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08-30-2015, 09:06 PM   #1
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PEF vs DNG

I have tried googling for a complete picture on the PEF vs DNG enigma and have read tomes on the subject. Yet I remain unsatisfied and still hungry for knowledge.
So here are my questions:-
a) Both PEF & DNG are RAW formats. PEF is Pentax - Ricoh's very own baby while DNG is propounded by Adobe with a view to making it a Global Standard. Also we can choose to activate either PEF or DNG via the Menu. Please ignore the JPEG option as it is not RAW.

The chicken vs egg enigma now. Does the Pentax DSLR like the K-5 capture pictures into i) PEF format and then convert it into DNG? or ii) does it capture in the DNG format and then convert into PEF?
What is the actual Digital Format in which pictures are captured??? Or what is the Native Digital Format????

We all know the camera LCD projects a converted JPEG image and that the Histogram is based on the JPEG format.

Most 3rd Party Software can read / detect and convert PEF files into JPEG or even DNG. But which one is the better of the two - PEF or DNG. Or to put it more clearly, what are the Pros & Cons of the two formats? Can some kind Pentaxian put this in a simple matrix or a point wise tabular form for easy interpretation.

Every camera manufacturer have their own proprietary formats, but in the long term will they survive? Will PEF??

Thanks for reading and for your inputs.

08-30-2015, 09:12 PM   #2
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Stick to DNG. It's way more future proof than PEF.
08-30-2015, 09:21 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Both PEF and DNG are true raw formats - they contain the sensor data but formatted in two different ways. The camera can save either format without conversion. As far as I can tell there is no advantage to PEF.

08-30-2015, 09:49 PM   #5
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TLDR: there's basically no difference, except fewer programs can open PEFs. Thus we tend to prefer the DNG format

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08-30-2015, 10:55 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Both PEF and DNG are true raw formats - they contain the sensor data but formatted in two different ways. The camera can save either format without conversion. As far as I can tell there is no advantage to PEF.
QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
TLDR: there's basically no difference, except fewer programs can open PEFs. Thus we tend to prefer the DNG format
What they said. The two formats are essentially equivalent and there is no real advantage in regards to software support. Both are strictly proprietary with the main difference that the DNG specifications have been published. There is some potential that DNG may become a standard of sorts, except that adoption (camera support), cross-compatibility, and quality of implementations (outside of Adobe products) is mixed.*

Is DNG future proof? Only if the assumption is that Adobe will have significant historical or industry prominence 100 years from now or even ten years from now. (Anyone remember Kodak's KDC?) At present, TIFF would appear to be the safer choice for archived files and has the advantage of preserving the post-processing intent of the artist without needing than a compliant TIFF image reader.**


Steve

* This is difficult to explain except to say that Adobe generated DNG (e.g. Lightroom export) may or may not be readable with non-Adobe product. Similarly Pentax-generated DNG may not be readable or fully supported by software capable of reading Adobe-generated DNG.

** There is little to be gained from archiving a RAW file by itself if the artist had specific intent for image processing. A RAW file is strictly analogous to a film negative. For example, the negative for Ansel Adams "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico" still exists, but even a master printer would have difficulty reproducing a print without Adams notes and maybe even with it. Adobe DNG may contain processing instructions (e.g. generated on export of developed image from Lightroom or or by metadata save), but those are only validly interpreted by the original or compatible software.

Last edited by stevebrot; 08-30-2015 at 11:10 PM.
08-31-2015, 12:07 AM   #7
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Every time I read a topic on DNG vs. PEF I remain confused by the consensus. AFAIK we're talking about container formats (like mkv for video) where the content is essentially the same, but packed in different wrapping. So shouldn't the answer be 'It doesn't matter', because it's trivial to shift files from one to the other? Also regarding convenience of reading them, I don't know for other operating systems but Windows supports PEF natively (though you need to download & install Camera Pack) so you're covered there.


Regarding 'future proofness', I suppose as long as you can run an operating system that supports the file format (or software that reads it), you are ok.


Personally I have a mixture of DNGs and PEFs. I switched from DNG to PEF some (long) time ago when I noticed Pentax DNGs were noticeably larger than PEFs (on K100DS), and now it's just a matter of habit. Wouldn't mind (though I suppose it wouldn't change anything for me) to go back to DNG.
08-31-2015, 12:13 AM   #8
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A lossless format is a lossless format, it's like converting FLAC to WAV to ALAC, nothing changes.

