What is a CR3 File? (How to Open and Use)

CR3 files serve as a RAW image file format extension specifically for Canon cameras. This format is not only used by Canon’s latest line of mirrorless cameras. But also by newer Canon DSLR models equipped with the DIGIC 8 processing system.

In the following blog, we I aim to provide valuable information on how to effectively understand and manage this emerging RAW format.

What is a CR3 File?

The CR3 file format is Canon’s proprietary RAW format known for faithfully reproducing scenes at the highest quality. RAW formats, including CR3, deliver images without loss of detail and use pixel compression. It is allowing for extensive post-processing through editing software.

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Canon’s recent introduction of the DIGIC 8 processor to its mirrorless camera line. It has resulted in notable advances in imaging capabilities performance and more features. This innovation has also extended its impact to the latest DSLR camera models such as the Canon EOS 90D and 250D.

The DIGIC 8 processor comes with the introduction of a new RAW format, CR3. What sets the CR3 apart is its ability to retain the resolution of the original RAW file while achieving a more compact file size.

It’s important to note that CR2, the predecessor to CR3, originated from the TIFF lossless format. While CR3 is more closely associated with the TIFF lossless format CIFF (Camera Image File Format). This award highlights the development and effectiveness of Canon’s RAW image storage technology.

Users have the option of saving their RAW photos in a lossy format called C-RAW (compressed RAW). This compression method significantly reduces the file size, making it about 40% smaller than the uncompressed RAW version. It’s important to note that this size reduction comes at the cost of reduced image quality.

How to Open and Convert?

To open CR3 files, you need to use specialized editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Lightroom.

When using Camera Raw (version 11.3 or later) in Adobe Photoshop, you will typically need to press the “Open Image” button after loading the CR3 file. This action will open the image in Photoshop, allowing you to begin your editing process.

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Camera raw photo

However, for a smoother experience with Canon RAW formats like CR3, Adobe Lightroom is often the preferred choice. Lightroom is designed to automatically process and open these formats without additional steps, streamlining the editing process.

Converting your images to DNG (Digital Negative) format can be a beneficial choice as it offers more flexible and widely supported imaging options usage. You can perform this conversion using software such as Adobe Lightroom or Canon Digital Photo Professional on Windows and Mac operating systems.

DNG offers benefits such as improved compatibility with various software applications and long-term preservation of your images in a standard format. This can simplify your workflow and ensure that your photos remain accessible and usable in the future. Regardless of changes in software or technology.


CR3 is a recently introduced file extension related to Canon’s new processors. It maintains original RAW image quality while achieving more compact file sizes. However, because this format is relatively new, it may not be compatible with all software applications, requiring the use of an external program for conversion.

After successfully converting your RAW files, you can explore our “Effortless Editing” course to gain expert knowledge in professional editing with Lightroom. This course will equip you with the skills and techniques to improve your photography through post-processing.


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