Dealing with Unsupported Raw Files in Aperture

by Derrick Story

I've been testing the new Canon PowerShot G9 that records in Raw. Great camera, but Aperture doesn't read its version of .CR2 files. This brings up a common question. What do you do if Aperture doesn't support the Raw files you camera creates?

There are a few things to consider here. First, what's Apple's track record with your camera brand? In my case, Apple has done an excellent job of supporting Raw formats from Canon cameras. So for me, it's probably just a matter of time before I can work with my G9 Raw files in Aperture. If you shoot Panasonic, on the other hand, it's hit or miss. I was working with an FZ8 for months and never got Aperture support. So as a Aperture user, I would review the Raw support list, look for trends, and consider them before buying my next camera.

OK, back to my Canon G9. Since I'm confident that it will be supported up the road, what do I do in the meantime? Here's my plan:

I shoot Raw+Jpeg until I get full Aperture support. I've been talking a lot about Raw+Jpeg lately; I guess because situations keeping coming up where I need it. This seems to be one of those times. After the shoot, I upload the files to Aperture as I normally would. The thumbnails show up in the import window, but once the files are in the Aperture Library, all you see are gray boxes.

But as we know from an earlier post, Aperture grabs both the Raw files and the Jpegs. It's been a curse for me in the past, but now it's saving the day.


All I have to do is right-click on a gray thumbnail, choose "New Version from Master Jpeg," and Aperture presents me with the Jpeg right next to the grayed out master Raw file. I have the Jpeg in there anyway, why not use it? You can select an entire group of images and apply this command to all of them at once.


Now what's really going to be interesting is to see what happens when Apple supplies the Raw file update, and the Canon G9 is supported. Will all of the gray boxes in my library suddenly spring to life and display thumbnails? I'll keep you posted.


Richard Earney
2007-09-24 09:21:27
You could always use the Adobe DNG Converter in the meantime ;-)
2007-09-24 09:55:19
That's interesting that Aperture's importing both the raw files and jpegs from the G9. I've got a 40D, which also uses .cr2 files, and Aperture only imports those, ignoring the jpegs entirely. The only way I've found to import both is to use Canon's importing tool to import the files to disk, then import the files from disk into Aperture. Which is even slower than it sounds.

Any trick to getting Aperture to recognize both the raws and the jpegs?

2007-09-24 10:12:01
Instead of waiting, why not convert them to DNG?
2007-09-24 10:43:48
Hi cboone, Do you have your 40D set to capture Raw+Jpeg? That is the key to making this work.

As for converting to DNGs, that isn't really much good to Aperture users, is it?

2007-09-24 11:13:26
I can tell you that once 10.4.9 came out the RAW files from my K10D did suddenly appear in the browser. It was strange that RAW from my *ist DL were supported but I guess there was enough difference that the K10D ones were not. Aperture will read DNG files, and the K10D will save as DNG, but unless the RAW format is supported the DNG files will not be read. Aperture reads images through the operating system while Lightroom uses ACR so that might be a choice for you. I used the software from Pentax and converted things to TIFF's first but I made sure to keep the RAW files as well.
2007-09-24 11:16:56
Yes, Aperture's support for DNG is indeed half-baked.
2007-09-24 12:03:30
When I got my little Ricoh GRD I could only get the RAW files working by hacking in /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/ImageIO.framework/Versions/A/Resources/Raw.plist. I found some information that pointed me to duplicating the Panasonic-DMC-LX1 entry but with the name edited as follows:

RICOH-GR Digital

Having said that RAW writing times are so slow on the GRD that I rarely use RAW. Hopefully 10.4.11 will add support for the GRD DNG format too.

Steven Alexander
2007-09-24 12:07:17
If the RAW is not supported by Aperture will the DNG work? I've used external editor ARC or the Canon stuff. I hope they update soon to the .cr2 as I really like the G9 RAW files; however, with the up coming Nikon cameras and others I fear it will be sometime before we do see an update..
2007-09-24 13:23:36
I've been hoping Apple would add RAW support for my old Canon Powershot S50, but alas, it is the last Canon camera with absolutely no support whatsoever. Darn it!
the unknown user
2007-09-24 17:01:45
DNG is useless unless the camera manufacturers support it natively. If your software doesn't support the RAW file, making it a DNG is not going to help. The same is true with Adobe applications as well.
2007-09-24 18:39:30
Charles - you can add support using the Raw.plist hack. Google Raw.plist to find more info. You will have to edit the file each time Apple updates it but it works and seems to work well. Basically you are using the raw data for the S60. If you don't use an S60 you can just change the S60 to S50 and restart Aperture. Or if you look through the file you'll see how Apple supports multiple cameras with a single entry.

2007-09-24 23:53:16
unknown user, why do you resort to (albeit gentle) personal attack? Perhaps because all you follow it up with is an argument that is as half-baked as Aperture's DNG support?

