#file #binary #io #openexr


Read and write OpenEXR files without any unsafe code

24 releases (stable)

2.0.0 Jul 8, 2023
1.71.0 Sep 18, 2023
1.7.0 Jul 8, 2023
1.6.3 Mar 10, 2023
0.7.3 Mar 15, 2020

#62 in Filesystem

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310,470 downloads per month
Used in 13 crates (6 directly)


10K SLoC

Rust Docs Rust Crate Rust Lang Version Wasm Ready downloads Lines of Code


This library is a 100% Rust and 100% safe code library for reading and writing OpenEXR images.

OpenEXR is the de-facto standard image format in animation, VFX, and other computer graphics pipelines, for it can represent an immense variety of pixel data with lossless compression.

Features include:

  • any number of layers placed anywhere in 2d space, like in Photoshop
  • any set of channels in an image (rgb, xyz, lab, depth, motion, mask, anything, ...)
  • three types of high dynamic range values (16bit float, 32bit float, 32bit unsigned integer) per channel
  • uncompressed pixel data for fast file access
  • lossless compression for any image type
  • lossy compression for non-deep image types to produce very small files
  • load specific sections of an image without processing the whole file
  • compress and decompress image pixels on multiple threads in parallel
  • add arbitrary meta data to any image, including custom byte data, with full backwards compatibility
  • any number of samples per pixel ("deep data") (not yet supported)

Current Status

This library has matured quite a bit, but should still be considered incomplete. For example, deep data and DWA compression algorithms are not supported yet.

If you encounter an exr file that cannot be opened by this crate but should be, please leave an issue on this repository, containing the image file.

The focus is set on supporting all feature and correctness; some performance optimizations are to be done.

What we can do:

  • Supported OpenEXR Features

    • custom attributes
    • multi-part images (multiple layers, like Photoshop)
    • multi-resolution images (mip maps, rip maps)
    • access meta data and raw pixel blocks independently
    • automatically crop away transparent pixels of an image (opt-in)
    • channel subsampling
    • deep data
    • compression methods
      • uncompressed
      • zip line (lossless)
      • zip block (lossless)
      • rle (lossless)
      • piz (lossless) (huge thanks to @dgsantana)
      • pxr24 (lossless for f16 and u32)
        • little-endian architectures
        • big-endian architectures (help wanted)
      • b44, b44a (huge thanks to @narann)
      • dwaa, dwab (help wanted)
  • Nice Things

    • no unsafe code, no undefined behaviour
    • no CMake required or environment variables required
    • re-imagined exr api with low barrier of entry (see read_rgba_file, write_rgba_file, read_all_data_from_file), plus embracing common high-level Rust abstractions
    • a full-fledged image data structure that can contain any exr image, can open any image with a single function call (read_all_data_from_file) without knowing anything about the file in advance
    • decompress and decompress image sections either in parallel or with low memory overhead
    • read and write progress callback
    • write blocks streams, one after another
    • memory mapping automatically supported by using the generic std::io::Read and std::io::Write traits


Add this to your Cargo.toml:

exr = "1.71.0"

# also, optionally add this to your crate for smaller binary size 
# and better runtime performance
lto = true

The master branch of this repository always matches the crates.io version, so you could also link the github repository master branch.


Example: generate an rgb exr file.

extern crate exr;

/// To write your image data, you need to specify how to retrieve a single pixel from it.
/// The closure may capture variables or generate data on the fly.
fn main() {
    use exr::prelude::*;

    // write a file, with 32-bit float precision per channel

        // this accepts paths or &str

        // image resolution is 2k
        2048, 2048,

        // generate (or lookup in your own image)
        // an f32 rgb color for each of the 2048x2048 pixels
        // (you could also create f16 values here to save disk space)
        |x,y| {
                x as f32 / 2048.0, // red
                y as f32 / 2048.0, // green
                1.0 - (y as f32 / 2048.0), // blue
                1.0 // alpha


See the the examples folder for more examples.

Or read the guide.


exrs aims to provide a safe and convenient interface to the OpenEXR file format. It is designed to minimize the possibility of invalid files and runtime errors. It contains a full-fledged image data structure that can contain any exr image, but also grants access a low level block interface.

This library does not try to be a general purpose image file or image processing library. Therefore, color conversion, beautiful subsampling, and mip map generation are left to other crates for now. As the original OpenEXR implementation supports those operations, this library may choose to support them later. Furthermore, this implementation does not try to produce byte-exact file output matching the original implementation, instead, it is only aimed for correct output.


This library uses no unsafe code. In fact, this crate is annotated with #[forbid(unsafe_code)]. Some dependencies use unsafe code, though this is minimized by selecting dependencies carefully.

All information from a file is handled with caution. Allocations have a safe maximum size that will not be exceeded at once, to reduce memory exhaustion attacks.

What I am proud of

  • Flexible API (choose how to store your data instead of receiving an allocated image)
  • Safe API (almost impossible to accidentally write invalid files)
  • "if it compiles, it runs" methodology
  • Awesome Contributors!


This crate supports the wasm-unknown-unknown target. Until WASM has threads, decoding and encoding will be slower for compressed files. Of course, you will need to read from byte buffers instead of file handles.


This library does not support the toxic mindset of rewriting existing C++ code in Rust just for the sake of switching the language. The OpenEXR image format is defined by a proven and battle-tested reference implementation.

However, as an alternative to the official reference implementation, this library has the opportunity to explore radically different designs, no matter what language it is written in. Neat!

Also, I really wanted to have a library which had an 'X' in its name in my git repositories.

Keep in mind that there are official Rust bindings to the C++ reference implementation, and they offer several advantages over this Rust implementation:

  • they support all the features and can read any file, no surprises
  • they are constantly driven by industry giants, so they have the higher probability of still being maintained in a decade
  • they are battle tested and relied upon by a lot of existing projects


This library is modeled after the official OpenEXRFileLayout.pdf document. Unspecified behavior is concluded from the C++ library.


  1. Support all compression formats (missing format: DWAA/DWAB)
  2. Support subsampling
  3. Support Deep Data
  4. Automatic conversion between color spaces
  5. Profiling and other optimization
  6. Tooling (Image Viewer App, Metadata Extraction Tool, ...)


This project has awesome contributors and is welcoming for contributions on Github.

Running Tests

To run all fast tests on your native system, use cargo test.

To start fuzzing on your native system indefinitely, use cargo test --package exr --test fuzz fuzz -- --exact --ignored.

To run all fast tests on an emulated system, use one of the following commands. Each command requires a running docker instance, and cross-rs to be installed on your machine (cargo install cross-rs).

  • Mips (Big Endian) cross test --target mips-unknown-linux-gnu --verbose

To benchmark the library, simply run cargo bench.


~25K SLoC