If you occasionally need to convert a raw file, you don’t have to buy expensive software or install open source converters with all their libraries – just use dcraw!

Dcraw is a little raw converter written by Dave Coffin – hence the first two letters of the name. It exists since 1997 and is updated ever since, so it also supports the latest cameras. Dcraw serves as the base for other raw converters like RawTherapee, Darktable or ufraw. The program is invoked via a terminal, but there is a plug-in called gimp-ufraw that you can use to open a raw file in GIMP. Install dcraw via your software manager or download the source code or some binary versions from this site. Elsewhere on the web you can find versions for Mac OSX and Windows, just use a search machine.


To demosaic a raw file – as the process is officially called – open a terminal window and navigate to a folder with raw files, then type
dcraw , replace ‘file’ with the name of your photos and ‘raw’ with the raw extension of your camera brand, like nef, cr2, pef, etc., like

$ dcraw DSC_1000.NEF

and hit Enter. This produces a file called DSC_1000.ppm (portable pixmap) that can be opened in GIMP for example. Ah yes, please note that original raw files are never touched or altered by raw converters, they always create converted copies (some refer to this as ‘non-destructive editing’).

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