CR2 files are RAW images shot with Canon digital cameras. CR2 stands for Canon Raw Version 2. Since CR2 files are similar to TIFF image files, you can expect them to be very high in quality and big in size.
CR2 RAW files should not be confused with another kind of CR2 file which is created by a 3D modeling program called Poser. Poser CR2 files are used in 3D modeling for storing data about joints, bones, and how they move. These would commonly be used when modeling human forms.
Opening CR2 files
To open CR2 files, you have a few paid and free options.
Other free programs you can use to open CR2 files are IrfanView and UFRaw.
For a more professional application and a wider variety of options, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom are ideal. To be able to open CR2 files in Adobe software, you’ll need to have the Camera RAW update installed, which you can find here.
CR2 file vs JPEG
CR2 files are RAW images. As the name suggests, RAW images store a lot more data in the picture than a typical JPEG your camera would capture.
While JPEG files capture a single exposure, RAW files actually hold the entire range of exposures in the file itself, which allows for a lot more post-processing.
If you did not get the exposure right in the shot, or you want to bring out some highlights and shadows, you can do so with a RAW file and the end result will seem like it was taken directly from the camera, not edited.
However, since there is so much data in CR2 files, the size can get quite big, and when you deliver or store photos, you’ll want to use JPEG. As such, it may take a long time to edit and export hundreds of CR2 files into JPEG.
That’s why most cameras that shoot RAW images actually shoot RAW and JPEG at the same time, so you have JPEGs ready for shots you are happy with, and RAW CR2 files available for anything you want to edit.
Converting CR2 files to JPEG
To convert CR2 files to JPEG, your best bet is to use Adobe’s free DNG Converter. DNG files are still RAW files but they’re more universal and you can easily open them in a lot more programs.
You can also use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, which comes bundled with most Canon EOS dSLR cameras. DPP is a very powerful image organization and editing suite much like Lightroom, but optimized for use for Canon cameras.
Once you’re done with editing your CR2 files in DPP(adjusting exposure, HDR, RGB/Tone Curves, Noise, to name a few), you can batch export them as JPEG files for easy sharing.
With Photoshop or Lightroom, you can export CR2 files as JPG, PNG, GIF, and other common image formats.
There are also online tools like this one but since CR2 files are so large, it may be impractical to upload and convert so many files. Online tools are OK for converting a handful of files, but you’ll run into trouble once your files get into the hundreds.
Please note that when you simply convert the CR2 file without editing it, the JPEG saved will look exactly like the preview. If you want to edit the photo in any way, you must edit and export individually.