What are NEF files? They are Nikon Electronic Format files. This is also known as the RAW format of a photo.

Sometimes raw images are often called digital negatives. The image information is captured by the camera’s sensor. This includes the metadata of the image.

What is metadata? it is the camera’s identification and settings. It also includes the lens and any other information.

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 Pics.io 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.


There are many options available when choosing the right Nikon photo editing software. It is important to find the photo editing software that works for your needs.

Nikon cameras have amazing quality digital cameras to choose from. All Nikon cameras work well with Nikon Capture.

Make sure to read up on the relevant tools and editing options that your program offers.

Happy Editing!