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08-17-2008, 01:19 AM   #1
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K20d: DNG or PEF?

Had my first day of dedicated shooting today with the new k20d, and I decided to shoot the first half in DNG and the second in PEF. The PEFs are clearly much smaller files, though I found no difference in Lightroom this evening. Has anyone else observed DNG or PEF being better than the other?

I know DNGs are supposedly going to be more forward-compatible, though as long as DNG converter exists, I'm not too worried about that.

Will

08-17-2008, 02:51 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by wiyum Quote
Had my first day of dedicated shooting today with the new k20d, and I decided to shoot the first half in DNG and the second in PEF. The PEFs are clearly much smaller files, though I found no difference in Lightroom this evening. Has anyone else observed DNG or PEF being better than the other?

I know DNGs are supposedly going to be more forward-compatible, though as long as DNG converter exists, I'm not too worried about that.

Will
Both formats contain exactly the same picture data, so should be no difference. Main difference is that the PEF format is compressed while the DNG is not. DNG can be compressed, but I have not fully understodd if Adobe is not licensing the compression or if Pentax has decided not to buy a license. The main advantage of usin DNG, especially when the camera is new, is you do not have to wait for drivers for your applications. So I am now on DNG for that reason, and I don't want to start running PEF after a while so I have a mix of formats. I do have older PEF though from *istDS, and some from my K10D, but I am thinking of maybe converting them to DNG, or JPG to have only one format to worry about, or have them in a format that UI will likely be able to read in 10-20 years.

/PA
08-17-2008, 03:35 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by wiyum Quote
Had my first day of dedicated shooting today with the new k20d, and I decided to shoot the first half in DNG and the second in PEF. The PEFs are clearly much smaller files, though I found no difference in Lightroom this evening. Has anyone else observed DNG or PEF being better than the other?

I know DNGs are supposedly going to be more forward-compatible, though as long as DNG converter exists, I'm not too worried about that.

Will



There is no absolute reason not to use either PEF or DNG for the "original" Raw data as the data is virtually identical, but I always shoot in PEF for the following reasons.
  1. Some Raw converters don't support DNG with the correct colour or WB profile for the particular camera, some don't even support DNG at all.
  2. PEF usually allows 50% more shots per card.
  3. I can always convert to DNG using the converter in Pentax Photo Browser or the Adobe DNG converter, I cannot convert back to PEF from DNG.
  4. Not a reason exactly, but I always archive in the original format in order to preserve all the maker notes in the EXIF whether I shot in PEF or DNG. You're never sure if any converter will strip or modify the original EXIF data.
I cannot see any reason to shoot native DNG in the camera for any reason other than there may be one or two Raw converters that don't support PEF, or for when a new model is launched that isn't supported by most Raw converters at that time.

Even when using DNG with those converters the colour profile and WB will be a "generic" version and will not match the camera properly, as was the case with the K10D & K20D DNG's until the Raw software programs were updated to contain the correct profile for the cameras.

Also, the in-camera DNG's are uncompressed and therefore take up more space in both working and archival discs. As mentioned in #4 above, I never archive Raw files in a converted format, compressed or otherwise.

There is however a very strong argument for working (but not neccesarily shooting) in DNG, especially if you use Adobe and certain XMP compliant digtal management software as your main PP & DAM environment, as the XMP metadata is held within the Raw file structure rather than in separate sidecar files.

It is also worth mentioning that Pentax Photo Browser or Pentax Photolab will not work with Adobe converted DNG files, it is only compatible with either the original in-camera DNG's or DNG's converted from PEF files in Photo Browser. The Photo Browser converted DNG's are even larger than the in-camera DNG's, as they are full 16 bit files as opposed to the camera produced 12 bit files and don't have the unused 4 bits stripped out.

For more "in depth" understanding, fuurther information can be found in Barry Pearsons website - DNG articles and links and also in Bruce Frasers "Real World Camera Raw" books and Peter Krogh's "The DAM Book" on digital asset management.
08-17-2008, 04:27 AM   #4
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One final clarification: the PEFs... is the compression generally held to be lossless? I'd assume so.

Thanks for the replies,

Will

08-17-2008, 06:07 AM   #5
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I couldn't tell the difference between the two. But after a while, the storage space for either was becoming troublesome so I switched to JPG.
08-17-2008, 07:55 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by innershell Quote
I couldn't tell the difference between the two. But after a while, the storage space for either was becoming troublesome so I switched to JPG.
I'd say store in DNG/PEF long term since you never know when you'll want to go back and tweak or print an image. The cost is relatively small as well -- a 500gb drive for $70 (and enclosure if you want, ~$30-40). You'd probably want more than 2-4gb per SD card, but those go for less than $20 too.

