If you’re a photographer or interested in digital photography, you may have heard of CR2 files. These files are RAW images captured by Canon digital cameras, and they are known for their exceptional quality and large size. But what exactly are CR2 files, and how do they differ from other file formats?

To start with, CR2 stands for Canon Raw Version 2. When you shoot a photo in RAW format, the camera captures all the data from the image sensor without any processing, giving you complete control over the final image. This means that CR2 files are similar to TIFF image files, in that they are uncompressed and retain all the information from the original image.

It’s important to note that CR2 files should not be confused with another kind of CR2 file used in 3D modeling called Poser. Poser CR2 files store data about joints and bones, and how they move, and are not related to photography.

Now that you know a little more about CR2 files, let’s dive deeper into what they are and how to work with them.

Key Takeaways

  • CR2 files are RAW images captured by Canon digital cameras and known for their exceptional quality and large size.
  • CR2 files can be opened using free software like IrfanView and UFRaw or professional applications like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom with the Camera RAW update installed.
  • CR2 files store a lot more data in the picture than a typical JPEG, which allows for a lot more post-processing.
  • To convert CR2 files to JPEG, you can use Adobe’s free DNG Converter or Canon’s Digital Photo Professional.
  • Batch exporting CR2 files as JPEG is possible with editing software like DPP or Lightroom.
  • Online tools for converting CR2 files to JPEG can be used for a handful of files but may be impractical for larger quantities.
  • Simply converting the CR2 file without editing it will result in a JPEG that looks exactly like the preview, and editing is necessary to make changes to the photo.

How To Open A CR2 File

CR2 files can be opened using IrfanView and UFRaw, both of which are free.

Some Windows versions are able to preview CR2 files in the folders themselves, but you’ll need to have the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack or Canon RAW Codec Software installed.

For a more professional application and a wider variety of options, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom are ideal. To be able to open CR2 files in Adobe software, you’ll need to have the Camera RAW update installed, which you can find here.

CR2 file vs JPEG

CR2 files are RAW images. As the name suggests, RAW images store a lot more data in the picture than a typical JPEG your camera would capture.

While JPEG files capture a single exposure, RAW files actually hold the entire range of exposures in the file itself, which allows for a lot more post-processing.

If you did not get the exposure right in the shot, or you want to bring out some highlights and shadows, you can do so with a RAW file and the end result will seem like it was taken directly from the camera, not edited.

However, since there is so much data in CR2 files, the size can get quite big, and when you deliver or store photos, you’ll want to use JPEG. As such, it may take a long time to edit and export hundreds of CR2 files into JPEG.

That’s why most cameras that shoot RAW images actually shoot RAW and JPEG at the same time, so you have JPEGs ready for shots you are happy with, and RAW CR2 files available for anything you want to edit.

Converting CR2 files to JPEG

To convert CR2 files to JPEG, your best bet is to use Adobe’s free DNG Converter. DNG files are still RAW files but they’re more universal and you can easily open them in a lot more programs.


You can also use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, which comes bundled with most Canon EOS dSLR cameras. DPP is a very powerful image organization and editing suite much like Lightroom, but optimized for use for Canon cameras.

Once you’re done with editing your CR2 files in DPP(adjusting exposure, HDR, RGB/Tone Curves, Noise, to name a few), you can batch export them as JPEG files for easy sharing.

With Photoshop or Lightroom, you can export CR2 files as JPG, PNG, GIF, and other common image formats.

There are also online tools like this one but since CR2 files are so large, it may be impractical to upload and convert so many files. Online tools are OK for converting a handful of files, but you’ll run into trouble once your files get into the hundreds.

Please note that when you simply convert the CR2 file without editing it, the JPEG saved will look exactly like the preview. If you want to edit the photo in any way, you must edit and export individually.


In conclusion, understanding CR2 files is crucial for any photographer or digital photography enthusiast. With their exceptional quality and uncompressed data, these RAW files allow for complete control over the final image. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just starting out, knowing how to work with CR2 files can take your photography to the next level.

So, the next time you capture an image in RAW format, remember the power of CR2 files and the endless possibilities they offer. Keep exploring and experimenting with this powerful file format to unleash your creativity and capture stunning images.