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Canon CR3 raw format guide

A raw image file is like a digital negative without any lossy compression and minimal processing applied to it. A digital camera shooting images in raw format provides output in the best possible quality, which means files are larger in size and take more space. The benefits offered by shooting raw format overpowers the slight storage hassle though. Few of the well known raw formats include CR2, NEF, RW2, RAF, PEF, ARW, etc.  In this post, we will talk about the new compressed raw format introduced by Canon starting with its mirrorless series of cameras.

CR3 C-raw Canon format

History of Canon raw formats
Back in the early 2000s, Canon cameras produced raw photos in CRW format. Cameras shooting in CRW include Canon D60, Canon D30, Canon 10D, and Canon EOS 300D. Most of the cameras released after the year 2004 shoot raw photos in CR2 format. Examples of CR2 format Canon cameras include 350D, 6D, 7D, 5D, 5D Mark II and many more.
In 2018, Canon introduced its new mirrorless camera known as the EOS M50.  This camera takes raw photographs in a new raw format known as CR3. Late 2018 and 2019, few more CR3 format cameras were released by Canon. Let's dive a little deeper to see what is CR3 about and the available software support for it.

Canon CR3 and C-raw
In the latest Canon cameras shooting CR3 format, there is an option to enable C-raw. Just like we had M-raw and S-raw setting in case of CR2 format, CR3 has C-raw setting. The difference is M-raw and S-raw will change the image pixel dimensions whereas C-raw does not change pixel dimensions. When C-raw is enabled, the CR3 images taken by the camera come out being compressed in a lossy way. Canon decided to apply lossy compression to C-raw images in order to save storage space while maintaining the same pixel dimensions and quality. The encoding process information about C-raw is not public though. In fact, no camera manufacturer will be happy to make the raw encoding process available freely as open source. From a photographer's perspective, there is no noticeable quality difference when viewing a normal CR3 raw image vs C-raw setting enabled CR3 image.

List of Canon cameras taking photos in CR3 format

Canon EOS M50 or Canon EOS Kiss M. Announced in February 2018. 

Canon Powershot SX70 HS. Announced in September 2018.

Canon EOS R. Announced in October 2018.

Canon EOS RP. Announced in February 2019.

Canon EOS 250D or Canon EOS Rebel SL3. Announced in April 2019. 

Canon Powershot G5X Mark II. Announced in July 2019. 

Canon Powershot G7X Mark III. Announced in  July 2019. 

Canon EOS M6 Mark II. Announced in August 2019.

Canon EOS 90D. Announced in August 2019.

Canon EOS M200. Announced in September 2019. 

Canon EOS 1DX Mark III. Announced in January 2020. 

Canon EOS 850D or Canon EOS Rebel T8i. Announced in February 2020. 

Software support for CR3
As Canon CR3 is a fairly new raw format, not every photo editing software was able to release a software update to support it in 2019. More and more photo editing software companies have worked hard to add CR3 image format support. As of May 2020, most of them have included CR3 support with new updates. Currently, support for Canon's CR3 format is available with following software versions (and higher):

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC 8.0

Adobe Photoshop CC

Phase One Capture One Pro 12.0.0

DxO PhotoLab 2.3.0

Canon's Digital Photo Professional

ON1 Photo Raw 2019.6

Skylum Luminar 3.2.0

ACDSee Ultimate 2020: Also known as Ultimate 13, it has got CR3 format support from update 13.0.1

Affinity Photo 1.8

Apart from the above 8 post-processing software, no other software supports CR3. I checked every possible software website and forums to see what's coming in the near future when it comes to CR3 raw format support but didn't see any planned CR3 support updates. Below is the list of editing software I checked: 

Corel PaintShop Pro 2020: No CR3 support specific plans on their website.

Canon CR3 raw converter:
If you purchased a Canon camera that shoots raw images in CR3 format and your photo editing software doesn't support CR3, there is a good way to use those CR3 files without losing quality. You can convert the CR3 files to DNG format and edit them in the software you already have. To achieve this, Adobe DNG converter is a widely accepted tool. DNG format is a good workaround to edit images from a camera capturing photos in CR3 format.

