The word dng is spelled out on a wooden table.

DNG Files: What They Are & How to Open or Convert Them

Explore DNG files, the digital negative format for photography, and get insights on how to open or convert them seamlessly.

This guide to DNG files will help you to better understand exactly what they are, how you open a DNG file, and how to convert them to more recognisable formats such as jpeg files.

After reading this guide you will be better able to make the decision about whether you should be using dng file format or native camera raw files, and the advantages and disadvantages of each file format.

You will also be able to better understand when you should be using each different file format.

What is a DNG File?


A DNG file extension is an Adobe Digital Negative Raw image file. DNG stands for Digital Negative Graphics.

These were created in response to the requirements for a standard digital raw file format that can be utilised across a wider variety of software and is free to use by anyone.

The DNG file format provides a way to store an image in a raw format that can be used across a number of image manipulation platforms (e.g.: Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop etc.), whilst preserving all the additional information about the photo that the raw file contains, including metadata and colour profiles.

This allows better manipulation of images due to the higher volume of metadata stored in the image, allowing you to push and pull the highlights, colours and shadows of your image more than if the image was in jpeg format.

Advantages of DNG Files

  • Wide Software Compatibility – can be edited in any raw processing program
  • Similar image quality to raw file types with smaller file sizes
  • Faster processing time between Lightroom and Photoshop
  • Doesn’t require separate XMP files to store the edits like raw files do
  • Non-destructive editing features – allowing photographers to make adjustments to images without altering the original raw data

Disadvantages of DNG Files

  • Additional time required to convert Raw Files to DNG files
  • Possibility of some raw image data being lost or altered during conversion

DNG Files vs RAW Files: What are the Key Differences?

Camera Raw Files

Selecting Camera Raw Files in your camera

Here’s a table that compares DNG files and RAW files based on several key aspects:

Aspect DNG RAW
File Format Open standard, created by Adobe Proprietary, varies by camera manufacturer
Compatibility Universally compatible with many photo editing software Often requires specific software provided by the camera manufacturer
File Size Typically smaller due to efficient compression Larger, varies by camera manufacturer
Preservation of Image Data Preserves all image data, can be lossy or lossless Preserves all image data, typically lossless
Metadata Standardized metadata May include camera-specific metadata
Archive Friendliness Designed for long-term archival Long-term archival depends on continued support from camera manufacturer
Conversion Requirement Can be converted from RAW, but not back to RAW Captured directly by the camera, no conversion required

As a professional photographer, I always capture my images as raw images. This allows me to retain the most information in the image and allows me greater capabilities when editing these images for my clients to produce the best quality work possible.

How Do You Open or View a DNG File?

How to open DNG Files

How to open Raw and DNG files

Due to the wide software compatibility of DNG files, you probably already have the apps to open DNG files!

If you are looking to edit your files they are compatible with all versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, but if you don’t have these programs, they are still easily accessible.

On Mac

You can use your normal photo viewing software, such as Apple Photos, which also can view HEIC files.

  1. Click on the image and press the command button at the same time
  2. scroll down to open with, then move right to see the list of compatible programs, and select one

In Windows

As with a Mac, Windows is set up with photo viewing software that is compatible such as Microsoft photos

  1. Right-click on the image on your desktop
  2. scroll down to open with, then move right to see the list of compatible programs, and select one

On iPhone or iPad

  1. Open the files app on your iPhone or iPad (swipe down on the home screen and type ‘files)
  2. This will bring up your most recent files – Navigate to the appropriate DNG file that you wish to open
  3. Tap on the file – if your device supports opening the file, it will open in the appropriate app
  4. If it doesn’t open the file, search the app store for ‘DNG file’ to download a conversion app

Some apps that can be used to edit and convert DNG files are Snapseed, VSCO, 360 HD Camera, Lightroom for mobile plus many others

On Android Device

Similar to an iPhone as above, navigate to the files app on your Android device and open, then locate the appropriate file.

  1. Tap on the file – if your device supports opening the file, it will open in the appropriate app
  2. If it doesn’t open the file, search the app store for ‘DNG file’ to download a conversion app

Some apps that can be used to edit and convert DNG files are Snapseed, Open Camera, 360 HD Camera, Lightroom for mobile plus many others.

How Do You Convert a DNG File to JPG?

If you are currently using a program that can open a DNG file, it most likely can also be used to convert it to JPEG.


There are a number of free online converters that will convert your images from DNG files to JPEG files.

