Camera raw support in Windows Vista and later

Most of my digital photography workflow takes place on a Mac, where I use Adobe Camera Raw and Bridge/Photoshop CS3 to handle camera raw images.  With my recent purchase of a netbook (which is small enough and light enough to take out with me on a shoot – and less expensive than a dedicated storage device like an Epson P-7000), it would be useful to view the images in Windows but the Microsoft Raw Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP has not been updated since 2005 and is not compatible with Windows Vista or later.

I did wonder if the technology had been absorbed into Windows Explorer and it seems it has… I found a forum post that suggests using Windows Photo Gallery and then installing some codecs (this post has more information on raw support in Windows Vista) but it turns out that the camera raw codecs are also available for direct download (i.e. with no need for Windows Photo Gallery) and after installation the raw file contents are available in thumbnails, previews and applications.

Unfortunately the major manufacturers (Canon and Nikon) do not produce codecs for 64-bit Windows (i.e. for people running high-end workstations with lots of memory for editing large images…) but the 32-bit codecs are fine for my little netbook with 2.5GB of RAM and there is 64-bit support for Adobe digital negatives (.DNG).

During installation, the Canon codecs complained that the screen resolution was not high enough on the netbook (1024×576) and refused to install but that was easily overcome by connecting to an external monitor with a higher resolution (no such issue with the Nikon codecs).

Incidentally, whilst I was researching this blog post I found that Microsoft also has an interesting program called Pro Photo Tools, which includes the ability to geotag photos, edit metadata, convert between raw formats, TIFF, JPEG and HD Photo; and work with Sidecar (.XMP) files (for interoperability with Adobe products – i.e. Bridge).  It too relies on the installation of the relevant raw codecs but should fit in quite nicely for some basic metadata tagging on the netbook whilst still in the field before transferring the images to the MacBook for any final tweaks when I get home.
Nikon raw image viewed in Microsoft Pro Photo Tools

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