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So one of the most frequently asked questions that I get is, why should you use Adobe Camera Raw to process your files? Why wouldn't you just go directly into Photoshop and start editing there? Well, let's take a few minutes to talk about the five top reasons to start in Adobe Camera Raw. First of all, everything that you do in Adobe Camera Raw is nondestructive. You can change as many sliders as you want and you can always return to the original. Not to be too technical, but when you move a slider in Adobe 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 one stop, all Camera Raw does is say, hey, let's preview this image with a plus-one stop exposure. 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 the changes that you make in Adobe Camera Raw, it does write these changes to a sidecar file--well, to a sidecar file in the case of a camera manufacturer's proprietary file format. So like if you were shooting with a Cannon, that would be the CRW file, or a Nikon has its NEF file.
These sets of instructions, these sidecar files, can be changed or updated or deleted at any time. It's not until you actually open the file into Photoshop that these changes that you make in Camera RAW, these sets of instructions that it's keeping track of in the sidecar files, get applied to the raw data and are opened then as a pixel-based file in Photoshop. The second advantage is that Camera Raw has a built-in workflow. The features in the panels are structured so you can follow them, taking the guesswork out of what you're supposed to do.
It's really difficult sometimes for a beginner to just open a file in Photoshop and know if they are supposed to use a tool or use a menu or work on some of the panels. So Camera Raw really simplifies that. Camera Raw also works with JPEG files and TIFF files. Although it's not intuitive because it's called Camera Raw, it's fantastic that we work with these files, so that once you learn the settings in Camera Raw, you can apply them to all of your photographs.
Camera Raw can also be automated. It's really easy to apply changes to hundreds of photos at a time. You can synchronize changes. You can copy and paste settings. You can even save presets to apply to different photos. Now obviously, Photoshop can also be automated, but learning how to record and create actions is much more difficult than simply creating a preset in Camera Raw. And finally, Camera Raw has a really simple learning curve.
Photoshop has layers and masks and selections and adjustment layers, all of those building blocks that make Photoshop the powerful image editing tool that it is, but it's a lot to learn at once, and Adobe Camera Raw is so much easier. So now that we know the advantages of using Camera Raw, it's time to see the workflow in action.
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