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What is a RAW image file?

Unlike other file formats and extensions, the term RAW is not an acronym or an initialization. Instead, it means exactly what it says. A RAW file is an unprocessed image with all of its original information intact, as captured by the camera’s sensor. Information can include the conditions that were present when the picture was taken, as well as descriptive text. Both open-source and proprietary RAW file types currently exist.

How to open a RAW file?

The best way to open a RAW file is to use the software the camera manufacturer developed specifically for that purpose. Determining the manufacturer is easy because they assign their own extension to RAW files taken using one of their cameras. For example, Canon (CR2), Nikon (NEF), Sony (SR2), Epson (ERF), Kodak (KDC), Panasonic (RW2), and others. 


Alternatively, you may use a universal image viewer, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, or Zoner Photo Studio (an alternative to Adobe products). After post-processing (editing) RAW files are usually converted to a JPEG (RAW to JPG), PNG, TIFF, or BMP file type. To open RAW on Microsoft Windows or macOS, use the options described above. For Linux/Unix, you can use darktable. For a multi-platform viewer, try XnView MP.


Developed by: International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

Initial Release: 2001

Useful links:

https://whatis.techtarget.com/fileformat/RAW-Raw-File-Format-bitmap


Convert Your RAW files to other formats

FreeConvert.com can convert your RAW files to these other formats:

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