Will HEIF be the Nikon replacement for JPEG?




it is stated:

Nikon was keen to point out that it’s “evolving from JPEG to HEIF format” – the former having long being the industry standard compressed image file format. End excerpt.

DxO needs to confirm the above as soon as possible. Although HEIF may not be that useful compared to raw (NEF for Nikon) for wildlife, scenic, and some macro working photographers, for promotional, sports, and wedding/events working photographers, for whom JPEG is often the standard for “fast” turnaround, HEIF offers many (both perceived and actual) advantages over JPEG. If HEIF is the Nikon future, then unless DxO is willing to lose a significant component of the working photographer sector (and those prosumers/enthusiasts who also use HEIF), HEIF support needs to be sooner rather than later. The Nikon Z8 may well bode what Nikon is planning.

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Evolve means “to develop gradually”. That could take years, or even decades. Nikon’s decision to evolve to HEIF and away from JPEG is relatively meaningless unless the industry also evolves in that direction. Adobe introduced the DNG format in 2004 with the intention of it becoming the industry standard format for raw files. That was almost 20 years ago. How’s that working out? @Marie has already indicated that when support for the new Nikon Z8 is added, there will be no support for the HEIF format. DxO will likely support that format eventually but I doubt they will feel the need to confirm Nikon’s long term goals and react to them with support for HEIF anytime soon. I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for DxO to support HEIF…



A number of other photographic workflow application houses (“competitors” to DxO) provide HEIF support.


Image editing software

End WIkipedia URL excerpt.

Some of the above workflow applications are used by working photographers and claim to compete with DxO PL. Just how Nikon plans to “evolve” to HEIF is not issue – HEIF is in a production body that is expected to be “very” popular with both enthusiast/prosumers as well as working photographers. (My personal guess, yet to be confirmed, is that the Nikon Z9 also will get HEIF in a firmware revision.) DNG has been submitted to become an ISO standard by Adobe (DNG is under an Adobe patent) but indeed is not used by either Nikon or Canon as the raw format; HEIF is an ISO standard ISO/IEC 23008-12 (MPEG-H Part 12). A HEIF image file is not necessarily an open standard depending upon the “contained” format. On the other hand TICO compression as used by Nikon in High Efficiency NEF (raw) is not an open standard, but DxO saw the handwriting and now supports Nikon High Efficiency NEF raw (whether through licensing, reverse engineering, or both has not been revealed by DxO). I personally still use Nikon Lossless Compressed NEF raw and probably will only consider HEIF if I can integrate into my workflow (providing a HEIF to a client instead of a JPEG for submission and approval). I will experiment with HEIF on my Z8 but not yet for production use unless specified by a client.

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Please search these forums for HEIF. There are already open discussions about this going back years. DxO hasn’t updated its guidance in quite some time.

I already have and have seen the “guidance”. What I am pointing out to DxO (and you and everyone else) is that a major camera vendor is incorporating HEIF into a camera body that is designed for the working photographer as well as for prosumer/enthusiasts. Not sometime in the future but NOW (technically, less than one week for Z8 bodies to be available in the USA). NOW. If DxO does not decide that this is sufficient for support in PL, then those who decide to use Nikon HEIF in the Z8, future firmware updates, and future bodies, will be forced to look elsewhere. This is not the same as DNG – for those cameras for which DNG is the RAW (un-demosaiced) format, it is my understanding that DxO does offer support in PL current. The same should be true of HEIF coming from Nikon.

I wouldn’t call, for instance, ImageMagick a “competitor” for DxO. It is a command line image manipulator.

It’s working out fine for me. I shoot native DNG which Lightroom, PhotoLab and others support wonderfully. There are 25 different Pentax DSLR/mirrorless models that support it, going back many years. Only my oldest camera is not supported by DxO (a 2006 model).

It’s an interesting situation — DNG seems to be dismissed here by some, while others demand DxO improve support for them, and I use it daily. HEIF is demanded by some as a “must have” (even before a major DSLR brand considers using it) while others dismiss it.

I guess there is no imperative for DxO to do anything other than gauge customer demand and act according to their own priorities, and not…

My point wasn’t that DNG is not a good format, but merely that after 20 years it is still not a standard replacement for proprietary raw files as Adobe had hoped. I suspect that HEIF files will not replace the JPEG format any time soon.



Just as question; Isn’t that the same like saying “a number of RAW converters provide noise reduction”? One thing is the check-mark on a feature list, the other is it’s execution. Adobe also provides JPG support - but why do I need JPEGmini to get really small JPG file sizes?

Never underestimate the long breath of a working long-time standard. If HEIF can’t replace RAW, but has still bigger sizes than JPG, bandwidth will become a factor - that also affects Google ratings. How much browsers can show HEIF?

