Here’s how to view Raw files in Windows 10

By: Matthew Adams
3 minute read

A Raw photo is a type of uncompressed image file format that’s more like a digital negative. Raws are comparable to the negatives photographers can capture with film cameras, which aren’t directly usable images. However, Raw images can still be processed into a viewable format on your laptop or desktop.

By default, digital cameras save images as JPEG. This is largely because the JPEG file size is smaller than Raw. A single Raw image might take up 20 megabytes storage.

However, Raw photos are also much more detailed than JPEGs; and many digital cameras now enable users to save photographs in the Raw format. Each camera model has its own Raw file format, such as ARI, CRW, PXN, RAF, RWZ, SRF, DNG, RWL, RW2 and KDC. Consequently, you’ll need a codec, or driver, that supports your camera to open Raw images in Windows.

The Microsoft Camera Codec Pack

Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack to enable photographers to view Raw photos in Windows 7 and 8. That pack supports various Canon, Epson, Casio, Kodak, Sony, Nikon, Samsung and Panasonic camera models among others. Click Details on this page to expand the full list of supported cameras.

However, Windows 10 has built-in support for the codecs in Camera Codec Pack. Thus, you might find you can open Raw images in Windows 10 without installing any additional codec if it already has out-of-the-box support for your camera. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of proprietary camera formats that Windows doesn’t support.

Add the Latest Raw Codec to Windows 10

If you can’t already open Raw images in Windows 10, you’ll need to install a Raw image codec that supports your camera model. For example, this Sony Raw Driver enables you to open Raw photos captured with supported Sony cameras. The best place to look for a codec is usually the manufacturer’s website. However, you might also find the codec required at Codecs.com. Enter the keyword ‘Raw codecs’ in the site’s search box to search for codecs that open Raw photos.

Set up a Default Viewing app for the Raw File Format

When you’ve installed a Raw codec, you can open the images in Windows Photo Viewer. However, the Photos app is Windows 10’s default image viewer, which doesn’t support Raw. You’ll need to configure the Raw file format to always open with Photo Viewer as follows.

  • First, open File Explorer and the folder that includes your Raw images.
  • Next, you should right-click a Raw image to open the context menu; and select Open with > Choose another app to open the app selection dialog below.

  • Then select Windows Photo Viewer as the default software for the Raw file.
  • Select the Always use this app to open … files option so that Windows Photo Viewer always opens the Raw photos.
  • Press the OK button to close the app selection dialog. Now Windows Photo Viewer will display the Raw photographs when you open them.

You can also open Raw photos with numerous third-party image viewers. FastStone Image Viewer is one program that supports Canon, Sony, Adobe, Nikon, Panasonic and Olympus Raw file formats. Click download on this website page to save the software’s installer to Windows, and open its setup wizard to install the program. Then open Image Viewer, browse to the folder that includes the Raw photos and select a picture to view.

Now you can open more detailed Raw photos in Windows. Although you can’t edit them with Windows Photo Viewer, you can add effects to Raw photographs with software such as Lightroom, PhotoShop, Bridge, DxO Optics Pro and Capture One.

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