File Extension NEF

  • Full name
    Nikon Digital SLR Camera RAW Image Format
  • Developer
  • Popularity
Have you encountered a problem with a NEF file? Don’t you know which program opens a file with this extension? You will find all the information you need about working with a NEF file here. In the further part of this page we have added a list of programs that should open your NEF file. It is enough you choose a proper application for your operating system, download and install it.

What is NEF file?

The extension NEF indicates files with raw image data generated by different models of digital cameras manufactured by Nikon.

More info

The NEF files contain the unprocessed or minimally processed raw data of the image sensor. Although these RAW (raw) data are larger than the JPEG files stored by the device, they are more versatile.

These sometimes called "digital negative" raw data are excellent for post-processing such as the adjustment of the colors, correction of the exposure, suitable for sharpening or noise filter. They are indispensable for professional work or things like astrophotography.

In order to convert them into an RGB image format that can be commonly used, the data must be "developed". This means that processing steps such as interpolation and exposure as well as converting to a format such as PNG, PSD, TIFF or JPEG must be performed.

However, there is no uniform raw data format. Every manufacturer has developed his own. These proprietary and often undocumented formats can only be processed by specialized software. They can contain different data, for example in different color depths, depending on the capabilities of the sensor as well as on the software integrated in the camera. Manufacturers are changing their RAW formats relatively frequently, which means that program support often needs to be adjusted. Supporting the extension is not enough if the specific camera is not supported.

Most RAW files also contain metadata with information about the image and the recording conditions, in part also in the EXIF or IPTC standard.

Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements support a large number of cameras with the help of the free plug-in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR). Which depends on the ACR version. However, newer versions of ACR can only be used by the latest versions of the main programs.

Some of the latest models from Nikon encrypt the NEF files, so they need special support.

Nikon provides a codec that enables many graphics programs to import NEF files. However, the quality of specialized programs is better.

Programs which can open a NEF file

How to open file with NEF extension?

In order to open a file with NEF extension one of the following programs must be installed on user’s system. If a problem with opening NEF file occurred, it is highly possible that none of the listed programs is present on user’s system. Even if one or more said programs are installed, there may be issues related with given programs. In order to solve a problem with NEF files, follow the instructions below.
Install ViewNX or other program from the list

Most often resolving problems with opening NEF files is very simple. Just install an appropriate program that supports such files. All of the listed programs support NEF files, but may vary in offered function and purpose. Some programs may be capable only of viewing contents of NEF files or offer file conversion options, but may not be capable of editing such files.

Set ViewNX as the default program for opening NEF files

It is possible that although a compatible program has been installed on user’s system, it is not used by the system to open it. This may happen because no default application was associated with this type of files. To associate NEF files with given application, select "Open with" from drop-down menu (accessed by right-clicking on the file). Then select from the list the program or application you want to be used to open this type of file. If the ViewNX applications is not on the list, select "Browse" option in order to manually locate the directory where ViewNX has been installed.


Check the section that lists most common problems with NEF files

Sometimes problems with opening NEF files may not lie with the application itself, but can arise due to other causes, such as:

  • File data is corrupted
  • NEF files has been not been completely download from the internet (only a part of the data has been downloaded)
  • Currently used user account hasn’t been granted necessary privileges to open NEF files (should that be the case, please contact your system administrator or IT specialist)
  • NEF file was being copied from a corrupted storage device and is incomplete or data is corrupted. (Copying files from unknown or untrusted sources should be conducted with great care as such files may contain malicious software, which can damage your system)

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