CR2 File: How to Open and Convert

cr2 file logo CR2 file format contains a picture taken on Canon. It is a RAW format, so the picture information is only slightly processed and all the important details are saved. To open and edit this format, you need a specific program or a plug-in. Adobe Photoshop will perfectly handle this task if you install certain extensions. Let's talk about the CR2 file so that you can use it to the full extent.
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What Is a CR2 File?

What is a CR2 file? It is a standard file extension for all pictures you take with a Canon camera. The format’s full name is Canon Raw 2. Many photographers are actively using CR2 files since they save all the digital info from the original shot. This format is created on the basis of the TIFF file, which is known for delivering qualitative pictures as well.

CR2 file is a raster one, meaning that the info about a picture is saved in the form of the pixel grid. One pixel stands for a separate color. Since .cr2 is a RAW file format, it doesn’t compress any info from a picture and leaves the widest possible space for picture post-production. The information is stored so the actual picture is presented as a gray-scale encoded color filter array. To get an RGB image, the array must be deconvoluted. Moreover, CR2 files include metadata about a picture, such as a lens and a camera used, WB settings, etc.

The size of an unprocessed CR2 file is rather large. The file will consume plenty of system resources when you are editing it. That’s why, if you take shots for your Instagram profile or for a family album, which doesn’t require printing pictures in a very big size, the .cr2 file extension won’t be suitable for you. In this case, saving shots in JPEG will be the most optimal option.

But if you are a professional shooter, who takes pictures for commercial purposes, the CR2 file format will be an ideal variant. This format will come in handy in cases when the pictures contain a lot of white and light details. It allows adjusting the picture up to five stops of light and fixing the white balance.

  • High resolution
  • Almost all the details are preserved
  • Possibility to adjust pictures up to five stops of light
  • Perfectly suitable for large pictures, e.g. billboards
  • One of the biggest formats for managing
  • To read .cr2 files, you need a specific program or a plug-in depending on the Canon camera model
  • Uploading .cr2 files to online picture editors isn’t simple

How to Open a CR2 File?

Some of the recently released versions of well-known OS automatically support the majority of RAW picture types. So if you are wondering how to open CR2 files in Windows 10, now you can view them straight in the system’s Photos app. Besides, you can enable the visibility of thumbnails in the Files Explorer after installing several plug-ins. Opening CR2 file is now also possible on iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. You can edit pictures in Preview and Photos apps, which come integrated into the OS. In case you are searching for a professional CR2 file editor or viewer, pay attention to the following programs.

Professional Software to Open a CR2 File

Adobe Photoshop. This most popular picture post-processing software is probably the best CR2 file viewer and editor. To work with CR2 files at a professional level, you will need to adjust some settings and install several plug-ins. Fortunately, all the adjustments are simple and won’t require a lot of your time.

AfterShot Pro. If you are wondering how to edit CR2 files quickly and efficiently, try this picture editor from Corel. It supports many other RAW file formats and is compatible with the latest Windows, Mac (from 10.9) and 64-bit Linux versions.

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer. Developed by MAGIX, this affordable picture editor is capable of importing CR2 files and opening RAW image extension on Windows 7, 8, 10. One of its advantages is the ability to function well on not-so-robust computers.

Free Software to Open a CR2 File

Darktable. This picture post-production software is often called the best free Lightroom alternative. It provides users with a vast array of tools for editing .cr2 files and is compatible with all well-known operating systems.

IrfanView. This free Windows-based program is an excellent CR2 image viewer. It supports other formats as well. Even though the program doesn’t allow you to save in CR2 format, converting a file to a different extension is still possible.

UFRaw. Unidentified Flying Raw is a great tool shared for free and meant for using separately or as a plug-in for GIMP. It offers standard picture editing functions and supports the majority of popular Canon cameras. You may install the tool on many Linux distributions. Or, if you have macOS, install a special package.

Open a CR2 File Online

Google Photos. This web-based picture viewer and organizer also support opening CR2 file. If you don’t want to download any programs to the computer, just use the Google Photos website to convert a large file to a compressed one in JPEG, PNG, etc., format.

Pixlr Editor. This popular picture post-processing application is another effective way of how to open CR2 files. It supports numerous file formats and boasts a vast range of tools for picture correction. Basically, it is a simpler and quicker alternative to Photoshop.

How to Convert CR2?

Aside from opening CR2 file, you may need to convert it to a different picture format like PNG or JPEG sooner or later. That’s why I have made up a small list of efficient converters for the task.

Zamzar. With this wonderful online tool, it is possible to convert CR2 files into JPEG, BMP, PNG, etc. Also, this CR2 file converter offers paid features to speed up the process of working with files of larger sizes.

Convertio. It is probably the best CR2 to JPG converter due to an intuitive interface. This online tool offers support for numerous file formats and the ability to effectively manipulate videos and pictures.

Movavi Video Converter. This decent program has capabilities for converting videos, pictures and subtitles. You can convert a .cr2 file to PNG, JPG, BMP, GIF and TIFF.

XnConvert. This program can successfully convert a CR2 file to many widespread extensions and can perform such standard picture post-production tasks as cropping, color adjustment and resizing.

CR2 File: FAQ

  • Is it possible to open CR2 in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom?

The majority of professional picture/video editing software, as well as Adobe programs, is capable of opening CR2 file. But keep in mind that you have to fiddle with the settings first and then start working.

  • How to reduce the size of CR2 files and don’t lose their quality?

CR2 files are already compressed to approximately 50 or 60%. The entropy theory states that lossless compression may be nearly 1.25%. Therefore, the size of CR2 files, as the majority of other RAW files, can be reduced only in case you get rid of some pixels or try to perform lossy compression.

  • Do CR2 file analogs exist?

Not only Canon provides its own RAW picture extension. Other renowned camera brands have created their own formats too, for instance, Sony – ARW, Panasonic – RW2, Nikon – NEF, Fujifilm – RAF. All of these formats may be called CR2 file analogs.

Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more

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