So why should you use Adobe Camera Raw to process your files? Why not go directly into Photoshop and start editing there. Well, let's take a few minutes to talk about the 5 reasons to start in Camera Raw. First of all, everything you do in Adobe Camera Raw is non destructive. You can change as many sliders as you want and always return to the original starting point. Not to be too technical, but when you move a slider in Camera Raw, it's only assigning a set of instructions that tells Camera Raw how to display the image. So if you move the exposure slider up 1 stop, all Camera Raw does is say, hey, let's save a set of instructions that will preview this image with a 1-stop exposure.
Now you might have heard this referred to as parametric editing as opposed to pixel based editing, which is what Photoshop is so good at. In order to save each one of the changes to the slider, Camera Raw writes these changes to a side car file. Well it writes it to a side car file in the case of a camera manufacturer's proprietary raw file format. Such as the NEF or CRW, and that's because camera raw doesn't want to write changes into those proprietary formats because its afraid it might break those file formats by writing the information in the wrong place.
So you might have seen these little side car files next to your original raw files in the operating system. They're going to be named the same as your original document, but they'll be dot xmp files. Now, in the case of a DNG file or in the case of a JPEG file, those changes that you make in Camera Raw can be stored directly into the file itself, because those are standard file formats, so Camera Raw knows exactly where to put the information. Either way if you are working with your proprietary raw files or the standard d and g format or jpeg. Those changes can be updated or deleted at any time. Its not until you open a file in Photoshop that these changes that you are making Camera Raw, the ones that are being stored as either side car files or are been pushed into the d and g or jpeg files.
It's not until you open those in Photoshop that the sets of instructions get applied to the raw data and are opened as a corrected, pixel based file in Photoshop. The second advantage is that Camera Raw has a built in workflow. The features in the sliders and the panels are all structured and you can follow them taking the guess work out of what you're suppose to do. Sometimes it's really difficult for a beginner when you open a file into Photoshop to know if they're suppose to use a menu or a tool or work with the panels. In Camera Raw, it's really quite simple because all you need to do is start in the basic panel and then click through the other panel tabs for additional options.
Another advantage is that Camera Raw works not only with raw files but also with JPF files as well as TIF files. So even though it's called Camera Raw, you can work with all these different file formats. So once you learn the settings and how to apply them, you can then use them to correct or enhance all of your photographs. The fourth advantage is that Camera Raw can be automated. It's really easy to apply changes to hundreds of photos at a time. You can make changes to 1 image and then synchronize them.
You can copy paste changes from 1 image to another and you can even save presets to apply to different photos. Now, obviously Photoshop can also be automated but learning how to create and record actions is much more difficult than simply creating a preset in camera raw. Finally, camera raw has a really simple learning curve. Of course, Photoshop has layers and it has masking and selections and type and adjustment layers. And all of those building blocks are what make Photoshop the most powerful image editing tool on Earth.
But, it's a lot to learn. Camera raw is so much easier. So now that we know the advantages of using camera raw, it's time to see the work flow in action.
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