Retain RAW or convert to dng

For a long time I have been converting Adobe Camera RAW files to .dng on import in LR Classic.
Is it advisable to do this or should I just be retaining the NEF (Nikon) raw files? Can one keep both RAW and dng?

To me there are to few advantages of DNG files to use them. There are mainly three differences beteween RAW and DNG. The latter are smaller in size, they don’t require a sidecard XMP file (which usually stores all modification to RAW files, which are usually kept intact) and they use a checksum information to make sure files are not corrupted. Since space is not much of a factor for me and I prefer having RAW files intact, I never used a DNG format, but rather stay with my Canon RAW files. I use Lightroom as a RAW processor and to catalog my files, and do most of the heavy lifting in Ps with files like TIFF or PSB.

I like keeping the RAW file. I save my processed files as a TIFF or PSD, mainly TIFFs since some programs I use like TIFFs better. I keep my RAW files on a separate hard drive and masters on another HD. Converting to DNG adds a another another step in the process.

I don’t see any reason to convert to DNG files. It takes extra time on import and for the “advantages” listed, isn’t worth the effort. If you look at the space differences, it simply doesn’t add up to me to deal with the conversions. While DNG’s don’t need an XMP sidecar, it is also advisable to not write those in LR for performance reasons. In addition, that means you are responsible for backing up the thousands of XMP files for each file in your catalog. If that option is off, the processing info is in the catalog and of course LR has a method the backup the catalog for you each time you exit if desired. I’ve never bought the argument that you need the XMP files in case the catalog becomes corrupted. That’s exactly why you back it up regularly. If you really need to access the RAW files with multiple applications on your computer and need the XMP’s then that could be a reason to write them. If it is just to share an occasional RAW file with someone with the processing instructions, all that is needed is to do an LR Export of the Original file (choose that as the file type) and LR will extract the processing information from the catalog and write the XMP for that file.

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DNG became popular some years ago when there was a lot of fear that Adobe (or other raw converters) would go away and people would have no way to read their files. That fear has largely gone away, with the realization that if it did happen there would be time and software to batch convert our libraries to whatever was available, through conversion to DNG or some other format.
There is no good reason to convert to DNG up front.

Why create more work for yourself? All the administrative aspects of photography is time consuming enough as is.

For a moment I thought that adding XMP sidecard file is a default Lightroom setting, but I’ve checked it and it’s not. Thanks for pointing that one out! Mine settings are similar to yours - no sidecards to RAW files - all the information about adjustments is stored in Lightroom Catalog (which I backup every time I quit Lightroom).

Thanks to all of you, @Andrzej_Muzaj , @Keith_Bauer , @Diane_Miller , @john56 , @Richard_Wong , for your input. Following your condensus, I will stop converting to dng and work with the Nikon RAW NEF files. I appreciate your taking the time to help with this.

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A day late and $ short as as usual. To the writer, if yours till following this topic, did you know you can embed the original raw file into the digital? Makes for a big file but not as big as saving both the raw and a digital. Personally I stopped using dng a while back.

Hi Larry,

I know this is a relatively old thread…I don’t use DNG except for my drone images as the default for Raw is DNG.

For my landscape kit, I keep the original Raw files. I know Adobe first marketed DNG as the universal raw format, but as @Diane_Miller said, the risk of no longer being able to convert your original raw images is no longer valid.

Thanks @David_Bostock and @GEGJr ; I have stopped converting to dng and importing NEF raw files (Nikon). This seems to be the consensus.

My raw files ARE natively DNG :upside_down_face: I see no downsides…