“Why Can’t I Open Raw Files in My Photoshop or Lightroom?” This is a bit of a complex question as it really depends on a few things.

  • Is the camera fairly new?
  • Do other versions of Photoshop or Lightroom support the camera?
  • How old is your software?

Let’s break down the problems and answers.


Be Sure to Update & Verify

Always make sure that you have the latest updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. Here’s the process to update Lightroom. Making sure you have the latest version installed (that’s available for your version) will ensure the broadest compatibility.

Once updated, make sure you look at the official support page.  This allows you to check that your camera and model is on the list of supported cameras. If not listed (and you have a newer version of the app) you can always check on Adobe Labs for a release candidates.


Really New Cameras

The average turnaround time for a new camera is 90 days.  Meaning that a new camera typically takes 90 days to be added to the supported list.  Sometimes this is faster if the manufacturer provides a testing camera to Adobe early (or if the camera is just a minor update).  However I have seen it take more and less time than this. Adobe’s testing process is very thorough. If you want to request a specific camera you can do that here on the Adobe Feedback Site.

Older Apps

dng_tmMany people complain that Adobe doesn’t support newer cameras in older software.  This is untrue… but there is an extra step.  If your version of the application is too old, you can download and use the free Adobe DNG Converter.

Download it here:

Win: Adobe DNG Converter 8.4
Mac: Adobe DNG Converter 8.4

This will convert the proprietary raw files to new digital negatives.  These can be opened up by any version of Photoshop or Lightroom. In fact this is even a workaround for Apple Aperture users (as Apple is often much slower at adding camera support than Adobe).

There are other benefits to use the DNG format as well:

  • All metadata, keywords and raw adjustments are stored in the file.
  • A processed preview of the image is also stored inside.
  • Files are more portable and metadata travels more easily as you don’t need to manage sidecar files.
  • DNG files can be smaller than the original raw filet save disk space.
  • The DNG format is an open standard which means it is future proof.
  • Julieanne Kost has created a video on Adobe TV outlining the benefits of DNG in your everyday workflow and how to use the Adobe DNG Converter:

Before you complain, here’s the hard truth.  It’s too expensive to keep updating Adobe Camera Raw for every version of Photoshop and Lightroom.  Current customers get profile updates for new lenses and cameras (this means Lightroom 5, CS6 and CC customers – as long as CS6 continues to be sold).  Older applications get support through updates to the DNG converter app.  That’s 4 pieces of software to update….  not 20+.  Want more features?  Then update your software.

New Features

When Adobe adds new features to an application (like the recently updated Adobe Camera Raw) these are only available to customers on the current version. This gets a little murky with both Photoshop CC and CS6 being sold.

Adobe has committed that CS6 customers will “continue to receive updated camera raw file format compatibility via Adobe Camera Raw 8.” This also includes lens support.

However, “No new features or functionality will be available in ACR to Photoshop CS6 customers as part of those updates.”  This means that options like Upright, the advanced healing brush, and the radial filter are strictly for Photoshop CC or Lightroom 5 (or newer versions that come after).

More information:

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Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. The whole point of the article verifies the exact point you make.
    Lightroom does not work with the RAW files of camera manufacturers, but changes these to DNG files.
    While open source, they are (sort of) proprietary (Adobe) who then extends the file by adding metadata and developing algorithms, in effect extending the DNG unnecessarily.

    A negative will always be a negative and need processing to become a proof.
    The PEF SRW CR2 CR etc raw file does not change when proofed to a Tiff Jpg IFF etc.
    Therefore DNG files (being a negative) similarly should not get cluttered with unnecessary data.

    The final problem is that DNG files, although equal and universal, are not processed the same within photo software packages. Some will open a Pentax DNG file but complain the file format is not recognized when trying to open a DNG (from CR2). It is lacking to claim DNG future proof when the DNG is already not universal.

    Lastly my version of Lightroom can handle HDR files but cannot weld them together.
    I am sure HDR was done before 2014 in many a photo editor.

  2. ok. i have a canon eos m3 and i have Lr 5.3 and Ps Cs6. but i cant access RAW data on them. is there any way i can access these files? do DNGconverter do any good for them? Thanks

  3. I downloaded the DNG converter and everything is up to date, and my camera is on the supported camera list, so I should be good to go. I open DNG converter, and am not able to select the folder of photos that are RAW that I wish to convert. Now what?


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


Adobe, Software, Technique & Tutorials


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