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Thanks for responding. I hardly ever accept the default ACR settings. My problem was that I was NOT making any changes to the RAW file. All I wanted to do was to convert it to a jpg. I think my problem was with Adobe Bridge, though, because once I opened it up in Photoshop, it looked much better, even though it looked horrible in Bridge.
In fact, now Bridge is giving me a different problem. After I save a file as a jpg, it shows up in my Bridge browser. If I click to view it in bridge, the bottom half is completely obliterated with horizonal colored bands. (Looks like the graphics card dying, except it's only in Bridge.)Only random files this happens with. If I open that same file in any other program, it's fine. Aargh!
Oops sorry, I hit "post" twice.
Saving any RAW file as a JPG will involve some sort of conversion, which may or may not be to your liking. The default conversion is only a starting point on which to build your own default. So it is unlikely that the resulting JPEG will look exactly like the embedded RAW preview or an equivalent camera JPEG, unless you adjust Camera Raw's defaults. Using the new DNG profiles may get you closer than the old settings. Search this forum for more details on this.
Assuming this is not the problem, you may be experiencing the preview/slideshow inaccuracy in Bridge. Bridge isn't great at showing large digital images in their best light, unlike Lightroom, and tends to make images look very soft.