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12-31-2011, 10:57 AM   #1
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.pef vs .dng

Does either of these RAW formats (.pef/.dng) have an advantage over the other? I use CS4 for processing.

12-31-2011, 11:18 AM   #2
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DNG is a standard so it's more compatible with photo browsers and other software out there (i.e. windows can create DNG thumbnails natively), but as far as data goes it's the same I think.

You can read more about the exact differences in the similar threads at the bottom of the page.

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12-31-2011, 11:22 AM   #3
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None from a data point of view. Same bits, different file organization. On the K10 though PEF files are internally lossessly compressed while DNG files are not, so you can store more images on the card in PEF format. On K-7 both formats are losslessly compressed so the size advantage disappears. I am not sure for the other camera models.

PEF is specific to Pentax while DNG is a general format, so all things being equal, DNG will give you more options down the road if new third party software comes along and there is no support for PEF. Of course you can convert PEF to DNG (or any other format) but why bother if you can have something up front that loses nothing and may gain something.

Bottom line, if you can use DNG in all the software products you plan to use, go with that.
12-31-2011, 12:00 PM   #4
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DNG is more backwards compatible WRT software. As a CS4 user, were you to decide to upgrade to a K5, you would not be able to process PEF files without buying CS5, IIRC. OTOH, you can open K5 DNG files in the original raw converter that Adobe made available for Photoshop 7, and all versions going forwards. This can make for a fairly painless transition from camera to camera, since you can carry on with legacy software if you don't want or can't afford to upgrade to the newest Photoshop.

12-31-2011, 12:50 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
windows can create DNG thumbnails natively
Really? I had to download a DNG Codec from Adobe to get it doing that. Is there another way?
12-31-2011, 01:12 PM   #6
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I use PEF and CS5. Haven't had any issues at all. Make sure you have your Adobe updated. I use *ist DL, k10, k20, k7, k5, 945d. I feel I get better results using PEF. I've thought about archiving my work in DNG. But haven't. My photos see Photoshop, Lightroom, bridge and others. No problems at all.



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12-31-2011, 01:24 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimpurcell Quote
I feel I get better results using PEF.
Can you explain that at all? My understanding is that they both store the very same data, just storing it a bit differently.
12-31-2011, 02:04 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimpurcell Quote
I use PEF and CS5. Haven't had any issues at all. Make sure you have your Adobe updated. I use *ist DL, k10, k20, k7, k5, 945d. I feel I get better results using PEF. I've thought about archiving my work in DNG. But haven't. My photos see Photoshop, Lightroom, bridge and others. No problems at all.
You are using current software.
The OP is using CS4, the last camera raw update for this program was in Feb 2009. PEFs from cameras introduced after that will not be supported by his software, but DNGs from cameras introduced after Feb 2009 will be supported.

12-31-2011, 02:33 PM   #9
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One advantage to DNG is that IF your camera can capture and store the file as a DNG file then the camera (Pentax) actually writes instructions on how the file should processed by the RAW converter.

With PEF files the people who create the RAW converter determine how the RAW file is processed. I'm not sure about Pentax, but Canon will not release its RAW processing code to Adobe so Adobe is coming up with their own process to handle the files. This is why DPP, C1, and LR3 process the same files differently.

Another advantage of DNG is that if Pentax releases a K-3 tomorrow you could start shooting in DNG and process it in the current version of LR3 and not wait 6 months for 3rd party support of K-3 PEF files.

Canon no longer supports its old RAW file (CRW) and now they are on CR2. I don't expect Pentax to change anytime soon, but if they go to a Foveon type of sensor or technology moves away from using a Bayer color filter and requiring demosaicing then we would see a new RAW file format. Does Adobe support any of the Sigma cameras?
12-31-2011, 03:23 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
One advantage to DNG is that IF your camera can capture and store the file as a DNG file then the camera (Pentax) actually writes instructions on how the file should processed by the RAW converter.

