08 May 2020

Thumbnails for Canon RAW files on Windows 10

As a photographer working with digital cameras, it’s always a good idea to shoot in Raw format to preserve the most details for future editing. I prefer to shoot Raw-only, skipping the in-camera jpeg to save space and make managing files easier. That does come with a downside though because most of Canon’s RAW files cannot be read natively by Windows, so there are no previews or thumbnails in file explorer. Combined with their consecutive folder naming, it can be difficult to keep track of large collections of photos once you copy them to a PC, or to double-check if everything was backed up from a memory card before wiping it. The best bet is to organize everything in dedicated photo management software like Lightroom.

Recently, I came across a reddit post mentioning a Microsoft Store app to add native viewing support for images captured in raw file formats: ‘RAW Image Extension’. I installed it right away, but at first it seemed the codecs added by the extension were not very recent. Windows Explorer started displaying thumbnails for Raw files from my older Canon EOS cameras, but not from the new EOS RP, which I tested several times last year and purchased this January. In the past days though, the extension received an update with a fresh set of codecs, because as of today the newer CR3 format from Canon is supported as well. According to the reddit post, you need at least version 1.0.30761.0 of the app for the latest codecs, but I cannot verify this because I have no idea where to find version numbers for Windows Store apps. The extension is also limited to recent Windows 10 versions, beginning with 1903, the May 2019 Update.

Canon CR3 file thumbnails on Windows 10

As you can see in the screenshot, the operating system can now display a thumbnail for the raw file, along with other relevant metadata like image dimension, camera model, capture time and parameters like ISO, exposure time and aperture. This makes it much easier to browse a folder at a glance, without always relying on Lightroom. If you are maintaining a Lightroom catalog for your photo collection, it’s generally a good idea to rename files and folders inside Lightroom, to prevent original files from becoming disconnected from their catalog version. But for simple browsing, and for importing Raw files from memory cards, this app should prove very handy.

Post a Comment