After having my D200 and a host of other stuff stolen in December 2011, I finally managed to rack up enough cash to buy a D7100, SB-700 speedlight and a 55-200 VR Nikkor from Best Buy.
Which turned out to be smooth operating in every sense, especially considering that we live in Chile and that my wife was doing the pick-up in Florida.
Thank you, Best Buy, for a frictionless customer experience. Keep at it!
Now that I have bought my new camera, and after Adobe have gone Creative Cloud – a bandwagon that I will definitely not get onto – I have to figure out how to convert my D7100 RAW files (compatible only with ACR 7.4 / CS6), since I’m still running CS3.
With the D200 I used Nikon Capture for quite a while, but after I bought the D40 it turned out the program was not compatible with any Nikon launched after the D70.
I tried out Nikon Capture NX, but found the interface and operability unbearable, even only because it is very slow.
Plus, in NX Nikon stripped out the Camera Control module for tethered shooting, included in the previous version, making the program even less worth spending money on.
After running my D40 RAW files trough the Adobe DNG Converter for a while, I decided that between giving my money to Nikon and Adobe the choice was simple: the outlay of cash was only slightly higher for the upgrade of the entire CS1 to CS3 Suite than for Nikon Capture alone…
However, the truth of the matter is that this so-called “upgrade” was not really worth it; apart of ACR and Bridge there was really nothing substantially new, neither in Photoshop nor in any of the other CS programs I frequently use, like Illustrator, Indesign, Dreamweaver and Fireworks.
That said, after deciding to buy the D7100, I still seriously considered upgrading CS3 to CS6.
However, in anticipation of Creative Cloud, Adobe canceled the option to upgrade from any but the latest CS versions, offering upgrade pricing only for CS5/CS5.5.
That would mean spending from $ 1.300 to 1.600 for the CS6 suite (depending on version), $ 700 for Photoshop CS6 alone, pay a monthly fee of $ 20 for Photoshop CC or $ 50 for the CC suite during the remainder of my life, just to be able to convert RAWs from the D7100.
I think not.
What options are there?
Not that many, in my situation, but yours may be different.
The only free option is the Nikon View NX2 software that comes with the camera, the second is shelling out $ 180 for Nikon Capture NX2, which would be OK if it were not such a slow memory hog, and finally you might get Lightroom 5 ($ 70 - 150) or PS Elements 11 (temporarily $ 70).
You might also cut through the chase already, get rid of Adobe Camera RAW entirely and go with Phase One Capture One 7 ($ 69 - $ 229) or DxO Optics Pro 8 ($ 169 - $ 299).
For my current workflow none of these options are even at the heels of Photoshop, however, the D7100 (and other 4th generation Nikons) might change all that.
Thus, I'm left with only two budget neutral options: the Adobe DNG Converter and Nikon View NX2. I will compare them pronto in an in-depth article, and for now I will limit myself to describing the DNG Converter workflow. Keep tuned for a surprise!
As with Nikon View NX2 RAW to TIFF conversion, the DNG Converter introduces an extra step into the workflow which gobbles up precious time and disk space.
However, fact of the matter is that the program can process virtually any RAW file since 2003, while DNG files can be opened by any Photoshop / ACR (2) version since CS1.
The the program is stand-alone (just an executable, no system links), kept up-to-date and – still – free.
Converting RAW files to DNG is fairly simple. The DNG Converter is a batch processor which converts all the files contained in a given folder, rather than individual ones.
The conversion is pretty slow, so I process my D7100 RAW files on a secondary computer to avoid gobbling up precious CPU cycles on my main one.
If you are already in the habit of downloading your camera files to aptly named individual session folders, you’re ready to go. If not, you might want to configure Nikon Transfer or whatever other program you are using, to create per-session image folders.
When you open the DNG Converter for the first time, you will also need to set preferences, most importantly the compatibility of the resulting DNG files.
Make sure you set this to your current ACR version, or else the plug-in will be incapable of opening the files.
Options are: ACR 2.4 (CS1); ACR 4.1, 4.6 (CS3), ACR 5.4 (CS4), ACR 6.6 (CS5) and ACR 7.1 (CS6), respectively (as per DNG Converter 8.1).
|DNG Converter Interface||DNG Converter Preferences|
|DNG Conversion Process|
You may opt (in configuration) to include the original RAW file in the DNG, which – on the one hand – may more than double its size, depending on your camera model, but – on the other – is ideal for archival because the original RAW can later be extracted from the DNG, if necessary.
Once you have converted the RAWs, a simple click on the DNG suffices to run Photoshop and ACR, putting at your disposition all the tools available in your current ACR version.
Note that for this to work, you may have to permanently associate the DNG file format with Photoshop first.
|DNG Extraction, select folder||DNG Extraction successful|
Latest Nikon cameras supported by the DNG Converter
The final version of ACR for CS6 – v.7.4 – included RAW support for the D7100, the Nikon One J3 and S1, the Coolpix A and preliminary support for the Coolpix P330.
The most recent version of the DNG Converter is v.8.1 (at the time of writing) – which does not include additional Nikon cameras – while the latest version of ACR will be pushed automatically to CC subscribers’ computers.
New DNG Converter versions typically come out in parallel with new ACR versions, but you need to bother only with downloading the latest version after purchasing a new camera that is incompatible with your current DNG Converter or ACR version.
ACR and DNG versions are cumulative, meaning that they add more new cameras on top of the ones already supported in any previous version.
So, when the need to download arises, simply get the latest.
To find out which version is compatible with your camera, check my Nikon DSLR/ACR/DNG compatibility chart.
For Nikon cameras post ACR 7.4 and compatibility with ACR/DNG, I will start a new compatibility chart as soon as the need arises; I will include a link here.
You may also want to read:
Compatibility chart for Nikon DSLR and Adobe Camera RAW & DNG Converter (Updated)
JPG vs. RAW, 8-bits vs. 16-bits, sRGB vs. wide-gamut RGB. Which too choose, when and why
Which is the best RAW converter: Camera RAW, Nikon View, Capture or Phase One Capture One?
Adobe Creative Cloud or CC. Cash Cows for Creative Criminals
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