Adobe Camera RAW integrates RAW files with Photoshop easily and provides a simple integrated interface for basic adjustments before opening them in Photoshop. These features make Adobe Camera RAW one of the best RAW utilities available. Camera RAW supports most digital camera RAW file formats. Check Adobe's web site to confirm support for any particular camera. (A search on the site for "Camera RAW" yields the appropriate page.) Adobe has done a good job of keeping Camera RAW up to date as new cameras (and RAW formats) are released. Newer cameras may require that you download a newer version of the Camera RAW utility from the Adobe web site.
Camera RAW provides some very rich options for editing that quickly generate very good looking images. Use Camera RAW for quick processing and leave
fine-tuning in the Photoshop workflow. The Photoshop workflow allows for more precision and fine-tuning work using layers. The default settings for Camera RAW are a good place to start.
The default settings for Exposure, Shadows, Brightness and Contrast controls are all set to "Auto." For many images the Auto values work very well. Change these controls to adjust overall image density. Change the Brightness control for small overall brightness adjustments to the image. Exposure and Shadows act similarly to the black and white point sliders in the Levels tool. And Contrast will add contrast by spreading out the images histogram.
The White Balance control sets the overall color balance of the image. The default As Shot setting uses the control values set in the camera when the image was shot. Often As Shot values work just fine. But if the image color seems off, try adjusting the Temperature. The Temperature control makes the image appear warmer (more yellow) or cooler (more blue). The Tint control makes the image appear more green or more magenta and is difficult to use as a color balance tool.
It's important to set the appropriate Workflow options in Camera RAW. Set the Space option to match the default color space set in Photoshop (see Color Space on page 105). Set the Depth option to 16 bits per channel. And the Resolution options to the default resolution for your typical output option: 300 pixels per inch for most print devices, 240 pixels per inch for Epson inkjet printers, 72 pixels per inch for web images.
Camera RAW sets the Size option to match the default resolution for the digital camera. Other size options are available. An asterisk (*) option in the size menu identifies a high quality option for upsizing images for some cameras.
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Once you set the Exposure, White Balance and Workflow options, click on Open to process the image and open it in Photoshop.
Photoshop displays the name of the opened RAW file in the title bar of the image window, but Photoshop is actually displaying a version of the RAW file as processed by Camera RAW. If you try to save this image, Photoshop displays the Save As dialog and forces you to save a new file different from the original RAW file. You just cannot open and save RAW files.
ji_r Use Camera RAW to process your RAW files. It's effective and easy to use. Use the default settings in Camera RAW as a starting point for most of your images. Make sure "Depth" is set to 16 bits per channel in Workspace options. Once opened, you cannot save RAW files per se. You can only save opened RAW images as new files.
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Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.