A codec is a background program that permits other applications to handle specific files. Cameras can save photo image files in “RAW” format, a proprietary format by camera manufacturers. To see this images in Windows Explorer and other programs a codec is needed. I have used the two codecs that are shown below.
Microsoft Camera Codec Pack
The Microsoft Camera Codec Pack comes in two versions, for Intel 32-bit processors and AMD 64-bit processors. The codec may be download from the Microsoft Download Center page.
The disadvantage of the Microsoft codec is that it does not permit adding or modifying some metadata fields in the RAW photo files. Since I always annotate my files with a copyright notice, which this codec does not permit, I do not use this codec in my “production” machines, I use it only in demonstration computers.
Nikon NEF Codec
This codec comes in one download file, which may be obtained from the Nikon Codec download page.
This codec permits modifying some important metadata fields and is my preferred codec since I use Nikon cameras.
Earlier versions of this codec did not work fully in 64-bit machines, this has been corrected and the version 1.14.0 (as of May 2012) works as expected. It does not identity itself correctly in the Control Panel Programs and Features section (it shows version 1.00.0000.