What Is a PEF File?

Pentax cameras create uncompressed, raw images with the PEF file extension

What to Know

  • A PEF file is a raw image captured by a Pentax digital camera.
  • Open one with Windows' built-in viewer, or Photoshop, Able RAWer, or UFRaw.
  • Use Zamzar to convert from PEF to JPG, TIFF, PNG, AI, PDF, and more.

This article describes two file formats that use the PEF file extension, plus how to open and convert both kinds.

What Is a PEF File?

A file with the PEF file extension is a Pentax raw image file that stands for Pentax Electronic File. It's an uncompressed and unedited photo taken with a Pentax digital camera. The image is yet to be processed in any way—it represents all the raw data taken in by the camera.

Screenshot of several PEF files in Windows 10
PEF Files.

Pentax raw images are sometimes in the PTX format. Both PEF and PTX files are similar to other image file formats that digital cameras use to store unmodified data, like Nikon's NEF, Canon's CR2 and CRW, Sony's ARW and SRF, Panasonic's RW2, and Olympus' ORF.

Other PEF files may instead be Portable Embosser Format files; they're sometimes called PEF Braille Book files. These files use XML to represent physical braille books.

How to Open a PEF File

PEF files from a Pentax camera open with the software that comes with the digital camera, as well as with Able RAWer, UFRaw, Windows' Photos and Live Photo Gallery, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and probably some other popular photo and graphics tools.

If you can't open the photo in Windows, you might need to install the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack.

Braille Utils opens braille books.

How to Convert a PEF File

Some free image converter tools convert PEF files to a different image format. Zamzar is one example, and since it's an online converter, you have to first upload the file to that website, and then choose an output format to convert it to before downloading it. It can convert PEF to JPG, PNG, BMP, PDF, TIFF, TGA, and other similar formats.

Adobe DNG Converter converts the PEF file to DNG on Windows and macOS.

Still Can't Open It?

If your file isn't opening using the suggestions from above, it's possible you're misreading the file extension. Even though their file extensions look similar, PEF files have nothing to do with PDF, PEM, or PEG (Peggle Replay) files. So, if you're dealing with one of those files instead, you'll most likely have to use different software to open it.

  • How do I convert PEF files in Lightroom?

    In Lightroom, select a file or go to Edit > Select All. Then, select File > Export to choose a file format.

  • How do I fix my Pentax camera?

    If you see an error message, look up the Pentax error code. Otherwise, you'll need to troubleshoot your Pentax camera by checking the battery and settings.

  • What is the best graphics file format?

    The preferred graphics file formats for online publishing are GIF, PNG, and JPG. For print, EPS and TIFF are preferred. The best graphic format to use depends on your specific needs.

  • What's the difference between JPEG, TIFF, and Raw image files?

    Raw images are not compressed, so they contain more detail than JPEG files, but they are also larger. TIFF files are compressed, but they are larger than JPG files because they do not lose image details during the compression process.

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