How to View RAW Photos in Windows without Adobe Photoshop

Pakrayon By Pakrayon, 10th Jan 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Technology>Cameras

This is a guide for photography newbie and amateur about how to open and view (not involving editing) RAW images taken without paid Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

RAW Images

A camera raw image file, such as NEF, CRW, CR2, SR2, etc., contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of a digital camera. It is not directly usable as an image, but has all of the information needed to create an image. The feature of RAW format allows photographers free time to process their works deliberately after shooting. However, Windows doesn't support most RAW images and professional photo tools, like Adobe Lightroom, seems a little expensive for amateurs and newbies. If you only want to open and view RAW images on a Windows computer, you get to the right page.

View RAW Files on Windows 10/8/7

Windows 10 users may have found that they can view some sorts of RAW images with Windows Explorer and Windows Live Photo Gallery. That’s because Microsoft introduced built-in support for RAW files in Windows 10. Actually, the company also released Microsoft Camera Codec Pack for Windows 7 and 8. The pack supports various Canon, Epson, Casio, Kodak, Sony, Nikon, Samsung and Panasonic camera models among others.
Microsoft Camera Codec Pack for Windows 8.1
Microsoft Camera Codec Pack for Windows 7
Of course, even Windows 10 doesn’t support all camera models, which are constantly updating. For example, my laptop, which is running on the latest Windows 10, is able to support CR2, SR2 and ARW pictures, but refuses to show the thumbnail of a NEF photo captured with a Nikon D5500. In this case, we need to download and install specific codec.

RAW Codec for Specific Camera and Format

If you can’t open a certain kind of Raw images in your Windows, you can try a RAW image codec that supports your camera model. For example, 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 search for the codec required at
For example, enter the keyword ‘NEF codecs’ in the site’s search box, and then you should be able to get a result titled as NEF Codec 1.31. Download and install the .exe file on your Windows, and then you should be able to view the unsupported NEF images. (A restart may be required) Alternatively, we can also try some photo viewer apps which support RAW file.

More Tips

1. Online RAW converter and viewer
2. Best RAW photo recovery software - Jihosoft Photo Recovery
3. Difference between TIFF, RAW and JPG
4. How to Take RAW Image with Mobile Phone


How To Open Raw Image, Raw Photo, Raw Viewer

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