Contrary to popular belief, not all raw images are the same; after all not all images — and not all cameras — are the same. The actual image data collected by a digital camera's image sensor can vary noticeably from one manufacturer to another; the electronics are different from model to model. For that reason, camera manufacturers offer their own proprietary software to process the raw images produced by their cameras.
If you purchase (for example) a Nikon digital camera such as the model shown in Figure 1-2, and that model offers the ability to capture raw images, you can process those raw files with a proprietary program, either Nikon Picture Project or Nikon Capture (advanced raw-conversion software available at an additional cost). If you also own a Canon digital camera that produces raw images, however, you won't be able to use Nikon's software to process them. For those images, you have to use Canon's proprietary software, Digital Photo Professional — but you can't process Nikon images using Canon's software. And if (like the pros) you also have other cameras by other makers . . . you get the idea. So did Adobe. That's why Camera Raw exists.
I detail the advantages and disadvantages (yes, there are some) of shooting raw images in Chapter 2.
Though different camera manufactures have their own versions of "the" raw format, Photoshop CS2 provides a standard platform you can use to process just about any raw image, regardless of all that proprietary fuss. As an added bonus, Camera Raw can handle the whole process of adjusting and editing your raw images (called workflow) with no need to add other software programs. (Imagine that — something about photography has actually become simpler!) Adobe provides a list of the digital cameras with which Camera Raw is compatible at http://adobe.com. (For more about workflow concepts, spin through Part IV.)
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