RAW File: The Ultimate Guide to RAW Files

Great photos speak volumes. At their refined state, they stand tall, depicting perfection and pure art. Likewise, you will agree with us that when viewing such photos, the thought that they previously existed in a RAW form never crosses your mind. RAW files are unaltered and contain important data from the sensor lenses.

This article will give you all the insight you need to know about what RAW files are, how they work, and how to open them, among other things.

With that said, let's get straight into it.

What is a RAW file?

A RAW file is an uncompressed file format of images captured by digital cameras, motion sensors, or scanners. Generally, RAW files are large in size, unaltered, and contain all the data from the camera's lenses and sensors.

In their RAW form, the images can neither be printed nor edited. Once the images are captured, all the information remains intact until they are converted into a positive file, after which editors can edit them according to their tastes and preferences.

Currently, RAW files exist in two main varieties: standardized RAW and proprietary RAW. From these two main varieties emanate the different RAW image file formats. Some of them include:

  • .braw, .crw, .cr2,
  • .cr3,
  • .cap,
  • .ari, .arw,
  • .bay,
  • .3fr,
  • .data, .dcs, .dcr, .dng,
  • .drf,
  • .eip, .erf,
  • .mdc, .mef, .mos, .mrw,
  • .gpr,
  • .iiq,
  • .pef, .ptx, .pxn,
  • .k25, .kdc,
  • .fff,
  • .nef, .nrw,
  • .obm, .orf,
  • .tif,
  • .x3f
  • .r3d, .raf, .raw, .rwl, .rw2, .rwz,
  • .sr2, .srf, .srw,

Are RAW files dangerous?

As afore mentioned, there are various RAW image file formats. With all these formats, providing a detailed description of the different RAW file images can be pretty difficult, especially since various manufactures use different formats to manufacture their cameras.

With that said, many photographers are worried that they might be unable to access their RAW files someday. However, that is not entirely true. Technology keeps evolving, and with high-quality open source software, decoding RAW file images for further manipulation will never be a problem.

In that case, we are safe to conclude that RAW files are not dangerous. Why? Technology never lags behind, and no matter how encrypted your raw image file is, there will always be a way through which you can decrypt it for accessibility.

Speaking of which, you may ask, “how do I open a RAW file?" To answer your question, read on.

How to open a RAW file

Opening a RAW file varies from one computer to another, depending on the operating system. However, it is as simple as ABC! All you need to do is access the folder in which the photo is and open it with a RAW file viewer of your choice. That's pretty much it!

In most cases, RAW file viewer software will allow you to convert your RAW pictures into JPEG format. However, you can also open your photos and export them in other different formats depending on your preference.


Photography as an industry has excellent potential. As a photographer, you are free to use any type of camera, knowing that whatever format your images will be saved in, you will eventually open them and convert them to your format of choice for further manipulation. All thanks to RAW file viewer software. For this and more, check out our product page for other photography products and insights that you will love.

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