How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0

Written by richard burke
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How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0
Original Image

Nikon camera owners love their cameras and the high-resolution NEF format. However, not all image-editing programs have the capability of handling this proprietary format. Essentially, an NEF file is a high-resolution, uncompressed file similar to a RAW file format. Although only RAW files, and not NEF files, are listed as an option in Photoshop Elements, you can open NEF files and the new conversion interface makes it easy to compensate for file irregularities before opening. Keep in mind you cannot save as an NEF file with Photoshop Elements. It doesn't have to be a drawback; in fact, it can be an advantage. You can keep your NEF files as a pristine image backup and process any edited files to JPEG, PNG, TIFF or some other file format.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 and select "Open" from the File menu. Locate your NEF file and click "Open" to bring up the conversion screen.

    How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0
    Open the Image
  2. 2

    The first thing you will notice is those red blotches in your image. The preview shows you the specular highlights in the image. These are highlights without detail. If these are minor you can correct them by adjusting the exposure. These blotches will not be seen in your final image. It is normal to have some specular highlights in images, especially images with water or metal reflections. Notice there are two tabs of adjustments you can make during the conversion process. This process converts the NEF image to Adobe's working space. You can later save the image as a TIFF, JPEG or many other image formats.

    How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0
    File Conversion Screen
  3. 3

    There are two tabs full of adjustments you can make to your image during the conversion. The "Basic" tab allows you to change exposure, saturation, color temperature and fill light. Once you have made your adjustments and like the way the image looks in the preview window, click on the "Detail" tab.

    How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0
    Basic Adjustments
  4. 4

    The Detail adjustments allow you to change detail, masking, sharpening and luminance of the picture. To make these adjustments, make sure you view the image at 100 percent or larger, or you will not notice the changes in the preview.

    How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0
    Detail Adjustments
  5. 5

    When you are done making the adjustments, click on "Open Image" to bring up the image in the Photoshop Elements editor. Before opening the image, check the bit depth to select the working bit depth you need. It will default to 16 bits per channel since this is a high-resolution image. You may need to change this to 8 bits per channel to take full advantage of all the Adobe tools. You can also immediately save the file to a PSD file after it is opened.

    How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0
    Convert Image
  6. 6

    The converted NEF file is opened in the Adobe Photoshop editing window allowing you to make any further changes to the files such as cropping, color adjustments or text addition. Once the file has been converted and opened, you can save it as PDF, TIFF, RAW, PNG or JPEG file.

    How to Open NEF Files in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0
    Open Image

Tips and warnings

  • Remember, you are not making changes to the original NEF file, you are merely converting it for use within the software environment.
  • Changing the exposure is similar to adjusting contrast and brightness at the same time.

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