November 20, 2006 4:00 AM PST
Adobe taps the power of negative thinking
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Apple Computer, which sells raw-image editing software called Aperture, also finds DNG imperfect.
"We do support DNG, but only for those raw formats we currently support natively," said Kirk Paulsen, Apple's senior director of product marketing for professional applications. "When we open up the DNG, because we also have support for the underlying raw file, we can process the image and take advantage of the underlying data."
Another issue: Apple would like DNG better if it were a neutral standard, not one controlled by Adobe, said Rob Schoeben, Apple's vice president of applications product marketing.
"What would be ideal is if DNG could be turned over to a standards body, opened up and published, so everybody would know it can evolve in same way JPEG evolves," Schoeben said. And standards outlast companies, he added: "Today, you either bet on a camera company or a software company. I think people want to bet on a standard."
Adobe's ownership is an issue for camera maker Olympus, too. "At this time, we have seen no strategy for it to become a de facto standard across multiple platforms or software beyond Adobe," said John Knaur, senior product manager for digital SLRs at Olympus.
The company also indicated that it plans to relinquish control: "It's more efficient for one or two companies to jump-start a standards initiative, then hand off the results to a standards body, than to begin the process within a standards organization," Hogarty said.
Camera makers weigh in
DNG isn't widespread, but Adobe has won a few allies. Among them:
DNG is used in Leica's newly introduced $4,795 M8, the first digital model in the company's decades-old rangefinder camera lineage.
"When we design our cameras, we always think about the option to use the camera for a long time. We have kept the same lens mount for more than 52 years now on our rangefinder cameras. It says something about the brand Leica," said Christian Erhardt, Leica's marketing manager for North America. DNG has that longevity, he argued. "We hope you can open these files for the next 50 years," Erhardt said.
Ricoh doesn't support raw on most cameras, but in one unusual case--the GR Digital, geared for landscape photography enthusiasts--the company chose to use DNG for image quality, said Jeff Lengyl, marketing manager for Ricoh cameras. But he said average camera buyers are happy with JPEG and aren't interested in the complications of raw formats.
Hasselblad, a maker of very high-end cameras, initially used DNG in its 39-megapixel H3D, but an update this year removed the support.
DNG couldn't support a high-end feature that would automatically fix color aberrations from the camera lens. Neither could it support future features to correct lens distortion and a darkening problem called vignetting, said Victor Naranjo, a Hasselblad regional sales manager. "That's something at this time we're not able to do, shooting directly to DNG. In the future that might be possible," Naranjo said.
Outside those companies, support is hard to find.
Take Nikon, along with Canon, one of the digital SLR powerhouses. "Nikon currently has no plans to support the DNG format within its cameras," the company said. One concern is that DNG is a slow-moving standard that could slow Nikon's innovation, it added.
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