Nikon releases NEF RAW codec for Windows Vista

It feels like only a few days ago when I was discussing the RAW codec architecture on this blog…in fact, it was. It turns out that the timing couldn’t have been better, because today Nikon released their RAW codec for Windows Vista.

There are two ways to get the codec: You can download it directly from Nikon’s site, or you can use the Photo Gallery to assist you.

If you have .NEF files in any of the folders that are monitored by the Photo Gallery, you will have seen the following dialog on startup of the Gallery:

Clicking the download button will open a web page with information about the file formats that the Gallery has detected. If you have several different types of RAW files on your machine, you will see a web page open for each file format. The page for Nikon NEF files is here:, and takes you to the Nikon page to download the codec. Installation instructions are provided.

If you got tired of seeing that dialog, and checked the “Don’t show this message again” box, you can still get to this functionality from the Gallery. Click ‘Options’ under the ‘File’ menu, and then click on the ‘Check for updates’ button at the bottom of the ‘General’ tab.  

Other codecs have ‘coming soon’ pages, but this mechanism will work for them as well when they are released. Of course, we’ll also announce the release of new codecs on our blog.

– pixblog

Comments (8)

  1. barbbowman says:

    No x64 suppport. What a huge disappointment, especially since the codec installs without complaint on x64 Ultimate. Nikon support states no support. At the very least, this should have been disclosed in your announcement.

  2. moosey says:

    Great to see Nikon leading the way. The codec was promptly downloaded and allowed me to finally enjoy all my NEFs in their full richness since installation of Vista back in November. One big problem is as long as you intend to use Capture NX to only edit the RAW files you’re ok.

    However if you import new files, using the default windows dowloader from the flash card, the file headers are modified in such a way that other editors such as Bibble Pro 4.9.5, Photoshop CS2 Camera RAW 3.6, RawShooter and DXO are unable to open/recognise them. When the codec is uninstalled, sanity is restored but then you loose using the lovely new Windows Gallery interface 🙁

  3. heaths says:

    The installation experience is poor. The user downloads a self-extractor, but the self-extractor doesn’t kick off the install. If you just choose "Run" the files are extracted under %WINDIR%System32. It’s better to save the download, then run it from within a directory.

    Have they not heard of %TEMP% or self-extractors that start the installation?

  4. richardlawler says:

    Microsoft should block redirecting to Nikon download page for this codec until the problems are fixed and it doesn’t damage NEF files.

    Nikon should remove the codec from distribution until they fix the sever problems.

    Many photographers wisely believe RAW files should not be modified once they come off the camera. They function sort of like analog negatives that way. This is why Adobe uses .XMP sidecar files to store metadata for RAW files and does not directly modify RAW files.

    The use of XMP sidecar files is sort of inelegant. But it is far less inelegant than having mangled unreadable NEF files because someone added a tag or a comment to an image. Please change it so Windows Photo Gallery and Explorer treat RAW file metadata as read only.

  5. Photography says:

    The problems around NEF files and Microsoft is very uncomfortable. I think Microsoft should solve this problem as soon as possible!

  6. moosey says:

    Looks like the Nikon Codec is now rendered incompatible after the latest round of patch Tuesday. Windows Photo Gallery will now helpfully inform you to download the latest codec (but it’s the same 1.0.1 codec) so no joy there…

    Come on guys, get your stuff together!!!

  7. CyranoDeSade says:


    If you’ve reached this page directly … as of May 15, MSFT has confirmed that there is a problem (at least with some Nikon Cameras), please refer to this link provided below for additional information:

    Newsgroup –

    or  go directly to the landing page for this blog.

    – CES