How to Repair Corrupted Nikon NEF File - 5 free Repair tools

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How to open an NEF file? Is there any nef viewer software that can open corrupted raw Nikon nef file when it's damaged?

nikon nef file repair

Chance of NEF Recovery: is your raw Nikon nef file really damaged?

Here are some different scenarios for a nef image not opening.

  • The nef file is partially damaged that can be repaired with some repair tools
  • The nef file cannot be repaired by any tools or it won't open by any tool, then it's totally damaged
  • If you saved new images to the camera after data loss, then some lost nef files could be corrupted due to data overwriting
  • The nef file is not fully restored after deletion

4 NEF Viewer Software to Open NEF File (NOT CORRUPTED)

NEF is another form of RAW file format produced by Nikon cameras. There are 3 nef viewer software to open it.

  • Nikon's own software: Nikon Capture NX-D which is made by Nikon
  • Adobe's Photoshop products can also open the raw nef file using the built-in RAW plug-in (camera raw, etc.), which means you need to download extra raw plug-in to photoshop to open the raw Nikon image
  • ACDsee10 and above can open it.
  • Irfanview which is a free photo viewer software

Example: how to open NEF file with Nikon Capture NX-D free

Nikon capture NX-D is made by Nikon to view its nef files. It's free.

NEF file viewer download:

User manual: (It tells how to use the application to view Nikon images.)

Note: If the nef file cannot open with Nikon Capture NX-D, which means the nef file may be corrupted.

Example: How to open NEF file with Photoshop

  • Firstly, download Adobe Camera Raw in computer (It's a free plugin produced by Adobe PS, however Adobe PS requires a fee, which can be paid after a trial period.)
  • Unzip the archieved folder and launch the installer AdobePatchInstaller.exe to get it installed, which may require a few confirmation from you to get it installed in Photoshop and then get it uploaded to Photoshop
  • Then open the PS program installed in the computer, through the "File" to open the NEF format file or directly drag the file into the PS to open the NEF format file in PS.

Note: If your nef raw file can open with Photoshop, it means it's not damaged.

The problem: A lot of users may do not have a Photoshop installed nor a license to this program.

PHOTOSHOP Installer:

Note: Photoshop offers free trial that you may evaluate whether it can help open your nef file for free in the trial period.

5 Free Ways to Repair Corrupted NEF Files

#1 Recover the correct nef file with free tool RecoveRX

Download free tool:

Start a free recovery with RecoveRX provided on the page of Transcend when other recovery software failed to find the correct complete NEF file, especially when the header of the file is lost or not found by other recovery tools.

#2 Fix corrupted nef from EXIFTOOL.ORG

Download nef repair tool here:


Note: This utlility is able to help recover corrupted nef images due to the export from Nikon camera. It won't be able to help retrieve nef files from damaged memory card, which can be restored by the following free tool iCare Data Recovery Free.

#3 Free NEF File Recovery Tool

iCare Data Recovery Free is able to help retrieve deleted or lost nef files in complete file when the memory card is not working, damaged, unsupported or other errors. You may download it to start free scanning to see whether your nef file can be restored.

recover files

The advanced file recovery provided in this free tool is able to retrieve deleted nef file if the nef were not overwritten by your new files on the Nikon camera.

Read More

#4 Convert NEF to other image format

When NEF can be open in Nikon Capture NX-D, however it does not display by other programs, the best way to fix the corrupted nef raw Nikon file is to get it changed to other image format.

Convert nef to jpg online:

This above link provides online converting for NEF to other image format as you wish for free.

#5 Microsoft camera codec pack

Microsoft camera codec pack for Windows 10/11 not found? Try the Windows 8 edition to see wether it works.

Download url:

This is just an option that may work, however we still recommend the raw file viewer from the camera's own software which is usually provided by the manufacturer.

Still failed? Try the following which involved in a pay to see any luck.

  • Stellar Repair for Photos (tends to only extract medium sized JPEG)
  • JPEG-Repair Toolkit

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