Concluding this post, I want to talk about one common question that often comes up with this new CR3 format. Why Canon calls it a raw format if it has lossy compression applied? To clarify, CR3 format itself does not have lossy compression applied. It produces a lossy compressed image only when C-raw setting inside the camera is enabled. Even if C-raw has lossy compression applied, it is still raw in the sense that it has to go through demosaicing, gamma conversion, etc. C-raw images have the same resolution and quality with 30-40% saving in file storage size, as claimed by Canon.  Lastly, using C-raw setting in your camera is always an option, not a mandatory requirement.

Hope you found this post informative for your CR3 format photography needs. Let me know in comments if I missed a specific software that actually supports CR3. Happy photography! 


  1. Thanks for your detailed overview, the best I have found after long searching.
    I have one question. I have found that not depending if I choose CRAW or RAW, files have always the same extension CR3. I have EOS M50, but I believe it is probably the same for all "CR3 cameras".
    I have found only one possibility to distinguish between both types on PC - data in the EXIF file (the size is of course not usable for this). It is very unusual in IT. I suppose any SW should be able to distinguish both types - how it is done?
    Thanks for your answer

    1. Hi Miloslav,

      Thanks for your question. Yes, you are correct. The format would always be CR3 no matter if you shoot RAW or CRAW in your camera. All the 4 cameras mentioned above take photos in CR3 format.
      Coming to differentiating between CRAW and RAW, I did a few post processing tests but it was very hard to tell any visual difference on comparison. The only way to separate them is either look at EXIF data or the file size itself.

      Hope this helps!

  2. This article was extremely helpful. It answered my question exactly how I needed it to and then some. Very well organized and laid out.
    Thank you!!

  3. I just downloaded Adobe DNG converter , when i try to select my CR3 files it says No items match your search.

    1. Hello RS,

      I believe you are selecting individual files, you have to only select the source folder where all the CR3 files are located. Let me know if this helps.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. I find this new format to be troublesome for me. I'm not planning to fork out for a new computer, new software and new operating system but at the same time, needing to convert all my RAW files to .DNG is time consuming as it costs a chunk of time each session.

    What is the technical difference between .CR2 and .CR3 and is it possible for a third party firmware (say, Magic Lantern) to change the RAW format written in the card? Would be great if my EOS R can spit out .CR2 or .DNG files right off the bat!!

    1. Hi there,

      I feel your frustration about the CR3 format. It has been in the market for a while but still not many photo editors support it. Unfortunately, magic lantern currently cannot convert CR3 to CR2 or DNG on SD card. Your only two options are:
      Keep converting those CR3 files to DNG for editing purposes using Adobe DNG converter or buy a photo editing software that supports CR3.
      Depending on what photo editing software you have, some programs do offer discounts if you want to upgrade. I understand you don't want to spend money but as of now those are the only 2 options possible.

      Let me know if you have more questions.


  6. I'm so glad to learn about this feature. I have it on my list to buy a better camera and I will definitely be looking out for this. Thank you.

  7. Would love to understand RAW photos because they are so much more detailed than other photos. Beautiful!

  8. I have the 7d, the mark II and 1D and always use them in raw format...and I agree with the other commenter about it being time consuming, but it's the best way for me to take hd photos....I need to look into this if I ever want an upgrade but not for now, thanks for detailing.

  9. Skylum Luminar 3 supports CR3. I already tested.

    1. Updated the list, thank you for your helpful comment. :)

  10. Exposure X5 claims to support all the new Canon cameras.

  11. This is such a helpful post. It answered most of the questions I had. Thanks

  12. I've been shooting raw since 2016. It may take up 10x the space on your hard drive, but it's worth it for that 5% of the time that you need to refer back to pics from places you can't easily revisit.

  13. I never heard of the Canon camera such in detail before but I learn a lot from this post. Thanks for the info!

  14. So much I have learned from this post. This is so important for those with a DSLR, like myself.

  15. Thanks for this details post about Canon. I wish I have Canon camera so I could try these tips. I'm using smartphone now for my video and photos.


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