NEF file types and sizes: what effect do bit depth and compression have on raw files?

NEF file types and sizes: what effect do bit depth and compression have on raw files?

Nikon DSLRs can create more than one type of NEF file. In this quick tutorial our friends at the Nikon magazine N-Photo explain the effect bit depth and compression have on your Nikon raw files.

NEF file types and sizes: what effect do bit depth and compression have on raw files?

All Nikon DSLRs shoot RAW files, or ‘NEF’ files as Nikon calls them. On Nikon’s beginner-orientated DSLRs a NEF is a NEF, and that’s it.

On more advanced models you can choose whether your NEFs are compressed, and you can also pick the ‘bit depth’.

The higher the bit depth, the wider the range of tones captured, which can make a difference if you edit your images.

Our table shows you which NEF options are available on current Nikon DSLRs, and the effect this has on the file size.

SEE MORE: DX format vs FX format – what you need to know about Nikon’s sensor sizes

NEF file types and sizes explained

NEF file types and sizes: what effect do bit depth and compression have on raw files?

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Bit depth and data

Nikon NEF files: bit depth and data explained

JPEG images store eight bits of data, but NEF files capture much more

01 8-bit JPEGs store 256 shades per channel. That’s fine, until you start wanting to  heavily manipulate your images.

02 12-bit NEFs capture 4096 shades per channel. This gives much smoother tones.

03 14-bit NEFs capture 16,384 shades per channel, but you often won’t be able to see any difference next to 12-bit NEFs.

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