Saturday, July 1, 2006

Viewing RAW images in the Windows Explorer


By David Gewirtz

Most Windows users are familiar with the Windows XP Explorer, the file navigator that forms the basis of the Windows desktop interface. If you're a photographer who likes to take pictures in the RAW, you also know that the Windows Explorer thumbnail view can't render RAW images. When you select Thumbnail view, what you get is a window similar to that in Figure A.


RAW files just don't preview as thumbnails. (click for larger image)

Fortunately, there's a new little "PowerToy" that will update your Windows Explorer and make those thumbnails visible. Best of all, it's provided for free by Microsoft to any legitimate Windows XP user. Called Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP, the viewer is a simple download.

Once you download the program (see the Product Availabiliy and Resources section at the end of this article for the URL), you can see RAW thumbnails in your Explorer windows, as shown in Figure B.


Now you can see those RAW thumbnails. (click for larger image)

As you can tell, Figure B also shows other data files that travel with the RAW images. Those aren't shown as thumbnails, but you wouldn't expect them to be. The install comes with a program that shows up when you double-click one of the thumbnails, as shown in Figure C.


Now you can see and tinker with the RAW file. (click for larger image)

The neat feature for this little program is the Save As icon. Tap it and you can instantly convert your RAW image into either JPEG or TIFF.

The program supports the following image types:

  • Canon EOS RAW images (.crw, .cr2, .tif)
  • Nikon Electronic Format images (.nef)
  • Bitmap images (.bmp)
  • JPEG images (.jpg, .jpe, .jpeg)
  • Windows Metafile images (.wmf)
  • Tagged Image File Format images (.tif, .tiff)
  • Graphics Interchange Format images (.gif)
  • Portable Network Graphics images (.png)

It also supports the following camera models:

  • Canon EOS 1Ds
  • Canon EOS 1D Mark II
  • Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II
  • Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn
  • Canon EOS 5D
  • Canon EOS D30
  • Canon EOS D60
  • Canon EOS 10D
  • Canon EOS 20D
  • Canon EOS Digital Rebel (300D)
  • Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT
  • Canon Powershot G2
  • Canon Powershot G3
  • Canon Powershot G5
  • Canon Powershot G6
  • Canon Powershot Pro1
  • Canon Powershot s30
  • Canon Powershot s50
  • Canon Powershot s70
  • Nikon D1
  • Nikon D1x
  • Nikon D2H
  • Nikon D2x
  • Nikon D2Hs
  • Nikon D50
  • Nikon D70s
  • Nikon D200
  • Nikon D70
  • Nikon D100
  • Nikon D200
  • Nikon Coolpix 8800
  • Nikon Coolpix 5700

So, if you like to take pictures in the RAW, go ahead and grab this free download. It's simple, works well, and, best of all, it's free. We give it four thumbs-up out of five.