A brief history of DNG

History of DNG

Although ISO 12234-2 (TIFF/EP) includes raw image capability, it is inadequate for interchange and archiving purposes. In effect, DNG is TIFF/EP brought up-to-date and made fit for those purposes. Explanation of some columns:

  • CAMs: the number of raw file formats (other than in-camera DNG) of camera models that can officially be converted to DNG by Adobe software. (The unofficial number is typically about 30+ higher, partly because Adobe unofficially supports a few camera models in the release before they provide official support, but mainly because several cameras and digital backs, mainly but not only Kodak, have never become important enough to warrant official support). The raw file formats of many other cameras and digital backs can be converted to DNG by non-Adobe products.
  • PRODs: The number of known non-Adobe products that support DNG in some way. (The quoted number has been rounded down to allow for errors and disputes).

Pre-launch | Year 1 | Year 2 | Year 3 | Year 4 | Year 5 | Year 6 | Future

Date Topics Commentary CAMs PRODs
Pre-launch
2003 (late) DNG specification Adobe starts work on the DNG specification.
Kevin Connor (September 2004): "Adobe has been working on this format for almost a year ...".
   
2004 (start) DNG specification Adobe starts talking to other companies about DNG.
Kevin Connor (September 2004): "We have been sharing the specification with manufacturers since the beginning of the year and soliciting their input".
   
March 2004 DNG specification At Photoshop World in San Francisco this March, Adobe Senior Vice President Bryan Lamkin said, "we need to come together as an industry and define a digital master. And what I mean by digital master is a format that is permanent, that has permanence, that 100 years from now people will be able to go to a written record that says this is how that format is declared and interpreted."    
Year 1 - from 27 September 2004
September 2004 Public launch of DNG.
September 2004 Adobe products Release of ACR 2.3 and the 2.3 DNG Converter. DNG version 1.0.0.0 only. 65  
September 2004 DNG specification Publication of DNG specification version 1.0.0.0.    
January 2005 Adobe products Release of ACR 2.4 and the 2.4 DNG Converter. Includes the ability to embed original raw file in the DNG. They can read DNG version 1.1.0.0 as well. 73  
February 2005 DNG specification Publication of DNG specification version 1.1.0.0.    
Feburary 2005 (end) After 5 months (at end of February 2005):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 15.
  15
April 2005 Alternatives Launch of OpenRAW lobby group. Its motto "Digital Image Preservation Through Open Documentation" is compatible with use of DNG for archival purposes. In practice, its leaders and some of its supporters displayed antipathy and even hostility towards DNG. As a result, OpenRAW was never effective.    
April 2005 (end) After 7 months (at end of April 2005):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 25.
  25
May 2005 Adobe products Release of ACR 3.1 and the 3.1  DNG Converter (to work with Photoshop CS2 and replace ACR 3.0 supplied with CS2). Enables XMP metadata, for ACR settings and asset & rights management, to be held in the DNG file. 78  
June 2005 Cameras After about 8 and a half months, the first camera (in fact a digital back) supports DNG - Leica DMR back.    
July 2005 Cameras First camera manufacturer to provide a DNG converter for its own raw file formats - Hasselblad-Imacon's FlexColor 4.5.    
End of year summary After 1 year (at end of September 2005):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 77. Including 3 cameras and 4 digital backs, plus some software from camera manufacturers.
78 77
Year 2 - from 27 September 2005
September 2005 Adobe products Release of ACR 3.2 and the 3.2 DNG Converter. Includes a command-line interface to the DNG Converter, and choice of preview sizes.
These products and subsequent ones write DNG specification version 1.1.0.0, while continuing to read both DNG version 1.0.0.0 and DNG version 1.1.0.0.
87  
October 2005 (or earlier) Respectability The "Sustainability of Digital Formats Planning for Library of Congress Collections" identifies DNG as the preferred, indeed only, raw format.    
November 2005 Other products An interesting example of a tool that works with DNG but no other formats - DNG Recover Edges.    
December 2005 Survey (apparently December 2005):
"According to a recent InfoTrends study with 1,754 professional photographers, over 18 percent of photographers use DNG as part of their imaging workflow".
   
