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Photoshop and the RAW format

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  • Photoshop and the RAW format

    I've got a question that has been nagging me for quite a while now. It's about the RAW format and how it is handled by Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS4.

    When you load a RAW file into Photoshop, does it retain the same extended editing capabilities like it would in ACR, or does it get compressed or downsampled?

    The reason I'm asking is that while I try to do most of my global adjustments in ACR, I prefer to use Photoshop for fine-tuning and artistic effects. Things like converting to black and white, adding tints, fine-tuning contrast with curves, adding targeted adjustments using adjustment layers and masks, dodge & burn, etc.

    With the new Camera RAW out, it has many features that mimic those available in Photoshop, especially the spot removal, gradient and adjustment brushes. Problem is, these tools are much more clumsy and difficult to use compared to Photoshop.

    Like for example, you can use the adjustment brush in ACR to do dodging and burning and localised tone adjustments, and you can use the spot removal tool for cleanup work. I've heard many people say that you have to do all you can while you're in ACR and load the file into Photoshop for the final little adjustments. Is there any benefit in doing adjustments in ACR that could be done much easily in Photoshop? How much does the quality of the final image suffer, if at all?

  • #2
    Re: Photoshop and the RAW format

    Open your RAW file as a Smart Object in Photoshop and you can get the best of both worlds, because you can go back to ACR and make further adjustments after opening in PS, assuming you work with layers and such correctly.

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