How to Open CR2, NEF, DNG, and RAW Files with Photoshop CS

RAW files with extensions such as CR2, NEF, and DNG may conflict when trying to open the file in Photoshop. Everything will depend on the compatibility of the camera , but it has a solution.

What are RAW files?

When a camera captures an image, it processes the information and compresses it before saving it. Sometimes it does not perform this process and generates the RAW files. 

These types of documents have extensions such as CRW, NEF or CR2, it will depend on the brand of the camera. The advantage of this format is the ease of working with the images and obtaining the correct values ​​for saturation, contrast, white balance, color and focus.

Most popular RAW formats

  • DNG: It is an Adobe format launched in 2004. It is completely open unlike other formats.
  • CR2:   A RAW file belonging to the Canon brand.
  • NEF: It is the type of format known for Nikon cameras.

These formats can be read by Photoshop as long as the version you have installed is up to date . If when trying to open the file it shows you an error, it may not be.

How to open a RAW file in Photoshop

If your version of Photoshop is CS6 or higher, it is most likely out of date. In case the version is CS5 or lower you will have to convert the file .

  • Check your version of Photoshop from the Help / About Photoshop Menu .

Update your version of Photoshop

The most common reason Photoshop does not want to open the RAW file is because the Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in is out of date . This file keeps a record of the versions of the cameras on the market and must be constantly updated.

  • Open Photoshop on your PC.
  • Click the Help / Updates / Update menu to get the latest version of Photoshop Camera Raw.
  •  Restart Photoshop when the update is complete.

If even after updating the application you cannot open the file, verify that the files of your camera are compatible from the Adobe page . In case it is not, you have the option to convert the file to be able to open it in Photoshop.

Convert the RAW file

This method applies to Photoshop CS5 or earlier versions and for camera models that are not yet supported. As a final result, you will have a file in DNG format that you can open in any version.

  • Download the Adobe DNG Converter application from the Adobe page at no cost.
  • Install the application on your computer.
  • Launch the application and select the files you want to convert to DNG.
  • Click Select Folder to choose the folder containing the files. You can select folders but not files individually.
  • Choose the folder where you will save the files obtained as the final result.
  • Choose a setting to name the retrieved files. If you choose the default, they will have the same name as the original files, but with the extension DNG .
  • Change compatibility preferences. Choose the version of Photoshop you use.
  • Press the Convert button to start the process of converting the files. This may take a while depending on the size of the files.

When finished open the files again in Photoshop. You will notice that when you open an initial window is shown to configure the values of the image where you can modify the white balance, temperature, hue, contrast, highlights, saturation, among other elements.

Press Open image and you will be able to edit the file in Photoshop . The advantage of this type of format is the quality of the images, as well as the final result after editing .


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