November 2005 & January 2006 Adobe products Beta release then full release of ACR 3.3 and the 3.3 DNG Converter. 103  
April 2006 Adobe products Release of the (freely-available) DNG SDK (Software Development Kit) version 1.1.    
April 2006 Survey (by OpenRAW, April 2006):
This suggests that, of those who responded, at least 27% always use products that don't accept DNG, and at least 31% sometimes use products that don't accept DNG. In early 2006, about 40% of raw shooters could work purely with DNG files, while about 60% needed to use the original raw files some or all of the time. By far the largest problem is software from camera manufacturers, with Capture One from Phase One in second place.
   
May 2006 Adobe products Release of ACR 3.4 and the 3.4 DNG Converter. 111  
May 2006 Alternatives Launch of Microsoft's HD Photo. (Originally called "Windows Media Photo" with extension ".wdp". Its official name is "HD Photo" with extension ".hdp"). This is not a raw file format, having no method of describing data using a CFA (Colour Filter Array). It competes with TIFF and JPEG, but its high compression, which can be lossless, may suggest that it could be used instead of in-camera TIFF, and be a substitute for raw for some purposes.    
September 2006 Adobe products Release of ACR 3.5 and the 3.5 DNG Converter. 118  
September 2006 Cameras First camera to use a LinearizationTable to reduce the size of the DNG file - Leica M8.
First camera to offer the user a choice of proprietary raw (PEF) or DNG - Pentax K10D.
   
End of year summary After 2 years (at end of September 2006):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 140+. Including at least 6 cameras, 4 digital backs, and some specialised products and software from camera manufacturers.
118 140+
Year 3 - from 27 September 2006
October 2006 Adobe products Beta release then full release of ACR 3.6 and the 3.6 DNG Converter. 132  
December 2006 Adobe products Beta release of ACR 4.0. Includes the ability to open TIFF and JPEG images and save them to Linear DNG. 132  
February 2007 Adobe products Release of ACR 3.7 and the 3.7 DNG Converter. These respect the editing XMP metadata stored in DNGs by Lightroom 1.0.

135

 
Release of Lightroom 1.0. This might appear to add nothing to the history of DNG. In fact, it makes easy-use of DNG credible and available to a much wider user-base. In future, many photographers will identify Lightroom as their introduction to a DNG-based workflow.
April 2007 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.0 and the 4.0 DNG Converter. 136  
May 2007 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.1 and the 4.1 DNG Converter.
A subtle feature of this release may have significant implications. Raw support for a new camera cannot properly be catered for directly by earlier versions of ACR, for example ACR 2.4 used by Photoshop CS, and ACR 3.7 used by Photoshop CS2. Support for the Fujifilm S5 Pro needs the use of Linear DNG for best support in earlier versions.
149  
4.1 DNG Converter.
This will automatically convert TIFFs to Linear DNG. (This doesn't appear to be a documented feature). This makes it easier to create Linear DNGs, for example from scanned images.
   
