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64-bit Windows to get Adobe DNG thumbnail views

Adobe plugs a hole in its raw file format that currently limits its usefulness, issuing a release candidate for software to let Windows users view DNG files.

The DNG codec for 64-bit Windows turns generic icons into thumbnails.
The DNG codec for 64-bit Windows turns generic icons, top, into more useful thumbnails. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Adobe Systems has lowered a barrier to using its Digital Negative (DNG) format, releasing an early version of software that makes it possible to see image thumbnails in 64-bit Windows.

DNG is an attempt to simplify the profusion of raw image formats that higher-end cameras can provide and to make it easier to add metadata such as captions and keywords to those image files. Although shooting raw is becoming an established part of the photo industry, Windows on its own can't show the images in Windows Explorer, file-management dialog boxes, or Photo Gallery software. Thus, camera makers have been offering their own codecs to fill the gap since Windows Vista was released.

Adobe's DNG codec for 64-bit Windows requires Windows 7 and so far is only a release candidate, but the company said on its Adobe Labs site that it will issue a final version after more customer testing.

As a user of 64-bit Windows since Vista, I say it's about time.

I generally deal with DNG files outside Windows' file manager, but there are plenty of times when seeing a thumbnail would help me, and I'm hardly the only person these days with 64-bit Windows. For mainstream folks who don't use software such as Apple Aperture or Adobe's Bridge, seeing thumbnails of raw files is more important, though--in part because the codec also means the image can integrate with Windows' printing framework.

Adobe Systems' DNG logo

Mac OS X has built-in support for viewing DNG and raw files from the most popular cameras that can shoot raw.

Adobe is trying to standardize DNG, a move that could make it more palatable for camera makers or others considering whether to support the format. Most cameras use proprietary raw files, though Pentax and a handful of others offer DNG.