Here is how to do it using ‘Convertio’

  1. Go to the website:
  2. Upload your DNG files from your computer by clicking on the ‘Choose files’ button
  3. Ensure DNG to JPG is selected
  4. Let your image convert and it can be downloaded afterwards

Using Software (Windows and Mac)

Using the Photos viewing software on your Mac or Windows computer

  1. Open your photo-viewing software
  2. Select the image you would like to convert and open it
  3. Right-click (windows) or click and press command (mac), or click the 3 dots and navigate to save as
  4. Once the save as folder opens up change the files type to .jpg and navigate to where you would like the photo saved

Using Lightroom

  1. Open Lightroom and select an image you wish to convert
  2. Click ‘File’ at the top of the screen, then go down and click ‘Export’
  3. Click ‘Burn full-sized jpegs’ on the left-hand side under Lightroom presets
  4. Up the  under Export to select ‘hard drive’, and under the export location tab navigate to where you would like the image saved
  5. Click the ‘Export; button down at the bottom.

Using a Mobile App (iOS and Android)

When using an app such as Snapseed, digital files can be exported in jpeg file formats.

  1. Open the image in the app in its DNG file format
  2. Tap on the three dots at the top right of the screen and select settings
  3. Then select export to save a copy of the original DNG format file as a jpg file – the original raw image files will remain in the app

FAQs About DNG Format Files

What does DNG stand for?

DNG stands for Digital Negative, a raw image format created by Adobe for the purpose of providing a standardized, open and royalty-free raw image format that is more widely compatible across different software and hardware platforms.

Are there any disadvantages to using DNG?

One potential disadvantage of using DNG is that it’s an Adobe-created format. This means that certain camera-specific metadata that the camera manufacturer’s software might use could potentially be lost in the conversion from the original camera raw format to DNG.

Is DNG lossy or lossless?

The DNG format can be either lossless or lossy, depending on your choice when converting the file. A lossless DNG file preserves all the image data from the camera, while a lossy DNG file compresses the data to reduce file size.

Do all photo editing software support DNG?

While DNG is widely supported because it’s an open standard, not all photo editing software supports it. Most Adobe products and many other third-party software do, but it’s best to check if your preferred software does.

Should I keep my original raw files after converting to DNG?

Whether to keep your original raw files after converting to DNG is a personal decision. Keeping the originals as a backup is safer, especially if they contain camera-specific data that DNG might not preserve. However, it also requires more storage space.

Does converting to DNG affect image quality?

No, converting to DNG doesn’t affect the image quality. The conversion preserves all the pixel data. The only potential loss is camera-specific metadata, but this doesn’t affect the image quality itself.

Can you convert DNG back to RAW?

No, once a RAW file has been converted to DNG, it cannot be converted back to its original RAW format. The DNG format is a type of RAW file itself, preserving the wide color range and high bit depth of RAW files, but it’s not the camera-specific RAW format.

Why is Lightroom converting my files to DNG?

Lightroom may convert files to DNG if you have selected this option in the import settings. Some photographers choose to convert their RAW files to DNG upon import because DNG files are more universally compatible and often smaller in size.

Which is better DNG or JPEG?

Whether DNG or JPEG is better depends on your needs. DNG files, as a form of RAW files, contain more information and allow for greater flexibility in post-processing, making them better for professional photo editing. However, JPEG files are smaller and more universally compatible, which makes them convenient for sharing and storing.

How do I change my iPhone from DNG to JPG?

If your iPhone is capturing in DNG (or RAW) format, you can change this in the Camera settings. However, if you have a DNG file you wish to convert to JPG, you would need to use an aesthetic photo editing app or software like Lightroom or Snapseed to export the image in JPG format.

What is the free software to open DNG files?

Adobe’s free DNG Converter allows you to open and convert DNG files. Other free photo editing software like GIMP (with the UFRaw plug-in) and RawTherapee can also open DNG files.

8 Tools for Photographers

Check out these 8 essential tools to help you succeed as a professional photographer.

Includes limited-time discounts.

Learn more here
Photographer & Sheep & cattle Farmer

I am a family, couples and wedding photographer who captures candid connections in beautiful natural light in Central West NSW. I love the outdoors and especially love that I get to see a range of beautiful outdoor locations (particularly on their family farms) through my client’s, as well as meeting lots of beautiful families/ couples!

Leave a Comment



Enter your email to be sent
today's Welcome Gift:
19 Photography Tools

🔥 Popular NOW:

Shotkit may earn a commission on affiliate links. Learn more.