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There is no perfect default, as there was not a single perfect film to shoot landscapes, products, black and white, it is a matter of taste, interpretation, art...
The Adobe Standard is the new default for a neutral rendering. it is an evolution of the 4.4, 3.6, but in certain cases, you might prefer their rendering.
The camera settings are meant to emulate the JPG or renderings of the camera manufacturer's raw converter. Quite often, they will be more "punchy" contrasty, more saturation, which may or may not make them a better starting point for your edits.
Some users like how the JPG looks, but still want to use highlight recovery, so they might want to shoot raw, and pick a camera rendering that matches their JPG setting.
Taste, choice, art... have fun!
All of the profiles that you see listed are the ones that are designed specifically for your camera model. You will never see profiles listed with a camera name. Camera Raw is intelligent enough to list just those profiles that are for your camera. The camera settings profiles such as faithful, landscape, neutral, etc. are for your camera, and are designed to match those in-camera settings as closely as possible. So they should not be ignored as you suggested. Try loading one of your raw images and changing profiles before you do anything else in camera raw. That way you will be able to see how the different profiles affect your images.
That doesn't necessarily mean that the profiles will provide exactly the results you are looking for. You will probably have to make adjustments to your pictures in order to get the look that you want.
Thanks for the replies. Much clearer now. I did realise that much depended on personal choice but your replies have taken away areas of confusion, particularly in advising that the 'Adobe Standard' option I saw was specific to the 400D. Also it hadn't clicked that the 'Camera Style' options gave me much more scope in RAW than in JPEG straight from the camera. I've tried what yoiu suggested, Jim, and can see exactly what you mean.
Thanks both for taking the time to reply.
>the 'Adobe Standard' option I saw was specific to the 400D.
All of the options you see are specific to your camera or to whatever camera generated any given raw file you may be opening in Camera Raw. ACR shows you only the options applicable to the camera that produced the raw image you are viewing.
The camera styles that you select in the camera will directly affect the JPEG images that you take. As far as Camera Raw is concerned, setting those camera styles (in the camera) will have no effect on your raw images. ACR will not read those settings. The profiles provided by Adobe are designed to allow you to choose the effect created in JPEG images and apply that effect to your raw images. Because many of the camera style settings are proprietary, ACR cannot read them. This is by design from the different camera makers. And that is what necessitates having the profiles provided by Adobe. They give back to you the raw picture control that Canon intentionally hides from third-party software developers.