33 Replies Latest reply on Sep 17, 2008 10:23 PM by Ramón G Castañeda

    How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?

      What is typically done in ACR vs Photoshop? ACR is quicker, any reason to avoid things there?

      Also, if I make a change in ACR, how can I reverse it?

      Thanks!
        • 1. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
          Level 1
          What makes sense for working in Camera Raw are those things that you can do across multiple images such as global tone & color and things like spot healing. There the work you do on one image can be propagated to hundreds of images.

          It's also useful to nail the overall tone curve while not clipping important detail. White balance also makes sense to do in CR as well as highlight recovery when needed.

          The CR workflow really dictates that when possible, you make changes to as many images as possible in an automated manner. If you are only needing to work on one hero image, do as much as you can in CR and finish in Ps. Massive retouching in Camera Raw doesn't make sense though...
          • 2. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
            Level 1
            Just to add to Jeff's post: I often load a group of similar images into ACR to select the best shots out of many. For example one can easily discard images with less than perfect focus if one enlarges all images to 100% and then discards all images that do not meet the requirement. Simply clicking "done" erases all images that are crossed out for deletion and applies selected settings to the keepers.

            @Jeff: In this context I noticed that the current 4.5 version does not always update all changes (e.g. tone curve or camera profile) to all images that were modified in ACR after I click "done". Sometimes only some of the images get the update stored and some do not. Is this a bridge problem or an ACR problem and is this a known bug?
            • 3. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
              Level 1
              > Is this a bridge problem or an ACR problem and is this a known bug?

              It's not an ACR problem...and I've not seen it on any of my systems. The basic troubleshooting for Bridge is to purge the cache and reset the preferences...
              • 4. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                Level 1
                Regarding "if I make a change in ACR, how can I reverse it?"

                There are different answers depending what situation you're talking about. "Changes" to images in ACR (or Lightroom, which uses Camera Raw) are [almost?] always non-destructive. You're changing metadata stuff, not pixels. In Lightroom, there is a "History" feature, so if by "reverse" you mean "undo," you can use that.

                Perhaps you mean something like: "Now that I've opened this raw file into Photoshop and made a number of changes and adjustments, I now wish I'd made a different choice back at the beginning, when I had it open in Camera Raw."

                You actually CAN do that, but instead of just clicking the button labeled "Open Image," you must hold down the shift key first (the button title changes to "Open Object"). When you click the button then, the image will appear in Photoshop *almost* as usual.

                You can make many changes (but not any that directly edit pixels), then return to the image in the Camera Raw dialog by double-clicking the layer thumbnail.

                Google on something like: photoshop open raw file as smart object.

                eo
                • 5. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                  Level 1
                  Thanks for the valuable information.

                  Maybe I can clarify on the issue of reversing changes made in ACR. I played around with a few files in ACR, changing crop, light balance, etc., and must have hit "done" instead of cancel. I never went into Photoshop itself. Those images that I made ACR changes to show the changes while viewed in Bridge, and they have little icons showing that changes were made. The question is this - say you want to undo the crop or white balance change you made in ACR. How do you do that?

                  Ithink I undertand your reference to smart objects ok. Do you do that routinely when opening a file into Photoshop?
                  • 6. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                    JimHess-8IPblY Level 3
                    If all you want to do is clear the crop, just open the image in ACR. Then click and hold on the crop tool icon, and a menu will appear. One of the options on that menu is to clear the crop.

                    You can also reset the white balance while you are in ACR.

                    If you want to "restore" the image to its original state, just right click on the image in Bridge, go to the Camera Settings option, and under that option you will find Clear Settings. Choosing that option will get rid of all the settings you have adjusted.

                    Just remember that all changes that you make to your image in ACR are only recorded as metadata changes. And that metadata can always be deleted so that you see just what the raw file contains. Your image data is never modified in ACR.
                    • 7. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                      Bill_Janes Level 2
                      >What is typically done in ACR vs Photoshop? ACR is quicker, any reason to avoid things there?