May 2007 Other products Pixelmator was probably the first raw converter & photo-editor I was aware of whose only raw format appears to be DNG! (That is probably a sensible business management decision, based on return on investment).    
June 2007 Adobe products Release of Lightroom 1.1 with a camera list matching ACR 4.1. 149  
31 August 2007 Other products Public Beta of Capture One 4 supporting DNG. The significance is that Capture One is sometimes considered to be a "bellwether" product, whose lack of DNG support has been cited as evidence against DNG.    
September 2007 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.2, DNG Converter 4.2, and Lightroom 1.2. 163  
End of year summary After 3 years (at end of September 2007):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 190+. Including at least 8 cameras, 4 digital backs, and some specialised products and software from camera manufacturers.
163 190+
Year 4 - from 27 September 2007
Autumn 2007 Survey "... 40% of Lightroom users who aren't shooting with a DNG-native camera have already decided to utilize the Convert To DNG option while importing their photos". See my earlier prediction!    
November 2007 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.3, DNG Converter 4.3, and Lightroom 1.3. 170  
December 2007 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.3.1, DNG Converter 4.3.1, and Lightroom 1.3.1. 170  
February 2008 Other products Apple's Aperture 2.0 supports cameras via DNG that it doesn't support natively. (Previously Aperture was one of the last products only to support DNGs where it also supported native raw).    
February 2008 Other products DNG on Nokia mobile phones!    
14 March 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.4, DNG Converter 4.4, and Lightroom 1.4.
These convert to DNG version 1.2.0.0 (backward compatibility with version 1.1.0.0).
179  
16 March 2008 Withdrawal of ACR 4.4, DNG Converter 4.4, and Lightroom 1.4 because of bugs.
11 April 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.4.1, DNG Converter 4.4.1, and Lightroom 1.4.1.
These convert to DNG version 1.2.0.0 (backward compatibility with version 1.1.0.0).
179  
14 April 2008 Specification Adobe announces CinemaDNG initiative. Its relationship with the DNG described on these pages is not clear.    
April 2008 DNG specification Adobe's Kevin Connor talking to Digital PhotoPro: "We've actually started talking to ISO ... of potential standardization around a new RAW format. We've submitted DNG as something for them to consider".    
12 May 2008 DNG specification Publication of DNG specification version 1.2.0.0.    
Adobe products DNG WIC Codec for Vista released by Adobe Labs. (Release candidate).    
Adobe products DNG SDK to support version 1.2.0.0.    
15 May 2008 DNG specification Adobe is submitting its DNG 'universal RAW' format to the International Standard's Organization (ISO), in a move aimed at increasing acceptance and usage. The format is being proposed as part of ISO's TIFF/EP (electronic photography), standard. Adobe's Tom Hogarty talking to DP Review: "It was a topic that came up for [ISO], so we put this forward as a solution. The time was also right for such a move. Early on in the development of a format, you want to make sure you can be responsive and adaptive - large bodies don't necessarily innovate as quickly as we can. However, after four years and the many cameras that have been launched in that time, the standard has only needed revising twice. We've not had to rev[ise] the format because there are things missing, we're rev'ing it to add new features."    
6 June 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.5 beta, DNG Converter 4.5 beta. 181  
29 July 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.5, DNG Converter 4.5, and Lightroom 2.0. 181  
Release of DNG Profile Editor and Camera Profiles, both in public beta (V1).    
12 September 2008 Other products First movie camera to use DNG as a raw file format: Ikonoskop - A-cam dII    
18/20 September 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.6 beta, DNG Converter 4.6 beta, and Lightroom 2.1 beta. 185  
End of year summary After 4 years (at end of September 2008):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 240+. Including at least 20 cameras, (one of them a movie camera), 4 digital backs, and several specialised products and software from camera manufacturers. DNG is the raw file format of choice for niche, and some minority, camera and digital back manufacturers.
185 240+
Year 5 - from 27 September 2008
28 September 2008 Other products First DNG converter for Linux. digiKam    
10 October 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 4.6 and DNG Converter 4.6. 196  
15 October 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.0 and DNG Converter 5.0, with CS4. 185?  
22 October 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.1, DNG Converter 5.1, and Lightroom 2.1. 196?  
24 November 2008 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.2 and DNG Converter 5.2. This reveals a limitation with the current version of DNG for some Panasonic and Leica cameras. 203?  
16 December 2008 Adobe products Release of Lightroom 2.2. This reveals a limitation with the current version of DNG for some Panasonic and Leica cameras. 203?  
24 January 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.3 beta, DNG Converter 5.3 beta, and Lightroom 2.3 beta. 205?  
3 March 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.3, DNG Converter 5.3, and Lightroom 2.3. 205?  
22 May 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.4 beta, and DNG Converter 5.4 beta.
This is the first DNG Converter to have a backward-compatibility option. This is in preparation for a future version of DNG, probably 1.3.0.0. See "New DNG Specification".
231?  
24 June 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.4, DNG Converter 5.4, and Lightroom 2.4.    
25 June 2009 DNG specification Publication of DNG specification version 1.3.0.0.    
19 August 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.5 beta, and DNG Converter 5.5 beta. 235?  
10 September 2009 Adobe products Pre-release of CinemaDNG, (and specification 1.0.0.0), which uses DNG as its individual image format.    
15 September 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.5, DNG Converter 5.5, and Lightroom 2.5. 235?  
End of year summary After 5 years (at end of September 2009):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 270+. Including about 38 cameras, (one of them a movie camera), 4 digital backs, and several specialised products and software from camera manufacturers. DNG is the raw file format of choice for niche, and some minority, camera and digital back manufacturers.
235 270+
Year 6 - from 27 September 2009
19 November 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.6 RC, DNG Converter 5.6 RC, and Lightroom 2.6 RC 247?  
18 December 2009 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.6, DNG Converter 5.6, and Lightroom 2.6 255?  
7 April 2010 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.7 RC, DNG Converter 5.7 RC, and Lightroom 2.7 RC 264?  
21 April 2010 Adobe products Release of ACR 5.7, DNG Converter 5.7, and Lightroom 2.7 264?  
14 May 2010 Adobe products Release of ACR 6.1 RC, DNG Converter 6.1 RC 289  
2 June 2010 Adobe products Release of ACR 6.1, DNG Converter 6.1 290  
8 June 2010 Adobe products Release of Lightroom 3 290  
10 August 2010 Adobe products Release of ACR 6.2 RC, DNG Converter 6.2 RC, and Lightroom 3.2 RC tbs  
31 August 2010 Adobe products Release of ACR 6.2, DNG Converter 6.2, and Lightroom 3.2 tbs  
7 December 2010 Adobe products Release of ACR 6.3, DNG Converter 6.3, and Lightroom 3.3 tbs  
End of year summary After 6 years (at end of September 2010):
Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 290+. Including about 40 cameras, (one of them a movie camera), 4 digital backs, and several specialised products and software from camera manufacturers. DNG is the raw file format of choice for niche, and some minority, camera and digital back manufacturers.
290 290+
Year 7 - from 27 September 2010

