Photo File Codecs

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

imageMicrosoft provides codecs that can handle a wide variety of different RAW file types.

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

imageNikon provides a codec for use with NEF files, the Nikon proprietary file format used by Nikon cameras.

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.



FastStone Image Viewer

FastStone Image Viewer for Windows from is an image editor, organizer, viewer, converter and more with an amazing array of tools. This application is free for non-commercial use.

It is one of my favorite tools for tasks that are more than just doing the basics. I particularly like the sketch and paint tools.

Here are some of the features as described on their website:image

  • True Full Screen viewer with image zoom support and unique fly-out menu panels
  • Crystal-clear and customizable one-click image magnifier
  • Powerful image editing tools: Resize/resample, rotate/flip, crop, sharpen/blur, adjust lighting/colors/curves/levels etc.
  • Eleven re-sampling algorithms to choose from when resizing images
  • Image color effects: gray scale, sepia, negative, Red/Green/Blue adjustment
  • Image special effects: annotation, drop shadow, framing, bump map, sketch, oil painting, lens
  • Draw texts, lines, highlights, rectangles, ovals and callout objects on images
  • Clone Stamp and Healing Brush
  • Superior Red-Eye effect removal/reduction with completely natural looking end result
  • Multi-level Undo/Redo capability
  • One-touch best fit/actual size image display support
  • Image management, including tagging capability, with drag-and-drop and Copy To/Move To Folder support
  • Histogram display with color counter feature
  • Compare images side-by-side (up to 4 at a time) to easily cull those forgettable shots
  • Image EXIF metadata support (plus comment editing for JPEGs)
  • Configurable batch processing to convert/rename large or small collections of images
  • Slideshow creation with 150+ transition effects and music support (MP3, WMA, WAV…)
  • Create efficient image attachment(s) for emailing to family and friends
  • Print images with full page-layout control
  • Create fully configurable Contact Sheets
  • Create memorable artistic image montages from your family photos for personalized desktop wallpapers (Wallpaper Anywhere)
  • Acquire images from scanner. Support batch scanning to PDF, TIFF, JPEG and PNG