Microsoft brings RAW support to Windows Explorer, Live Photo Gallery

July 28th, 2011 | by Raymond Lau

Microsoft has released a new Camera Codec Pack that enables Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines to view and edit a wider range of image formats, including the RAW format popular with serious photographers. The Codec Pack is available in both 32- and 64-bit systems, and will support RAW files from more than 120 different DSLR cameras.

With this update, users will be able to view raw images in Explorer and edit them in Windows Live Photo Gallery. However, there are quite a few variations within the format itself – usually a proprietary format by the camera maker – and Microsoft is working to add support for RAW images from more cameras.

The RAW format is popular among photographers because it reproduces each and every original pixel captured without any form of compression. In comparison, the JPEG is a very lossy format that typically compresses the image up to ten times. RAW files thus allow the photographer to have greater control over the photograph’s output.

One of the chief reasons photographers usually prefer Mac systems to Windows is because of the former’s native support for the RAW format. Apple has been offering a regularly updated RAW codec pack as part of OS X since 2005. No such support was available on the Windows front, except from third-party vendors, until now.

This new codec pack will surely give users an easier time managing and organising raw image files on their PC.

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