I think I'm getting a RAW deal
March 9, 2009 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Photography: Trying to view RAW files on Microsoft RAW image viewer for XP. Please help!

I downloaded the RAW image viewer for Windows XP Home to browse thumbnails and such. I shoot with Canon 30D, and I made sure to select the proper format upon setup. I also choosed other formats- including JPEG. I can view the JPEG images, but not the RAW. What gives?

I am considering upgrading to Windows Vista. Would that solve my problem?

I am aware of Adobe Bridge and Lightroom, as I have both. I really want to be able to browse images in a more informal setting to manage my files, so an answer to my initial question would be grand.

Thank guys!!
posted by captainsohler to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I use Irfanview for browsing RAW files. It's free and easy to use (having had hassles with Nikon's RAW format using other programs)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:06 PM on March 9, 2009

If I'm not mistaken, the MS viewer only works with a select few RAW formats. I know that it doesn't work on my Olympus E-Volt's ORF files, for example.

I can't speak much for how legit this Windows plugin is, but I just found it by Googling around a few minutes ago. I just installed it and it seems like it does a good job with thumbnails when viewing a folder in Thumbnail mode. It works with my ORF files, anyway. Might be worth a shot!
posted by HonorShadow at 2:32 PM on March 9, 2009

Picasa handles my Canon RAW (.CR2) images just fine, and it's free.

It doesn't do anything except index your images. Doesn't move them, change them (unless you tell it to), copy them, attempt to organize them, etc. and any changes made in the program are reversible (it saves the originals in subfolders when making edits). I run it on WinXP, and it works just fine. My favorite bit about the program is that it watches folders, and automatically adds or removes images to tis database as you add or remove them from the watched folders.

It does have an import feature that will appear if you plug in a camera while Picasa is running, but it won't try to take images from the camera or take over import functions from the Canon software unless you specifically give Picasa permission to be the default program.

This is one of my favorite programs. I used it constantly on Windows, and the recently-released Mac version now makes me just as happy when using my laptop. It is hands down the simplest, most straightforward and fastest program I've used to view and manage images.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:32 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

"RAW" is not a so much an image format as a statement about what the file is - a big chunk of (allegedly) raw data straight off the sensor, with a header describing the sensor parameters and camera settings. The actual format varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even from model to model, hence the need for input filters (a la Adobe) to convert a particular camera's .RAW files to a structure that the application knows about.

The Microsoft RAW image viewer doesn't understand the format of RAW files from a 30D (although it does understand D30 and 20D RAW files). Vista allegedly has better support internally for RAW files, though you'll still need a manufacturer-supplied input filter/codec.
posted by Pinback at 2:35 PM on March 9, 2009

I generally hate media organizers, because they are so often harder to drive than the native file browser provided by the platform they run on, or they Do Things to my files that I don't want them to do, or they're clunky, or tied to one particular manufacturer's hardware - but Picasa has none of those faults, looks nice, is easy to drive, is free as in beer, and supports assorted raw formats.

It's good enough that even a well-known open-source bigot like me is happy to recommend it.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 2:36 PM on March 9, 2009

You don't need to upgrade to Vista. FastStone Image Viewer will solve your problem and it's free. Irfanview and Picasa are also very good, I just prefer FastStone on Windows. It's the only program I never found a worthy substitute for when I switched to Mac.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:45 PM on March 9, 2009

I use Photo Mechanic which is brilliantly fast at previewing all sorts of image types, including any RAW you could throw at it, and it's great for editing IPTC info, as well. It's the industry standard for this kind of thing in newsrooms. Not free.
posted by msbrauer at 6:13 PM on March 9, 2009

Oh, and I also use Microsoft Expression Media for my archive. It also allows me to view RAW files and lets me easily search my terabyte or so of images even if the images aren't on a currently connected device or dvd. Not as quick as Photo Mechanic, certainly. Different tool for a different purpose.
posted by msbrauer at 6:16 PM on March 9, 2009

As Pinback said, you need a codec.

I believe this is what you'll need:


Good luck and have fun.
posted by dave*p at 8:48 AM on March 12, 2009

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