November 11, 2004

Working with Canon RAW images

After migrating to the Canon 20D, I have been frustrated working with RAW images (.CR2) from the camera.

The problems

(1) No native support for .CR2 RAW files in Windows XP. Therefore, you cannot preview images via thumbnails using Windows explorer. As a consequence, it is impossible to quickly find the images one is looking for.
(2) Opening .CR2 RAW files takes a long time in any application like Adobe Photoshop or Canon EOS Viewer. To check images for sharpness etc one needs to open it first and view it in full size. This takes an enormous amount of time. Processing 1 GB of images after a shoot is no fun.

The solution(s)

(1)To view thumbnails of .CR2 images in Windows Explorer, try the Free Community Edition of DPMagic. Thumbnails come back once it is installed.

(2)To view full sized RAW images without going through time consuming conversion, use IrfanView along with the plugin for viewing Canon RAW files. Now .CR2 files can be viewed fullsized rapidly and with the same ease as jpeg images. (Note that you will have to modify the "Open next file in directory" option to view CR2 files in a slideshow using irfanview). Checking images for sharpness is a snap. Now you can spend your valuable time doing conversion using Adobe for the ones that really matter.

Update (Sep 20, 2005)
Since this posting, Microsoft has improved the situation quite a bit. They have released a powertoy that shows .CR2 as thumbnails and even include a viewer to view the files full size.

Check out Microsoft's Raw Image Thumbnailer and Viewer.

To view nikon electronic format (.nef) images in windows XP SP2 Edit the registry as shown below
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


I am wondering if you go to .cr2 portion and do the changes, then the canon raw images might also be visible.
Interesting. I am not sure about this. Will check it out.
Does anyone know what compression algorythm is really used in .CR2 file format (Canon RAW, 2nd edition)? LZW? Huffman?
Help needed, thanks.
Mike (
Thank you all for you quality we site :)
for ANIS :
Well I tried the registry modification to help viewing the .CR2 files, but it didn't work in windows XP (no SP). I'll try to do that with a SP2 system.
Can someone please tell me how to convert .cr2 to tiff or jpg? I have Photoshop 7 and ACDsee 7 but those can't even open cr2's.

If you have Digital Photo Professional (the program that comes with Canon EOS 20D and others I believe) you can open these files and click on File / convert and save as -- there you should see the option for JPG
I have about 3000 images I need to convert.
I tried to use the Batch convert in XNview trial version, but I get errors when trying to Open the CR2 files.
You can download the free converter from Adobe (Adobe DNG Converter) and then open them on any program that is compatible with DNG files. (Photoshop CS1 and CS2 can do it. CS2 can open CR2 files natively via Adobe Bridge or Photoshop).

There are freeware programs that are compatible with the DNG file as it is royalty free for everyone and offered as an industry standard for RAW files.

Or use the included software from Canon and convert them all in a batch into JPEG (not recommended) or TIFF (much better).

But DNG is far better as it keeps all the data from the original RAW file and you can even embed it into the DNG for recovery at anytime.
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