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Opening .nef file in Aperture 3.03 #1
Marin Dimeski's picture
by Marin Dimeski
May 6, 2010 - 3:22pm

I have photographs scanned in .neff on Nikon Cool Scan 9000 (with Nikon Scan 4) and I can’t open them in Aperture 3.03. Please advise.

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
May 7, 2010 - 5:40pm

Marin,

Isn’t .nef the Nikon RAW format? Which you couldn’t scan to, or at least not with any advantage. If you’re able to open the scans in Nikon Scan 4, then save them as TIF or PSD files. That’s the format you should be sending to Aperture.

@PhotoJoseph
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Marin Dimeski's picture
by Marin Dimeski
May 7, 2010 - 7:31pm

Thank you Joseph.

However, I saved the files in .nef because the scanner itself gives that option and then managed to open them in Photoshop in order to have all the editing options that a raw file has. I cannot seem to do the same in Aperture, so please advise me how to open them in Aperture if it is possible. If there is a plug-in for that, let me know.

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
May 7, 2010 - 7:59pm

Marin,

I’m happy to be challenged on this, but I’m going to say that scanning to NEF is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. You can not scan a print and generate a true RAW file. RAW is, be definition, (raw) data that needs to be interpreted to be viewed. It’s NOT pixels. This is why opening the same RAW file from a digital camera in Photoshop, Aperture, or any other raw converter out there will give a different result. Whereas opening a TIF file on any system (monitor calibration issues aside) will always give you an identical image result. A pixel can only be one color, and that color is made of of R, G and B values—therefore it’s always the same, no matter what software opens it. RAW files on the other hand are interpreted, or translated, from the raw data into an series of pixels on the screen.

The way to get more editing capabilities (latitude) on your scanned files is to scan them at a higher bit-depth. Screens today work in 8-bit but a RAW file can be 12-bits of data. The same could be said of a scan from a print or negative; it could be scanned at 12 or even 16 bits of data, and saved as a 16-bit TIF or PSD file. That would give you the latitude of the RAW file, but make no mistake—any detail that wasn’t in the original print (i.e. details in highlights or shadows) won’t suddenly show up in the scan. Obviously the scanner can only read what’s there.

If you’re scanning at a high bit-depth, and save to 16-bit TIF, your files will open in Aperture just fine and you’ll have all the same exposure adjustments that you’d have with RAW (or JPEG or anything else) files. What you don’t have is the RAW decoder tools, because it’s not a RAW file. But then again, neither are your scanned NEF’s.

I hope that helps to clarify, and feel free to post any follow-up questions.

@PhotoJoseph
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PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
April 30, 2011 - 10:36pm

James,

Think of it like this. RAW is the negative; TIF or JPG or anything other than RAW is a print.

The beauty of Aperture is that it never converts the RAW to any other format, even while you’re working on it, until you export it. And even then, the original RAW is still what you work on. The exported JPG or TIF is just for sending to other people; that can be thrown away once you’ve done whatever you’re doing with it.

Every time you select a photo in Aperture, it looks at all the adjustments you’ve applied, which are basically instructions, and then decodes the raw file while applying all of your adjustments, in real-time. The result is that every time you look at the file, it’s been re-generated from scratch.

As Rutger pointed out, when you use a plug-in in Aperture, because those programs are written by someone other than Apple, they don’t have access to the instructions that are built into Aperture. So before they can read the photo, the instructions have to be written to the file in a format that they can read—TIF or PSD (you choose which in your Preferences). Then they apply their own changes, and save the file back into Aperture as that same TIF or PSD file. It’s the same as if you exported the photo, opened it in Photoshop or anything else, and reimported it back into Aperture. The process is simply automated.

I hope that helps,
-Joseph @ApertureExpert

@PhotoJoseph
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James Stevens's picture
by James Stevens
April 30, 2011 - 11:44pm

Many thanks to Joseph and Rutger. I am finally beginning to comprehend the file differences. The more I use Aperture, the more I am convinced I like it and do not need to convert to CS5 or anything else. Again, thanks for the support. James

James Stevens's picture
by James Stevens
April 9, 2011 - 2:13pm

Joseph, This will sound very simple to you but I am still trying to comprehend the whole RAW, NEF, TIFF concept. I shoot in Nikon’s version of RAW with the camera set on 14 bit depth and “uncompressed.” I went to a Nikon class and the pro said he never compresses his files in the camera (Nikon D700). I then use Aperture to translate the data on download. The metadata tab and “File Info” reveals that the photo was indeed shot RAW and the file extension is “NEF.” (Nikon’s lingo) My question is regarding the best method of making adjustments from there. I notice that when I use Aperture’s Adjustment Panel, the file remains in NEF format. When I send the file to Topaz for more adjustment, it comes back to Aperture as a TIFF. Not a huge problem, but I was always under the impression that I should save my images in NEF so as to be able to get better adjustments later, if needed. Any guidance would be very appreciated. Thanks Jim

Dr.Bob's picture
by Dr.Bob
April 10, 2011 - 1:34pm

The TIFF comes from the fact that you edited in a plugin. Aperture will create a TIFF version (or PSD depending on your preferences) and parse that to the plugin.

Between NEF (RAW) and 16-bit TIFF there aren’t that many differences. The only ones that a can come up with are the truly RAW-decoding bits. But hose are thing that most users aren’t even aware of and include things like demosaicing and the fact that TIFF already have a color profile applied to them. (Which is I think the reason that Aperture creates a TIFF when sending to a plugin) For the rest (except for the file size) TIFF and RAW are basically the same.

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