This hasn't been updated for the last year. I no longer attempt to track all details.

After 7 years (at end of September 2010):
From last year: Non-Adobe products supporting DNG in some way: 290+. Including about 40 cameras, (one of them a movie camera), 4 digital backs, and several specialised products and software from camera manufacturers. DNG is the raw file format of choice for niche, and some minority, camera and digital back manufacturers.
290 290+
 
10 January 2012 Adobe products Lightroom 4 beta.
Supporting DNG version 1.4.
 
DNG specification
Future
2010 DNG specification (From OpenRAW mailing list) Dietmar Wueller: we just had a meeting discussing the current working draft for the upcoming standard. Quite a while ago Adobe offered to make the DNG technology available to the ISO group with the intention that if the standard fulfills the expectations Adobe may discontinue the development of DNG and refer to the ISO standard. Adobe's work is currently extended into moving picture applications under the current name of Cinema DNG which will be based on the standard.
The standards group is working hard on implementing the current state of the art and before this work I had never imagined how hard it can be to get the format ready for the current state of camera technology and also consider things to come. In October 2010 we hope to reach the so called CD (committee draft) state which means that the technological content is ready to move to a standard. The document then get a final technical review and two editorial reviews before publication. Depending on how many comments will be received on the drafts the timing may change. Typically it will take 6 month to 1 year from CD to publication.
   
? DNG specification DPReview Forum: DNG may use the compression of Microsoft's HD Photo as an optional better compression.    

?

(Is this being superceded by the news of April and May 2008?)

DNG specification Kevin Connor (September 2004): "If over time, there is a consensus between various parties that it should be controlled by a standards body, Adobe is open to doing whatever it takes to make sure customers' needs are addressed".
Peter Krogh (April 2005): "As to the standard being owned by Adobe, I checked into that as well. The response I got was that the standards bodies don't want it until it's done. If you know someone else out there who is willing to fund and manage the effort, I'm sure the folks at Adobe would be interested in a discussion. At this point nobody is interested in doing that work".
Tom Hogarty (February 2007): "Adobe is constantly evaluating the right time in the DNG format evolution to submit the format to a standards organization. By managing the DNG format evolution internally Adobe can ensure responsiveness to industry needs during a period of rapid growth. Rest assured that Adobe continues to evaluate the format's readiness for a transition to a standards body".
   
September 2009 or earlier? DNG specification Thomas Knoll: has stated that he thinks it will be a 3-5 year battle to finally get to the stage where there are strict standards for raw file formats.
Thomas Knoll (quoted in OpenRAW mailing list): "When we were planning DNG, we expected about a five year adoption cycle, starting with the smaller camera makers and third party raw conversion and image management vendors. Canon and Nikon can probably hold out forever if they want due to their market size".
   

History of preceding specifications

DNG is an extension of TIFF 6.0 and is compatible with ISO 12234-2 (TIFF/EP). This is a brief history of those specifications.

Date Topics Commentary
TIFF 6.0 (Aldus then Adobe)
1992 Specification TIFF Revision 6.0. Final - June 3, 1992. (Aldus).
1995 Specification

TIFF Revision 6.0.1. Contact information has been switched from Aldus to Adobe, otherwise unchanged.

