What is DNG? And Why You Might Consider Using It in Lightroom

What is the DNG File Format?

If you ever imported photos into Lightroom, you have probably noticed the phrase  “Copy as DNG” listed as an option. You probably just skipped over this option because:

A) You have no idea what it is or

B) You see no need to use it.

DNG File

Today I wanted to let you in on the secret of what a DNG files are and why you might consider using them.

What is a DNG File?

DNG stands for digital negative file and is an open-source RAW file format created by Adobe. Essentially, it’s a standard RAW file that anyone can use – and some camera manufacturer’s actually do.

Right now, most camera manufacturers have their own proprietary RAW format (Nikon’s is .nef, Canon’s is .cr2 or .crw, and Sony is .arw).

But because those formats are “proprietary” to each manufacturer. They don’t share the information that makes up that file or how it is processed in-camera with anyone else. (Shhhh….it’s a secret!) If, at some time in the future, those companies are no longer around (I know it is hard to imagine now) their proprietary files may become hard to read.

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Why You Might Consider Using DNG?

1. DNG Doesn’t Use Sidecar Files 

This is the main thing that got me to start using DNG a few years ago. I was tired of all the .xmp sidecar files. Lightroom (and Adobe Camera RAW) create one of these .xmp sidecar files for every photo edited. With a DNG file all the information is embedded in the file so there is no need for a sidecar file.

2. Slightly Smaller File Size

Another great reason to use DNG files is that they are slightly smaller than their proprietary RAW counterparts. Don’t panic, the DNG files still retain all the same information and a file that takes up a little less room on my hard drive is always welcome.

How to Convert Files to DNG?

In Lightroom you can convert files to DNG at any time. You can convert when you are importing files and you can also convert when you are exporting files.

What is a DNG File

And you can convert files to DNG anytime in between. Just click on the LIbrary menu dropdown and select “Convert Photo to DNG”.

What is DNG


Hopefully this tutorial has helped shed some light on what DNG files are and why you may want to start using them. Happy Lightrooming!

Do you have any questions or comments about DNG Files?  Leave us a comment below – we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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