My Adobe DNG chat with Eric Chan

For the past several years I’ve used Adobe’s DNG file format to store the raw image data captured by my digital cameras. I convert my Canon CR2 raw files to DNG early in my workflow and don’t keep the original raw captures. I’ve had great success with a DNG workflow and since DNG files contains the original raw image data, I’ve seen no need to retain the native files.

In every class and workshop I teach, the subject of DNG inevitably comes up. There’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty about DNG. So when researching subject matter for my next book, I thought I’d polish up my knowledge of this essential image file format.

In doing so, I reached out to one of today’s leading imaging software developers, Eric Chan, Senior Computer Scientist at Adobe. Following is a [very minimally edited] transcript of our email conversation. (more…)

Lightroom 3.3 and Camera Raw 6.3 available

Last night Adobe released the updates for Lightroom 3.3 and Camera Raw 6.3. If you have earlier versions already installed, you can update them using the internal update mechanism, or you can download them here.

These releases add new lens profiles, raw support for new camera models and a number of perfromance improvements and bug fixes. The updates are recommended for all photographers using the software.

Adobe has also released a new Lens Profile Downloader that allows you to install profiles for a wide range of SLR lenses. Lens profiles correct distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration specifically for the lens used to make the capture. For more on lens profiles and to get the downloader visit Adobe Labs.

For a full list of all the improvements offered in this upgrade click here.

Lightroom and ACR updates today

Today Adobe released Lightroom 2.4 and Adobe Camera Raw 5.4. DNG Converter has also been updated.

These updates provide support for 31 new camera models plus a few bug fixes. They can be downloaded here

Adobe Camera Raw 5.2 update

Adobe has released Camera Raw version 5.2 for CS4, with additional camera support (including the Canon 5D Mark II) and several updates to the ACR processing toolset. ACR 5.2 is not compatible with Photoshop versions earlier than CS4.

Download from Adobe

DNG Converter has also been updated to 5.2. Lightroom will be updated to version 2.2 in December to coincide with the new additions.

Sharing presets between ACR and Lightroom

A recent question from a colleague:

"…we just went over the Camera Raw plug in. We did some custom settings that we saved, and a student was wondering if you can import the Adobe Camera Raw setting in to Lightroom?"

My reply:

If your versions of Lightroom and ACR are in sync with regard to the camera raw version you can use the same presets for both. Find the ACR preset on disk and copy/paste it to the LR Develop presets folder. You will have to restart LR for the preset to show up.

Another way to approach this would be to make your changes in ACR, apply the desired settings to the photo, then save out the metadata (either as a sidecar or into a DNG). Then import the file into LR; the settings for that photo will carry over. Then you can save a Develop preset using the settings from that file.

CS4 now available

Adobe has announced it’s shipping Creative Suite 4, which includes a major upgrade to Photoshop.

There’s a page on Adobe’s site describing the benefits of Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 together.

Read it here

Camera Raw 4.6 and DNG Converter Available

Camera Raw 4.6 and the DNG Converter 4.6 has been posted to Adobe.com for Mac and Windows . This will be the last Camera Raw update for CS3 customers and it includes support for raw formats from the following 15 camera models:

  • Canon 1000D (Digital Rebel XS/EOS Kiss F)
  • Canon 50D
  • Fuji FinePix IS Pro
  • Kodak EasyShare Kodak Z1015 IS
  • Leaf AFi II 6
  • Leaf AFi II 7
  • Leaf Aptus II 6
  • Leaf Aptus II 7
  • Nikon D700
  • Nikon D90
  • Nikon Coolpix P6000
  • Olympus SP-565 UZ
  • Pentax K2000 (K-m)
  • Sigma DP1
  • Sony A900

Adobe is moving quickly towards updates specific to the Camera Raw 5 and the CS4 release. Also expected soon is the official update for Lightroom 2.1.

How to Apply Camera Raw Presets to a Batch of FIles

The Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in will run from within Photoshop and Bridge.

