Adobe Camera Raw ACR

> ACR 5.x only works with Photoshop CS4 or Photoshop Elements 5 and later. ACR 6 only works with Photoshop CS5.

* A list of all supported cameras can be found at www.adobe.com/products/ photoshop/cameraraw.html.

Adobe Camera Raw (ACR for short) is Adobe's own RAW converter and has been included with Photoshop since CSi was released. It is probably the most widely used RAW converter on today's market. It is fast and effective, and produces great results for a broad range of camera models. The program is, of course, very well integrated with Bridge and Photoshop. ACR and Lightroom are based on the same core software, and both programs are updated simultaneously when new improvements are introduced. This also means, that what you learn about ACR can directly be applied to the operation of Lightroom.

ACR is also part of Photoshop Elements, but in a version that doesn't include all of the settings available in its sister program.

This section explains a typical RAW conversion workflow using ACR. The basic steps are the same as those used in most other converters, and ACR includes most of Lightroom's conversion features, albeit packed into a different user interface.

You can use the Camera Raw options in Bridge or Photoshop to configure ACR to process JPEG and TIFF images non-destructively. ACR can process a wide range of RAW formats when used in conjunction with Photoshop and Bridge - a range that is quickly updated by Adobe whenever new DSLRs hit the market. None of the other RAW converters discussed here supports more. Adobe is always very quick to release updates to support newly released cameras manufactured by Canon, Fuji, Kodak, Nikon, Olympus, and Sony, as well as those from niche manufacturers such as Leaf, Leica, Panasonic, Pentax, and Sigma.*

Adobe Camera Raw has full color management support that automatically extracts monitor profiles from the system settings and uses generic camera profiles for all supported camera models. As of version 5, ACR also supports custom (DNG) camera profiles that can be created and edited using Adobe's free DNG Profile Editor (page 184).

The ACR window is divided into five main areas (figure 5-27):

@ Main preview window ® Image adjustment tabs © Toolbar

® Zoom level settings © Workflow Options button

© Filmstrip (only present when multiple images are opened)

Most interaction with the program occurs via the image adjustment tabs ®. These are arranged to represent a usable workflow sequence, with the functions used less often at the right. The tabs are labelled as follows:

■■:: lin:. ■:■■.. E -^<'3- '. i i'iil ^ .-.i-, L.: ¡6 b? l'i.O".^: r-p: ( ) ' v:' '

Figure 5-27: The ACR 6.x main window shows the Basic panel and four automatically opened RAW images.

■■:: lin:. ■:■■.. E -^<'3- '. i i'iil ^ .-.i-, L.: ¡6 b? l'i.O".^: r-p: ( ) ' v:' '

Figure 5-27: The ACR 6.x main window shows the Basic panel and four automatically opened RAW images.

-v Basic

Tone Curve

Detail (for sharpening and noise reduction)

| i HSL/Grayscale (for selective color tuning and grayscale conversion) = Split Toning (mainly for tinting grayscale images) it* Lens Corrections (Lens distortion, chromatic aberrations, fringing, vignetting, perspective^

Effects (for adding grain and post-crop vignetting) « Camera Calibration (for loading alternate camera profiles) 5= Presets Ql Snapshots

We will describe each toolset in detail, starting with the default Basic tab. ACR Preferences

You can set your ACR preferences in Photoshop (Preferences r Camera Raw), in Bridge (Edit r Camera Raw Preferences), or in ACR itself by clicking the Preferences button IE in the toolbar ©. The resulting dialog is always the one shown in figure 5-28 (next page).

Here, we select the location for saving image settings @ (either as an .xmp sidecar file in the same folder as the image file or in the ACR database). We prefer to use the XMP approach, as this makes it easier to save, send, or relocate the image data together with any corrections we have made. Adobe Bridge, for example, automatically moves or deletes sidecar files together with RAW files.

We usually use the settings shown at ® in figure 5-28. These allow us to set the same default settings for multiple cameras of the same model while still setting different ISO values. This can be helpful if you want to automatically apply stronger noise reduction to images shot using higher ISO values. Usually, we deactivate the Apply auto tone adjustments option. This feature can save time if you are processing large numbers of similar images, but we simply don't like the results it produces very much.

The setting at © determines the size of the cache file that ACR and Bridge use to store image thumbnails. Make sure you choose a file size that is large enough to contain your entire stock of imFigure 5-28: ACR 6 Preferences dial°g ages. If the cache file should become corrupted, you can delete it here. The settings you make are saved in each user's Home folder. The cache file can get very large, so it is sometimes useful to save it to a different location with more disk space.

We use the DNG file handling settings shown at ®, but we don't gener* This setting can be useful if, for example, ally use the settings at © to set ACR to perform non-destructive editing on you want to edit images directly from Bridge. our JPEG and TIFF files.*

Camera Raw Preferences (Version 6.1.0.218}

5ave image settings in I 5idecar '.xmp" fies

Apply sharpening to: ' Preview images only b 111'"•"■•••1

LJ Apply auto tone adjustments

0 Apply auto grayscale mix when converting to grayscale 0 Make defaults specific to camera serial number 0 Make defaults specific to camera ISO setting c i, .. !■:•■ .. -: .iv. :. ..::•!•,

Maximum Size: 12.0 GB (Purge Cache)

^Select Location...^ /Users/juergen/Library/Caches/Adobe Camera Raw/

0 Ignore sidecar ".xmp" files

0 Update embedded JPEG previews: f Full Siz<

J PEC Disable JPEG support

TIFF: Disable TIFF support

Workflow Options

Workflow Options

Figure 5-29: The options in this dialog determine the output parameters for your converted images.

Figure 5-29 illustrates the most important output options for converted images. You can reach this dialog in ACR 5.X/6.X by clicking the Workflow Options button located beneath the ACR preview window (see figure 5-27 ©).

Space • ACR supports four output color spaces (figure 5-30). If you want to produce results in a different color space (e.g., eciRGB or CMYK), use

Figure 5-30: ACR supports four color spaces.

Figure 5-30: ACR supports four color spaces.

Figure 5-31: These are the settings for scaling your output.

a larger color space (such as 16-bit ProPhoto RGB) for your source image and convert your image using Photoshop.

Depth • RAW files can be converted to 8-bit or 16-bit output. We usually use the 16-bit setting in order to preserve the maximum quality and data density in the converted image. If you edit TIFFs and JPEGs using ACR, their initial color depth defines the maximum output color depth.

Size • You can automatically enlarge or reduce your images during conversion. If you want to print your image in a large format, enlarge it here. The scaling algorithm used by ACR is better than Photoshop's bicubic algorithm, and Photoshop's version also uses more computing power and takes longer to process images. A "-" suffix indicates that the selected dimensions are smaller than that of your source image, and a "+" that they are larger.

Resolution • Your converted image will be set to this resolution. We usually retain the standard 240 or 300 ppi setting.

Sharpen For • You can decide whether to have ACR apply additional output sharpening to your image. If Sharpen For is set to None (figure 5-32), the Amount menu remains grayed out. Figure 5-32: These are the output sharpening settings.

Open as Smart Objects • You can also activate an option to have your converted images automatically opened as Smart Objects in Photoshop (section 7.12, page 274). This means you can reopen (in ACR) and adjust the settings of your RAW image simply by double-clicking the corresponding Smart Object in Photoshop. The RAW image data and any additional image settings are embedded in the Photoshop image file. This makes the Photoshop file larger, as it embeds the original RAW file and all of its settings.

Figure 5-31: These are the settings for scaling your output.

Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects

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