ARW Files: The Ultimate Guide to ARW Files

ARW or ARW+ is the file extension for raw image files. A raw file is a minimally processed image file that contains exact data as recorded by the sensor. Shooting in raw mode allows photographers to retain the maximum amount of image information.

The ARW file extension is the format commonly used by cameras for their RAW image files. You may encounter ARW files while working on some other projects, and if you need to open them, you can use any of several programs designed to open these types of files. If you are new to RAW image files, then this ultimate guide to ARW files will provide all the information you need.

What's an ARW file?

It's important that you're aware of ARW files because you may encounter them at some point. They're raw camera files created by some DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, and they contain the data that the camera recorded when taking photos. ARW files contain all of the data your camera recorded when taking photos, and they can include extra information, like GPS information, that the camera didn't record when shooting.

ARW files (.arw) are raw photos, or digital negatives, that are created by most camera models. They're called raw files because they contain unprocessed image data. That means they don't take advantage of any of the picture-taking features the camera has.

An ARW file can contain multiple photos and might be 1 or 2 GB in size. A normal JPEG (.jpg) file, meanwhile, can be as small as 100 KB.

ARW files have file extensions starting with ". . ." (for example, ". . . 1"), followed by a number representing the sequence number of the photo. The numbering starts from 1 at all times, with each new photo numbered 1 higher than the last.

How to open ARW files

Attempting to open an ARW file in less well-known image editing programs such as Paint will produce an error message about the file type not being supported. Thus, it would be best if you had reliable modern photo editing software like PHOTO-PAINT.  Using CorelDRAW's PHOTO-PAINT, you will be able to open, convert and edit your ARW files from your camera equipment.

Before you can start working with your ARW files, they will need to be opened. Using PHOTO-PAINT or another editing software, the process is simple. The process of opening the files with photo editing software is as simple as navigating to the directory and opening the file, and then you will be able to convert the files to other formats, such as JPG or BMP, to be able to work with them.

ARW files vs. RAW files: What's the difference?

Anyone using a digital camera has probably seen files in the ARW format. They have become the de facto way of storing photos, largely because of two major advantages.

First, ARW files are small. It's about 50% smaller than a RAW file, and that's important because many people store the photos they shoot on a memory card. A memory card is limited to the amount of storage space that is available for files, and ARW files take up less space.

Second, ARW files can be edited in-camera. That means you don't have to download them to a computer before you can do anything about editing them. When you shoot in raw, the photos must be downloaded to your computer before you can do anything with the file.

In order to provide a complete rundown on ARW files, however, it's useful to know about their major competitors: RAW files.

A RAW file is a file format that's still relatively new to digital photography. The acronym stands for "raw image," and it's essentially a recording of the light that's hitting your sensor.

Before digital cameras existed, photographers had to convert raw files into something they could view. With a digital camera, however, you can shoot raw and not have to worry about the post-production process.

While ARW files are smaller, raw files offer more flexibility. They can include a lot more information, including things like white balance, highlights and shadows, gamma, and more.

RAW files also allow photographers to adjust the exposure, white balance, contrast, highlights and shadows, gamma, and more. The other advantage is that you can edit them on a computer, which you can't do with an ARW file.


ARW files are immensely popular because they are able to store the intact original lens corrections, making it easier to use vintage lenses on newer cameras. It is truly amazing that this file format not only holds transparency data but also lens correction data for you. However, you should be aware that the ARW files come in RAW files that means you have to have software that can convert them into working photographs.

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