NEF File Extension

Have a problem opening a .NEF file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what NEF files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .NEF file type?

The .nef extension stands for, and belongs to the Nikon Electronic Format (NEF) and the associated NEF Raw Image (.nef) file type. NEF was developed by Nikon as the standard format for saving raw (unprocessed) images in Nikon SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) digital photo cameras.

A raw image is a direct snapshot of the camera's sensor data, bypassing the camera's DSP (Digital Singal Processor). NEF is one of a number of TIFF-based raw image formats, also referred to as digital negatives that have to be developed (post-processed) first.

A .nef file is a large (tens of megabytes) binary file that contains a raw image produced by a NEF-compatible Nikon camera. Image data inside NEF files can be uncompressed or compressed with lossy or lossless compression, depending on the camera's settings.

Although meant for non-destructive editing and retouching with the use of XMP sidecar metadata files, Nikon NEF raw images can be directly opened/viewed with many multi-format image viewers on several platforms and OS'es. There are also many free and commercial tools for developing NEF images. Besides, Nikon provides a free NEF codec/viewer for MS Windows.

Differently, the .nef extension is also used by Ahead Nero in association with the Nero Encrypted File (NEF) file type and format. Nero is the common name of a range of popular commercial CD/DVD and multimedia authoring applications for MS Windows by Nero AG. The .nef extension is specifically used by Nero BackItUp, a backup utility of the Nero family, for encrypted backup archive files created by it.

If Nero BackItUp is installed on a Windows machine used for viewing/editing Nikon raw images (NEF), it will re-assign the .nef extension to its own file type (Nero Encrypted File) and break any pre-existing associations. In that case, Nikon .nef images cannot be opened with the default open action (double-click), but still can be accessed through the right-click "Open with..." menu.

Software to open or convert NEF files

You can open NEF files with the following programs:
Adobe Photoshop CC
Adobe Photoshop CC by Adobe Systems Incorporated
Adobe Photoshop CS6
Adobe Photoshop CS6 by Adobe Systems Incorporated
CyberLink Power Media Player
CyberLink Power Media Player by CyberLink Corp.

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