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Nikon RAW (NEF) and metadata in iView

 
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JimF



Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 23
Location: Lexington, MA USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:23 am    Post subject: Nikon RAW (NEF) and metadata in iView Reply with quote

I attended a Photoshop Conference in Boston today where I went to a (not great) iView presentation. The speaker's emphasis was that it's best to put as much info in possible into Metadata since it stays with the file, so even if some day your proprietary catalog software company goes out of business, the key info is still right there in the file and you can transition over to something else easily.

Only problem- he says he doesn't recommend using iView to create metadata fields and synch back to the original NEF files because Nikon has changed the metadata structure a few times over the years and you might end up with a file problem. I hadn't heard this before and unfortunately had to leave without time to ask for further explanation.

I've used iView metadata successfully with NEFs, although so far only for Copyright and caption info, never with any file problems. Anyone else hear of this problem- if so is there a reasonable workaround?
Thanks
Jim
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roberte



Joined: 18 Jun 2004
Posts: 2147
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jim,

To cut to the chase it's really up to you. If you modify NEF files in any application other than Nikon's own you risk making them incompatible. The two schools of thought are; don't modify undocumented RAW formats and treat them as read-only, or annotate RAW files and you only need do it once.

Quote:
I've used iView metadata successfully with NEFs

Me too.

iView does change the NEF by writing metadata into the file header somewhere. Like all camera manufacturers the exact location of the IPTC field is undocumented. Most software vendors reverse engineer the RAW file to guess where and how the data is stored.

From what Phil posted here iView appears to be different. I have never had a NEF annotated in MediaPro that was incompatible with Nikon software. That can't be said of other Windows apps I've used to caption NEF files. MediaPro is dependent on Nikon software to render NEF files; if they make the RAW file incompatible with it then iView won't be able to display them.

Quote:
he says he doesn't recommend using iView to create metadata fields and synch back to the original NEF files because Nikon has changed the metadata structure a few times over the years and you might end up with a file problem

Generally speaking that's true. Other camera manufacturers have changed where they store metadata. Specifically though Nikon hasn't changed the location they store IPTC data so it's unlikely your NEF files will suddenly become a "problem".

What Nikon have changed over the years is how their software reads NEF files captioned by some third-party apps. Nikon software has always been very sensitive in reading RAW files. Around the time when Nikon View 6.1 and Capture 4 were released Nikon users found some older NEFs captioned in certain Windows applications were no longer compatible. The common denominator seemed to be how the file ending was written.

Every other Windows app could still open and read those NEF files including, Breeze Browser, IMatch, DigitalPro, Bibble, Adobe Camera Raw, and CaptureOne DSLR.

Quote:
so is there a reasonable workaround?

You could use Nikon Transfer to download your NEFs. It has an option of writing IPTC data on transfer. Personally I've never liked Nikon Transfer, and you should know that it could write "bad" IPTC data! Bad as in not writing the data to "standard", making some NEF files incompatible with some third party applications, but perfectly OK with Nikon View and Capture.

As these forums aren't officially monitored by iView I suggest you go to the horse's mouth and lodge a support request with your question.


Last edited by roberte on Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:18 pm; edited 3 times in total
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JimF



Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 23
Location: Lexington, MA USA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert, thanks for the very intelligent and informed response. I will also ask iView directly to get the "official" response. However, as we all know it's easy for companies to say you should not do "x" to play it safe, but they aren't the ones dealing with all the extra work involved in not using the most direct processes and solutions.

I shoot NEFS a good deal, sometimes using Nikon Capture to make initial exposure, contrast, or white balance corrections, or even saving a dark and light NEF to combine in Photoshop. I also use Nikon View for a quick edit (to delete bad shots) because it previews NEF files quite well. After that it's to Photoshop for individual shot editing and iView for organizing. I sometimes use Nikon Transfer for creating Metadata info, but that works best for a rough description that covers a group of files you're transferring. iView does a much better job if you want to label specific shots with specific info.
For now I guess I'll stick with using iView to tag my metadata, (if it ain't broke, don't fix it) and maybe make DNG versions for critical shots as a safety.
Jim
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roysmyth



Joined: 06 Apr 2005
Posts: 22
Location: Vancouver, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the reasons Robert mentioned, I have settled on a workflow that avoids Nikon software and NEF files.

After loading my NEF files from the flash card into a folder on the computer (by moving the files rather than using any utility software), they are renamed using the capture date and burned to CD or DVD. The NEF files become part of an archive that, with luck, will never need to be touched.

The NEFs are then batch-converted to DNG. The DNGs are annotated and used for all further work. It is an extra step, but it is quick and easy. It pays off in having no sidecar files and it works well with photoshop.

So far this workflow has proven to be 100% reliable, which is much better than my expeience using NEFs as a working format.
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kshipp



Joined: 16 Sep 2005
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2005 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

:evil:
Unfortunately, I've learned this the hard way (that iView does a horrible job (at best) to support the NEF format!). It crashes on most of my NEF files!
Ashame....I was hoping to use Iview. I'll be looking elsewhere until they have a fix.
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roberte



Joined: 18 Jun 2004
Posts: 2147
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2005 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iView uses the libraries installed with Nikon View to import, display, and annotate NEF files.

Have the NEF files that crash on your system been captioned by another app, such as Breeze Browser or IMatch? And can they be opened in Nikon Capture OK?
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Expression Media 2 / Windows 8 / Mac OS X 10.10
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JimF



Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 23
Location: Lexington, MA USA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kshipp, It's interesting, and unfortunate, that you have had crashes with NEFs via iView. I have had zero crashes annotating NEFs, and Phil at iView tells me "In practice we use software supplied by Nikon to annotate Nikon raw files.
So annotating a Nef in Mediapro is as safe as annotating it in Nikon's own software."
The more I'm learning on metadata, the more confused I get, but I'm not yet willing to say that Nikon software is altogether bad, and my personal experience with iView and NEFs is good. I happen to use Nikon Capture quite successfully as part of my exposure/contrast/white balance adjustments, and I prefer the interface to Photoshop CS RAW in that one area.

Who knows, I may change my mind, but my experience to date, and what I've heard from iView tech support, leads me to believe NEFs should be OK to annotate in iView. Certainly it sounds like DNGs are also useful to have, at least for critical images and for archiving.
Jim
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jeremyrh



Joined: 20 Nov 2004
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

roysmyth wrote:
For the reasons Robert mentioned, I have settled on a workflow that avoids Nikon software and NEF files.

After loading my NEF files from the flash card into a folder on the computer (by moving the files rather than using any utility software), they are renamed using the capture date and burned to CD or DVD. The NEF files become part of an archive that, with luck, will never need to be touched.


I have a workflow that uses NEF as I like the results from using Nikon Capture, but I have a similar procedure to you as far as archiving a set of files right out of the camera is concerned. Converting to DNG is a convenient way to check the integrity of the NEF files, and then you can either archive the DNG with the NEF, or delete them.
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