Oh, and btw: “Nikon as major camera manufacturer” also introduced XQD cards (abandoned by the other CFE-producers) in their bodies, and soon had to make the bays compatible to CFE, of which we now have Forms A, B, C - not compatible with each other, and in need of expensive readers. I don’t give much on “new standards” coming from Nikon, and I was long time Nikon user.


Can I just add that HEIF is really a container, not a specific image format, just like DNG.


And not only a container for still-images like DNG, but also multimedia content.

I also quote from Wikipedia:

HEIF files are a special case of the ISO Base Media File Format (ISOBMFF, ISO/IEC 14496-12), first defined in 2001 as a shared part of MP4 and JPEG 2000.

I’m curious: Who of you has seen JPEG_2000 used in the wild life of the wild web? And how often, compared to JPG?

Some could reason that trying to get PL to work with HEIF, which is not that wide spread outside of smartphone worlds, and at the same time have a pile of unfulfilled user requests on the desk, might put some users off. Especially the ones not interested in HEIF at all. Would you like to make a poll, @wildlifephoto ?

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The suggestion of supporting HEIF (a container, a matter that I did mention in my query, as with other container formats) seems to have raised a hornets nest of comments. The issue with, first, XQD, then CFexpress, on the part of Nikon is a red herring – but as it was stated as an example of a Nikon misstep, I will attempt to briefly address this. For a long time (in terms of digital cameras for general use – not specials for motion picture epics, scientific research instruments, or specific military or clandestine services use), there were two standards for memory cards (the image storage medium that replaced emulsion film): SD and CF (compact flash). As the number of “pixels” on the camera sensors increased, it became evident that the throughput (the actual number of pixel data from the sensor for raw formats that could be stored per unit time – the “usable” bandwidth) was limited by the capability of both SD and CF. Ultimately, two camps developed: CFast and XQD. Canon adopted CFast, Nikon XQD.
https://cameratimes.org/best-cfast-memory-cards/ for a list of cameras (still/hybrid and video) that support CFast as of late 2022. The XQD physical form factor and mechanical electrical connectors were carried over into the CFExpress type B card. See https://cameratimes.org/best-cfexpress-memory-cards/ for some commentary on the camera use of CFExpress cards. As for whether or not Nikon is a major camera manufacturer/vendor, one must delineate to which sector one is addressing. Amongst still working photographers, digital imaging (not film) predominates (although many art photographers still use emulsion despite the fact that the individual film types are well simulated by DxO Film Pack, part of PL Elite Complete), and in this segment, Nikon is “alive and well”. Serious prosumer/enthusiasts use a variety of dedicated cameras; the largest segment of “point and shoot” snapshot consumers now use “smart phones” both for still and video. Because of lens and sensor size limitations, such images/video are not of the same resolution, etc., as the “best” current “professional” cameras. Only DxO knows what is the market penetration of the DxO workflow applications into the various segments. (Will the Android smart phone snapshot user license PL6 Elite Complete? Or will such a user use “default” applications supplied with MS Windows, Apple MacOS X, or Android or Apple IOS (or, forbid the thought, some variety of Linux)? This brings me back to the issue of whatever implementation of HEIF that Nikon has chosen for the Z8. I assume that there are many reading this who do not use a Nikon Z9 nor are planning to use a Z8.

However, for working photographers who do use the Nikon bodies, if DxO elects not to support the formats (in a timely manner – not years and preferably not many months) that Nikon incorporates into bodies/firmware, then Nikon working photographers will need to look elsewhere. I have no idea what fraction of the PL6 installed base is with Nikon working photographers. I do know that overall Adobe still has “market dominance”. Once Adobe (or any other workflow vendor) went to the rental model to keep current, I decided to look at my options. (Despite the fact that Adobe was by no means the workflow for the “best” results, with the large plugin base and user base, and that the results were acceptable to clients, I and many others used Adobe. I no longer can as I have not rented current Adobe workflow nor am I willing to use a “cloud” application. The two major shortcomings I find having abandoned Adobe are lack of a real LR replacement – PL replaces PS – and the lack of plugins for PL. The latter has been explained on these DxO fora as due to the internal architecture of PL. To a large extent, Serif Affinity does accept PS plugins, but Affinity is not as capable as PL Elite Complete, is more cumbersome to use, and does not replace LR. I still have not found a satisfactory LR replacement, particularly one that integrates will with PL.)

I didn’t get what you wanted to say about Nikon’s step into the (Sony development, after Sandisk and Lexar decided to leave the developer party and go the CFE route) XQD direction. Fact is, except Nikon not even Sony used it’s own development in their α7… lineup. And CFE readers compatible with XQD cards and reasonably fast will cost some money. It was Nikon going the XQD path – why not, the sensors also are the same brand like the cards, right? And Nikon had to deliver a firmware update first to make the Z-line and D850 compatible to CFE.