                      In ACR you are working with linear data (no gamma encoding) at the full resolution of the camera (usually 12 or 14 bits). White balance is much easier to do with linear data. If you are using 8 bit files in PS, then editing the tone curve (black point, white point, midpoint, curves, etc) will result in considerable data loss, but this is less of a problem with the 16 bit mode.

                      The nice thing about editing in ACR is that the changes are recorded in compact form as metadata and the raw data are left intact. If you edit in PS, you probably want to save the edit as a TIFF and this increases storage requirements.

                      >Also, if I make a change in ACR, how can I reverse it?

                      Just to add to what others have noted, Ctr-Z (Cmd-Z) undoes the last operation and Ctr-Alt-Z (Cmd-Opt-Z) does multiple undo. Double clicking on the slider controls resets the tool to default.
                      • 8. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                        Level 1
                        My two cents:

                        I do all I can in ACR for fine art, limited edition, landscape prints (quality not speed is my primary concern). About 90% of my work is done in ACR if I was to guess.

                        I NEVER sharpen in ACR, ever! I do that in PS at the very last stage after sizing a copy of my image and I find the USM (used in a very advanced custom way) in PS still king of the hill with no competitors.

                        I tend to deal with limited chrominance noise reduction in PS LAB mode and NOT in ACR. But if speed was my main concern, then I certainly would use the chrominance reduction in ACR.

                        In ACR, always allow a little room for your black and white points, because these CHANGE when changing color spaces. Sometimes you will clip things if you get those end points too perfect in ACR. Allow for a little fine tuning contrast adjustments to be done in PS.

                        I NEVER do the chromatic aberration repair in ACR! It messes with EVERY pixel in the image (that simply does not sit with me well at all!). Instead, I will do a Chromatic Aberration fix with the Lens Correction Filter in PS on a LAYER, then selectively erase only the aberrations from specific areas of the image.

                        I NEVER do my speck and sensor dust removal in ACR. Little indications of the removal are almost always visable when broght into PS and zoomed up on. I stick to the healing brush in PS.

                        I do not do my color saturation in ACR. I find much better seperation/variation in LAB mode.
                        • 9. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                          Level 1
                          >I NEVER sharpen in ACR, ever!

                          Then you are wasting a very powerful tool that is far more powerful than anything in Photoshop.
                          • 10. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                            MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee
                            An advantage of doing CA correction in CR/LR is that it can actually make your image sharper, therefore lessening the need for heavy duty sharpening later.

                            Remember, CA is basically misfocusing of light rays of different wavelengths and leads to a blur. If that blur can be corrected at the raw level, overall image sharpness can improve significantly.
                            • 11. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                              annick vanderschelden Level 1
                              >Remember, CA is basically misfocusing of light rays of different wavelengths and leads to a blur. If that blur can be corrected at the raw level, overall image sharpness can improve significantly.

                              I often use a Canon 400mm f2.8 L lens. I don't think there's a lot of misfocusing of light rays with such a lens. On the other hand it's a telelens.
                              I use ACR in Lightroom for editing and then do the final retouching in PS CS3.
                              This includes USM sharpening. I don't sharpen in ACR. Would you recommend the latter for sharpening? Or is your message to work as much as possible in ACR including sharpening and then go to PS for the icing on the cake?
                              Secondly you can't do selective sharpening in ACR. So when you apply
                              CA sharpening, the blurred background is involved as well. Don't you get a noisy effect then?
                              • 12. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                Level 1
                                Ok, I'll honestly be open minded here since you have a very established name of expertise, but would you tell me WHY? Please take the following into consideration:

                                I custom sharpen in multiple layers taking different frequencies into consideration.

                                I thrive on confining my sharpening to specific tonal ranges.

                                I like to sharpen both using comprehensive edge masks, and not using them (for the same image) and then by the use of layers, I adjust the opacity of the DIFFERENCES between the two to have further control on "non edge" areas..

