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JimC Jul 27, 2011 10:25 AM

Microsoft RAW Codecs for Windows
Hardly a month goes by without a member asking me why they can't see thumbnails from their RAW images after buying a new PC with 64 Bit Windows 7 installed. Windows Explorer, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Photo Viewer and other WIC (Windows Imaging Component) enabled applications require Codecs in order to decode the RAW images and display thumbnails, and these Codecs are not installed in Windows.

Note that the major camera manufacturers have downloadable RAW Codecs available for 32 bit versions of Windows (including 32 Bit Windows 7). But, most major manufacturers (including Nikon, Canon, and Pentax) do not yet offer 64 bit Codecs to allow decoding of RAW files in 64 bit Windows Vista or 64 Bit Windows 7, even though most new PCs are shipping with 64 Bit versions of Windows now (and have been for quite some time).

So, how do you get RAW file support with Windows Explorer, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Photo Viewer and other WiC Enabled applications if you've upgraded your Operating System to 64 Bit Windows 7?

One great solution is the FastPictureViewer Codec Pack. At only $14.95, it's a real bargain and works with 32 bit and 64 Bit versions of Windows, offering great performance and more features compared to camera manufacturers' codecs (and most manufacturers don't even offer 64 Bit codecs yet). By the way, if you want a super stand alone product for viewing images, I'd check out FastPictureViewer Pro. It's the fastest application I've found for viewing RAW files in Windows 7, thanks in no small part to it's use of GPU acceleration. It's got "one click" zoom to 100% viewing size, and one button (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) rating of images, and includes scripting utilities to speed up your workflow process.

But, I wanted to let members know that another alternative now exists to give RAW file support to 64 bit Windows Explorer, Windows Live Photo Gallery and other WIC enabled applications; as Microsoft now offers the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack that works with RAW files from many popular cameras. See this blog post about it:

Go here for download links and a list of supported cameras:

Microsoft Camera Codec Pack

Note that you'll need to download the amd64.msi version (first download link) if you're using a 64 Bit Windows 7 (even if your CPU is made by Intel). If you're running a 32 bit version of Windows, use the x86.msi version (second download link).

To determine if your Windows version is 32 bit or 64 bit, click on your Start button, then "right click" on Computer and select the "Properties" menu choice. Another way to get to the same screen is Control Panel>System and Security>System. Then, scroll down to the System Section and you'll find an entry labeled System Type. If you're running 64 bit Windows, you'll see "64 Bit Operating System" (or if you're running 32 bit Windows, that's where you'll see "32 bit Operating System").

JimC Jul 28, 2011 10:29 AM


Unless the list of supported cameras is wrong, one concern is that [on the surface] it looks more like someone developed the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack in early 2010, and it was never updated to include any cameras released since then.

Or, perhaps someone wrote the functional requirements and technical specifications in early 2010, and nobody bothered to modify them to include newer cameras during the development cycle once the project was approved and handed off to the developers for coding and testing.

For example, I don't see the Nikon D3100, Nikon D5100, Nikon D7000, Sony A33, Sony A55, Sony A290, Sony A390, Sony A560, Sony A580, Sony NEX-3, Sony NEX-5, Pentax K-r, Canon 60D, Canon T3i....

Get the picture (pun intended)? :-)

I haven't checked the entire list yet. But on the surface, it doesn't look like any cameras released since early 2010 (over a year ago) are supported.

Calicajun Sep 12, 2011 8:00 AM

Downloaded the program to my Vista 64 bit system and it works great. What a wonderful time saver when looking for pictures I wish to process that I don't remember were they were put or named.

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