.NEF File Extension
Nikon Electronic Format RAW Image
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What is a NEF file?
An NEF file is a raw photo captured by a Nikon digital camera. It is saved in an uncompressed Nikon Electronic Format (NEF), which stores data exactly as it was captured by the CCD. NEF files also contain image metadata, which includes the camera ID and the lens that was used.
Nikon photographers are the most common users of NEF files. These photographers may be professional or photography enthusiasts capturing images with their Nikon cameras and saving the raw data in NEF files.
The NEF format supports 12-bit or 14-bit data, depending on the camera used to capture the image. Any adjustments to image settings such as exposure, hue, tone, sharpening, and white balance can be applied with photo editing software once the image is saved to a computer.
Changes to the image are stored as instruction sets separate from the raw image data in the NEF file. This means that no matter how many edits are applied to the image you can revert back to the original.
How do I open a NEF file?
You can open NEF files with various image-editing and viewing applications. Microsoft Photos (Windows) and Apple Preview (macOS) are free applications that support NEF images and are bundled with Windows and macOS. Also, ViewNX2 is a free utility for Windows and Mac developed by Nikon to browse, edit, and share NEF photos.
Other, more advanced image editors that support NEF files include Adobe Photoshop (Windows and macOS) and Corel PaintShop Pro (Windows and macOS). Also, you can view NEF images on Android, iOS, and Chrome OS devices with Google Photos.
How do I convert NEF files?
You can convert NEF files to other image formats, such as .JPEG and .PNG with several image editors. In Windows, you can convert NEF images with Adobe Photoshop, Corel PaintShop Pro, and ACD Systems Canvas.
On a Mac, you can use Apple Preview by selecting File → Export.... Or you can use Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, or Corel AfterShot Pro.