Oct 032011

This is one of a set of 4 articles about DNG:
DNG part 1 – (this article)
DNG part 2 – Timeline for the Digital Negative Format
DNG part 3 – The tragedy of OpenRAW
DNG part 4 – DNG is the ONLY archival raw file format

This article provides the background to over 30 web pages I have written about DNG up to the end of 2010. For most of that time, my pages were the most comprehensive information about DNG outside the Adobe website. They even contained a lot of information that was not available on the Adobe website. In fact, they still do!

After 2010, there were diminishing returns from extra material from me. DNG had become well known, many camera models used it, very many software products supported it, and it is being considered by ISO to become an international standard. So I am wrapping up these pages to ensure they will still be useful as reference material, and blogging about them here.

My introduction to DNG

I bought my first digital camera in the first half of 2004. (I had been shooting film since the 1960s). I shot raw from the start. I already had Photoshop, so I used ACR to process the raw files.

When Adobe launched DNG on 27 September 2004, it was obvious to me that this was addressing a significant need. I knew from my career in helping to develop complicated multi-vendor computing systems that it is very important to structure a system into components linked by documented common interfaces.

I spent about 2 weeks examining the available documentation about DNG, including the specification, before concluding that it was a credible proposal. On 10 October 2004 I began to use DNG for all my raw images.


I had been reading and contributing to newsgroups for many years. Misleading and/or inaccurate statements about DNG began to be posted about 3 October 2004. (This has been a continuing trend all over the web).

People are entitled to hold whatever opinions they choose, and typically they are entitled to express those opinions. But it is unfortunate if their statements screw up other people.

I started responding after I had been using DNG for a few days. I kept copies of my responses as text files. I have continued to monitor relevant newsgroups, but OpenRAW and DPReview became much more active with such statements.


7 months after the launch of DNG, on 25 April 2005, OpenRAW was launched. With the subtitle “Digital Image Preservation Through Open Documentation” it was obviously addressing similar issues to DNG. I was an early supporter.

Discussions at OpenRAW influenced these pages. Many supporters wanted a common raw file format. I investigated various aspects of standardising raw files, and kept copies of my articles as text files.

(I have now posted about “DNG versus OpenRAW”).

My first DNG pages

In February 2005 and April 2005, Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie posted lists of non-Adobe products that supported DNG to the Rawformat website. I responded with more products that I had discovered, guessing that Pierre might add them to a later list.

The Rawformat website decayed, and Pierre was busy, so about August 2005 I rescued his lists and re-published them as a possibly temporary page on my website. I have evolved that list since then to show to people who claim that DNG is only supported by Adobe. That list of “Products that support DNG in some way“, (reformatted as a new page in May 2006), is probably my most-referenced page.

For balance, I started a list of “Products that don’t support DNG“. Then I gradually built other pages from the text files that I have been accumulating, to use instead of posting copies of these files each time.


In September 2005 I registered with DPReview. I have responded to queries and misleading statements posted there up to 2010.

The subject of DNG arose more frequently there than most other sites, so this accelerated the investigations and development of the material that formed the basis of this website. For example, here is an article, posted on 24 May 2006 by someone with a record of posting such statements, that caused me create a new page on 8 June 2006.

Building a coherent website

In December 2005 I created the “index page” that began to make these pages into a coherent website by linking the existing pages together and providing an overview.

I gradually added more pages, and extended and sub-divided existing pages, to make it easier to respond to queries and misleading statements without having to post lots of text each time. In response to a valid criticism that I wasn’t identifying potential problems with DNG, I published what is probably the most comprehensive material about DNG issues. This was before I published a page about the benefits of DNG!

The last few years of publishing to my website

The timeline for the DNG pages on my website shows a gradual accumulation of material, plus an archive at about the end of each September of “Products that support DNG in some way” to show progress.

Nearly all of the extra pages were prompted by debates and discussions taking place across the web. Sometimes, in response to specific misleading statements or to requests for information, I trialled various raw converters, and/or used various file-analysis tools, and built some more-technical web pages.


I registered as an editor at Wikipedia, and did a lot of the work to bring the Wikipedia entries for DNG (Digital Negative Format) and Raw File Format up-to-date. I also created the page for CinemaDNG, and revised the page for TIFF/EP (Tag Image File Format / Electronic Photography).


I may add material to my website for completeness, but probably not much of it. I will blog significant changes here.

  One Response to “DNG part 1 – Seven years of writing about Digital Negative Format”

  1. [...] DNG Part 1 – Seven years of writing about Digital Negative Format This article provides the background on all of the material Barry has written on the DNG format [...]

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