Anyway, I don’t know much about HEIF nor use it, I just see DxO PL not as a platform able to work with videos. Maybe this is the can they don’t want to open?

“PL replaces PS”? Beg your pardon? Did you mean it the way “in my workflow PL replaces PS”? That I could understand, but PL as PS replacement :thinking: less so?

Today I heard a photog saying AI replaces the photographer. Only better. So, maybe our problems with HEIF or not will become irrelevant in the near future. :grin:

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I thought it was obvious that I was referring to my use of post (workflow) applications in which I mentioned that I have not found a good LR replacement that well integrates with PL, and that PL did replace PS for me (with the caveats I also mentioned).

AI can replace photographers or most everything else. However, the CEOs and other profiteer-oriented persons who control the technology and basic research that are generating the AIs that will replace humans (just as robots have replaced humans on many assembly lines as well as responding to telephone or on-line chats, etc) seem to be oblivious to the replacement of the CEO/profiteer by an AI. There is a Twilight Zone episode that described this possibility: The Brain Center at Whipple’s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brain_Center_at_Whipple’s . Not only could AI “replace” photographers, it already can produce “realistic” images and videos that are not “real”. The relatively primitive “neural net AIs” that are used in the various workflow applications or the current Nikon Z9 (and presumably Z8) firmware are not up to the task, but that is not what replaces humans. (The AI in the Z9 can acquire and focus upon the eye of a subject, eg, a bird in flight, and keep the subject in focus, thereby increasing the fraction of “keepers” over older techniques, including manual focusing whilst panning/tracking, say, the bird in flight. The Z9 also has a much higher stills frame rate than previous “regular” cameras – not specifically designed for ultra-high frame rate work – providing the image in the sequence that is “special”. Neither of these (good AF capture and tracking, high frame rate) will replace the human user who selects and evaluates images in post.

I think I’m right that (certainly with the D850) that the speeds for CFE are pegged to XQD rates though? You don’t get the whole potential bandwidth?

To answer that sort of correctly I would need to look into some tests I did with various XQD and CFE cards when I wanted to know how big the D850 buffer really is. Problem with that testing was: taking some dozen shots (around 50 I could get out of the best card) and deleting them made a difference in terms of buffer size contrary to formatting the card.

And I can’t recall at the moment which cards (brand and type) were involved in the testing. Sony and Lexar, I believe. That test however showed a bit unexpected results after checking the RW values done with Blackmagic speed test, as usually the Blackmagic test files are from 1 GB and don’t say a lot about comparatively small RAW files. I’m sorry, I really have no better answer at the moment and to be honest, I don’t care anymore very much about speed tests, birding and sports are no longer a big slize in my activities cake.

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You are correct, and the handwriting is on the wall. HEIF is here to stay because some heavies are pushing it. There’s Apple, for starters, and you mentioned Nikon; Fujifilm is now giving the option to use HEIF instead of JPEG when shooting raw + something else. All the Fujifilm film simulations work perfectly with HEIF, The analogy with DNG is flawed; to adopt DNG, most camera manufacturers would need to abandon their proprietary format. There are no such barriers when going from JPEG to HEIF: you get smaller file sizes, better images (10-bit vs, 8-bit, for example), so camera makers have much more to gain than to lose—unlike with DNG.

Yes, I know, there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests that in some rare cases, a JPEG may yield better results than the corresponding HEIF image, but those examples are a tiny minority. On my X-T5, I certainly will ditch the JPG format when I shoot Raw plus something else.

Thank you for your analysis – we each came to the same conclusion … @Marie is DxO listening?

As for CFex in a XQD slot with modified firmware, there appears to be little throughput change from the XQD card – most of the CFex bandwidth is “wasted”…

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How many photographers process their photos with DxO or its competitors from JOEG ?
That makes no sense for me.
HEIF is a replacement for JPEG, not for RAW (at the moment).

When DXO refuses to allow DNG and you use a phone what else di you use unless you manage to hack the DNG you have to either use a another program or jpeg

I have an iPhone ; by default, it produces HEIC but I have set JPEG because importation of HEIC is several times longer (planned obsolescence!).
I find useful to use DxO for some pictures but…

  • my need is, in that case, to just process geometry
  • photos are already deeply processed by onboard processor ; this process is rather efficient but when you add a layer with DxO, pictures are no more really natural
  • correct the colours or light level is very limited with JPEG ; same with HEIC
  • there is also a limitation with the dynamics of smartphone sensors.
    So I am waiting for next iPhone with growing impatience to use RAW.

To go along with this thread, the conversion from HEIC to JPEG could be outsourced by DxO to the operating system.

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