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A guide to convert the NEF image file to a TIFF

by Casey Schmidt  |  March 12, 2020

3 min. read
Arrows moving upward in space.

The NEF offers a beautiful resolution of any picture snapped on a Nikon camera. Though there are software tools to manage this file format, chances are you’ll want to convert it at some point anyway. Here’s a guide to convert the NEF to TIFF.

What is the NEF image file?

The NEF image file is the default image format for a picture taken using a Nikon camera. NEF stands for Nikon Electronic Format and is a raw image. This means that it is completely untouched by editing or digital changes – it is an exact replica of the original photo. Users typically like to convert the NEF file into a more manageable file type.

What is a TIFF image file?

The TIFF image file is a raster image format which is capable of storing extensive metadata in each file. TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. It is a highly secure file extension, perfectly-designed for anyone who has private and sensitive images. The TIFF is highly-accessible, as it’s easily-opened by a lot of different programs on numerous operating systems.

A picture of the TIFF file icon.
The TIFF file has lengthy metadata features.

How to convert the NEF to TIFF

There is currently a powerful software program from Nikon called the Capture NX-D. This system allows users to edit and organize NEF files. More importantly, it lets users save their NEF files as TIFF. To perform this function, locate the ‘Convert Files’ button on your Capture NX-D toolbar. It’s the far-right icon that looks like a document with a magnifying glass over it. In the popup window, click the ‘File format’ menu and select ‘TIFF’. Fill in the other options based on your preferences, then hit the ‘Start’ button.

If you want an alternate conversion method other than the Capture NX-D, there are browser-based systems you can use. These do require an extra step and an internet connection. The NX-D should be your preferred method, though these browser programs work in a pinch. I recommend Convertio due to its fast speeds and easy-to-use interface.

Different-colored digital lines moving through space.
Conversions give users the chance to amplify their image editing.

Why make this conversion?

The most important and common reason to convert the NEF to a TIFF is the editing potential. The Capture NX-D does allow for a little bit of editing, though it doesn’t satisfy users who need extensive image changes. Converting to a TIFF is prudent for editing purposes, as the file can then be opened using programs such as Adobe Photoshop, which are ideal for editing and making changes.

Another reason users consider this conversion is it makes their image file more accessible and shareable. Chances are, sharing NEF files with clients and fellow team members will run into the problem of accessibility on the receiver’s end. The TIFF, on the other hand, likely won’t have this issue. Furthermore, sharing a TIFF file is a lot easier, considering the size is a lot more manageable.

Just because you want to convert your NEF files doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. In fact, converting to the TIFF typically splits your image library and allows for different types of sharing and storage. When the time comes to shift your NEF to a different file type, make sure you know how to do it quickly and efficiently.