So for about $120 you could store 25000+ images. Add another $70 for a backup drive and you're still talking less than $200 for a pretty good archival setup.
08-18-2008, 02:18 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by wiyum Quote
One final clarification: the PEFs... is the compression generally held to be lossless? I'd assume so.

Thanks for the replies,

Will
Yes it is.

You may find the following information useful:



08-18-2008, 02:40 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by innershell Quote
I couldn't tell the difference between the two. But after a while, the storage space for either was becoming troublesome so I switched to JPG.
If you ever shot with film, did you throw away all your negatives and just keep the prints? Yikes!!

JPEG is a compressed format that degrades ever time you re-save it, plus it's 8 bit and that is a very poor format for any post processing work, 12 bit Raw files make a huge difference.

8 bit has 256 possible tonal values (from black to white), 12 bit has 4,096 possible tonal values.

Please do yourself a big favour, buy yourself extra storage, start shooting Raw and learn the importance of doing so. The Bruce Fraser book I mentioned above will help you immensely. The only things you will lose out on is poor image quality and a few dollars.

08-18-2008, 06:31 PM   #9
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Since I use Apple's Aperture for all of my processing, I began shooting DNG when I obtained my K20D to be able to use raw files in Aperture since the firmware update changed the PEF file compatibility with Aperture.

By doing so, I noticed that my DNG files were, for some unknown reason, loading faster in Aperture and I am now able to add post processing elements faster in a larger 22 or so MB file that is the DNG file as opposed to my much smaller K10D PEF raw files. I do not know why this is, but my point is that Aperture is able to process DNG post processing/effects/cropping and other such processes much faster than PEF. Since this performance increase, I have not used PEF files since.
08-19-2008, 06:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wiyum Quote
Had my first day of dedicated shooting today with the new k20d, and I decided to shoot the first half in DNG and the second in PEF. The PEFs are clearly much smaller files, though I found no difference in Lightroom this evening. Has anyone else observed DNG or PEF being better than the other?

I know DNGs are supposedly going to be more forward-compatible, though as long as DNG converter exists, I'm not too worried about that.

Will
I like DNG's because they are not a proprietary format (though the way Pentax has implemented compression in their converter software, it may as well be).
I also was able to find a little Windows registry thingie that allows me to see thumbnails of DNG files rather than tiles or icons.
I couldn't find one that would do the same thing with PEFs.
This convenience was what tipped me over to DNGs.
11-07-2008, 11:51 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Richard Day Quote
There is no absolute reason not to use either PEF or DNG for the "original" Raw data as the data is virtually identical, but I always shoot in PEF for the following reasons...
Thank you for this post! It contained excellent information as I was trying to find out about which RAW format to use. So I decided to use PEF for now.
11-07-2008, 10:01 PM   #12
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The DNG Vista Viewer codec is located here:

DNG Codec - Adobe Labs

Once installed and after a reboot you will be able to view DNG as thumbnails in Explorer rather than icons.
11-08-2008, 05:01 AM   #13
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I'd like to point out that TIF files DO have compression. In the Adobe Photoshop save dialog, you can see several compression options. The one I like is LZW, which took a 45 mb files to a 32 mb file without losing data!

Also-
In my Reproductions class, our teacher explained that DNG (which also has a lossless compression option) are becoming standard because it's made to be standard and change very little over time. So while the Pentax raw format works perfectly today, it may not a few years from now. DNG, on the other hand, was designed to change very little over time.

For the price of a DVD, even at double the file size, it makes sense to use DNG.

But as was already pointed out, there's no reason not to shoot in Pentax Raw format and convert it to DNG later.
11-08-2008, 12:29 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I like DNG's because they are not a proprietary format (though the way Pentax has implemented compression in their converter software, it may as well be).
I also was able to find a little Windows registry thingie that allows me to see thumbnails of DNG files rather than tiles or icons.
I couldn't find one that would do the same thing with PEFs.
This convenience was what tipped me over to DNGs.
These are essentially the same reasons I use DNG. However, I think either was is o.k. As pointed out by others, it is like having a negative or slide compared to a print or polaroid.
11-08-2008, 09:02 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by innershell Quote
I couldn't tell the difference between the two. But after a while, the storage space for either was becoming troublesome so I switched to JPG.
Newegg.com - Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - Internal Hard Drives

500GB for less than $60. That should hold around 40,000 raw files. Storage is not a problem these days.


BTW, I shoot PEF, but then have them converted to DNG when I import them using Lightroom. I save space while shooting on my memory card, and then I save even more space on my harddrive when they are converted to DNG by Lightroom. DNGs created by Lightroom are smaller than even PEFs. Lightroom will even convert the DNGs from the camera to a smaller DNG on your harddrive. (Yeah, I know I said storage is cheap, and it is. Still, you might as well be efficient with it.)
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