How To Open Nikon Coolpix P7000 NRW Raw Files in Lightroom 3 & Photoshop CS5

by Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen on December 6, 2010

Nikon’s new compact camera, the Coolpix P7000 captures raw images using the new .NRW format. Unfortunately, .NRW files are not recognized by the current versions of Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop CS5 or Adobe’s Digital Negative (DNG) Converter. But there is a way to open the P7000’s raw files. Here’s how.

How to Open Nikon Coolpix P7000 nrw raw files in Lightroom and Photoshop - P7000 front viewRiding the cutting edge is risky business. I’m working with a new Nikon Coolpix P7000 camera for an upcoming review. To my surprise,  I can’t open the P7000’s raw files in any of my favorite programs.

Actually, surprise is not the right word. I’ve run into this before. Check out my article, “Sony NEX-5 Raw (.arw) Files Don’t Open in Photoshop CS5 or Lightroom 3. Or Do They?” to see what I mean.

That article is also a good place to learn more about the game of catch-up that Adobe has to play when camera manufacturers release new models.

Trouble In Paradise (The Problem)

Let’s take a look at what happens when I try to work with .nrw images from Nikon’s Coolpix P7000 camera in the current, official-release versions of Lightroom, Photoshop or DNG Converter.

Scenario 1: Lightroom 3.2

I try to import a card-full of raw images from the Nikon Coolpix P7000 camera into Lightroom.

How to Open Nikon Coolpix P7000 nrw raw files in Lightroom and Photoshop - preview unavailable in Lightroom 3.2

Preview Unavailable

The first sign of trouble appears in Lightroom’s Import window: instead of a thumbnail, the raw images show a gray box with the text, “Preview unavailable for this file.” Uh oh.

Since I also have some JPEGs and movies on the card, I click the Import button anyway.

Lightroom churns away for a while and finally displays a small error window which says, “The files are from a camera which is not recognized by the raw format supported in Lightroom” followed by the number of rejected images in parentheses. (Note: the movie files and JPEGs are successfully imported).

How to Open Nikon Coolpix P7000 nrw raw files in Lightroom and Photoshop - unrecognized raw file message

Lightroom 3.2 Error

Beneath that is a list of all of the unsupported images and a trio of buttons. Save As will save a list of the unsupported images, Check for Updates will try to update Lightroom and OK closes the window. Until Adobe releases the next version of Lightroom (version 3.3), none of these will solve the problem.

Scenario 2: Photoshop CS5

Knowing full well that it won’t work, I try to open one of the raw images in Photoshop CS5. Photoshop pops up a windows informing me that it “Could not complete your request because the file appears to be from a camera model which is not supported by the installed version of Camera Raw. Please visit the Camera Raw help documentation for additional information.”

Photoshop uses the Adobe Camera Raw plugin to process raw images, but the latest version (6.2) does not support the Nikon P7000’s raw image files.

Scenario 3: Adobe Digital Negative (DNG) Converter

Since I don’t often use Adobe’s DNG converter, the first thing I do is visit Adobe’s website to download and install the latest officially released version of the Digital Negative Converter (6.2).

Then, I run the DNG Converter and go through the motions of selecting the source and destination folders. As soon as I click the Convert button, I get an Error pop-up window telling me “The source folder does not contain any supported camera raw files.” I expected as much.

Fixing A Hole  (The Solution)

There are three possible solutions to this problem:

    1. Shoot Raw+JPEG. Use the JPEGs now and save the raw files for later when Adobe has updated its software.
    2. Install the software included with the Nikon Coolpix P7000: ViewNX2. It’s not bad, but I hate having to learn new proprietary software. I’d rather use Lightroom.

And ViewNX2 won’t allow you to convert your .nrw images to .dng files.You can convert them to JPEGs or TIFs or simply process them in its included raw processor. None of these are attractive options for a Lightroom user.

  1. Live on the edge by installing the latest, unofficial updates for Lightroom, Photoshop or the DNG Converter from the Adobe Labs website.

Download the release candidates using these links:

Install the release candidate of your choice. They all include support for the Nikon Coolpix P7000’s .nrw raw files.

Here’s a list of all the new cameras supported by the release candidates (from the Lightroom 3.3 RC1 release notes):

Should I Wait or Should I Go Now?

If you need to process your Coolpix P7000 images in Lightroom or Photoshop now, your only real choice is to download and install the release candidate updates. But, is it safe to do?

According to Adobe, “The release candidate label indicates that this update is well tested but would benefit from additional community testing before it is distributed automatically to all of our customers.”

Reading between the lines, we might say that these RC updates – like any beta version software – have been tested by Adobe and they work. But your results may differ since there is no way for Adobe to test every possible scenario.

Fortunately, the Lightroom RC update does not replace your current Lightroom 3.2 software. It is installed along side it and a new shortcut icon for version 3.3 is placed on your desktop. You can choose to open either version each time you open Lightroom, so you won’t lose any work or crash your current version by installing the Lightroom update.

Nikon Coolpix P7000 raw nrw files can be opened in Photoshop CS5

ACR Warning Message

The Adobe Camera Raw 6.3 update for Photoshop does replace version 6.2 of ACR in Photoshop CS5. But it only affects the ACR plugin, not Photoshop itself. So, unless there’s some terrible bug in ACR 6.3 RC1, it will work perfectly. (NOTE: the first time you try to process a raw image after installing the update, a window will appear warning you that this is a beta version. Just click OK and keep working.)

For the record, I’ve installed both the Lightroom 3.3 update and the ACR 6.3 update for Photoshop and, so far, everything seems to work fine. And, best of all, I can now work with my Nikon Coolpix P7000 raw files!

Time of the Season (to Upgrade)

If you’re still using Photoshop CS4 (or earlier) and you have a new camera that’s not supported by earlier versions of ACR, you’ll need to upgrade to Photoshop CS5. New releases of Adobe Camera Raw only work with the latest Photoshop version. Here’s a link to Adobe’s website to download the upgrade right now.

Or, if you don’t mind waiting a few days, you can save a few bucks by upgrading to Photoshop CS5 through these links:

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Upgrade
(Windows or Mac)
Adorama (Windows) Adorama (Mac)
Amazon (Windows) Amazon (Mac)
Calumet Photo (Windows) Calumet Photo (Mac)

The same applies to older versions of Lightroom. Upgrade to Adobe Lightroom 3 either from Adobe’s website (instant download), or order Adobe Lightroom 3 from one of these merchants:

Adobe Lightroom 3 Upgrade
(Windows and Mac on same disk)
Adorama (Windows & Mac)
Amazon (Windows & Mac)
Calumet Photo (Windows & Mac)

NOTE: If you order through one of the links on this page, you’ll help keep the lights on here at PhotoCitizen World Headquarters at no cost to you. Thanks.

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