article photography software review

WIC Codec to display and decode RAW photos – .CR2 .NEF .DNG….

What is a WIC codec ? it is the acronym for Windows Imaging Component. It has been introduced in Windows XP service pack 3, and by default in Vista and 7. It is an interface definition ( and SDK ) to “add” to Windows the ability to read and write ( Codec means Co-der and Dec-oder ) new image format.
It is something more and more popular with the new DSLR digital camera and the “pro” format RAW format ( .CR2 for Canon , .NEF for Nikon, .DNG for Adobe, and much more other formats for Sony, Minolta, Mamya.
If you have the correct WIC codec installed, you are able to see the raw files in explorer, but also in any compatible client using a WIC interface, such VSO Photo Gallery, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Media Center, and more… so finally it allows the computer to understand how to display new and proprietary photo format. By the way, can you imagine the famous Picasa still can’t read supported WIC format ? Picasa is still using DCRAW which is a nice library to read RAW photo but unfornutly the color and speed isn’t as good as genuine WIC codec when it is delivered by digital camera manufacturors.

Thats all the problem, Canon ( I m a Canon user so I don’t know very well for the other manufacturors ) is quite often late to update the software part, forcing any new digital camera buyers to use the software delivered as a bundle with the camera. It is just software !!! but for unknown reason, they are quite slow to update the required drivers and .. that’s not all…

Let’s talk about x64 bits version of WIC codec, and you will find Digital Manufacturors are really hardware oriented. Is there a solution…. hopefully there is one now, that I want to share today :

It is a all-in-one, hassle-free solution to support all the major RAW files with one package, even if you are using mainly only .CR2 or .NEF you can consider this option as you could tune some options that the original manufacturor doesn’t allow to do. You need to know the .RAW files often contains 1 to 3 differents thumbnails size and a copy of the raw files as an embedded jpeg version ( using the default settings of the digital camera for the white balance, sharpness, creative mode ). Using that file stream you can greatly speed up the display of the raw files within Windows Explorer and see thumbnails of raw , as you are used to watch .jpeg or bitmap files. It is one of the only solution to get your raw files supported with x64bits edition of Windows !

Not only FastPictureViewer is providing support for x64 bits version that the original manufacturors don’t want to do, but it offers to any users the best performance, and extra features. A must have !

This codec offers a few other options and the development is going fast to implement new features, for example it will have a better and more accurate rendering than Windows internal codec itself, by rotating the picture correctly, or removing the black bar which adjust the size of the thumbnail to the regular aspect ratio of the windows thumbnails.