                                Lastly, I am a LAB hound who does not want to alter the colors of pixels, even in the slightest, and I know increases in contrast in RGB also intensify and alter colors (not to mention what it does to noise).

                                I am making very large fine art gallery prints and do considerable interpolation and do not understand how sharpening a much smaller file prior to massively up-sizing it, would be beneficial.

                                If ACR is "far more powerful" than this approach, could you help me understand how it could be?
                                • 13. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                  Level 1
                                  >If ACR is more powerful than this approach, could you help me understand how it could be?

                                  If you aren't familiar with using the tools then you certainly won't be able to use them to their maximumwhich is what you WANT to be doing rather than deferring work into Photoshop.

                                  The "LAB hound" comment is a good clue that much of Camera Raw's power and functionality is being lost on you. Yes, increasing contrast will effect saturation (not hues) but you have an infinite amount of control over saturation in Camera Raw (well, maybe not infinite but at last count 12 separate controls when you count Saturation, Vibrance, Split Tone and the 8 saturations controls of HSL).

                                  People tend to be more comfortable doing things from habit rather than learning new tools and functionality. Both capture sharpening and chromatic aberrations should be done in the raw pipeline to get optimal images in Photoshop (rather than trying to do the work post color conversion). Additionally, while Camera Raw currently doesn't support local adjustments (CR 4.5 WILL process them if done in Lightroom 2 and exported as DNG), it's expected future versions of Camera Raw will have local adjustments. And, again, failing to maximize the functionality of Camera Raw in the processing pipeline is a wast of time when multiple steps must be done in Photoshop as opposed to a few steps in Camera Raw.

                                  Really, I don't care whether you do the work in Camera Raw or Photoshop...but to ignore the functionality of Camera Raw simply isn't prudent and efficient. Some people advocate doing little or nothing in Camera Raw and doing all the heavy lifting in Photoshop. That attitude is generally born from a lack of knowledge and experience with working with Camera Raw...and that approach isn't really usefulnot if what you are trying to accomplish is the optimal image quality available in digital captures.
                                  • 14. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                    MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee
                                    annick, clearly the degree of CA present will depend on the lens you use, and with long lenses, depending on whether you use extenders. Lateral CA is common with wide-angle lenses. Stick a 1.4x or 2x extender on any of the Canon super teles and it'll be clearly more pronounced. My original point stands: if there is lateral CA in the image, chances are good that you will get a sharper image overall, with fewer artifacts, if the CA correction is performed at the raw level, early in image processing, compared to doing it later on (or trying to compensate via higher levels of sharpening).

                                    On a more general note, this is one of the advantages of the design of a raw converter like CR/LR: the processing stages have been ordered extremely carefully in an effort to maximize image quality.

                                    With regards to sharpening in CR/LR, you should not see any changes to the hue or saturation of a pixel as a result of sharpening, because CR/LR performs the appropriate color transformation to prevent color fringing/shifts from happening. (Mathematically, this is not the same as doing sharpening on the L* channel in L*a*b* space, nor the same as doing sharpening on a separate layer and using Luminosity blending, but the principle is the same.)

                                    Don't get me wrong. You will surely have the ultimate, pixel-level control in PS. No argument there. That doesn't mean you can't use the controls in CR/LR to make your image even stronger.
                                    • 15. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                      Level 1
                                      Jeff, I'm still confused. Sorry, and please bare with me!

                                      "If you aren't familiar with tools..."

                                      I work in ACR as a full time fine art photographer professional, and have yet to meet anyone (face to face that is) who knows more about it, or how to practically apply it than I do. I work on my images up to 18 hours a day, and always try to get virtually everything done in ACR to produce maximum quality images at the largest gallery print sizes. As a side note here, I don't care how long my workflow takes or how comprehensive the effort must be, I am always attempting to maximize the absolute quality of my product.

