Last Updated on December 5, 2021 by Peter Wood
As many digital camera users choose to shoot RAW photos, they find it difficult to open or preview their RAW images on their computers, especially on Windows 11/10/8/7.
It would be necessary to find the best RAW image viewer to solve the problem. However, how can we define the best RAW photo viewer? The most essential thing would be supporting your RAW file formats. Since different camera manufactures would correspond to different RAW file formats.
Is that enough to be the best RAW image viewer?
Of course not.
So before we start to introduce our effective 10 ways to solve the RAW viewing problem, we would like to talk about the best RAW image viewer owning features you may concern.
WidsMob Media Viewer - View single image, multiple images, folder-based images, and videos in incredible fast speed and simple operation with various viewing modes. You can browse all your photos (including RAW files) and videos in one window without extra clicking and operating.
Generally speaking, RAW photo viewers can browse, edit, and manage different RAW files with various cameras.
Some bundled versions of RAW viewers provided by the camera manufacturers might only enable you to view images or manage a format.
So in mention of the best RAW photo viewers, some of the features should be a consideration. Just learn more detail about the RAW viewer features as below.
You can check the following image to learn RAW filename extensions and respective camera manufacturers to confirm the RAW files you have.
|.3fr (Hasselblad)||.mos (Leaf)||.ari (Arri_Alexa)|
|.mrw (Minolta, Konica Minolta)||.arw .srf .sr2 (Sony)||.nef .nrw (Nikon)|
|.bay (Casio)||.orf (Olympus)||.cri (Cintel)|
|.pef .ptx (Pentax)||.crw .cr2 .cr3 (Canon)||.pxn (Logitech)|
|.cap .iiq .eip (Phase_One)||.R3D (RED Digital Cinema)||.dcs .dcr .drf .k25 .kdc (Kodak)|
|.raf (Fuji)||.dng (Adobe)||.raw .rw2 (Panasonic)|
|.erf (Epson)||.raw .rwl .dng (Leica)||.fff (Imacon/Hasselblad raw)|
|.rwl (Rawzor)||.gpr (GoPro)||.srw (Samsung)|
|.mef (Mamiya)||.x3f (Sigma)||.mdc (Minolta, Agfa)|
Even if you only have a Canon camera, you might need more than a CR2 viewer, because you might also use the RAW format of Photoshop.
The RAW formats are much larger than the JPEG files and other image file formats, it would take more time to load. The speed would be more important would you open numerous numbers of RAW files.
It would even better the RAW image viewer can load the RAW thumbnails first to let you preview the photos before opening a specific one.
Many people refer that they hope the RAW photo viewer would be easy to use. For example, support Right/Left arrow image switching and zooming.
Besides, it should provide a fluid display with high quality and EXIF information.
As the best RAW image viewers, the editing features to crop photos without losing quality, adjust the effects of files, rotate, and flip the photos. Or even delete the files directly.
Batch process to ease the work for a large amount of RAW files. It should be an essential feature for Photographers, to rename, convert, and resize the photos for creating photo albums or uploading online.
It would be better to be freeware or open-source. Since sometimes free is not promised a high quality, the cost-effective program would be a better option.
After listing these features, you can easily find the best RAW image viewer for yourself. Or you can save your time to continue reading our introduction of 10 best RAW image viewers to view RAW photos effectively in different circumstances.
WidsMob Viewer Pro is one of the best RAW photo viewers to handle a large amount of RAW files with 5X speed.
It can handle more than 35 RAW formats with fundamental editing tools in the batch process.
You can also find the batch functions and sorting tools.
This RAW file viewer for Mac is a Retina-aware application and the RAW viewer for Windows supports 3D and touch gesture.
It should be one of the best CR2 viewers on Mac. It still needs a long way to perfect the whole program.
|Photo Files||JPEG, JPG, JPE, PNG, TIFF, TIF, BMP, GIF, ICO, PSD, JP2, JPF, JPX, J2K, J2C, TGA, ICNS, XBM, DCR|
|RAW Images||35 RAW formats including RAF, 3FR, RAW, MOS, MRW, RAF, PEF, ORF, NEF, ERF, RWL, EXR, SGI, DNG, CR2, CRW, ARW, SRF, X3F, KDC, SR2, ARI, R3D, MDC, FFF, MEF, RW2, RWZ, PEF, etc.|
Step 1. Download and install WidsMob Viewer on your Mac and launch it.
