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File Format
Name Nikon
Extension(s) .nef, .nrw, .ndf, .ndr
PRONOM fmt/202

Formats used by Nikon cameras include:



Nikon Electronic Format is Nikon's RAW digital image format for DSLR cameras. It is a close relative to TIFF, and has a standard TIFF header. NEF files are usually big-endian, with the exception of files from the Coolpix 5700, which were little-endian. Data can be either 12- or 14-bit (from 2005's D200 onwards), and depending on the camera may be uncompressed, losslessly compressed, or lossily compressed.

NEFs for the Nikon D1

NEF files from the Nikon D1, the first all-Nikon digital SLR from 1999, differ from later cameras in a few ways:

  • Image data had no defined colour space. Many users have observed that the D1's native colour space is very similar to NTSC (see The Story of Nikon Color Modes). Later cameras used sRGB or Adobe RGB.
  • Raw data is not raw data. The image data itself, not just the image's metadata, is altered depending on the white balance setting. Later cameras do not alter image data based on the white balance setting.
  • EXIF data differs slightly. In particular, the D1 does not use the LensIDNumber tag as later cameras do. It also does not store the number of shutter actuations or the serial number of the camera.


Starting with the Nikon D2H, Nikon attempted to encrypt white balance information to prevent third-party tools from being able to render an image properly (which Nikon claimed was to ensure that images would always render consistently). This was swiftly broken.

Nikon also attempts to encrypt lens data. This has also been broken.

Coolpix variant

Coolscan NEF variant

Nikon Coolscan software generate .nef files that are different from cameras. Dave Coffin has written C source code to decode these files.


Nikon RAW. 12-Bit-RGB-CCD-RAW digital image format for Coolpix cameras.

The NRW format is virtually identical to the NEF format, with a different compression and curves. There is no real reason to have changed the extension except, maybe, to discriminate entry level camera supported by the codec for Windows.


Nikon Dust File. Contains data used to help compensate for lens dust and similar defects.


NDR (Nikon Capture Image Dust Off File) is the predecessor of NDF. An .ndr file does not contain image data, but points to a file that does.


NKSC (Nikon Sidecar) files have metadata for NEF files. See separate article for more info.


Sample files

Other links

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