CS3 Beta Indepth – Adobe Camera RAW

In our coverage of the CS3 Beta we now look at the new version of Camera RAW and find that it has much in common with the RAW handling in Adobe’s Lightroom.
It is of little surprise that Adobe are moving to a consistent RAW handling across products, and thus that the Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) in CS3 PS and Bridge would follow that in the Lightroom Beta. And so the changes we see in ACR are more those of bringing it into line rather than much that is new. In this light, in this article I’ll not only run through what is new compared to CS2 ACR but also run through how I use most of these features.

On starting ACR CS3 Beta you notice that more tabs have been added on the right, going from the five in CS2 to eight in CS3 Beta. Also appropriate sliders are now in color, which helps to make it very clear what effect the slider will give. The Adjust tab has been renamed Basic and the first thing we see is that the individual Auto buttons are gone, to be replaced by a single Auto or Default selection that works across all the sliders. Frankly, I am not sure at present what I think about this. Personally, I tended (with CS2) to either use Auto on all of them or none, so I don’t think, for me, this is a big loss. I know on the Adobe forums there has been a lot of discussion about this and some people who were in the habit of using Auto on individual sliders only are missing it. So the jury is out on this one.

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
The old

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
The new

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
The inspiration, Lightroom Beta

On the Basic tab White Balance remains the same. The middle section keeps the familiar Exposure, Shadows (changes name to Blacks), Brightness and Contrast sliders, which are joined by Recovery and Fill Light. Now Exposure and Recovery work in a pair, as does Fill Light and Blacks. Exposure can blow out your highlights. Recovery allows you to claw back your highlights without affecting the rest of the exposure. Likewise Fill Light and Blacks work together at the shadow end. Blacks sets the density at which everything goes black and Fill Light claws back your shadows by adding exposure.

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
As the image comes in from Bridge or Photoshop

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
With an image like this, turning on shadow and highlight warnings, via the check boxes near the top of the window, can be a good idea

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Adding Exposure works but can blow out the highlights

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Recovery pulls it back in the highlights. Here I chose to turn off the highlight warning so I could adjust Recovery just enough so that I could pickout the individual headlight beams

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Pulling Blacks right down makes the shadows lighter

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Pulling Blacks up darkens the image by making more of it go to pure black

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Adjusting Fill Light brings the shadows back without affecting the lighter tones too much. The effect is different than leaving Blacks low or increasing exposure

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Saturation will increase color saturation but across all colors, including the face

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Vibrance does not increase color saturation in skin tones

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Convert to grayscale gives us a BW image

Now let’s look at Curves
CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
The RAW image

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Highlights only affects the top part of the curve

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Whereas Lights works on a larger part of the curve

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Darks works on a wide area of the curve

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Whilst Shadows only works on the lowest part of the curve

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
The three triangle sliders control how much of the curve these other adjustments affect

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Here I have used Shadows to put detail back into my daughter’s top, but it has flattened the image and added effects I don’t want

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
So by moving the midpoint slider down to limit how much of the Curve Shadows affects, we can limit
it to just impacting on the black top

HSL/Grayscale
CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
The RAW image

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
We use this to selectively adjust hue, saturation or luminance of different colors or how light or dark the colors translate into in grayscale

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Split Toning for BW. You set the highlight and shadow colors and saturation. The Balance control determines the changeover point

Detail
CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
The RAW image

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Color noise controls visible noise that has a color

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Luminance noise

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Since there is a loss in detail, especially with the luminance control, you adjust the combination of the two to produce the balance you want

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Lens corrections is unchanged

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Camera Calibration is unchanged

CS3 Beta Indepth - Adobe Camera RAW
Presets lets you setup all sorts of saved settings.

So what do I think? Again, I am impressed. Up until now, I must say that I have tended to prefer to do most of my manipulations and adjustments in Photoshop, just using ACR to get a good 16 bit image into PS. I now feel that there is a level of easy control in ACR that will change the way I work, doing more of the image manipulation and adjusts there rather than waiting to do it in PS. So this is another solid upgrade.

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