Does Converting from RAW to DNG Lose File Quality?

RAW and DNG are two of the most popular formats to handle in photography. However, many photographers are wary about converting a RAW file to a DNG option. Does converting from RAW to DNG decrease file quality?

Converting a RAW file into DNG will not harm the quality of the image. It’s a lossless conversion, which allows a transfer to a smaller file without losing quality.

If you’re interested in learning more about converting from RAW to DNG, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about DNG vs. RAW, why there are different formats, and more vital information. As a photographer, the more you know about these items, the better your photos will fare.


DNG and RAW files are different formats, so it’s critical to understand what you’re dealing with before exporting a file. DNG files are usually 15%-20% smaller than the classic RAW file, which brings to light the concern of lost file quality. However, the switch from RAW to DNG does not cause issues with the file’s appearance.

Many assume it’s necessary to convert RAW files to the DNG format. However, this step isn’t necessary. Many photographers have stopped utilizing DNG because the difference is not much and there is always a possibility of losing something in the export.

DNG and RAW are very similar, but they are not the same. DNG is an Adobe format that has worked well over the years, fitting in any working software that reads DNG. RAW is the most basic form of the photo and remains a favorite among many.

These are two quality formats – but why are there different formats? What warrants the need for so many different opportunities with a photo?

Why Are There Different Formats?

It can be tricky to navigate the various file formats for photography, especially if you’re new to the industry. Some formats are simpler to handle, while others require the skills of a professional to edit and turn into a final incredible product.

Here are a few explanations for the different file formats:

  • Ease: Some people prefer file formats for the ease they offer. Formats like DNG work with many different applications.
  • Practicality: Smaller file formats are more practical than massive ones.
  • Storage: Some individuals don’t have room for extensive storage. They like smaller formats for easier keeping.
  • Expertise: Experts work with different formats than beginners. A professional may use a RAW file, while a beginner may enjoy a JPEG.

Various file formats cater to the different needs of professionals and beyond.

As you become more comfortable with photo editing and other items, it will become easier to work with various file formats and determine the best selection for your photos. There are many formats to address different needs in the editing process.

Are DNG Files Lossless?

A DNG file is a lossless, RAW form of an image. It was created by Adobe for use in photography and has stuck around as a standard in plenty of systems. It is an open format system that works well in most instances of digital photography use.

DNG is a patented image format. It hasn’t been around as long as other versions of digital photography, but it has made an impact nonetheless. This lossless file has made waves in the world of digital photography.

To the untrained eye, RAW and DNG might seem the same. Are they similar? What factors separate RAW and DNG from each other?

Are RAW and DNG the Same?

RAW and DNG files might seem the same, but they aren’t the same product. The photographs that come from digital cameras are in a RAW file format, while DNG is ideal for photo editing purposes. They are both excellent tools for a photographer to have in their tool chest.

Beginners may function better with DNG files, but experts love to operate with RAW files. DNG photos are easier to edit, but RAW files better capture the original image. You can compress DNG files into smaller sizes than RAW files, making them much more practical for storage purposes.

Another critical difference lies in compatibility. RAW files aren’t nearly as compatible with as many systems as DNG photos. With DNG, you have access to tons of software and applications that RAW files may prevent you from accessing.

We’ve gone over RAW and DNG files. You might wonder – why are there so many file formats? Let’s talk about a few of the most prominent.

Main Camera File Formats

When using a camera, you will see more formats than RAW and DNG. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Let’s list out a few of the main camera file formats to help you determine the best options for your creative needs.

Here are the main camera file formats:

  • JPEG 
  • HEFF
  • TIFF
  • RAW
  • DNG
  • PNG
  • GIF
  • BMP

These will appear at export stages and everywhere in between.

The best files to work with are still RAW and DNG. Once you make your edits in these formats, you can export to JPEG, PNG, or GIF. It’s up to you to determine the final resting state of your photograph.

Why Avoid Converting RAW to DNG?

We’ve talked about the lack of change when shifting RAW to DNG. Despite this fact, many people refuse to convert from one to the other. What are some reasons you might want to avoid converting from RAW to DNG with your image?

Here are a few of the strongest reasons:

  • It can be a point of no return
  • It’s an additional hassle
  • They don’t load faster

Ultimately, the decision is yours. It’s up to you to determine which file format works best for your experience as a photographer. Beginners will choose differently than experts, and that’s okay. RAW and DNG are excellent formats.