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Nikon NEF standard integrated in Microsoft Windows
Mark Peters : June 27th 2005 - 20:45 CET
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NikonNikon NEF standard integrated in Microsoft Windows : Nikon and Microsoft announced a collaboration involving the Nikon Electronic Format (NEF), Nikon’s popular RAW file format, and Microsoft’s operating system. The partnership will allow NEF files to be viewed and edited with all applications that access images within Windows, the current operating system, and the next system, codenamed "Longhorn". As a result of its inclusion in the Microsoft “Longhorn” operating system, NEF will become more widely accessible and have an even broader appeal than at present. Users will benefit from consistent file management and superior image quality as well as the promise of a familiar operating environment offered by Microsoft Longhorn.
Nikon NEF standard integrated in Microsoft WindowsNikon’s collaboration with Microsoft
Nikon’s quality RAW file (NEF) will become available on current and future versions of Microsoft Windows with the implementation of Nikon’s RAW format codes (proprietary program). "By working with Nikon and other camera manufacturers to extend the support for RAW in Windows, Microsoft is making, using and viewing RAW image files easier than ever", said Kevin Unangst, director of Windows Digital Media at Microsoft.

Digital photography experience
"These efforts with industry leaders like Nikon are improving the digital photography experience in Windows XP today while creating an even more powerful and seamless digital imaging platform in the next version of Windows". The user will benefit from the consistency offered from the next Microsoft operating system, as supported by Nikon and other digital camera manufacturers.

NEF File layout
NEF files are often referred as a proprietary format, but this is not completely true: indeed they are compliant with the TIFF 6.0 specifications. Basically TIFF files are composed by a set of Image File Directories (IFD), which are small data blocks describing the contents of the file (not only graphics information such as resolution, size and so on but even photographic information such as shutter speed, aperture, comments, copyright notices and so on). They usually contain a single image, but they can hold more than one (most of times the secondary images are thumbnails, reduced-size copies of the main image which can be previewed quickly).

NEF Proprietary tags
Manufacturers can add proprietary tags, which Nikon did, so the proprietary part in NEF files is actually a small part. Indeed the most important information is about the way pixels are coded. They can be coded in many ways, and TIFF supports the notion of Color Filter Array (CFA), that is the way most digital sensors capture data: r-g-b components are not recorder for each pixel, but only one primary at a time (not necessarily r-g-b). The image has to be interpolated to be viewed.

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