What’s a CR2 File and How Do I Open It?

While you’re probably familiar with a good number of file formats and extensions, there are certain to be some that you don’t recognize. The CR2 file format can be confusing, especially if your operating system doesn’t know what to do with it. In that light, we’ll explain what CR2 files are and how to manipulate them.

What Is a CR2 File?

CR2 is a proprietary RAW digital photo file format developed by Canon (in 2004, to be exact). RAW file formats store uncompressed images, as they are the best for computer editing. CR2 is commonly known and used among professionals and photo enthusiasts and has a lot of advantages over the most popular jpg file format.

Some of the Benefits of CR2 and Raw Over JPEG Include:

Higher image quality – Since each calculation is performed simultaneously, the pixel value is more accurate.

Color space – The Raw file’s color space can be freely defined.

No compression artifacts – Raw files include more information as the color gamut isn’t clipped. Also, compression and quantization artifacts are non-existent.

Higher shades of colors – As compared to JPEG that only supports gamma-compressed 8-bit color shade per channel, CR2 has 14 bits of intensity information.

What's CR2 File What Programs Open a CR2 File

Bypassing processing – Noise reduction and sharpening are skipped when producing CR2 image files.

Parameter control – Raw photographs allow users the freedom to manipulate white balance, hue, lightness, and other parameters. When working with JPEG files, only preset values are available.

Lossless files – compressed JPEG sacrifices quality to make the image files smaller. CR2 is either lossless or uses better compression to preserve more details.

Drawbacks of CR2 and Other Raw Formats Are:

The raw file size is bigger – CR2 files can be up to six times larger than JPEG files, so they require a larger memory card.

Loss of quality – Some raw formats support lossy compression, which activates filtering and causes posterization.

Time-consuming – Manipulating, processing, and copying the larger raw files is slower.

Limited support – Windows and other operating systems don’t support raw files by default, including CR2.

Different raw image formats – A standard raw image format is not adopted by many companies, which have shown a preference to use their proprietary raw formats.

What's a CR2 File What Programs Open CR2 File

How to Open a CR2 File?

CR2 files are supported in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10, but not by default. To view these images in File Explorer, you will need to have either Canon RAW Codec Software or Microsoft Camera Codec Pack installed. As the Canon RAW Codec is no longer a separate download but a part of Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, Microsoft’s solution is recommended. It’s free and straightforward to install.

How to Manipulate CR2 File?

Numerous free image viewers can open CR2 files, including UFRaw, IrfanView, and FastStone Image Viewer. They also offer basic options for manipulating CR2 images, but as you might expect, Adobe Photoshop is a much better solution. With Photoshop, you can adjust the exposure, contrast, white, tint, shadows, temperature, and other parameters. Apart from that, GIMP can be an excellent alternative. Even though it’s not as full-featured, this open-source app is free and available on Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux.

How to Convert CR2 File?

You can convert CR2 images to JPEG, BMP, and other formats for free. Adobe DNG Converter supports several raw image formats. You can also find several other free apps, including FastStone Image Viewer and IrfanView, that you can use to export CR2 files.

You can also export CR2 pictures using online converters such as Zamzar, which supports more than 1100 file formats. However, this may not be practical. For one, online converts can’t handle batch conversions. Also, as CR2 files are uncompressed, their size can be 100MB or more. Online converters are only recommended if you have fast upload speeds and only a couple of images to convert. If you need to occasionally convert a CR2 file on your smartphone, for example, you can get the job done online.

What If You Still Can’t Open the File?

If you can’t view or manipulate CR2 File, there are three possible reasons:

The file is damaged – It’s possible that the file was not properly downloaded from the camera or the internet. The best solution is to download it again. If that doesn’t solve the problem, try to repair the file using specialized software or online tools such as Instant RAW Image Recovery. However, be aware that the result will vary according to the extent of the damage.

Incorrect extension – Even if the file is complete, it might have the wrong extension and that’s why your applications don’t recognize it. There are several similar extensions like RC2 (for Visual Studio) and CRX that are used by browser extensions for Chrome. Instead of checking the file manually, use online tools such as CheckFileType. Upload your data and it will determine the file type.

It’s a different CR2 file – Poser is a 3D modeling program that also uses CR2 files, though they are very different – they store information about bones and joints. Several other programs can open Poser CR2 files, including 3ds Max and DAZ Studio. Poser CR2 files can be converted, but of course not into images.

Preserving Every Detail

The best way to preserve every detail, raw image files are easily manipulated in advanced graphic editors. You can also convert a CR2 file to JPEG or tens of other visual formats using free image viewers or online.

Have you ever worked with CR2? Do you store your photographs in a raw format, and why? Share with the community in the comments below.

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