While it would indeed be great if the camera makers added a DNG option, they aren't doing so, so that's not helpful or relevant. What is important is that Apple should be exploiting the DNG format even as a workaround and rendering the DNG as a DNG, not pretending it is a raw format of a camera that they do not support. It's a no brainer - instantly they would support all cameras that Adobe supports, including Derrick's old Panasonic (assuming that is supported). Sure, if Adobe don't support a format then DNG won't help, but remind me how many raw formats Adobe support compared with Apple....

How else is Aperture's DNG support half baked? Well, what about its failure to read xmp metadata (actually, that's in general, not just DNG), failure to write it back to the file upon demand, failure to update the DNG preview.

2007-09-25 12:29:24
This is a great tip, with one potential caveat. On the G9 at least (not sure about 40D), when you do a RAW+JPG capture, the JPG is forced to "Fine" mode, not Superfine. I assume this was done by Canon to save space on the memory card (and that maybe Canon envisioned uses for the JPG to me DPOF prints, emails, what-have-you...), as a 4000 x 3000 12 Megapixel Fine image is around 2.6M vs about 4.7M for Superfine. And of course the RAW files are around 14M.

So, when using this trick, be aware that using the JPG master in Aperture will be a faily compressed JPG!

Oh, let's hope for G9 support in 10.4.11 or at least RAW support software update...


Greg Fox
2007-09-25 16:34:29
Geez, i just returned from the Motocross of Nations at Budd's Creek where i ran around for 2 days shooting Team USA take the trophy for the 3rd straight year. Anyway, i shot all raw the first day, went back to the hotel, plugged in the camera to my macbook pro, saw the thumbnails, went to import and lo and behold, file format was not supported. At this juncture i have come to realize that the format was not supported because the canon 40D is so new. In any case i was perplexed and a little worried. I left the card the way it was and used another card the next day shooting jpeg superfine. Any idea when the 40D will be supported ? Anyone?
2007-09-26 03:28:36
Hi Brian, I noticed the "Fine" mode too for the Raw+Jpegs on the G9. I did some side-by-side comparisons of the Jpegs and Raws in ACR, and as we would guess, you can see it at 100 percent. That being said, I'm optimistic that my G9 Raw files will spring to life in Aperture with the next update.

Oh, and Steve, thanks for the Raw-plist tip!

2007-09-26 06:41:38
I have been digging more into the RAW.plist hack, interesting. The main difficulty, of course, is getting the correct values for the conversion in these XML keys. So, for the G9, which set of profile keys should we use? Is there any we can realistically use? G6? Unlikely. Nothing is a close model to the G9.

2007-09-26 06:54:18
Another follow-up to Derrick's originial post. One additional piece that is frustrating is once you make the new versions from the master jpegs, it automatically creates multiple stacks (if you did this for more then simply one image after input, aka, "Select All" --> "New version from master JPEG"). Moreover, the pick of each 2-picture stack is of course the unsupported, grayed-out RAW .cr2 files. Yuck.

Last night I toyed around with how to deal with this. I think I came up with a decent solution assuming what you want to view is your actual .jpg masters (until G9 RAW support comes in, of course).

Basically, I selected all the stacks, and did an "Unstack". Then, I created a Smart Album, with criteria of Text = "JPEG". See, when you do the New verison from master JPEG Aperture automatically adds a "- JPEG" string to the Verison Name. So simply creating this Smart Album under your specific Project will allow you to see only these jpegs, and not the RAW grayed-out thumbnails.

If others have suggestion of alternative ways to manage this, let us know. This I think will be my "modus-operandus" until Apple brings G9 RAW support in. Oh, the things we do and put up with!

2007-09-26 07:54:31
You know Brian, your workaround could be really handy once G9 support is here, and we want to get rid of those "Fine" Jpeg views...
darren house
2007-09-26 23:58:27
I Have spoken to aperture and they say that the RAW files on the 40D (i would guess the G() will work when the update arrives.


2007-10-07 15:42:17
Using the disk out of the box on mac, I was able to convert the images to TIF and then bring into aperture/photoshop. If you experience my situation in dire need of printing/editing this may help.
2007-11-01 21:26:18
One more method: shoot raw+jpeg, and import them separately. You now have your visible jpeg sitting next to your grey-box unreadable (yet) raw file. Like the jpeg? keep the raw file, and when the raw file is readable, dump the jpeg. Don't like it? delete them both. Like the image but it's just a snapshot? keep the 800kb jpeg, dump the 10mb raw file.

This works so well i may keep doing it even though now under 10.5 and 1.5.6 I can read my Olympus E410 raw files. No point in keeping the big raws on images that are just keepable snapshots.

2007-11-10 22:52:40
"right-click on a gray thumbnail, choose “New Version from Master Jpeg,” "
Thank You! that did the trick. Also, I really like the second method. I don't know why I've never thought about doing so. I'll be saving a lot of hard drive space + time now.