Friday, March 1, 2013


How To Open RAW Files On Your Computer

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As mention in the previous post RAW vs JPEG, RAW is an excellent file format to use, but it does have it disadvantages, such as when viewing it on the computer.

There are many programs available in the market that can read and manage RAW files. I'll name a few common ones and list out their advantages and disadvantages. (Photoshop is not included because it can only read RAW files, but not manage them)

ACDSee Pro
- Easy to manage files - Just like browsing through windows explorer
- Quick view available
- Good photo editing functions included
- Native support for RAW files and many other file formats

- Costly

Adobe Lightroom
- Powerful photo editing functions included
- Native support for RAW files and many other file formats

- Requires user to import files into software in order to view or manage files
- Very expensive
- Quick view unavailable

Adobe Bridge
Free with purchase of a creative software, such as Photoshop ($699.00)
- Easy to manage files
- Native support for RAW files and many other file formats
- Excellent photo management system

- No photo editing functions included
- Quick view unavailable
- Requires purchase of expensive software to use this

Windows Live Photo Gallery
- Quick view available
- Ability to generate thumbnails for RAW files on Windows Explorer

- Mediocre photo editing functions included
- No native support RAW files, requires installation of codec
- Uses library photo settings to import photo for managing


My preferred choice!

For myself, I would normally go with Windows Live Photo Gallery. First and foremost, it is FREE. Secondly, I like how I can double click for the preview of the file and start flipping through the photos like it is JPEG file. Thirdly, I can generate thumbnails for the RAW files so I can easily pick out the file to edit on Photoshop.

As seen above, having thumbnails is much better than facing a whole bunch of a same icon. However it does not come without disadvantages. I keep my DSLR photos apart from my other photos, and I don't want them to appear in the library photos together with other regular photos. The program hates that, and decides not to mange those photos. Worse still, they will also remove those thumbnails after sometime.

Next, to view RAW files on the program, you will require the RAW codec here: or search RAW codec on google
Without this codec, you can't view those RAW files.



Each program has it advantages and disadvantages. The best points of the listed programs are as follows:

ACDSee Pro - Relatively cheap software that manages photos easily, and has a useful quick viewer.
Adobe Lightroom - It's meant to be an editing software, so I can understand it's lack of focus on photo management. But has useful tools to upload on social media.
Adobe Bridge - Very powerful management software that allows filtering photo by selecting parameters, and easy view of metadata.
Windows Live Photo Gallery - Free software that has a useful quick viewer, and generates thumbnails for RAW files.

Which one suits you best? It's your choice!