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Nikon encrypts white balance data

April 19, 2005 | Comments (0)

According Thomas Knoll in the Adobe forums, Nikon encrypts the white balence data on its D2x and D2Hs camera’s:

“No, Nikon has never disclosed proprietary NEF data to Adobe. However, Nikon made a significant change with the Nikon D2X and D2Hs cameras. They decided to ENCRYPT the white balance data inside the NEF file for these cameras. Previously, the white balance data was stored in non-encrypted format, and was readable to third party raw converters using simple reverse engineering of the file format.
… Adobe is still going to support the D2X in the upcoming Camera Raw 3.1 release. However, because of the white balance encryption, Camera Raw will not be able (unless Nikon backs down real soon) to read the “as shot” white balance from the camera, and users will be more likely to have to adjust the while balance manually in the Camera Raw dialog, since Camera Raw’s default white balance will not match the cameras default white balance.”

This is vendor lockin from Nikon which now forces people to use Nikon Capture. Even if Nikon Capture is not a very expensive package I can imagine Nikon should give people th eoption on which software they use to convert their NEFs. In the end it is the photographer which owns the digital image!



mmmm... Bad move from Nikon, but it seems Adobe is the next Micro$otf, at least in the imaging world and specially after they purchased Macromedia (Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Freehand, Coldfusion...). Imagine Nikon Capture were so good that you don't need Photoshop anymore... Very bad for Adobe. Apply this to every camera maker... Very, very bad for Adobe. They want all camera makers to support their DNG file format and it seems they released this info just to force Nikon, becouse this is something we all knew before (just remember that Bible cracked the NEF WB encryption some time ago, nothing new here), so why this and why just one day before an official Nikon announce? Is this the beginning of a war between Adobe and camera makers?

Of course I don't like what Nikon have done (had done), but I guess this is something every camera manufacturer have been thinking of for years, so is it just a bad move from Nikon or simply something we will see from more companies in the near future?

Well, if you want to keep photographers using Capture instead of Photoshop just improve the software, don't encrypt NEF files and don't try to force us Nikon!

Thumbs down for Nikon and thumbs down to Adobe too... Long live to The GIMP and the GNU Project! :)

Posted by: :) Fotografía digital at April 20, 2005 12:21 PM

It amazes me how eager people are when it comes to having an opportunity to beat up on Nikon. Is Nikon really that big of a threat to them? So much commotion without much factual information – it seems everyone is an expert (or a wan-a-be expert). After this all flushes out, most of those individuals slamming Nikon will be eating crow. (Nope – I do not own a Nikon). The fact is, via Nikons FREE developer software kit (DSK), the encryption issue is not an issue at all for those software developers that choose to use it. All in all, digital is not just about the lens and CCD/CMOS sensor. It also has a lot to due with how that information is processed and interpreted. All Nikon is trying to do is preserve the integrity of their propriety NEF file system, subsequently, preserving the integrity of the photographers original image. Maybe this is about the photographer after all.

Posted by: :) Stephen at April 23, 2005 5:11 PM

According to Dave Coffin, author of DCDraw, an ansi-c program to do Digital Photo Decoding on Unix, other vendors also encrypt their data.

"A firestorm of controversy recently erupted when Thomas Knoll of Adobe accused Nikon of encrypting the white balance data in the D2X and D2Hs cameras, thus preventing Adobe from fully supporting these cameras.

I cracked this encryption on April 15, and updated dcraw.c and parse.c on April 17. So "dcraw -w" now works correctly with all Nikon cameras.

This is not a new problem. Phase One, Sony, Foveon, and Canon all apply some form of encryption to their raw files. Dcraw decodes them all -- you can easily find decryption code by searching for the ^ operator.

Compression is not encryption. Phase One and Sony do encryption only. Kodak does compression only. Canon, Nikon, and Foveon compress the image data and encrypt some of the metadata." -- Dave Coffin

Posted by: :) janco at April 26, 2005 9:08 PM

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