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What Is a PEF File? (And How to View One)

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If you’ve never heard of a PEF file, then you’ve probably never used Pentax digital cameras. If you’ve just bought one, you might not know what a PEF file is or how to open a PEF file. You are not alone.

Pentax uses digital images that come with the PEF file format. You’ll find them with the digital Pentax camera series. Here’s how to open a PEF file.

Man lying on floor with camera and notebook

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What Is a File Extension?

File extensions exist with every digital file we create. They tell us (and computer programs) what kind of files they are, and what to do with them.

Digital images come with file extensions, such as JPEG. But there are TIFFs, PNGs, and GIFs too, amongst others. The ones you might not have heard of are all the different Raw image format versions.

Each camera company uses specific image extensions for their digital photographs. They all carry data taken from the particular camera’s image sensor.

Just like CR2 with Canon and NEF with Nikon, PEF files are Raw file formats. These are large file types that allow for better editing possibilities.

The Raw file format is better compared to JPEGs because JPEGs are a lossy file extension. It means you lose quality every time you open one. Raw files retain much more data from every scene. They tend to be much larger, depending on the information in your scene.

Raw is, overall, a better way to go if you plan on editing your images. To edit them, you need to know how to convert them. Luckily, we have all the information you need on the PEF file.

What Does PEF Mean?

A PEF file is a Raw format image used by Pentax, meaning Pentax Electronic File. When you set and capture an image using the Pentax Raw image setting, it gets the PEF file extension. This PEF image extension needs converting if you plan on doing image editing from PEF files.

Like other Raw files, there might be problems with previewing PEF file images on a computer file viewer. You need specialized software to read a PEF file and to convert PEF files.

Specific programs, such as editing programs, and others from camera manufacturers, can help users open a PEF file.

The PEF file is similar to other Raw format files, modeled after the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format). This format is for high-quality images. Unlike JPEGs, TIFFs are not lossy formats, so it doesn’t lose its quality with use.

View of an exotic beach from the sky

Common Questions

How Do I Convert a PEF File to JPEG?

To convert a PEF file to a JPEG is an easy enough process with the right tools. The most important thing you need is software that can read an RW2 file. Adobe Lightroom is the most straightforward option, as it opens the PEF file with no problem or prompt.

Adobe Photoshop is another program you can use. But it can be a little more complicated to use. As the PEF file is a Raw image, Photoshop will force open Camera Raw (a Raw file convertor). This process is something you need to go through before you can open the image.

Lightroom has Camera Raw as part of its import process. Both of these programs allow you to import, edit, and then save or export a PEF file as JPEGs. You can save these as TIFFs, PNGs or even GIFs.

Other than photographic editing software packages, ILoveImg.com is an online PEF file converter. It is free and works on all operating systems.

How to Open a Raw File/PEF Files?

Opening a PEF file requires an editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Adobe lightroom shouldn’t pose any problems.

Photoshop is a little more involved than others. It is a complicated software program. To start, you need to go through the Camera Raw platform before you can edit the image completely.

A woman with brown eyes looking through tall leaves

Can Photoshop Open PEF Files?

If for any reason you have problems opening PEF file format, convert your images to a DNG (Digital Negative). This file format retains high quality while giving you more options for usage.

If your question is ‘How do I open Raw files in Photoshop CC?’ You can open a PEF file with Adobe Photoshop. With Camera Raw, you need to press Open Image to use it in Adobe Photoshop.

From there, you are free to edit your image. Lightroom is a better option to choose as it opens Raw images without giving you notice.

How Big Is a Raw Image File?

The simple answer is that Raw files can be 5x larger than JPEG images. They both hold the same amount of dimensions. Let’s look at an example.

A Canon 7D has an image dimension of 5184 x 3456. It is the same whether photographing a scene with a JPEG or Raw image size. The largest Raw image comes in around 25.1 MB. The largest JPEG will give you 6.6 MB.

Other Raw file formats will give you a similar reading. But, don’t think they will be around the 26MB mark.

The Sony AR7 IV has dimensions of 9504 x 6336 pixels and will capture JPEG images of between 30MB and 50MB. This size is large, but the resolution is over 60 MP. We can only imagine what size the Raw files would be.

These cameras are 35 mm equivalent, where medium or large format cameras will produce larger Raw files. The Fujifilm GFX 50R gives you a Raw file size on average of 62MB from its 50.1MP sensor.

A small blue and red vintage car

Is a PEF File Better Than JPEG?

Typically speaking, any Raw image file is better than a JPEG. But, only if it is something you need. It depends, like always, on what you plan to do with your images.

A JPEG is a lossy file format, meaning it’s losing quality every time you open it. A Raw format PEF file gives you much more data, and therefore, retains high quality.

It is best to use Raw file format for all types of photography, even if you feel like you don’t need it.

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