Facing the inevitable – Taking another look at Camera RAW in Photoshop CS4.

cameraraw_screengrab

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing around with Camera Raw in Adobe Photoshop CS4. The CS4 version has the local adjustments feature that Lightroom has had for quite some time now.

For whatever reason I never really fell in love with Lightroom and thus missed out on this wonderful feature. Capture One was my preferred software package. I hated knowing that the local adjustments feature existed and I wasn’t using it, but I felt that the image quality of Capture One made up for what I was missing out on.

Well, I gave the whole thing another go with Camera Raw in Adobe Photoshop CS4, I could resist no longer. True that I absolutely love Capture One, but in the end it’s just a tool and it would be stupid to get attached to it.

For files that are intended to end up as large prints, hanging in someone’s house or a gallery, Capture One is still my number one choice, but the convenience of local adjustments is too much to overlook for images that aren’t getting upsized too much. I feel that I will definitely make room for working with RAW files in Photoshop CS4.

Those who have Lightroom 2 already know how convenient it is to be able to adjust only select parts of an image, while you are still working with the RAW file. Local adjustments feature in Lightroom 2 is probably the major reason why many photographers are bypassing Photoshop all together. I still wouldn’t go so far as to stop using Photoshop, this is the only tool that allows me to do all the fine adjustments that I desire, but around 80% of the work can certainly be done in Lightroom 2 or Camera RAW in the new Photoshop.

I’ve provided a part of an image above, which is in the process of being edited in Camera RAW and it is already looking decent enough that only minor things will need to be done in Photoshop.

I am inclined towards making that PDF tutorial and I will now focus on the workflow in Camera RAW, which in its features is almost identical to Lightroom 2. There will still be some stuff that can only be done in Photoshop itself, or done more effectively in Photoshop, but most of the things can be accomplished in Lightroom.

I’m building a new website for the next couple of weeks or so, but before long I will have something up for those who are interested.

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7 Responses to “Facing the inevitable – Taking another look at Camera RAW in Photoshop CS4.”

  1. ankurcd Says:

    Hello Mitchell,

    Inspiration and information – your blog is a source of both for serious hobbyists like myself. Sincere thanks.

    And that post-production tutorial PDF is a great idea. Period.

    From your concept to intended content and price – it’s perfect. People who are familiar with your work and have followed your blog know that you will make the tutorial worth every dime if not more.

    Best wishes, Ankur.

  2. prashant khapane Says:

    Local adjustments feature in Lightroom 2 is probably the major reason why many photographers are bypassing Photoshop all together. >>

    Well, imho it is a very immature tool that local adjustment in both LR2.0 and ACR. If this is the reason many people are moving to Lr2.0 then it is very wrong. Adobe has still a lot to learn from NIK software and perhaps that is reason why they have NIK tools as plug-ins now. Agree NIK is expensive but it is that much better than LAT in LR2.0.

  3. Mitchell Says:

    Prashant, I don’t totally agree with you there. Immature in comparison to what? To Nik Software, maybe (I use Nik plug-ins from time to time and think they are great), but if you compare to Capture One or some other stuff out there, then local adjustments are pretty awesome. In any case, plug-ins are a whole different subject and as you mention they are far from free. Nik plug-ins are extremely useful, but it’s not like one can’t live without them. They are all tools in the end. It’s like having a simple screw driver and an electric one:).
    However you have reminded me that they’ve made Nik plug-ins for Lightroom and now I see that Viveza and Color Efex are available. I’m off to download the trial versions and play around:)

  4. Mitchell Says:

    Ok, I’ve tried the Color Efex plug-in for Lightroom and the whole idea behind it is not as cool as I would have liked it to be. It’s not even a plug-in as such, it acts as an external editor.

    The file you worked on is saved as a TIFF (with all the adjustments you’ve applied in Lightroom) and then you do whatever you need in Color Efex pop up window. When you return, you return to the TIFF file, you can still apply all the Lightroom adjustments/effects, but as far as I’ve seen you cannot tweak whatever you’ve done in Color Efex. If the effect is too strong you have to re-do it.

    I much prefer to do the whole thing with layer masks in Photoshop. In that case if the effect is too strong or too strong in a certain part of the image, you simply “paint it out” in the layer mask.

  5. prashant khapane Says:

    Ok, I’ve tried the Color Efex plug-in for Lightroom and the whole idea behind it is not as cool as I would have liked it to be. It’s not even a plug-in as such, it acts as an external editor. >>>
    Yes, it bugs me too. However I got an email from NIK software that soon it will be like part of the lightroom. Changes will be written to the xmp file. The day it happens I will probably need no photoshop.

    What I meant for the TAT adjustments is that – try it on a slow computer it just hangs. And the whole idea just does not work as effectively as it is supposed to be. So my point was that it can be the selling point. It is a ‘nice to have’ feature but not as effective. Yet.

  6. Daniel S Says:

    Mitchell- Another great post. Looking for forward to more in the future now that you’re not on the road. Great to get your insights into a good workflow for post-processing.

  7. Erica D. Lawson Says:

    I’ve been using Photoshop CS2 for some time now, really feel like getting the newer CS4. Reading the posts makes me even more keen to upgrade. I’m a kind of a noob when it comes to learning a new program. Is there a major difference between the 2 programs, or can I easily start using CS4 as I’ve used CS2 before?

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