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Unique nuances of the ORF image file

by Casey Schmidt  |  April 22, 2020

4 min. read
A camera on a map near a smartphone.

Whether you just purchased an Olympus camera or are a longtime Olympus camera buff, it’s important to learn about the intricacies of its default image file format – the ORF. The ORF has a lot of unique features designed to give full range to photographers concerning editing and resizing. Understanding basic details of the file allows users to select the correct types of tools and software to supplement editing. Here is a basic guide to help you understand the many benefits and features of an ORF image file.

What is the ORF image file?

The ORF (Olympus Raw Image File) is the default image format of all photographs from Olympus cameras. Whenever a user uploads a set of pictures from an Olympus camera onto a computer, the digital format is automatically ORF. Due to its extremely high quality, the ORF is large in size, making it difficult to share and store in high quantities.

Users can open an ORF file using Olympus Viewer, the flagship software program provided for all Olympus cameras. If software for this program didn’t come with the camera, it’s available online for free and works on both Windows and Mac operating systems. There are a few alternatives capable of opening the ORF, but they’re scarce and don’t offer any benefits over the Olympus Viewer.

A camera sitting atop a laptop.
The ORF handles large photographs digitally.

Is ORF the optimal image format?

It’s easy to see the many benefits the ORF delivers – it’s one of the image file types with extremely high quality and preserves the original photographic image. The reason for this is the ORF is the raw image file from the camera, and though it’s the original quality, it’s acting as a placeholder until it can be edited into a more reasonably-sized format. A good way to think of them is like a film reel at the movie theater. People could technically see the untouched images but they’d much rather watch them on the big screen.

This leads to the inevitable future of most ORF images – conversion. Realistically, the ORF isn’t the optimal format to handle most of the processes that go along with digital pictures. This includes things like sharing, editing and storing photos. Because of this, most users end up converting their ORF to a more manageable image type. Using more common extensions, such as JPEG and PNG, make image files more accessible.

A person uses a laptop alongside a camera.
The ORF does require conversion to enhance its benefits.

Interesting features to check out

An ORF is a pure form of photography – the exact thing captured with your camera is illuminated when viewing an ORF. It’s untouched and unchanged in the process from the camera to the computer, which photographer’s cherish. When the goal is to show images in their most beautiful and absolute, the ORF stands tall as the perfect companion for anyone serious about taking pictures.

Another positive aspect to the ORF is its extensive data contained within each file. This is known as Metadata, which is a key characteristic attached to ORF image files, along with other pieces of valuable information that users can see when viewing the files. This makes the process of sorting and finding images for projects much more simple. It does this by presenting important details about every single picture.

A camera taking a picture of water.
The ORF is a raw image format.

Future considerations

You’ve snapped all of your photographs for a project, transferred them onto the computer and file-formatted them as the ORF. Now you must decide what type of editing the pictures require and which file type to convert them to for easier use.

The first step, if you haven’t done so already, is to download Olympus Viewer. It not only opens ORF, but it’s capable of converting the files into other file formats, such as JPG. Next, decide what type of formatting is necessary. This can be done by determining which image file format best handles the original photo and which file format fits into the project. Finally, make sure to use your images the way you originally intended, rather than restricted by file types.

Take advantage of all the interesting ways to use an ORF image file. It’s surprising how much there is to learn about a single format. Advance the process during your next project by understanding all the nuances of ORF.