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what is the CR2 image format?


I could not figure out how to reset the autofocus on my EOS Rebel T6 so I switched to manual focus. It was using only the top spot instead of all 9 spots and would not focus if the top spot was pointed at the sky. So I switched to manual focus. When I copied the photos to my laptop, there was a JPG and a CR2 file for each image. What is the CR2 file doing there?



A camera focus by looking at vertical lines or contrasting edges of objects.  When you point the camera at the clear blue sky, there is nothing for it to lock focus on

The camera is capable of saving JPG files, which are similar to the old film Polaroid cameras that would eject a hard copy print after every shot.  A JPG file is a digital version of a hard copy print.

The camera is also capable of saving image as CR2 file, which is similar to a roll of film.  It is the digital equivalent of a film negative.  Different camera brands use different file extensions, but they are collectively known as RAW files.

More prints can be created from RAW files, but with the added benefit that they can be nondestructively edited.  You can brighten up the image, increase or decrease color saturation, or even perform lens correction and noise reduction.

I would allow the camera to save both types of files until you become more familiar with photography.  In the end, you will be glad that you had saved RAW files from your first attempts at using a DSLR.

"The right mouse button is your friend."


Thanks for the quick reply and the explanations of the two output types. I do see that my jpg files are about 9 MB but the CR2 files are around 29-30 MB.  What I don't understand is what caused the camera to start creating the two versions of each photo.

While I was trying to figure out my autofocus problem, could I have accidentally changed a setting on one of the menus? Is there a setting that controls the output type?

Most likely that is the case.  The setting to save as JPG and/or RAW (CR2) is made in the first page of the first menu in  your camera.  If you have the space to do so, I strongly suggest you keep it set at that setting now.  When you develop your skills in shooting and post production, you can go back and many, many more changes to a RAW file than a JPG image.

cheers, TREVOR
Professional photographer, engineer and educator since 1980

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
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Technique will always Outlast Tech - Me

@mfrascinella wrote:

I could not figure out how to reset the autofocus on my EOS Rebel T6 so I switched to manual focus. It was using only the top spot instead of all 9 spots and would not focus if the top spot was pointed at the sky. So I switched to manual focus. When I copied the photos to my laptop, there was a JPG and a CR2 file for each image. What is the CR2 file doing there?

You can select which of the focus points you want to use, so you have probably moved it. Please refer to the T6 manual for instructions on moving or resetting focus points. The CR2 file is with the jpg because you have selected Raw +Jpeg in the shooting "Quality" menu, once again, please refer to the manual to get this sorted out.


I found I had a soft copy of the more complete instruction manual and found a chapter explaining the whole menu system. Somehow I was able to reset AF to use all 9 points. I also found there a detailed table explaining the finer points about the image quality setting.

I wish Canon offered larger format manuals (like 8 1/2 x 11) that didn't require two hands to hold open to a page while you are trying to operate the camera. I opened the PDF manual, enlarged the scale to 180%, and printed the pages about the menu system. At least I can stuff this in my camera bag n case I need it.

A quick look on eBay showed a number of Rebel T6 manuals...Basic and Full, original small Canon size and 8.5x 11 printed and bound. Amazing what you can find if you look!


Did you change from one of the Auto settings to one of the creative settings? [PASM] That might have switched you from JPEG only to RAW+JPEG.


Regarding autofocus...

You need to go back to the user manual and learn how to use the autofocus system. It's actually pretty easy.

If you don't have the user manual, you can download a free PDF of it from the Canon website.

There are also "how to" videos on YouTube and elsewhere online, including some that show how Canon autofocus systems work. Look for videos by Rudy Winston. If you don't find a video specific to the Rebel T6, many other Canon cameras like the 50D, 40D, 30D, 20D and T4i, T3i, T2i, T7, T5, T4 use a 9-point AF system similar to what's in your camera. (Other Canon cameras such as 7D-series, 60D through 90D, 5D-series, 1D-series, M-series and the new R-series use various other AF systems that are different and more complex than yours.)

Regarding CR2 files...

This is largely unrelated to the autofocus system.

The JPEG is a "finished" or processed image that can be viewed by a very wide array of different programs. The CR2 file is what's known as a "RAW" file. It is as proprietary type of file that can't be viewed directly without special software and is essentially all the data that was captured when the photo was take, but not "processed" into a final, usable image.

All digital camera images are initially captured as a RAW file. If you have your camera set to save JPEGs, the camera quickly "processes" the image and saves it as a JPEG to the memory card. Alternatively, you can set the camera to save the RAW file to the memory card and later process it on your computer. (Canon Digital Photo Pro or "DPP" is free to download and is one of the programs that can be used to process Canon RAW files.)

Think of it this way... The RAW file is like a film negative, while the JPEG is like a print that was made from that negative. Of course, it's all digital now... not analog like film.

If you check some of those files on your computer, you'll notice the RAW files are bigger. That's because they have all the data. When a JPEG is made, only some of the data is used and then the rest is "thrown away". This makes JPEGs more difficult to change later, if you want to for some reason. An example, say you accidentally use the wrong white balance to take some photos. You had the camera set to tungsten light white balance, but forgot and left it that way when shot more photos outdoors in sunlight. The colors of those outdoor images will be way off. It's very easy to fix this working with a RAW (CR2) file. It's much more difficult to correct if all you have is a JPEG.

Apparently you have your camera set to save JPEG + RAW... both files. That's okay too. You then have choice of making changes to it later, starting with the RAW file to have the most versatility. If you use Canon DPP one choice is to have it process the image file "As Shot", which will do the exact same thing as if the JPEG had been created in your camera. Or you can make it into a black and white image or change it in many other ways. The only negative to shooting RAW + JPEG is that it will fill up memory cards and storage space on your computer a lot faster, having two files.

Personally I keep my RAW files, but don't necessarily keep the JPEGs. I can always make another JPEG from the RAW file. I can never make a RAW file from a JPEG, because there is no retrieving the data that was thrown away after it was made.

Someplace in your camera's menu you will find the option to set the camera to save: JPEG, RAW or RAW+JPEG. It's your choice.

However, if you set your camera to "Full Auto", the green "A+" on the mode dial, that will override many settings including this one. This full auto mode (I call it "point n shoot" mode) only allows JPEGs to be saved. The "scene" modes such as "running man/sports" "pine tree/scenic", "portrait", etc. all also probably limit you to only save JPEGs. If your camera is saving RAW + JPEG  you must be using one of the "Creative Modes", as Canon calls them... Those are Av, Tv, P and M. That's fine, so long as you know how they work.

To learn to use your camera more fully, in addition to studying the user manual, you also might find a guide book helpful. I just looked on Amazon and see guide books for the Canon Rebel T6/EOS 1300D by both David Taylor and David Busch. I've bought their books for other Canon camera models and found them very useful. Finally, if you are relatively new to digital photography with DSLRs, I highly recommend Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure", which is more general in nature about how cameras work.


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
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