Lightroom, File Formats, Versions and DNG

On of the most asked questions in the Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw world is about compatibility with new cameras.

New cameras are generally released every 3-4 months.Once they are out Adobe needs to profile the Raw files that the camera produces. This doesn’t take much time, but if there are a few cameras released in the same time period, then Adobe will bundle the release together. This creates a ‘panic gap’ – the time period between users buying the camera and the Raw file being supported by Adobe. Unfortunately, you just have to put up with it! Adobe rarely get advance models of the camera; they have to wait in line just as the normal buyer does!

Generally Adobe Camera Raw, the DNG Converter and Lightroom are released 3-4 times a year. A major release number is tied to a Photoshop version, so the current 5.x releases belong to Photoshop CS4 and recent Photoshop Elements versions.

If you are using an older version of Lightroom (a 1.x version) or Photoshop CS, CS2 or CS3, you can’t use the latest Plug-in to provide Raw support for these newer cameras.

However, Adobe hasn’t just abandoned you. The answer for backwards compatibility is the DNG Converter. It is a free download from Adobe; by downloading the latest version you can convert your new camera’s Raw files into DNG and use these DNGs in older versions of Adobe software.

You don’t get the benefits that the new software can offer, but you can use and edit the files with your current software’s capabilities.