I am a guy who mostly shoot JPEGs even though I know the benefits of shooting RAWs. Its because I'm too lazy to process the RAW files. I am newish in Photography, I shoot a lot of pics whenever I'm outside but the number of keepers are low. So after shooting maybe 500 pics I luckily pick 1/2 from them. This is my main reason for shooting JPEGs. I just keep pressing the Right/Left arrow button in Pacasa until I see a pic which I can keep. RAW files takes longer to load and also lacks quick review because the viewer application doesn't support Right/Left arrow. So, I need suggestion on a better RAW viewing software, which:

  • Loads RAW files quick.
  • Support Right/Left arrow image switching and zooming.
  • I can delete the file if I'm not happy with it.
  • Supports Canon RAW files (I'm using 550D)
  • Even if it doesn't have RAW processing capability, its okay, I can use DPP for processing, I just need it to preview RAW files.
  • Is free to use/Open source.

Thanks in advance. I've tried two viewers so far, one that came with my camera CD and IrfanView. So, Please do not suggest anyone from these two.

EDIT: I'm using Windows Vista atm, but might switch to Windows 7 later this month.

  • possible duplicate of Free RAW editors/converters on Windows – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 8 '11 at 3:52
  • 2
    Explaining why you don't like Irfanview would help us in suggesting other viewers. – Conor Boyd Feb 8 '11 at 3:56
  • 1
    what operating system are you on? – greg Feb 8 '11 at 5:25
  • @greg: I'm using Windows Vista atm, but might switch to Windows 7 later this month. – fahad.hasan Feb 8 '11 at 7:12
  • 1
    @Pearsonartphoto for some people viewing images can be quite a different process to viewing/editing them. I use different software for each. – thomasrutter Feb 8 '11 at 13:29

Personally, I really like FastStone Image Viewer (and other products). They are free and you can get them at http://www.faststone.org

I have used this product to view my RAW files quickly, and based on the ones I like, batch-process them into jpegs to send and/or upload for others.

Here is their blurb on the image viewer:

FastStone Image Viewer is a fast, stable, user-friendly image browser, converter and editor. It has a nice array of features that include image viewing, management, comparison, red-eye removal, emailing, resizing, cropping, retouching and color adjustments. Its innovative but intuitive full-screen mode provides quick access to EXIF information, thumbnail browser and major functionalities via hidden toolbars that pop up when your mouse touches the four edges of the screen. Other features include a high quality magnifier and a musical slideshow with 150+ transitional effects, as well as lossless JPEG transitions, drop shadow effects, image annotation, scanner support, histogram and much more. It supports all major graphic formats (BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, animated GIF, PNG, PCX, PSD, EPS, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA) and popular digital camera RAW formats (CRW, CR2, NEF, PEF, RAF, MRW, ORF, SRF, ARW, SR2, RW2 and DNG).

  • Just downloaded and installed it, works excellent! and its free too! Thanks a lot, that should do it for me :D – fahad.hasan Feb 10 '11 at 7:42

I actually use Picasa to pull files from the card and my initial look through, then switch to DPP or Gimp to do my actual edits.

It's not a perfect program, especially since it likes to auto-correct for the thumbnails, but you can get a decent idea which shots that you want to take more time with.

Eventually I'm planning to switch to Lightroom or Aperture, but I haven't been able to justify the price yet, so this is my free solution (which works pretty well).

  • For some reason, Picasa displays me half of the RAW image or sometimes full image in a weird blue tone. I've got sick of it. Though its a very good viewer for every image files other than RAW. – fahad.hasan Feb 9 '11 at 4:23

If your on windows you can use arcsoft's raw thumbnail viewer. It enables you to view many popular raw formats in windows explorer so you can just flip through them there without having to open up a 3rd party app.

  • This sounds very interesting, let me try installing it and I'll get back to you later. Thanks. – fahad.hasan Feb 9 '11 at 4:24
  • 1
    Its not working in my office laptop. I guess its not a free app to use :( After the installation completes, it takes me to their website and ask for a serial-key. I skipped the part. The windows explorer thumbnail still showing Picasa icon. – fahad.hasan Feb 9 '11 at 4:49

Canon makes available a raw codec that can be plugged into the Explorer functions of Windows Vista and above. This lets you use the standard Windows image viewer with the RAW files. Canon, as far as I know, makes this available, but digging for it may be a pain and I'm not sure about 64 bit Windows support.

Another option is to pay a little, as in $15, and look at Fast Picture Viewer which doesn't meet your free criteria, but at $15 is pretty darn close.

  • 2
    The Canon codec is at: software.canon-europe.com/software/0039964.asp?model= (currently v1.8). There is still no x64 support from Canon, but Ardfry offer a dual x86/x64 codec – Rowland Shaw Feb 8 '11 at 9:08
  • We don't have credit cards which supports online purchase here. No Paypal. So buying is out of the question :( But i'll definitely take a look if they provide trial. – fahad.hasan Feb 9 '11 at 4:22

For Canon, bot Microsoft and Canon itself provide the codecs to preview RAW files, with the difference that Microsoft's supports also 64-bit systems. I've tried Microsoft's and it works smoothly, I haven't tried Canon's and therefore I can't make comparisons.

Nikon also provides codecs for Windows, both 32 and 64-bit systems.

I find Window's image viewer quite fast, although you can notice an increased lag when loading RAW images (mine are 6, 10 and 12 Mpix). My computer is relatively new though, quad core CPU and 6 GB ram.

  • At first I didn't notice that the OP mentioned a Canon camera, but the Nikon bit can be useful for completeness. – clabacchio Jul 4 '14 at 10:52

Again, not free, but Photo Mechanic is the fastest way to browse photos, before importing them into Aperture or Lightroom:


-- Fons

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.