Nikon Zf raw files (NEF) all black in RawTherapee

Just bought a Nikon Zf, marvelous camera, but to my horror, I can’t seem to open any raw files in RawTherapee. Nikon raw files on the Nikon Zf, and I believe all latest Nikon Z cameras, are called NEF Files. What can I do, anyone knows how to help me out? Btw, Gimp doesn’t recognize the format either!
A NEF file is a Nikon Raw Image file. It is an abbreviation for Nikon Electronic Format, and is used solely on Nikon cameras.
Thanks in advance!

It might be that RawTherapee does not (yet) support newer cameras formats. For example, I cannot open lossless compressed images from Sony A7IV with RawTherapee. OTOH programs like ART or Darktable do not have any problems with them. Once RT moves to use LibRaw instead of dcraw it should all work.

Are you using the high efficiency compression? Those kinds of files are not yet supported by RawTherapee. LibRaw doesn’t either, and I don’t know of any open source software that does.

And it looks like the regular, lossless compressed case hasn’t been added yet: camconst.json added Nikon Z f by lightwisephoto · Pull Request #6990 · Beep6581/RawTherapee · GitHub

If you would like to process Zf’s NEF file with RT now, you have to convert once NEF file to dng file with Adobe DNG Converter and process converted dng file with RT.

Looks like choosing the right raw format might be enough.

But I would recommend getting some Adobe DCPs from DNG Converter.

As @alucas pointed out, RT cannot open Zf Raw sample files in DP Review (in following link) .

I suspect that they are recorded in high-efficiency NEF format.


In the sample gallery there are raws at about 30 mb, and some 16 - 18 mb. The bigger ones can be opened, the smaller ones not. This is what I meant with “choosing the right raw format” → meaning the compression.

Btw, looks like the LibRaw devs just managed to implement it in their commercial offerings, so I guess we might see it public in a year or so.

Thanks for these tips. When converting to dng format, will there be no loss of information?

Not when it comes to raw pixel data. YMMV when it comes to (makernote) metadata.

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I generally don’t recommend using compressed raw file format for cameras as not all software seems to handle the compressed files. But the DNG converter by Adobe is a good work around with any camera raw files that don’t open in your software. I even use it for late model cameras that I want to edit in Adobe’s Lightroom 6 because they don’t do updates for new cameras.

Just got my Nikon Zf around the same time as you, great camera! I am using rawTherapee version 5.10 and I can open my raw .NEF files with no issues (I am using OS RHL9). Try setting on your Nikon under ‘Color space’ from default ‘sRGB’ to ‘Adobe RGB’ and see if that works?

This has nothing to do w/ raw files.