What Is a CR2 File?

How to open, edit, and convert CR2 files

What to Know

  • A CR2 file is a Canon Raw Version 2 image file.
  • Open one with IrfanView, UFRaw, Photoshop, and other photo viewers.
  • Convert to JPG, PNG, TIFF, etc. with those programs or a converter like Zamzar.

This article explains what CR2 files are, what you need to have installed in order to open one, and how to save the file to a different image format like JPG, DNG, PNG, and others.

What Is a CR2 File?

A file with the CR2 file extension is a Canon Raw Version 2 image file created by a Canon digital camera. They are based on the TIFF file specification, so they're usually high quality, uncompressed, and large.

The 3D modeling program called Poser uses CR2 files, too. However, instead of storing photos, the Poser CR2 files are character rigging files used to hold information about human details like joints and bones, and where and how much they bend.

Person managing CR2 files
Lifewire / Miguel Co

How to Open a CR2 File

Images in this format can be opened with free programs like IrfanView and UFRaw. Some versions of Windows will let you view CR2 files without additional apps (for example, in a folder view) but only if the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack or Canon RAW Codec Software is installed.

Although certainly not free, Adobe Photoshop is another popular program used to work with CR2 files. It can adjust the temperature, tint, exposure, contrast, whites, shadows, and more. MAGIX Xara Photo & Graphic Designer may also be able to open and edit the file.

If you're dealing with a Poser character rigging file, Bondware's Poser software should be used to open it. Other similar applications work, too, like DAZ 3D's DAZ Studio and Autodesk's 3ds Max.

How to Convert a CR2 File

The Adobe DNG Converter is a free CR2 to DNG converter tool from Adobe. It supports not only this format but lots of other raw image file formats that were likely created on other types of digital cameras.

To convert it to a different image format, start with one of the viewers and see what sort of export or save options you have. Common formats like JPG, TIFF, PNG, and GIF are some examples.

Considering what they are and where they come from, it's no surprise that CR2 files can be large, so using an online converter probably isn't the best solution because you have to upload each file you want to convert. However, if you do go this route, try Zamzar.

A better bet is a free software-based file converter. Most are easy to use and work on all operating systems. Depending on the one you choose, you'll find support for converting CR2 to JPG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, TGA, BMP, and other formats, including PDF.

You may be able to convert a Poser character rigging file using the Poser program. Other programs that can import the file can probably export it to a different format.

Still Can't Open It?

If your file doesn't open at this point, there's a good chance that you're misreading the file extension. Some unrelated file formats use similar file extensions, but that doesn't necessarily mean their respective file openers work with the other format.

For example, RC2 files look like they could be related to CR2 files, but they might instead be in the Visual Studio Resources format that's used by Visual Studio.

CRX is similar, but instead of being related to an image program, it's used as the file extension for Chrome browser extensions.

If your file doesn't actually use the CR2 file extension, research the letters and/or numbers you see after the filename to learn more about the format it's in and which program you need to open it.

  • What is a CR2 file vs. JPEG?

    CR2 files are raw image files that store a considerable amount of data, which is ideal for bringing in elements such as highlights and shadows without the image appearing edited. JPEGs are much smaller images that are better for storing and delivering images.

  • What's the difference between a CR2 file and a TIFF file?

    TIFF files and CR2 files are both uncompressed, meaning they contain a lot of data and result in a more detailed picture. However, a CR2 file, unlike a TIFF, must be processed using compatible software, giving you more control over elements such as sharpness, contrast, and saturation.

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