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How do I convert a NEF to a PSD? The ultimate guide

by Casey Schmidt  |  November 10, 2019

3 min. read
Two starry images joining together.

For photographers and clients of photographers, the value of a NEF cannot be understated. It contains the true, unaltered vision of the original image. However, it’s very tough to edit and store. When it’s time to touch it up a bit, you’ll need to convert it into a PSD. Here’s everything you need to know about how to convert a NEF to PSD.

What is a NEF?

The NEF image file is the file format for all photos taken from a Nikon camera and uploaded to a computer. NEF stands for Nikon Electronic Format. A NEF retains with precision every detail of a photographed image without losing any quality. The NEF is seldom-used outside of a few basic operations as it’s large and difficult to edit.

What is a PSD?

The PSD image file is the file format for image files saved within the Adobe Photoshop software. PSD stands for Photoshop Document. It’s capable of containing different aspects of images, including numerous images. A PSD Is great for extensive editing, resizing and manipulation.

A lot of different PSD file icons across a blue sceen.
The PSD is the perfect file for extensive editing.

How to convert

There’s fortunately a lot of different options when converting a NEF to PSD. The first and most convenient option is to use the Adobe Photoshop program. In order to convert this way, make sure you know the location of the PSD file on your computer. Open your Photoshop program and then open the PSD file you wish to convert. Then, save the file as a PSD.

If you don’t have Photoshop or are temporarily without access to it, there are a couple alternative ways to convert. First, you can use a browser-based converter. This is a great option for users who need only a few files converted. It’s also great when hard drive space is limited. Consider Convertio to handle your browser-based conversions. It’s a convenient, trusted program that has fast upload speeds.

The third and final option comes in the form of a conversion program that you install on your computer. This works best for users who have a lot of hard drive space and can store large quantities of large files on their system. It’s also ideal when you need to convert a lot of files all at once. Furthermore, users who have limited internet access benefit greatly from having the converter on their own system. The PearMountain Image Converter is a great option for users looking to convert a lot of files at once.

An illustration of a file conversion.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to convert the NEF.

Why convert the NEF to PSD?

The NEF is a high resolution image taken in its rawest form from camera to computer. Even though it’s beneficial to have the original quality file to examine all of the photographer’s important details, it’s unfortunately not in a position to be edited extensively.

When it’s time to edit NEF, it needs to be in a format that is highly editable. Because it’s a raw image, it hasn’t been doctored. It’s safe to assume that the image has a lot of potential edits in its future. Therefore, it’s important to convert it to something capable of extensive editing. This is why the PSD makes so much sense. Photoshop gives users numerous tools to create a variety of different graphic details.

The NEF is such a beautiful image file, it’s hard to imagine shrinking it down or messing with its original purity. However, it’s just too large to store in large quantities. When you need a smaller file size on your system, convert the NEF to a PSD.