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What do you do with an image when you're finished processing it in Camera RAW? You have three choices down at the bottom of the Camera RAW dialog box. You can close it, you can open it into Elements Editor, or you can save it in the DNG format. The first choice is to click the Done button. If I were to do that, that would close the file, but the file would remember the settings that I'd chosen here in Camera RAW to process it, so that the next time I open the RAW file in Camera RAW, it would appear here with all of those settings intact.
Why would I want to reopen a file in Camera RAW? Well, maybe I want to tweak its processing settings, or maybe what I really want to do is open it into Elements Editor, and the way that that is done is to go from here in Camera RAW to Elements Editor, as I'll explain it in a moment. Your second choice for outputting an image you're done processing in Camera RAW is to go over here, and click the Save Image button, which will save a copy of the file in Adobe's special open-source RAW format: the .dng format. I'll click that button, and here's the dialog box that opens, where I can select a destination for the DNG file, I can choose a naming convention, and there are a couple of more options here, which I usually leave it there defaults.
When I click Save, that will save a copy of the RAW file with all of its processing settings in the DNG format. This isn't a bad idea, in my opinion, because one of the reasons that Adobe developed the DNG format, and made it available as an open source format, is to protect against the possibility that individual camera companies, or their proprietary RAW formats, like this Nikon format down here, could become obsolete in the future, leaving you with no way to open those RAW files.
Now, whether that comes to pass or not, and whether the DNG format will become a universal format, and therefore be able to protect against that, we don't yet know. But it can't hurt to have a copy in the DNG format, and you can also click the Done button so that you have an NEF file, along with an XMP file, with your processing settings there too. The third thing that you can do with a file that you're finished processing here in Camera RAW is to open it from Camera RAW directly into Elements Editor.
Before I do that, I go down to this menu, and I choose the amount of information with which I want the file to open in Elements Editor. I can choose from 8 Bits, or 16 Bits. 16 Bit files are large, and can slow down a computer, and importantly, they can't be saved as JPEGs, which you'll need if you're planning to prepare the photo for uploading to the Web, or sending by e-mail. So unless you're planning on printing a large print of the file from Elements Editor, in most cases, 8 Bits is probably enough. And don't worry; choosing 8 Bits, like all your settings in Camera RAW, doesn't harm the original RAW file.
So you're not losing any data, ultimately, by choosing 8 bit here. This just affects the way that the file will open into Elements Editor. So I'll go ahead and do that by clicking the Open Image button. In just a minute, the file does open here into Elements Full Edit workspace. Well, you might be wondering why I would want to open a file like this into the Editor. After all, I just spent a lot of time processing it over in Camera RAW. The answer is that there are a lot of things that you can do to enhance and share a file here in Elements Editor that you can't do in Camera RAW.
What you mainly do in Camera RAW is to process the image globally. In other words, choose settings that affect the entire image. But what if I wanted to make local corrections? Say that I wanted to affect the color and tone of the snow here, but not the squirrel. Or what if I wanted to add layers, or use layer masks? What if I wanted to add text, or combine this photograph with another photograph to make a composite? What if I wanted to make a print, or include this photo in a creative project? What if I wanted to add effects, or filters, or layer styles, or shapes, and more? For all of that, I would have to work on the image here in Elements Editor, because those aren't things that I could accomplish back in Camera RAW.
So that's why you might want to open an image from Camera RAW into Elements Editor. After I did finish working with the file here in Elements Editor, I would want to save it in a non-RAW format, and to do that, I;d go up to the File menu, and as you're familiar with, choose Save As. Choose a format here, and notice that there are no RAW formats in this list, and then save a copy of the file. I'm actually going to cancel out of here for now. So those are the three options for outputting a file that you've finished processing in Camera RAW.
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