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Is it possible to convert the NEF image file to CR2?

by Casey Schmidt  |  December 25, 2019

3 min. read
A man holding a camera.

At some point you’ll realize that you want to convert an image file in order to be more accessible, editable and shareable. When that time comes, it’s best to be prepared and understand all the basics. If you’ve used NEF files extensively, you’ll know they lack a lot of basic functionality that other image file types have. This probably has led you to want to convert. If you’re unsure of how to convert and you have the idea of switching to the CR2, this guide is for you.

What is a NEF?

The NEF image file is a digital file used for handling Nikon Camera photographs on a computer. NEF therefore stands for Nikon Electronic Format. The NEF retains the entire resolution of the original photograph. It’s standard for users to convert the NEF when they need something more capable of editing and sharing.

What is a CR2?

The CR2 image file is the digital file format that is a result of any images pulled from a Canon camera and downloaded to a computer. CR2 stands for Canon Raw 2, indicating second edition. They’re high in resolution and large in size, showing a raw, exact replication of every photograph snapped. The CR2 typically needs to be converted when it’s time to edit it.

A picture of a Canon camera lens.
The CR2 is a direct result of Canon camera pictures.

How to convert NEF to CR2

Whatever predicament you’ve gotten yourself into, trying to convert the NEF to a CR2, know this: it’s not possible or even logical to try. Let me explain so this is clear. The NEF is a file used for bringing Nikon camera photographs onto the computer. The CR2 is the exact same thing, only for Canon cameras. Trying to convert one to the other is the same as converting a magazine into print format – it’s already in print!

So, what is the alternative? Well, there’s plenty. You first need to figure out what you’re converting for. More space? Smaller file? Better editing? Based on your answers, this should narrow down what type of file you’re looking for. Start with some of the basic image file types and see if any of them would accomplish what you need done. Image files such as JPEG, GIF and PNG are great starting points.

A picture of a workspace with two monitors.
It’s not possible to convert the NEF to CR2.

Is the reverse conversion possible?

If you’re wondering whether the opposite conversion, CR2 to NEF, might work, unfortunately it’s the same. It won’t work because you’re trying to convert two similar file types into one another. The CR2 needs to be converted into file types that are different and more accessible by other programs.

If you need to convert the CR2 into a common image file type, there are a few ways to go about doing it. The first is to use a browser-based converter system, which lets you navigate to a webpage, upload your CR2 files and then download them in the format of your choice. The second method involves downloading and installing a converter. This is great for users who have limited internet access. All that’s left is for you to decide what type of file you wish to convert to.

If you were hoping to convert the NEF to CR2, don’t be disappointed – knowledge is power! You can now find an alternative and be more informed for the future when this comes up.