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Top NEF Editor Software for RAW Nikon Files

Sailun Tires

NEF (Nikon Electronic Format) is the Nikon RAW file used specifically by Nikon cameras to capture images.

Editing these uncompressed RAW files gives photographers flexibility to adjust aspects like white balance, contrast, tone and exposure during post-processing. Hence, it is important to choose a reliable NEF editor software for your needs. 

RAW image captures all the data from the camera sensor without any compression. It contains all photographic data that is not available in compressed JPEGs format. Hence, editing RAW files allows adjusting various parameters like exposure and color grading of images without losing quality. Thus, making RAW an important image format for professional photo editing. Also, RAW files may sometimes get damaged during the editing process and become unusable. Don’t worry, there is a solution to this issue. 

This blog will discuss some popular NEF and Nikon RAW editors. We’ll also share some photo repair tools that can help deal with corruption if any mishap happens during photo editing.

Top NEF Editor for Nikon RAW files

1. Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is the most powerful photo editor and management tool used globally by many professional photographers to edit their work. It offers the most number of non-destructive presets and allows photos to be edited and organized in the library module. Using Lightroom, you can make as many adjustments and enhancements to your photos in terms of color, exposure, white balance, etc. The software’s online version also comes with a built-in photo-sharing feature adding more convenience for users. It works across all devices and platforms.

2. Nikon Capture NX-D 

The Nikon Capture NX-D is a new and highly compatible NEF editor software specially made for Nikon camera users. It supports Nikon’s proprietary NEF files really well. The tool is known for its simple interface that also resembles Nikon cameras UI. It has advanced RAW adjustments and filters suitable for professional photo editing. However, it only works on Windows computers.

3. Lightzone

Lightzone is an NEF editor for Nikon camera users and is free for its registered project members. The software offers robust presets and adjustments for exposure, white balance, curves, etc. It helps photos to be organized into folders and helps in creating custom presets as well. Though simple, it gets the advanced and basic RAW editing done without any expense and is available for Linux, Windows, and macOS. It is a great alternative to the other Nikon RAW file editing software. 

4. ON1 Photo RAW

ON1 Photo RAW, is yet another powerful Nikon RAW Files editor alternative to Lightroom and other NEF Software. It has non-destructive editing and organizational tools. With this tool, photographers can apply effects and make adjustments to photos through layers. This allows trying different edits easily without permanently changing the original file. The software integrates professional-level retouching tools and has an active online user community for support. Along with a free trial version, ON1 Photo RAW also provides premium RAW editing capabilities to Nikon photographers.

Which NEF editor should you use? 

All these top ranking NEF editors vary in their price, user interface, features, and after sales support. Some are optimized for professional use while others are great for beginners and save time. Certain key factors like non-destructive editing, mobile responsive apps, after sales support, organizing tools, presets, and payment modules like subscription vs. one-time payment affect a user’s choice. Therefore, choose the right editor based on your individual needs.

How to Repair RAW files accidentally corrupted while editing?

Beginners and sometimes even professionals face unexpected photo corruption issues like green lines, black and gray bars, distorted colors, or unexpected compressions with RAW files. The challenge is how to deal with such situations when you work is important, though it is always advisable to create a copy of your Nikon RAW files before you start work. 

However, accidents can happen anytime and in such scenarios, Photo Repair software like Stellar Repair for Photo can be of great rescue. It repairs damaged Nikon NEF files with its simple and easy to use repair feature and thus protects all your valuable photos from being lost permanently.


While Lightroom or Lightzone are beginner friendly and easy to learn. Capture NX-D is best for advanced Nikon users who are familiar with its interface and understand the technicalities well. Also, avid photographers can get free trial versions of the different software to compare features and UI. For complex projects, ON1 Photo RAW or Photoshop works really well and provides great enhancements and features.


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