Step 2. Open a RAW images folder in the Library left panel. You can click + or - icons on the top to add or remove a folder.
Step 3. The RAW images on the folder will be displayed on the right side of the interface at high speed. You can view the RAW thumbnails or click one of the RAW images to view in full-screen mode, slideshow mode, or library mode.
Note: Learn more detailed usage, you can read a step-by-step guide of WidsMob Viewer. Or check the short video tutorial below.
You can easily use this image viewer to edit your RAW image, like resizing, sorting, adding effects, cropping, rotating, deleting and renaming, etc.
You can even do a batch process of your RAW files, like batch converting RAW files to JPEG format in minutes.
FastStone Image Viewer is a free RAW viewer with a fast, stable, user-friendly application.
It not only supports also the major features of a RAW image viewer but also supports musical slideshow with 150+ transitional effects.
However, this free RAW viewer is only compatible with the Windows operation system.
Just learn the supported RAW formats below:
|Photo Files||JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF, PCX, TGA, JPEG2, PSD, EPS, WMF, CUR, ICO|
|RAW Images||11 RAW formats including CRW, CR2, NEF, PEF, MRW, ORF, SRF, SR2, ARW, RW2, DNG, etc.|
Step 1. Download and install FastStone Image Viewer on your Windows computer and open it.
Step 2. In the main interface, you can click File > Open to open your camera RAW folder.
Step 3. You can view your RAW with Browser View, or switch to Windowed View or full-screen view by clicking the button on the right side of the control bar.
You can learn more detailed tutorial here.
IrfanView is another professional RAW viewer to view, edit, and convert RAW image files and display video and audio files.
The program supports a huge number of formats with the powerful editing tools.
And you can also access more RAW formats with more Plugins of the RAW viewer if you cannot view the RAW file.
The current version is available for Windows.
|Photo Files||ANI, CUR, AWD, B3D, CAM, JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF, PCX, TGA, JPEG2, PSD, EPS, WMF, CUR, ICO, IMG, PCD, JNG and other photo formats.|
|RAW Images||13 RAW formats including CRW, CR2, EEF, NEF, MRW, ORF, RAF, DCR, SRF, ARW, RW2, DNG, PEF, X3F, NRW, etc.|
Step 1. Download and install IrfanView. Then open the program, and enter IrfanView’s main screen.
Step 2. Click File > Open to open your RAW image or RAW files folder and preview them.
Step 3. Click View on the top menu. Here you can view RAW image on window mode or full-screen mode. You can also view multiple images with RAW thumbnails.
XnView is a free RAW viewer for personal licenses only. It is an efficient multimedia viewer, browser, and converter.
There are numerous viewing methods for RAW files, multiple editing features, and enable you to create slideshow and gallery accordingly.
Of course, you can find the batch function and the print features of the RAW viewer as well.
XnView lets you read about 500 formats, including multi-page and animated still formats. You can find most of the photo formats and RAW files supported for the RAW viewer.
If you have some unfamiliar RAW format, you can always consider XnView.
Step 1. Open the installed XnView. Then click File > Open on the top menu to open your RAW photos or folder.
Step 2. By default, XnView opens in browser mode. You can change the display type of image files by clicking View > View As on the menu option.
Note: shortcut keys work in Browser mode.
Step 3. You can open an image by either double-clicking on it from Browser mode, or by using the standard File > Open menu.
Here you can read the XnView user guide for detailed operation.
The program has no longer been supported or downloaded after January 10, 2017.
If you still have Windows Photo Gallery, you may know it can only support photo formats depend on the Windows version.
If you want to view RAW images, you may need to install a third-party WIC codec.
However, if you are using Windows 10, you may find that you can preview thumbnails of some RAW images, such as ARW, DNG, and CR2 with Windows default Photos app without using Windows Photo Gallery anymore.
You can find useful third-party codec to be compatible with Windows 10. Let’s take Nikon NEF codec as an example.