08-31-2015, 04:05 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by nanhi Quote
The chicken vs egg enigma now. Does the Pentax DSLR like the K-5 capture pictures into i) PEF format and then convert it into DNG? or ii) does it capture in the DNG format and then convert into PEF?
What is the actual Digital Format in which pictures are captured??? Or what is the Native Digital Format????
To go back to ground truth, the native format of the images is how the data is arranged and read off of the sensor. To the chicken and egg question - the answer is neither. The software would have three options; A) PEF; B) DNG; and C) JPG. You select the format via 2 sets of choices - 1) RAW, JPG or RAW+ (RAW and JPG). You also your second choice is for the type of RAW which is DNG or PEF. The camera when it converts the image data from the sensor would look at the type of raw and convert it accordingly. It would not convert it to PEF then to DNG - why? That would take more time, and camera bodies do not waste time and energy (drains the battery).

08-31-2015, 04:07 AM   #10
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Actually, some things changes, for example, you have a full rez processed jpeg preview in PEF (at least, until K-5) while preview in DNG is low-res (768 lines if I remember), plus maybe some more proprietary information.

People tend to say that opening DNG files is easier and ready, but as far as I know, DNG do not specify enough for a straightforward opener, there's still a lot of camera-specific stuff that require to be added for software to actually support new cameras.
08-31-2015, 04:36 AM   #11
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To me it is no longer a question of which is better (neither probably) or even which is better supported by software (my software supports both) but the question of reversibility (for lack of a better word). On the off-chance someone will ever find some hinting or specific tags which are better represented by either format, I'd hold you shoot in the format that is most open to conversion into the other.

Simply put: you can always, at any given time in the future, convert a PEF into a DNG by using freely available tools (Adobe or other) but you can never, ever, do the reverse. For that very simple reason I shoot in PEF on any camera that support it. As the k-5 IIs does PEF, I use it. As the GR only does DNG, I use that. Both formats convert to tif/png/jpg just fine.

As an afterthought: any new proprietary raw formats are usually supported very quickly by open-source software such as DCRAW. There always is an interim period in which a new proprietary raw format lacks support. I still shoot in that format but would convert to DNG on the PC in the meantime, getting rid of the proprietary files afterwards.
08-31-2015, 05:00 AM   #12
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DNG is Adobe's open standard
PEF is a compressed Proprietary format by Pentax. The PEF file is smaller. DNG 's are bigger. But they allow for a 16bit file size.
Your camera captures in RAW and the data gets stored in PEF or DNG depending on what you chose. There is functionally no difference.
HOWEVER - a proprietary format converted to a DNG has a reputation of being less sharp and less coloured. I don't know if the reputation is deserved.
Lightroom will open either, and it will export into DNG afterwards, taking into account your changes.
It's a great way to keep your "negative" and the end result "negative"
08-31-2015, 08:53 AM - 1 Like   #13
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SpecialK Sir, I very humbly said that even after reading up and doing some research on the internet I was still hungry for knowledge.
And I do appreciate that you atleast took the time to reply.
I could not find answers to these simple questions which was also given in the opening thread:-

a) The chicken vs egg enigma. Which came first?? PEF or DNG or a Native RAW Digital Format?? So to say "0 & 1s" captured by the Sensor.
So what is the actual RAW Digital Format in which pictures are captured??? Or what is the Native RAW Digital Format???
d) Does the Pentax DSLR like the K-5 capture pictures into i) PEF format and then convert it into DNG? or
ii) does it capture in the DNG format and then convert into PEF?

Obviously if a native digital format is being used, then some kind of software is required to convert them into PEF or DNG.

Hope this answers your question "If you read all about, I don't know why you are asking".
Or maybe I am one of those "Dummies", albeit a highly educated academician and a retired Advisor in one of the world's largest conglomerate.

My sincere thanks to all the wonderful Pentaxians who sent in their views. I truly learnt something today.

With my humble Regards.
08-31-2015, 09:34 AM   #14
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Raw sensor data without a format is gibberish. Imagine a file of ones and zeros without any idea of sensor size rows vs columns etc.

The format is applied as the data is read from the sensor. This is then written to the card in a formatted file.

Imagine you are in a computer. You have memory locations filled with ones and zeros which have to be combined with a format in order to make sense out of them. The native memory representation has little bearing on the file saved with the editor. All kinds of additional info is added and control and marker bits are added. The same thing holds for raw files.
08-31-2015, 10:08 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Is DNG future proof? Only if the assumption is that Adobe will have significant historical or industry prominence 100 years from now or even ten years from now. (
I would think that if Adobe had no dog in that hunt they might have no problem letting the standard be in the public domain as it pretty much is now anyway.
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