How can I process new RAW photos with older Adobe software?

by valrac4_a3kqdy

When I was shooting in RAW format with my older cameras, I was able to use Photoshop 3 to modify the files and convert them to TIFF. But I recently bought a Nikon D5500, and Photoshop 3 cannot open its NEF format (RAW) photos. Is Adobe is no longer updating Photoshop 3? If so, what can I do aside from paying a monthly fee for Photoshop CC?
—Sándor T.

Adobe stopped updating the Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop 3 a few years ago, Sándor, so this software is incompatible with the RAW formats produced by newer cameras. Your D5500 shipped with a copy of Nikon View NX 2 software, which can convert RAW files, but the optional Capture NX-D—available free of charge as a download—is preferable since it offers more tools for greater versatility.

The camera manufacturers offer RAW-converter software, such as Nikon’s versatile Capture NX-D that I often use. These vary greatly in feature set, but all are available free of charge. Use the program’s HELP feature to find and download any recent updates to ensure compatibility with the latest cameras’ RAW formats.

The camera manufacturers offer RAW-converter software, such as Nikon's versatile Capture NX-D that I often use. These vary greatly in feature set, but all are available free of charge. Use the program's HELP feature to find and download any recent updates to ensure compatibility with the latest cameras' RAW formats. © 2015 Peter K. Burian

The camera manufacturers offer RAW-converter software, such as Nikon’s versatile Capture NX-D that I often use. These vary greatly in feature set, but all are available free of charge. Use the program’s HELP feature to find and download any recent updates to ensure compatibility with the latest cameras’ RAW formats. © 2015 Peter K. Burian

If you prefer to use an Adobe product for RAW conversion and want to buy software instead of paying a monthly subscription fee, you have two options: Photoshop Elements 13 ($90 CAD at retail stores) or Photoshop Lightroom (v. 5, $175 CAD). Both are versatile image editing and RAW-conversion programs (particularly Lightroom), and Adobe issues regular updates regarding new cameras’ RAW formats. Lightroom is more expensive, but its version of Camera Raw offers more options for modifying your photos, so it’s preferred by serious shooters.

If you insist on using an older Adobe imaging program for modifying/converting RAW files from newer cameras, start by downloading and installing Adobe's free DNG converter. Use this utility to convert your RAW photos to the DNG RAW format and you'll be able to modify/convert them in your existing Adobe software. © 2015 Peter K. Burian

If you insist on using an older Adobe imaging program for modifying/converting RAW files from newer cameras, start by downloading and installing Adobe’s free DNG converter. Use this utility to convert your RAW photos to the DNG RAW format and you’ll be able to modify/convert them in your existing Adobe software. © 2015 Peter K. Burian

There’s also a workaround available from Adobe that’s free of charge: Digital Negative Converter. This utility enables owners of newer cameras to use older versions of Photoshop (or Lightroom) for RAW photo modification and conversion. Simply download and install DNG Converter 8.8 for Windows or DNG Converter 8.8 for Mac. Use it to convert your new camera’s RAW captures to DNG, Adobe’s own RAW format as shown in this video tutorial: The DNG Converter for Photography. You can then process those RAW files in unsupported Adobe software such as Photoshop 3. Naturally, the new features provided in the latest version of Camera Raw (in current Adobe software) will not be available to you. Hence, you’ll probably want to consider buying a new Adobe program (preferably Lightroom) to get the maximum versatility and image quality.

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