ISO 12234-2 (TIFF/EP)
1998 Specification Draft of ISO 12234-2: "Photography - Electronic still picture imaging - Removable memory - Part 2: Image data format - TIFF/EP".
2001 Specification ISO 12234-2: Ratified and Published International Standard.
2006 Revision I3A forum: "The current standard ISO 12234-2 on TIFF/EP is under revision and TC42 is considering the addition of further raw data definitions".
I3A Newsletter: "Another standard under review is ISO 12234-2 – TIFF/EP. The 5-year revision cycle begins this year. It has been suggested that the revision needs to address some issues related to RAW format support. For example, the revision might describe updated metadata that is particularly useful for supporting RAW image files. WG18 experts will provide recommendations for updated metadata relevant to RAW format images in relation to the revision of ISO 12234-2".
2007-03-16 Revision Email from TC42 WG18:
"The Adobe DNG format was derived from this standard and the group has Adobe's permission to incorporate modifications and developments made for DNG in the new standard".
"In addition the standards group is asking all interested people for comments and requirements - which are not part of the current DNG or Tiff/EP standard - to be incorporated in the new standard. If you have such please forward them to me by the end of April".
"Hopefully we will soon be able to provide a standardized file format which meets everybody's expectations and gets a wide support by camera manufacturers, software vendors, and photographers".
2007-10-03 Revision At 2007-10-03, the status of ISO 12234-2 (TIFF/EP) was 90.60 - "Review summary dispatched".
2008-03-11 Revision Email from Dietmar Wueller of TC42 WG18:
"... the new version will be merging TIFF/EP, DNG, some other metadata and a few future additions into one format".
2008-05-15 Revision Article in DPReview: "Adobe is submitting its DNG 'universal RAW' format to the International Standard's Organization (ISO), in a move aimed at increasing acceptance and usage. The format is being proposed as part of ISO's TIFF/EP (electronic photography), standard. We spoke to Adobe about the move."
2008-10 Revision I3A Newsletter: "ISO 12234 Part 2 – TIFF/EP
Perhaps the most challenging project is the revision of ISO 12234-2. In light of increasing interest in metadata standards, WG18 formed an ad hoc group to develop the revised standard.
Mr. Parulski reported that the document currently includes two "interoperability-profiles," "IP 1" for processed image data, using ".TIF" extension, and "IP 2" for "raw" image data, ".DNG" extension. Most metadata can be TIFF tags or XML, but XML is preferred for most metadata.
The ad hoc group presented its path forward, which includes several conference calls and two face to face meetings with the goal to prepare a New Project Proposal by the May 2009 meeting."
2010 Revision From Dietmar Wueller of TC42 WG18 via OpenRAW mailing list; response to "DNG (or a derivate) as a standard RAW format - whats the status?"
"we just had a meeting discussing the current working draft for the upcoming standard.
Quite a while ago Adobe offered to make the DNG technology available to the ISO group with the intention that if the standard fulfills the expectations Adobe may discontinue the development of DNG and refer to the ISO standard. Adobe's work is currently extended into moving picture applications under the current name of Cinema DNG which will be based on the standard.
The standards group is working hard on implementing the current state of the art and before this work I had never imagined how hard it can be to get the format ready for the current state of camera technology and also consider things to come. In October 2010 we hope to reach the so called CD (committee draft) state which means that the technological content is ready to move to a standard. The document then get a final technical review and two editorial reviews before publication. Depending on how many comments will be received on the drafts the timing may change. Typically it will take 6 month to 1 year from CD to publication.
We do not care about politics at the moment. So its more about analyzing all technologies and predicting future developments e.g. implementing 3D functionality etc. There will also be the possibility to store more than one image in the same file (Thumbnail, Raw, Display, print image, and stereo pair etc.)...
Many camera manufacturers are members of the committee and we hope to get their support for the final format but there is no way to force anybody to use it other than a demand from the customers."

Historical articles on this website

The substantive content of the following pages has been frozen. They have mainly historical significance, for example when tracing the global trends towards support of DNG. The dates are based on the fact that DNG was launched on 27 September 2004.

Page Date since launch Non-Adobe products
DNG support, end-February & end-April 2005 Five months 15
Seven months 25
DNG support, to end-September 2005 One year 77
DNG support, to end-September 2006 Two years 140 or more
DNG support, to end-September 2007 Three years More than 190
DNG support, to end-September 2008 Four years More than 240
DNG support, to end-September 2009 Five years More than 270
DNG support, to end-September 2010 Six years More than 290
DNG support, to end-September 2011 Seven years More than 290