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 most likely 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 a driver that supports your camera to open Raw images in Windows.
Want to know more about the constant improvement that Microsoft brings to Windows to help users view raw photos easily? Check out this article and you’ll find out everything you need to know.
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.
You have your camera and your photos. Now you need a good photo editing tool and we’ve prepared a list of the best ones available right now to help you choose the right one for you.
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.
If you encounter any problems in the Photos app, we’ve got an extensive guide on how to solve pretty much everything that could go wrong.
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You can open Raw photos with numerous third-party image viewers. We suggest one that will save you the trouble with many other formats as well.
FileViewer Plus is a universal file viewer for Windows that can open and display over 300 different file types, view and edit camera raws from over 600 different camera models.
You can download it for free from the official website or buy it at an affordable price.
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 Corel’s PaintShop Pro 2018 Ultimate, Lightzone, PhotoShop, RawTherapee, DxO Optics Pro 9 and Capture One.
If you have any more questions about raw photos and how to deal with them on Windows 10, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.
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Editor’s Note – this article has been originally published in August, 2016. We have recently updated it to include updated solutions for opening raw images.