                                      "Both capture sharpening and chromatic aberrations should be done in the raw pipeline to get optimal images"

                                      With the sharpening, could you refer me to WHY?

                                      I think I already gave you a good idea how I sharpen for optimal results over speed. So how is ACR sharpening better than my aforementioned approach? If I can constrict my sharpening to very specific tonal ranges (as example, using PS Layer Style "blend if") can sharpen a variety of different frequencies on different layers, can sharpen detail without effecting color at all, can sharpen having total control on edge areas (comprehensive edge masks - and a variety of opacities of those masks) and (mainly) am not aware of ANY benefit of sharpening an image prior to interpolating up massively (for very large prints)...

                                      What am I not understanding about ACR sharpening?

                                      Side note: (and sorry to say this) the sharpening effect in ACR just looks a little weird to me. Again, I am not trying to argue AT ALL. I am simply trying to understand why I would sharpen there, and why it would produce a superior result.

                                      As far as the Chromatic aberrations go, I think you might be right that they are best dealt with in ACR. But I would add, maybe brought into PS as a layer, so one could decide (and have the power and control of) which pixels get changed and which ones don't. I may be wrong, but I believe I have had images that I have done Chromatic Aberration adjustments on, that I also could see a semi-global adjustment of larger areas that were not necessarily aberrations. I don't like losing control of pixels or moderate sized areas of pixels, changing without my permission! Lately, along with dealing with the aberrations in PS layers, I have also used some localized AB channel blurring with nice results.

                                      "The "LAB hound" comment is a good clue that much of Camera Raw's power and functionality is being lost on you"

                                      Maybe you are right, but I don't think so. Mainly I do the color separation/variation there (which I find often produces very dramatic results over RGB).

                                      Then, since I have already made the move over to LAB, I might as well do last fine tuning of contrast/tone, maybe some minor local chrominance noise reduction, and then of course the sharpening.

                                      Lastly, I want to reiterate... I am not here to argue, but am here to learn.
                                      • 16. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                        Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                                        > but am here to learn.

                                        Then THIS is essential reading for you.
                                        • 17. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                          Level 1
                                          I have nothing useful to add to this, but I would like to make an
                                          observation.
                                          Ive noticed that photographers fall into 2 broad groups. Those who look
                                          for the easiest way to get what they want, and those that seem to enjoy
                                          finding the hardest way to get what they want. One old time film
                                          photographer, whose name I cant remember at the moment, claimed he was
                                          going to write a book called photography made hard for the latter group.
                                          These groups have existed in photography long before digital photography. I
                                          fall into the first group but why should I tell the latter group their
                                          wrong. Its what ever that floats your boat. But if I was in the
                                          Photography made hard group, I would try the easy way and see if I or
                                          anybody else could see the difference.

                                          John Passaneau
                                          • 18. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                            Level 1
                                            Thank you Ramón.

                                            I've have read the CS2 version about 10 times until it was literally falling apart (loved the book and found it a favorite second only to "Photoshop LAB Color" by Dan Margulis) but when I browsed through the CS3 updated version I did not see (at least at a glance) much new or changed material. I will get it by the way. I really liked Bruce.
                                            • 19. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                              Level 1
                                              "those that seem to enjoy
                                              finding the hardest way to get what they want"


                                              That does seem to be a bit of a slant on the camp I am in. I would term it "a more comprehensive way to get a better result."

                                              I am in the business of trying to produce the best possible print results I can. I see a big, real world difference when I compare a print done the simpler "easy" way, compared to the very careful masterful way (large prints exaggerate everything). Since we are putting these images into galleries to be scrutinized by all including critics, we want to make sure all steps in our workflow are optimized.

                                              I do not consider it "hard" in any way, because I absolutely LOVE the work and the entire process.

                                              I do admit that if I was not in the higher end, fine art, gallery side of photography (and making big prints) I would likely gravitate more towards simple and easier, as I did when doing weddings, and various production photography. Many of these differences simply do not show up on small to mid sized prints.

