Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Raw File Viewer From Microsoft

Use of RAW image capture is preferred by many serious-minded photographers to preserve all the subtle color and detail possible from digital cameras. However, until now it has been impossible to view thumbnails and previews for RAW images in Microsoft© Windows© without use of special software.

The Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer provides thumbnails, previews, printing, and metadata display for RAW images from supported Canon and Nikon digital cameras on Windows XP. This tool, which is licensed at no cost by Microsoft, enables digital photographers to organize and work with RAW files within Windows in much the same way as with JPEG images. No more “guessing” which image is which!

This whitepaper provides an overview of the RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer, and explains how it can be used to enhance the digital photography workflow using the Microsoft Windows XP operating system.

Note: While we have taken care to ensure that this tool operates as it should, it is not part of Windows and is not supported by Microsoft. For this reason, Microsoft Technical Support is unable to answer questions about the Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer.

About RAW Images and Windows

Often likened to a ‘digital negative,’ a RAW image is the native image format for a growing number of quality digital cameras. RAW images typically contain the original camera sensor data recorded at the time of capture, along with camera settings and other information. Using special software, photographers can “process” RAW images using a personal computer and can vary the exposure, white balance, and other settings long after the image was captured. This creative flexibility and extra level of protection against mistakes are key reasons photographers choose to shoot RAW.

RAW images also preserve all of the quality capable of being rendered by the digital camera’s sensor. Capturing pictures in RAW avoids the inherent loss of color information and dynamic range that occurs when camera sensor data is processed to a compressed dynamic range format such as JPEG. For example, most current digital cameras are capable of capturing images with 12-bits of information per color channel. When processed to JPEG format, the image data is re-sampled to 8-bits per channel. As a result, some of the original information present in the image is lost, never to be recovered again. In addition, RAW images avoid any loss of fidelity due to image compression, as no “lossy” compression is used.

Today, RAW formats are not standardized across camera manufacturers. Each camera maker has its own RAW format (sometimes more than one). Additionally, the actual image data within the RAW file is specific to each camera model and sensor. As a consequence, only certain software programs can understand and process RAW images.

Some of the more common RAW image types in use today are:


File Extension

Camera Models





EOS D30, D60, 10D, Digital Rebel, various PowerShot models


EOS 20D, 1D Mark II, 1Ds Mark II, Digital Rebel XT



Nikon D-series digital SLRs and various Coolpix models



Kodak DCS camera models



Olympus E-series camera models



Fuji S-series camera models

Because of the camera-specific nature of RAW files, they are not supported natively within Windows. As a result, photographers shooting RAW have not been able to take advantage of the built-in features provided in Windows XP for viewing, organizing, and printing photos.

To download click here: http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/

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