I just recently purchased a Pentax K-r. It has two formats to shoot raw with, PEF and DNG. Are there advantages or disadvantages with using one over the other?


3 Answers 3


PEF is Pentax's proprietary RAW format. DNG is the semi-standard owned by and promoted by Adobe.

In reality, there's no practical difference. They both hold the same information. It seems like there might be an advantage in having a standard format, but as a practical matter, RAW converter software needs to be updated with information for each camera anyway, and so DNG doesn't really add much. And pretty much all software that supports Pentax cameras via DNG can also read PEF files.

In older Pentax models, PEF could be (losslessly) compressed and DNG was always uncompressed. In modern cameras, they're both compressed.

  • Not sure I quite agree with you on the need for the converter updates for DNG. I bought the K-5 before the ACR update was out and had zero conversion issues with it when shooting DNG. I also was able to use Raw Therapee, which was much older, without issues as well. That's part of the big argument for using DNG.
    – Joanne C
    May 27, 2011 at 13:09
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    I may be over-stating. But I've often seen cases where a new camera comes out and DNG converters get the reds all wrong or something until they get an update. So it's no panacea.
    – mattdm
    May 27, 2011 at 13:12
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    +1 Finally someone who gets it! DNG is a standard packaging of data with an implicit process. Everytime the data changes in ways that require a different process, then the process (converter) must be updated.
    – Itai
    May 27, 2011 at 13:27
  • I haven't seen it yet for Pentax, having gone K10 to K20 to K5, but sure, it's not an assurance since DNG allows for proprietary data.
    – Joanne C
    May 27, 2011 at 13:42

When I went on a 10 day travel trip with my K10D, I was using two 16gb sd cards. I went with PEF vs DNG because it made a significant difference in the number of shots I could get on the cards. I could fill up a card each day (plus some) and had I gone with DNG I would have not been able to carry as many pictures on the card. This was a BIG factor in my inertia with staying with PEF.

Now that more modern cameras compress the DNG it's not as much of a big deal.

However, I see that Lightroom will create DNG files no matter what the raw file is anyhow, so I'm about to switch back to DNG to save the step.


I use Pentax camera a lot and I prefer Adobe DNG, because it works very well in Adobe's Lightroom. I know that full support for PEF is also there, but in my case is more habit then the choice based on some in-depth comparison of the formats.

If you look at the internet forums people seem to have various opinions on that topic. Some prefer more generic Adobe DNG others native Pentax PEF.

Here is a handful of links you may find interesting:

  • It would be better if you made a summery of the advantages of DNG and PEF. Just listing a lot of links isn't really an answer. Jul 31, 2014 at 23:03

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