Step 1. Visit https://www.free-codecs.com/ and enter NEF codec on the top-right search box. Then download the NEF Codec.
Step 2. Install the downloaded camera codec .exe file with a setup wizard.
Step 3. Reboot your computer to make the codec work.
Tip: If you want to view RAW files on Windows 7 or Windows 8, please download the Microsoft camera codec pack manually.
ACDSee is an image organizer, viewer, and image editor program for Windows, macOS, and iOS.
Its main features are speed, lossless RAW image editing, image batch processing, and editing metadata.
ACDSee supports the most popular camera RAW files, which include Canon, Casio, Epson, FujiFilm, Nikon, Leica, Panasonic, etc.
However, ACDSee does not free.
Step 1. Setup and install ACDSee. Open the program that is set to view the Pictures Library and is in Manage Mode.
Step 2. You can switch to view RAW images among manage mode, photos mode, and view mode easily.
Step 3. If you want to edit RAW photos, you can enter Develop Mode. It is the RAW editor with an editing panel layout on the left.
RawTheapee includes a very high-quality processing engine, multi-threading, and a huge range of supported cameras and manufacturer file-types.
You can also note some special demosaicing, denoising, and enhancement tools as well as the tone-mapping feature for HDR-like photos available within the RAW viewer.
Photo Files: JPEG / TIFF / PNG
RAW Images: The RAW viewer uses RAW as a back-end to do the actual processing of RAW images. Whenever there is an update for the RAW files, you can find the updated RAW within the program.
Photo Mechanic is front-end software to upload, browse, organize, manage, tag, and export your digital photos.
This program only supports simple image edits, like crops. But you can edit the exposure, color, or sharpness of your images.
Moreover, Photo Mechanic uploads your RAW files to work on the JPEG versions.
It is great to view RAW files quickly, but you cannot edit them without opening another program.
FastRawViewer is a .raw file viewer that allows you to estimate what a converter will be able to squeeze from RAW image data and make preliminary adjustments to the RAW file.
FastRawViewer provides tools for the rating, labeling and sorting photos, and filtering of any number of RAW images.
It supports a variety of RAW, JPEG, TIFF, and PNG formats.
This FastRawViewer will enable you to evaluate exposure based on RAW data and not on the brightness of some uncontrolled render or embedded JPEG.
Raw.pics.io is an in-browser RAW files viewer and converter.
You can browse images, pictures, and photos from DSLR RAW camera format.
It allows you to convert PDF, CR2, NEF, ARW, ORF, PEF, RAF, DNG, and other files into JPEG, PNG, and other formats online.
Besides, Raw.pics.io also allows you to resize and edit your JPG files.
Step 1. Go to https://raw.pics.io/ and click the Start button on the webpage.
Step 2. Drop RAW files directly to the webpage or click the Open files from computer button to upload your RAW photos from your computer.
Step 3. You can view your RAW images directly from the webpage now. You can also edit your RAW files according to your need.
Check the chart below to get the full view of these 10 best RAW image viewer.
|Best RAW Image Viewer||RAW Formats||Speed||User Experience||Edit Function||Batch Process||Platform||Price|
|WidsMob Viewer Pro||35||Fast||Easy-to-use||Yes||Yes||macOS, Windows||$19.99|
|FastStone Image Viewer||11||Fast||Good||Yes||Yes||Windows||Free|
|Windows Photo Gallery||None (need codec pack)||Normal||Normal||Yes||Yes||Windows||Free|
|ACDSee||50||Fast||A little complicated||Yes||Yes||Windows, macOS, iOS||$29.95|
|RawTherapee||12||Normal||A little complicated||Yes||Yes||Windows, macOS||Free|
|Photo Mechanic||17||Normal||A little complicated||Poor||Yes||Windows, macOS||$139|
You can convert a RAW to a JPG file with a free online photo converter, such as Zamzar. If you have a large number of RAW images to convert, you’d better choose a professional RAW converter to convert RAW files on your Windows or Mac, like WidsMob ImageConvert.
I hope this guide showed you the best RAW image viewers and how to use them to view RAW files easily.
Just pick one of the above RAW viewers that suit you most to solve your RAW opening problem.
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