With PEF files the people who create the RAW converter determine how the RAW file is processed. I'm not sure about Pentax, but Canon will not release its RAW processing code to Adobe so Adobe is coming up with their own process to handle the files. This is why DPP, C1, and LR3 process the same files differently.

Another advantage of DNG is that if Pentax releases a K-3 tomorrow you could start shooting in DNG and process it in the current version of LR3 and not wait 6 months for 3rd party support of K-3 PEF files.

Canon no longer supports its old RAW file (CRW) and now they are on CR2. I don't expect Pentax to change anytime soon, but if they go to a Foveon type of sensor or technology moves away from using a Bayer color filter and requiring demosaicing then we would see a new RAW file format. Does Adobe support any of the Sigma cameras?
This is the biggest thing. Not having to update Photoshop or Lightroom or whatever program you use to do your post processing when you buy a new camera is awfully nice. A camera that shoots DNG files can have them processed right away without waiting for Adobe to release a RAW converter update that handles your specific camera's raw files (and obviously if your version of software is too old, you would just be out of luck).

The biggest reason before the K7 to shoot PEF was that the files were smaller. Now, they are the same size and as far as I can tell exactly the same otherwise.
12-31-2011, 04:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
One advantage to DNG is that IF your camera can capture and store the file as a DNG file then the camera (Pentax) actually writes instructions on how the file should processed by the RAW converter.
We do not know what proprietary data (if any) are in the PEF file that can provide a better conversion since to my knowledge it is not public information, but all the sensor/camera metadata are stored on both formats. RAW engines use different algorithms to demosaic the data and generate the RGB values. Furthermore there are many adjustable parameters to fine tune the process; most are related to the metadata and others to presets and user preferences.

Each engine will produce a different version from the original data, and one can produce multiple variations by changing the parameters. There is no such thing as a "correct" RAW to RGB conversion. All attempts are approximations. The interesting point is that algorithms can be improved over time so the very same old RAW image can be processed with newer technology and produce dramatically different results. Just go back to the various versions of Adobe RAW over the years.
01-05-2012, 11:33 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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With my K-5 the PEF files are about 20% smaller than DNGs. On an 8 GB card that equals 40-50 exposures, which sometimes makes a difference. So I shoot PEF. However, I don't have version 5 of Photoshop, which can't read the K-5s PEFs. I use Adobe's free DNG converter when I import. It take a bit longer, but I get the smaller file size advantage on the camera, but most imaging programs can now handle my files.
01-09-2012, 03:28 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
Now, they are the same size and as far as I can tell exactly the same otherwise.
I can confirm this (size) for K-5. However doing a convert of these files with Adobe DNG converter will still save up to 25% of size.

Example: I shot same scene twice, the picture size produced by K-5 is about 18000KB as PEF as well as DNG. If I convert those with Adobe DNG converter then it reduces the size to about 15000KB. Note that Adobe converter will even convert a DNG to another (smaller ) DNG. In another picture I had a reduction from 30MB to 22MB.

Another difference would be the handling of these pictures with SILKYPIX program. This program will not handle DNGs created (by Adobe converter) from PEFs, but will handle DNGs (created by Adobe converter) out of DNGs (created by K-5)

So my recommendation for K-5 would be to shoot in DNG.
12-03-2015, 09:18 PM   #14
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hi Adam

i know your post here is very old but searching around on info regarding DNG vs PEF i came across what you said about Windows being able to show DNG file thumbnails natively ...

which Windows version does that?

my Windows 7 Ultimate x64 can't! but it can show PEF thumbnails (and many others) comfortably after i installed some file provided for the purpose by Micro$oft ...

thanks
12-05-2015, 04:00 PM   #15
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An Equivalent PEF vs DNG file is smaller
Functionally they are the same though, as they are both RAW captures.
Image Quality wise, the only difference you will see is how your Imaging Application interprets them when it loads and Auto Adjusts them. They might look different, but it's the same data.
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