New codec pack brings RAW support to Explorer, Live Photo Gallery

New codec pack brings RAW support to Explorer, Live Photo GalleryMicrosoft has released a codec pack providing native RAW support to both Windows Explorer and Windows Live Photo Gallery. With the pack installed, Explorer will show thumbnails for the RAW files produced by most popular digital cameras, and Windows Live Photo Gallery will offer its full range of editing and metadata manipulation features. The pack is free, and available for both 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7.

RAW image formats are supported by pretty much all digital SLRs and many digital point-and-shoot cameras to provide the best possible image quality. RAW files capture the unprocessed digitized output of the camera's sensor, without any post-processing such as white balance correction, and without the lossy compression that's found in JPEG images. The close relationship to the actual camera sensors means that the formats are quite varied, and typically each camera vendor has its own proprietary, undocumented format.

As a Canon-shooter, the lack of built-in support for the CR2 files that my camera spits out has long annoyed me. Canon has a codec that enables Explorer to show thumbnails from RAW images, but in spite of offering periodic updates for the software, Canon has never bothered to provide 64-bit support, and as a 64-bit Windows 7 user, that leaves me high and dry. FastPictureViewer has a codec pack that does the job, but it also costs fifteen bucks, and $15 for each machine that I look at pictures on just feels a bit much to me—especially if I'm just going through a memory card on another Windows machine (Apple has had a regularly updated RAW codec pack as a Mac OS X feature for a long time now).

So while this is perhaps bad news for FastPictureViewer, it's great news for me.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Microsoft

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