If you’ve shot and uploaded RAW images with a Canon camera, you may have noticed the file extension as CR2 files. Here’s what it is and how to open one.
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2019. It’s been freshened up with new pictures and commentary on January 10, 2020.
What is a CR2 file?
When you take a picture in RAW with a Canon digital camera, it creates a file with the CR2 extension which stands for Canon RAW 2 (Version 2 or 2nd Edition).
Since it’s a RAW image, the file is large, uncompressed, and a high-quality photo.
They aren’t ready to view as JPEG images are but the benefit is that you can make adjustments in post-processing such as the white balance or exposure, without losing photo quality.
The following is an example of a CR2 file:
How to open a CR2 file
After you upload the images to your computer, the file won’t open because you need software that can open RAW image files. There are both free and paid options.
- File Viewer Lite (For Windows)
- FastStone Image Viewer
- Google Photos (Web)
Converting a CR2 file
Adobe also offers the Adobe DNG Converter which is a free tool that converts CR2 to DNG (Digital Negative).
Zamzar is a free option for converting these files. In Zamzar, you can covert a CR2 file to the following:
- BMP (Windows bitmap)
- GIF (Compuserve graphics interchange)
- JPG (JPEG compliant image)
- PCX (Paintbrush Bitmap Image)
- PDF (Portable Document Format)
- PNG (Portable Network Graphic)
- TGA (Truevision Targa Graphic)
- TIFF (Tagged image file format)
- WBMP (Wireless Bitmap File Format)
- WEBP (Lossily compressed image file)
Frequently asked questions
Is CR2 the same as RAW?
Yes. A RAW image is filed as a CR2 file when shooting with a Canon digital camera.
How about TIFF?
They aren’t the exact same thing but they’re similar. Canon modeled CR2 files after TIFF files, which stands for Tagged Image File Format. Both CR2 and TIFF are uncompressed and of the highest quality.
Can you print RAW files?
No, most photo labs won’t print RAW files and recommend a high-resolution JPEG.
Featured photo courtesy of Unsplash.