                                              I think the two camps might be termed: production and fine art.
                                              • 20. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                                                Yes, it's been very obvious that you're in the Margulis camp. (I'm not, but that's irrelevant.)

                                                I think Jeff has done a superb job with the latest edition of the Camera Raw book.
                                                • 21. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                  Level 1
                                                  >when I browsed through the CS3 updated version I did not see (at least at a glance) much new or changed material

                                                  Uh, that would be chapters 4 & 5, which if you got the book would tell you how better to take advantage of the myriad of new tools introduced into Camera Raw 4.x. If all you know how to really use is Camera Raw 3.x then you are not really in a position to take full advantage of the massive increase of functionality found in Camera Raw 4 in Photoshop CS3. Chapters 1-3 I didn't bother to update much if at all because Bruce had already done it right. Chapters 6-9 got extensive updates...4 & 5 were written fresh from the ground up (because so much had changed).
                                                  • 22. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                    Level 1
                                                    >"Both capture sharpening and chromatic aberrations should be done in the raw pipeline to get optimal images"

                                                    >With the sharpening, could you refer me to WHY?

                                                    Because both are done inside of the environs of the raw processing pipeline and is designed to integrate optimally with the demosiacing so you get the best possible image into Photoshop to start with.

                                                    If you aren't doing both the capture sharpening AND the CA correction (as well as possibly using the defringe) then you are leaving image quality on the table. That's why.
                                                    • 23. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                      Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                                                      > If all you know how to really use is Camera Raw 3.x

                                                      That would be very, very sad.

                                                      Just for ACR 4.5, the update to CS3 is a no brainer.
                                                      • 24. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                        MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee
                                                        It would be cool to have a way to configure default prefs for these forums so that it shows you __all__ the messages.
                                                        • 25. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                          Level 1
                                                          Eric_Chan@adobeforums.com wrote:
                                                          > It would be cool to have a way to configure default prefs for these forums so that it shows you __all__ the messages.

                                                          Use NNTP :)

                                                          -X
                                                          • 26. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                            Level 1
                                                            I'll certainly get the book, and read those additional chapters thoroughly! That was definitely an absolute favorite book of mine! I'm sure the new version will replace the old as my new fav.

                                                            "If all you know how to really use is Camera Raw 3.x then you are not really in a position to take full advantage of the massive increase of functionality found in Camera Raw 4 in Photoshop CS3."

                                                            I have stayed on top of all ACR upgrades. I have dove into learning how to use the new tools ASAP (but am humble enough to say I am still learning, and asking many questions). I use the newest version of ACR every day, full time as a professional anywhere from 6 on up to 18 hours a day. So, I am not a ACR dummy.

                                                            Will someone comprehensively explain to me (or link me to resources) HOW the ACR sharpening beats my 2X aforementioned (in this thread) comprehensive approach to sharpening? Is it explained in the new version of my favorite book (Real World ACR with PS CS3)?

                                                            Jeff, thank you. Your answer here (below) does begin to address my questions (but leaves a lot to be desired). I am thirsting for more info, and proven examples/tests. Any other resources you could direct me to? I would be very thankful!

                                                            "Because both are done inside of the environs of the raw processing pipeline and is designed to integrate optimally with the demosiacing so you get the best possible image into Photoshop to start with.

                                                            If you aren't doing both the capture sharpening AND the CA correction (as well as possibly using the defringe) then you are leaving image quality on the table. That's why.
                                                            • 27. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                              Level 1
                                                              While doing further research today I found JEFF's PDF article: "Image Sharpening - Make it really sharp" online.

