I’ve been doing research to figure out what type of process I will need to use when I change camera systems. Sadly, Nikon and others like Canon are fixated on using their own proprietary RAW formats, so that means any new cameras that use a special format will not work with my current post processing steps. Even to the point in the past where some of the companies encrypted parts of the data in their RAW file formats. Talk about not being consumer/user orientated…
Adobe’s policy is to only support the current version of Photoshop when it comes to proprietary RAW formats, so that means my license of Photoshop CS5 will be useless when it comes to RAW files from something like a Nikon D600 that I am considering. I haven’t had that problem since the Pentax K-7 days because they offered DNG RAW output. I don’t think I’ve ever (intentionally) used PEF in my K-7/K-5 cameras.
My potential idea is to use the free Adobe DNG RAW conversion application once that is updated, so I can avoid using Nikon’s special format. This will allow me to use Photoshop CS5 as I have in the past, and looking toward the future I won’t be stuck with old NEF files like I have been with old PEF files (Pentax RAW format) or old Fuji RAW files when I had a prosumer from them many years ago. A big plus to Pentax is that they use DNG and have basically transitioned to only DNG with their new cameras, which I think is a great thing and something I will miss. It’s too bad large companies like Nikon can’t be as forward thinking with using the most open image formats available.
DNG isn’t perfect with things like internally stored image tweaks in Adobe Camera RAW not being readable by other editors, but the general format is well documented and much more open than brand specific formats.