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How to Recover CR2 Raw Image Files? A Step by Step Guide

​Last update: Mar. 20, 2018

Now you know what a CR2 file is, as well as its advantages and disadvantages compared to a regular JPEG image file.

What happens in the case when you run into difficulties with your CR2 Raw Image files?

For example, what to do when your CR2 raw images got mistakenly deleted? Is there a way to recover CR2 files?

In this post, I am going to talk about the process to help you retrieve any lost raw images. I will also include some tips to repair your memory card if it becomes corrupted.

Stop Writing on Your Memory Card!

As soon as you realize that your files are missing (maybe as a result of accidental deletion or card formatting), STOP using the card.

Do not take any more photos. Safely remove the memory card from the camera and place it in a safe case.

Keep in mind that further writing activities can seriously decrease your chances of photo recovery.

What You'll Need

The following list includes items that you will need to recover your Canon CR2 files:

CR2 Raw Recovery Software

There are many free/paid programs available out there that claim to be able to recover pictures, but few of them are capable of dealing with Canon CR2 raw files.

In this case, we recommend Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery; it supports recovery of a variety of image formats, including Canon CR2/CRW raw. In addition, it is compatible with both PC and Mac computers. The program is also intuitive and user-friendly.

Step-by-Step to Recover CR2 Files

Step 1: Turn on your personal computer. Connect your Canon to the computer. Note: you can do this with either a card reader (like this one below) or the original USB cable that came with your camera.

Step 2: Get Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery and install the software on your computer. Make sure you get the right version.

Step 3: Open the software. Click the big button located in the center, and highlight the drive (your Canon card), then click the "Advanced" option. Here, you can select CR2 and CRW formats.

Step 4: Hit "Scan Now" button to continue. The program will begin to scan your card for missing RAW (CR2/CRW) images. Once found, you can preview these images through the preview windows.

Step 5: Recover the images!

Pro tip: Remember to save recovered CR2 files to another drive instead of the card!

Repair CR2 Images When They Are Corrupted

Sometimes you may find your raw files will not open, or are broken (e.g. half of the image element is missing). If so, follow these two steps to resolve this issue:

  1. Try a different software to open the file. For example, if you use Canon Raw Image Viewer, switch to Adobe Photoshop.
  2. If the previous step doesn't work, download the program called ExitTool to repair. Here is a link to the official page: http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/

As usual, I'd love to know what you think about this guide. Feel free to leave comments, thoughts, or suggestions. If you liked this article, kindly share it out.

About the Author Lucy Wang

Lucy is a Philadelphia based portrait and event photographer. She has been using a Canon digital single reflex camera for the past six years -- first four years with a Rebel XS, and for the latter two years a T5.

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