                                                              This statement caught my eye, sheds light on this issue of ACR sharpening and begins to convert my thinking about ACR capture sharpening vs sharpening last thing in PS after sizing:

                                                              "The input or "capture sharpening" (ACR) is the first leg of the sharpening workflow. The aim is to introduce the correct amount of pre sharpening that regains the sharpness lost during digitization while being very careful to not do any harm to the image. You need to work the edges and consider the nature of the source to produce the correct sharpening process"

                                                              ...To regain the sharpness lost during digitization (converting a steady stream of photons into little squares). I have been under the impression (from previous - maybe outdated research) that if you are going to interpolate an image upward considerably, then this type of artificial edge contrast enhancement is best left to be done last thing? Now I'm not so sure, based on respecting Jeff's word here.

                                                              I guess tests (I have been doing them all day today) will really be the rubber meeting the road. Have these tests already been done, and if so, are they accessible somewhere?
                                                              • 28. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                                MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee
                                                                Mark, you seem to be really into the nitty gritty of the sharpening workflow, which is completely fine. That said, the only tests that are going to be useful to you are the ones that you run yourself and judge with your own eyes. Going by what somebody else sees with their (different) eyes and brains won't provide the same level of info.
                                                                • 29. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                                  Level 1
                                                                  Eric Chan - 7:05am Sep 16, 08 PST (#29 of 29)

                                                                  Mark, you seem to be really into the nitty gritty of the sharpening workflow, which is completely fine. That said, the only tests that are going to be useful to you are the ones that you run yourself and judge with your own eyes. Going by what somebody else sees with their (different) eyes and brains won't provide the same level of info.


                                                                  Thank you .
                                                                  You are probably right Eric.

                                                                  I guess I have already benefited a lot by the introduction of some new ideas here that may lead to a superior result, but I guess I'll have to put the words to the test. It will certainly take some time, but when I get to that point, I'm sure I'll feel confident about relaying my conclusions. Maybe I'll come back and share them here.
                                                                  • 30. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                                    MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee
                                                                    Definitely worth sharing them and could be very educational.

                                                                    The key point is that although very good guidelines can be set for sharpening, like any aspect of image quality it is subjective and if you're very picky then it's more likely you'll have to run your own tests.
                                                                    • 31. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                                      Level 1
                                                                      I spent all day studying ACR sharpening, and have to admit somehow, the "how" and exactly "what" of it, I somehow missed. My new conclusion...

                                                                      It kicks tail!

                                                                      I'm getting "why" it is so powerful. And also I finally know the little tricks of how to use it and what it is doing that other sharpeners are not. Surely don't have it mastered or anything like that, but I'm excited for the extra boost in image quality in my large prints from a bit of intelligent Capture Sharpening.".

                                                                      THANKS JEFF!!!

                                                                      For taking time to help me understand...
                                                                      • 32. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                                        Level 1
                                                                        >I'm getting "why" it is so powerful.

                                                                        Yep...it's not designed to be a "sharpening for effect" sort of thing but specifically to do what Bruce advocated which is capture sharpeningregaining the loss of sharpness due to the digital process.

                                                                        The 2nd and 3rd stages of the workflow; creative sharpening (often done on a local basis) and output sharpening then combine for the optimal output. Putting them all together will result in getting the optimal detail out of your images...
                                                                        • 33. Re: How much to do in ACR vs Photoshop?
                                                                          Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                                                                          Which is why PhotokitSharpener is so great.  Now, if I could only get back into the Pixelgenius forums ;)<br /> <br /> (That's a blatant, shameless reference to:<br /> <br /> <a href="/webx?14@@.3bb6a869.59b678a3/16">Ramón G Castañeda, "ACR INTERPOLATION UPSIZING" #17, 14 Sep 2008 9:00 pm</a> )<br /> <blockquote><br /> Ramón G Castañeda  - 9:00pm Sep 14, 08 PST (#17 of 41)            <br /><br /><u><b>OFF TOPIC</b></u>:<br /><br />Since you mention Pixelgenius, do they have another email address (other than <community-support@pixelgenius.com>)?<br /><br />I have had no responses for my requests for help accessing the forum for about a month</blockquote>