To apply a saved preset or ACR default settings to multiple images, select all the desired raw image files in Bridge and then either double-click one of them or press CTRL+O (or the Command [Apple Key]+O on Mac).

Select multiple files in Bridge
This opens all the selected files in Filmstrip mode in ACR. You will see all the chosen files in a vertical filmstrip running down the left side of the window.

Filmstrip mode in Adobe Camera Raw

From here, you can choose to apply a preset to all or some of the images (use Select All, Shift Select, Control Select etc.).

You can then continue to fine-tune settings for individual images.

When you’re done adjusting settings in ACR, use the Save Image…, Open or Done buttons to move them through the workflow.

Using this method, you can batch process large numbers of images in ACR and save them, for example, as resized JPGs for web, DNG files with embedded metadata, whatever.

Adobe Bridge vs. Adobe Lightroom

Many people ask whether it’s better to use Bridge or Lightroom.

I use both, for different purposes.

If I need to quickly find an image and I know its location, or I need to quickly look into a folder full of images, I will use Bridge.

However, I use Lightroom for transfering raw captures to the computer, adding metadata, ranking, cropping, and processing (developing) the raw images. I go as far as possible within Lightroom before I take a file into Photoshop, usually only for sharpening, selective/localized editing such as dodging and burning, or soft-proofing prior to printing.

The key differences between Lightroom and Bridge:

1. Lightroom is a standalone product and must be purchased separately; Bridge comes included with full versions of Photoshop.

2. Lightroom uses a powerful database to perform non-destructive editing (with unlimited undos) and provides for very fast searching within large numbers of images. Bridge is a file browser, meaning it can show you the contents of a folder and will preview files, but doesn’t keep track of the status or settings for any of the images.

3. Lightroom has a raw processing engine built-in, Bridge uses the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in. However, the raw processors in current versions of  Lightroom and Bridge/ACR are essentially identical.

Personally, for the majority of reviewing and editing my photos, I generally prefer Lightroom for its streamlined workflow and its database capabilities. But for people who don’t wish to spend the money or take the time to learn a new program, Bridge with ACR is a totally competent solution.

Introduction to Digital Photo Workflow

A digital photography workflow is the sequence of steps you take to capture, process and output your images. An effective workflow is one that you can follow repeatedly and that will save you time and provide the best possible results.

The right workflow for one person may not be appropriate for another due to a variety of factors such as personal preferences and skills, available software, shooting style/subject matter and time requirements. However, the best digital photo workflows share a common set of basic steps. (Each step may be comprised of a number of variables, the details of which are not covered here.)

To develop a workflow that suits you, consider your skill level, equipment (camera and computer), subject matter and your intentions for the final images. Your workflow will evolve as your situation changes over time.

Step 1. Capture
Using your digital camera, capture your photos in either RAW or JPG mode. RAW provides the highest quality but requires processing in the computer. JPG is lower quality but can be viewed and shared (such as in email attachments) right out of the camera. (more…)

Fine Tune Contrast with Saturation at -100

In Adobe Camera Raw, you can make better contrast adjustments if you pull back the Saturation to -100. Removing the color allows you to concentrate on the tonal relationships in the image. After getting a very nice-looking grayscale image, bring the Saturation back in.

Batch Processing with ACR

You can load multiple images into Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) from Bridge. Simply shift-select a range of images and do one of the following:

1. Press Cmd+O (Ctrl+O) to open the files into ACR being hosted by Photoshop.

2. Press Cmd+R (Ctrl+R) to open the files into ACR being hosted by Bridge.

Once in ACR, you can select individual images from the filmstrip to apply adjustments or change settings for multiple images. You can synchronize adjustments between files.

When you’re done making any adjustments to the raw image settings, press Cmd+A or Ctrl+A to select all the files in the filmstrip, or shift-select specific images to be batch processed.

At the bottom right of the ACR window, click one of the following buttons:

1. Click Save… to convert the raw files and save as a different format, such as DNG or PSD, without opening the files.

2. Click Open to convert the raw files and open them into Photoshop.

3. Click Done to apply all the changes you made to image settings without converting or opening the images.

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