fix it. You can go to restore NEF files from Nikon.

Open NEF files in Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is editing software that edits files, organizes, and publishes. It is easy to import your RAW files into Lightroom. Then a photo editing company edits the photos for you.

You can directly upload your photos onto social media straight from Lightroom.

Importing RAW Files Into Lightroom

The Lightroom import settings are straightforward. All you need to do is get your photos uploaded and then an editing company will do the rest. Here is how you go about it:

1) Get your storage device connected to your computer. Open Lightroom.

An import window will automatically open in the program. It opens when your storage device has been picked up.

2) Click on the device you want to import your photo from. Lightroom will pick up all devices linked to your laptop.

Lightroom can also eject your storage device once you are done.

3) When your photo has been uploaded it will look grey. Lightroom cannot see the image quality but only the name.

If you have the same photo saved under different names Lightroom will think they are different photos. You will need to be smart about naming your photos.

4) Once uploaded you can move, copy, add, or copy as DNG files.

in Lightroom “move” means that you want to move the photo from your device and into Lightroom.

“Copy” means that you want to copy your photo and keep the original format.

“Copy as DNG” means that you want to copy the photo into Lightroom in the Adobe file format.

5) You can use “Smart Previews.” This option gives you the freedom to use Post Process. This makes it easier to partner with a Post Production photo editing company.

6) Make sure to rename any copied files.

7) You can either view your thumbnails as RAW files or you can Develop Preset for your photos when opening NEF files.

This is a tool that you can discuss with an editing company.

8) Now you will need to provide your metadata. Select the keywords you want to be linked to your file.

9) Decided where you want to save your files under location.

10) Select Import to complete the import process. Then you can start to export your photos.

Free Software and Open Source Software

GIMP is an editor for all programs like Windows operating system. The best news is that it is free editing software.

There are customization options and 3rd party plugins. GIMP offers a variety of tools for your editing needs.

GIMP is inclusive of Python, Perl, and many others.

You can contact a GIMP team to help with the high quality of customization.

Why Edit As NEF Files?

It is better to work with nef format files on the memory card over TIFF or JPEG. The in-camera processor does not offer white balancing, hue, tone, or sharpening for the nef files.

The values are kept as instruction sets that are included in the file. You can change the instruction set as often as you want. This will not interfere with the initial image’s RAW data.

The NEF file is better because it keeps 12-but or 14-bit data. This means that the image has a larger tonal range than an eight-bit JPEG or TIFF file. This depends on the camera.

You can use Nikon’s NX2 software to complete the after-capture processing of the NEF file. Most software offers more control over the final image over the JPEG or TIFF files.

Once you have completed editing you can save your RAW file as a TIFF or JPEG.

You can also save the RAW file as a NEF file with the applied Capture NX2 processing saved inside the file as a second or alternative instructional set.

Remember to keep the initial NEF file saved separately. The “digital negative” stays unedited. That being said, changing a NEF file does not change the initial instruction set.

Editing Talk

1) Non-destructive Editing

Non-destructive Editing is when editing is done to a photo but in separate layers. this means that the edited photo and the original file are saved.

This means that you can refer back to the original photo at any stage as it has not been edited.

2) Destructive Editing

Destructive editing is when the photo is directly edited. This means that any editing done is saved directly on the original photo.

Once you have saved your edits you can never go back to the original file.

It is always safer to use non-destructive editing so that you can go back to the original at any stage. This means that you can re-edit the photo as many times as you like.


As you embark on your photographic journey with Nikon, a world of possibilities awaits you in the realm of photo editing. With a myriad of Nikon photo editing software options to choose from, it’s crucial to find the one that perfectly suits your needs and aspirations.

Within the vast Nikon camera lineup, you’ll discover a treasure trove of digital marvels, each offering incredible quality and the potential to capture breathtaking moments. And when it comes to editing your precious images, Nikon Capture stands as a trusted companion, seamlessly integrating with your camera and empowering you to unleash your artistic vision.

But the journey doesn’t end there. Before diving into the realms of post-processing, take a moment to explore the wealth of tools and editing options available to you. Familiarize yourself with the capabilities of your chosen software, unlock its hidden features, and delve into the vast universe of creative possibilities it offers. Let your curiosity guide you as you experiment, learn, and refine your editing skills.

Remember, editing is more than just enhancing your photographs—it’s an opportunity to tell stories, evoke emotions, and capture the essence of the moment in its truest form. It’s a chance to breathe life into your images, to elevate them beyond their raw state, and to create a lasting impact on those who behold them.

So, fellow traveler on this photographic odyssey, embrace the power of post-processing, and let your imagination soar. Whether you seek to unveil the hidden depths within your images or add a touch of magic to your compositions, the choice is yours. Embrace the journey of discovery, refine your craft, and let your creativity flow.

Now, armed with knowledge and a thirst for artistic expression, go forth and embark on your editing adventures. Unleash the full potential of your Nikon photographs, and may your editing endeavors bring you joy, satisfaction, and endless inspiration. Happy editing!