Managing NEF Files

If you have a Nikon that saves it’s raw images in NEF format, there are two utilities you should install to go along with Imagemagick (which you almost certainly have installed … if not, do so!)

The first is Rawstudio. Rawstudio lives here: and you can install it with your Linux package manager.

When you open a Nautilus directory with one or more NEF files in it, once Rawstudio is in place, you should be able to right click on any one of the NEF files and pick “open with rawstudio.” Rawstudio will point at all of the NEF files in that directory, showing you thumbnails of them, and allowing you to do all sorts of nifty operations, including converting the file to something else or sending the file to The Gimp.

The second utility is URFaw. UFRaw lives here:

Install UFRaw using the usual simple Linux technique of your choice. There are two forms of UFRaw. ufraw and ufraw-batch

ufraw (followed by some file specifier, like “*” for everything) opens all the files that match one at a time, allowing you to manipulate them with a GUI, and then saving them as a PPM file, which is a huge giant raw file that can be manipulated by most other graphics programs (unlike NEF, which can’t be manipulated by many graphics programs). The second mode is, ufraw-batch, using a parameter or two, will convert the images one at a time within the directory without any interactivity. I suggest specifying that the white balance be set to the Camera’s, but that’s up to you.

Once you’ve got all the NEF’s converted to PPMs, (and this can take some time, so plan in advance) you can run Imagemagic (which lives here: within that directory to convert or mogrify all of the images to jpegs, which will be relatively smaller and easier to manage. Most of the time …. putting an image on your blog, sending an image to someone via emial, etc. … you’ll be using the Jpeg format, so you might as well do a batch conversation.

For me, if the photographs are important, I then store a set of the NEF’s (which is both raw and compressed) on CD’s or DVD’s. If they are not so important, I put the Jpegs on the disk.


  1. #1 Moopheus
    December 21, 2008

    Hmmm. My Nikons mainly store their images in Ilford FP4+ and Kodachrome.

  2. #2 VJBinCT
    December 22, 2008

    Not to mention Ektachrome and its hardcopy version EktoPlasm.

  3. #3 Moopheus
    December 22, 2008

    Sadly, Kodak has discontinued EktoPlasm, as it contained ingredients that are no longer allowed by the EPA.