NEF file icon

NEF File Extension

Nikon Electronic Format RAW Image
  • Developer
  • Category
  • Popularity
    3.5 (29 votes)

What is NEF file?

NEF is a raw image file that stores data exactly as it was captured by camera’s sensor. NEF is a proprietary format owned by Nikon, and only Nikon software, codecs, and plugins support it. NEF files tend to be large, but some Nikon cameras for non-professionals use compression to render NEF files smaller. Professional and semi-professional models allow users to disable NEF file compression, which is based on algorithms that only slightly lessens image quality.

NEF files not only store image data, also metadata and complete information about the device with which given image was taken, including the author, copyrights, GPS data, image parameters that can be edited, such as:

  • Exposition,
  • ISO,
  • Contrast,
  • Tone,
  • White balance,
  • Hue and saturation.

NEF files also store history of all changes applied to the image during editing, and thus allow users to revert any applied modifications. Editing raw images can be compared to the process of developing analog photos, and RAW image format, including NEF, are sometimes referred to as digital negatives. Edited raw images can be saved as a NEF file or exported into a different, more popular perhaps, format, for example JPEG.

Programs which support NEF file extension

Below you will find an index of software programs that can be used to open NEF files divided into 3 categories according to system platform supported. Files with NEF suffix can be copied to any mobile device or system platform, but it may not be possible to open them properly on target system.

Updated: 02/28/2023

How to open file with NEF extension?

There can be multiple causes why you have problems with opening NEF files on given system. Fortunately, most common problems with NEF files can be solved without in-depth IT knowledge, and most importantly, in a matter of minutes. We have prepared a listing of which will help you resolve your problems with NEF files.

Step 1. Install ViewNX software

Install software to open NEF file The most common reason for such problems is the lack of proper applications that supports NEF files installed on the system. This issue can be addressed by downloading and installing ViewNX or different compatible program, such as CorelDRAW, Adobe Photoshop, PaintShop Pro. The full list of programs grouped by operating systems can be found above. One of the most risk-free method of downloading software is using links provided by official distributors. Visit ViewNX website and download the installer.

Step 2. Update ViewNX to the latest version

Update software that support file extension NEFIf the problems with opening NEF files still occur even after installing ViewNX, it is possible that you have an outdated version of the software. Check the developer’s website whether a newer version of ViewNX is available. It may also happen that software creators by updating their applications add compatibility with other, newer file formats. This can be one of the causes why NEF files are not compatible with ViewNX. The latest version of ViewNX should support all file formats that where compatible with older versions of the software.

Step 3. Assign ViewNX to NEF files

If the issue has not been solved in the previous step, you should associate NEF files with latest version of ViewNX you have installed on your device. The method is quite simple and varies little across operating systems.

Associate software with NEF file on Windows

Selecting the first-choice application in Windows

  • Right-click the NEF file and choose Open with option
  • Next, select the Choose another app option and then using More apps open the list of available applications
  • Finally select Look for another app on this PC, point to the folder where ViewNX is installed, check the Always use this app to open NEF files box and conform your selection by clicking OK button
Associate software with NEF file on Mac

Selecting the first-choice application in Mac OS

  • By clicking right mouse button on the selected NEF file open the file menu and choose Information
  • Proceed to the Open with section. If its closed, click the title to access available options
  • Select ViewNX and click Change for all...
  • A message window should appear informing that This change will be applied to all files with NEF extension. By clicking Continue you confirm your selection.

Step 4. Verify that the NEF is not faulty

If you followed the instructions form the previous steps yet the issue is still not solved, you should verify the NEF file in question. It is probable that the file is corrupted and thus cannot be accessed.

Check NEF file for viruses
1. Check the NEF file for viruses or malware

If the file is infected, the malware that resides in the NEF file hinders attempts to open it. Scan the NEF file as well as your computer for malware or viruses. If the scanner detected that the NEF file is unsafe, proceed as instructed by the antivirus program to neutralize the threat.

2. Verify that the NEF file’s structure is intact

If you obtained the problematic NEF file from a third party, ask them to supply you with another copy. During the copy process of the file errors may occurred rendering the file incomplete or corrupted. This could be the source of encountered problems with the file. It could happen the the download process of file with NEF extension was interrupted and the file data is defective. Download the file again from the same source.

3. Check if the user that you are logged as has administrative privileges.

Sometimes in order to access files user need to have administrative privileges. Log out of your current account and log in to an account with sufficient access privileges. Then open the Nikon Electronic Format RAW Image file.

4. Check whether your system can handle ViewNX

If the system is under havy load, it may not be able to handle the program that you use to open files with NEF extension. In this case close the other applications.

5. Verify that your operating system and drivers are up to date

Up-to-date system and drivers not only makes your computer more secure, but also may solve problems with Nikon Electronic Format RAW Image file. It is possible that one of the available system or driver updates may solve the problems with NEF files affecting older versions of given software.

Conversion of a NEF file

File Conversions from NEF extension to a different format
File conversions from other format to NEF file
Do you want to help?

If you have additional information about the NEF file, we will be grateful if you share it with our users. To do this, use the form here and send us your information on NEF file.

Top File Extensions
Show more
File Extension of the day
dxr icon


Protected Macromedia Director Movie

Files with DXR extension are created by Macromedia Director software tool. DXR files are used for storing movies or animations generated with said ...

Last updated