In a post on Adobe’s User to User Forum for Camera Raw, Thomas Knoll, chief engineer for Camera Raw and the original author of Photoshop (developed along with his brother John Knoll) has stated that Nikon has taken the unusual step of encrypting the white balance information contained in NEF files written by Nikon’s new D2X and D2Hs cameras.
Thomas says in his post: “They (Nikon) decided to ENCRYPT the white balance data inside the NEF file for these cameras. Previously, the white balance data was stored in non-encrypted format, and was readable to third party raw converters using simple reverse engineering of the file format.
While any encryption system that stores the decryption key inside a PC computer program (vs. having the user type in a decryption key) is fairly easy to crack (Bibble has already broken Nikon’s encryption algorithm for the D2X), it does raise legal obstacles. Nikon might consider breaking the white balance encryption a violation of DMCA, and sue Adobe.
(I personally think that would be a bogus interpretation of the DMCA, since I think the copyrighted information inside the NEF file belongs to the photographer, not Nikon. But Nikon apparently thinks they own the information inside the NEF).
Adobe is a large company with deep pockets (unlike Bibble), and it is unlikely we would run the legal risk of breaking the white balance encryption unless we can get some assurance from Nikon that they will not sue Adobe for doing so. Since Nikon clearly does not want third party raw converters reading their files (they would much rather sell you a copy of Nikon Capture), the likelihood of Nikon providing such an assurance to Adobe is not very high.
Adobe is still going to support the D2X in the upcoming Camera Raw 3.1 release. However, because of the white balance encryption, Camera Raw will not be able (unless Nikon backs down real soon) to read the “as shot” white balance from the camera, and users will be more likely to have to adjust the while balance manually in the Camera Raw dialog, since Camera Raw’s default white balance will not match the cameras default white balance.
This has absolutely no effect on the quality of the final result out of Camera Raw (it is just the starting point and is nearly always fine tuned in any case), and the new multiple file features of Camera Raw 3 actually make it nearly painless to perform similar adjustments on a large number of images. Beta testers of Camera Raw 3.1 are very happy with the Photoshop CS2/Bridge/Camera Raw workflow when processing D2X files, despite the white balance issue.”
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