Microsoft announces support for raw files from 120 DSLR cameras in Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Explorer. Makes them as easy to use as JPEGs.
When it comes to taking professionally looking photos, most advanced photographers with large DSLR cameras opt to save their images as raw, uncompressed – and hence very large – files. These files contain every piece of information the camera sensor recorded, while most consumer cameras today save images as compressed JPEG files and perform at least some kind of basic “enhancements” on those files. Users who want access to the raw data can sometimes enable this function in their point-and-shoot cameras, but virtually all DSLRs allow access to the raw data. Sadly, though, not every mainstream image editor can use these files and as DSLRs slowly become more mainstream, that’s becoming an issue. While Apple iPhoto is able to import raw files from some cameras, Microsoft’s iPhoto counterpart Photo Gallery did not have this ability.
Today, however, Microsoft announced the releases of a codec pack for Windows 7 and Vista that brings support for more than 120 cameras to Photo Gallery and Windows Explorer (for previews). There are, of course, plenty of camera manufacturers who offer their own codecs and raw editors for Windows systems, but until now, you couldn’t just take these images and use them like a JPEG file in the Windows Explorer and Photo Gallery.
As for editing raw images, Photo Gallery will, according to Microsoft, always preserve the original image and save edits as JPEGs or in the newer JPEG-XR format (aka HD Photo). Microsoft stresses that it never makes any changes to the raw file.
You can check if your camera is supported by this codec pack and download both 32bit and 64bit Windows versions of the pack here.