What Is a CR2 File?

by John Mitchell

The CR2 file extension is a raw camera image file that was created by a Canon digital camera. It stores the image in an uncompressed format in the same manner that was it was captured on the digital camera. This means that the CR2 file may be a larger size when compared to other image files in different formats.

Raster Image Type

CR2 images are raster image types, which means the image contains pixels set up in a grid pattern. A single pixel represents one individual color. Raster images may be composed of hundreds, thousands or millions of pixels, depending on the size of the image grid. BMP, TIFF, GIF, JPEG and PNG are the most common raster image file types.

Uncompressed Format

Some raster image formats compress the data in the grid. However, the CR2 image format does not compress the data, leaving it in its original captured image, which is what many professional photographers prefer to work with. The reason that raw image files are preferred is because a photographer can extract the maximum amount of data from the image in an editing program, manipulating it to her liking.


The computer programs that open the CR2 file extension include Canon Digital Photo Professional on Mac and Windows, Apple Aperture, Apple iPhoto, Adobe Photoshop CS5 on Mac and Windows and Google Picasa on all major operating systems. Additionally, on Windows, the extension can be opened with ACDSee Photo Manager 12, ACD Systems Canvas 12, InfranView and MAGIX Xara Photo and Graphic Designer 6.

Other File Type

There is another file type that goes by the CR2 extension, but it is not a format that was created on a Canon camera. Developer Smith Micro also names some of their 3D image files with the CR2 extension. This particular extension works with the Poser software, which is a modeling program to graph life-like 3D images of humans. Greenbriar Studio Custom 3D tools on the Mac and Autodesk 3DS Max 2012 and DAZ Productions Morph Designer on Windows are capable of opening, displaying and editing the Smith Micro CR2 extension.


About the Author

John Mitchell is an expert in all things technology, including social media and smart phones. He is a news ninja for Qwiki, bringing the latest news on the interactive platform. Mitchell graduated from the University of Sedona with a master's degree in pastoral counseling psychology and authored the book, "No More Taxes."

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