And why you might want to do that.
I recently purchased a Nikon D7000 camera as an upgrade from my nearly 4 year old Nikon D80. (What an upgrade!) It was part of my attempt to improve my photography by using better equipment. Another part of that was shooting in raw and using processing tools like those available in Photoshop to fine-tune my images.
I shot my first bunch of images last week and was very surprised to find that the raw images, which have Nikon’s .NEF file extension, did not appear with preview images in the Finder (shown here). I also could not use Quick Look, or open the raw images in any application on my Mac.
The reason this surprised me is that I could see, preview, Quick Look, and open the .NEF images created by my Nikon D80.
I did some research and discovered that the raw format is camera specific — a fact I’d kind of known all along — and I set out to find the software update that would allow me to see them. I was rather surprised that I’d missed the update, since I use Software Update and generally install all updates, whether I need them or not. I assumed I’d somehow skipped this particular update.
I found the Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.5, which included support for the D7000, on Apple’s Web site, downloaded it, opened the disk image (DMG) file, and started the installation. The splash screen clearly stated that the updater added raw camera compatibility for a handful of new cameras to Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11. I didn’t have either one of these installed. I don’t own Aperture — I’ve been using Photoshop forever — and I hadn’t yet updated to iPhoto ’11 from iPhoto ’09. But I assumed that an Apple update would add support to Mac OS X 10.6.6, which was installed on my Mac, so at least I’d be able to see previews of NEF images in the Finder.
My third surprise (if you’re keeping count) came when the installer told me it could not install the software. The message made it clear that I needed to have Aperture 3 or iPhoto 9 (confusingly, this is the version number for iPhoto ’11, not iPhoto ’09) installed to install the update.
I was stuck.
I did more research and discovered an alternative method for viewing previews and using those Nikon D7000 raw images. More on that in another post.
But then I discovered a workaround for the installation problem. Apple offered a free Aperture 3.1 trial on its Web site. Several Twitter friends had recommended Aperture and I was interested in giving it a try. So I downloaded the trial version and installed it.
You can probably guess what’s coming. Because I now had Aperture 3.1 installed, I could also install the Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.5 software. I ran the installer and it successfully installed on my hard disk.
After running Aperture once — just to make sure my Mac knew I had it installed — I went back to the Finder folder full of NEF images from my D7000. Still no icon previews, but I think that’s because my Mac expected to open them in Photoshop CS3, which did not support the D7000 NEFs either. But when I selected an image and used Mac OS X’s Quick Look feature (Command-Y), the NEF preview appeared in the Quick Look window.
Oddly, a preview icon also appeared for some (but not all?) of the NEF files in the photos folder on the SD card. I’m not sure why only some of them were affected, but they were the later ones. Maybe they’ll all show up as icons the next time I insert this disk? When I copied the folder to my hard disk, all the NEF files appeared with preview icons.
So I guess I can say that I set out to do what I wanted to do. I can only assume that the support for NEF file icon previews will continue even if I decide not to buy Aperture and remove it from my computer.
Did this help you? Can you add anything to help me or others? Use the comments link or form to speak up. Just don’t attempt to start a Nikon vs. Canon debate; I don’t think that would add any useful information to the discussion.