CR2 Files: The Ultimate Guide to Canon Raw Image Files

If you're a photographer or graphic designer, you've probably encountered a CR2 file format before. But this guide isn't for those people only. As photos become more integrated into our day-to-day personal and work life, it won't take long before bumping into CR2 file type if you haven't already. Therefore, we shall talk about what it is and how to use this popular file format in the photography world.

What is a CR2 file?

Canon Inc. has established itself as one of the leading digital camera manufacturers globally. A CR2 file is a raw photo file format generated by Canon's digital camera. They have the extension .cr2. In full, CR2 stands for Canon Raw 2 (2nd edition). The raw here means that it contains detailed information about a photograph, resulting in large files and high-quality (high resolution) photos. While advantageous, these two aspects bring another set of challenges when storing, opening, editing, or sharing them, which takes us to our next topic.

How to use CR2 files

How to open CR2 files

After receiving or transferring a photograph from a Canon camera to your computer, the first intent you'd have is to know how to open CR2 files. Whether using Windows or Mac, you don't necessarily need a third-party program to open a CR2 file. On Windows 10, double-click the CR2 image to open it with the default "Photos" application that comes with Windows. On Mac, it is more of the same with the Mac Photos app or Preview.

However, if you want advanced functionalities like editing, you need superior editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Corel PHOTO-PAINT.

How to convert a CR2 file

If you don't want to edit, you may convert the CR2 file to JPG or any other photo format. The reasons to convert can range from saving disk space, faster sharing or editing purposes if the program doesn't support the file format. While there are many online and offline solutions to solve this problem, it all boils down to the need. If you have just a few files and a good internet connection, you can opt for free online options like Convertio, CR2 Converter, or iloveimg.

If you're using macOS, the inbuilt Preview or Photos application can also help in converting by exporting the images as JPG. Windows 10 users can "Save As" images as JPG or any other available format to convert the raw files.

Paid options include Adobe Lightroom and other online subscriptions that give you more control over the image size and quality, while some support batch conversion.

Editing a CR2 file

Whatever CR2 file converter you choose, you'll lose the importance of letting the Canon camera save files as raw in the first place. This is because you don't have much input to control the final image quality and details during the compression or conversion process. Editing software lets you process the raw image into an edited JPG file without losing much quality and originality.

Photoshop is known by many to support CR2 file editing. But if you can't afford its price or want to test other solutions, you have pretty options. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite comes with Corel PHOTO-PAINT, which offers progressive image editing capabilities for all raw files. You can download your trial copy to experience world-class functionalities.

Final thoughts

As a photographer or campaign lead, saving Canon photos as raw CR2 files is vital to maintaining the quality and original intent of the photograph. But knowing how to convert and edit them into more familiar formats like JPG while keeping as many crucial details as possible is critical for your success and progress.

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