29 Replies Latest reply on Jul 9, 2007 5:20 AM by (Phil_Marion)

    Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901

    Level 1
      Now that I have my new digital camera-dedicated rig up and running I have been using ACR and CS2 to process my backlog of Canon 30D CR2 files. I am trying to get them ready for posting on the internet. Currently I am using ACR only to tweak Exposure and White Balance, then I move the file in 16 bits/AdobeRGB to CS2 where I do noise reduction, levels, curves adjustment, saturation then resize, sharpening then convert to an 8 bit, sRGB Jpg.

      I have adopted this workflow because it was similar to the one I used when my old creakin' PC required me to use DPP to do my RAW conversion (and I subsequently did PP in CS with a 16 bit TIFF)

      But I notice ACR has many choices and options such as contrast, shadows, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction controls that one can perform prior to RAW conversion. I have read in the past theoretical comments that adjustments are best made to a file during RAW conversion rather than while as a jpg. Does the same apply to a 16 BiT TIFF? In the workflow above, am I working on a TIFF?

      I am wondering if I am better off to make all of the adjustments in ACR window instead of the more lengthy process in CS2. Are there any advantages to doing these adjustments prior to RAW conversion? Or is it better to do PP on 16 bit files using layers?

      What are the relative merits of processing the file in either ACR window or as an 16 bit file in CS2?

      If it matters, I work on a PC and prefer to PP each file separately rather than in batches. But I DO use batch runs in CS2 to save time using Actions with around 10 file batches to do noise reduction and resize/convert to sRGB/save as.
      As always, thanks for the time you take to help me out!!
        • 1. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
          Level 1
          Do as much in Camera Raw...it's better/quicker. ..and what's with the #2901 in your question, thread title? Does this mean you've already asked 2,900 questions?
          • 2. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
            Level 1
            I seem to get better results in CS2- probably because I spend more time with each file and because the CS2 process allows for finer tuning. ACR seems like a quicker work flow process but I would like to know more about the theory as why it is better 9i.e. less destructive, more bits...).
            • 3. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
              Level 1
              I guess i need to better learn how to use the noise and sharpening settings in ACR better. Sharpness seems to be vastly superior in the CS2 workflow (for me). In CS2 I do noise reduction first - sharpening last -after resizing.

              How do I know what order ACR performs the tweaks? What if it sharpens before it resizes and THEN does the noise reduction? I don't want any part of that process.
              • 4. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                Level 1
                "How do I know what order ACR performs the tweaks?"

                You don't...but Thomas Knoll does and he's pretty good about this stuff...I mean, he did write Photoshop, right?

                Do all your glbal corrections in Camera Raw and reserve local corrections for Photoshop. The controls and adjustments in Camera Raw are vastly superior (with the exception that they are glbal only).
                • 5. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                  Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                  Phil,
                  >Sharpness seems to be vastly superior in the CS2 workflow

                  Oh, yes!

                  Most especially if you use Pixelgenius PhotoKit Sharpener.
                  • 6. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                    Level 1
                    "You don't...but Thomas Knoll does and he's pretty good about this stuff...I mean, he did write Photoshop, right?"

                    I wasn't aware of who wrote PS. I have seen a long list of names on the welcome screen.
                    So where do I find out from Thomas Knoll what order ACR does these functions? Does Mr. Knoll appear on these forums?
                    I cannot get the results I like in ACR. Maybe I'll do MORE adjustments in ACR (other than WB and exposure) but still use CS2 for the final resizing THEN sharpening.
                    • 7. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                      Level 1
                      > "Most especially if you use Pixelgenius PhotoKit Sharpener".

                      Ramón - I am currently working through Bruce's Real World Image Sharpening book. I am creating actions as he specifies. However, I am also trying to see whether to adapt them to CS3's smart filters. (What a loss to us all that we won't see a CS3 version from him).

                      What does Pixelgenius PhotoKit Sharpener do that I can't do, perhaps with more trouble, by applying what I've read in his book? And would I have a problem trying to use it with CS3?

                      How close is it related to the book, or is it in a different direction?

                      Thanks.
                      • 8. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                        Level 1
                        Phil,

                        Doing color adjustments in ACR are better performed in it then in Photoshop at this time because you are changing the meaning of the values or numbers vs. changing the values themselves.
                        • 9. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                          Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                          Barry,
                          >How close is it related to the book, or is it in a different direction?

                          Not having read the book, since I already had PhotoKit Sharpener when it was published (and Bruce hinted it would be redundant), I'm not in a position to answer the question.

                          There is a PhotoKit Sharpener beta version to work with CS3. Works flawlessly.

                          If you can, try it.
                          • 10. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                            Level 1
                            "What does Pixelgenius PhotoKit Sharpener do that I can't do, perhaps with more trouble, by applying what I've read in his book? And would I have a problem trying to use it with CS3? "

                            Bruce gave you the recipies...he didn't give you the exact numbers to use. So, you'll have to do what he and I did...trial and error, to arrive at optimum numbers...
                            • 11. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                              Ramón G Castañeda Level 4
                              >what he and I didtrial and error, to arrive at optimum numbers

                              Well, you certainly achieved optimal numbers there, Jeff. Hats off!
                              • 12. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                Level 1
                                Thanks, Jeff.

                                Bruce influenced my raw processing understanding and workflow more than anyone else. I learned more from reading his Image Sharpening book than I learned in years of experimentation with Photoshop sharpening. Anything from him is worth a look. And if you were involved, (I noticed your name a number of times in the book), even better.

                                I'll certainly consider it.

                                I have been experimenting with blur, noise reduction, and sharpening filters stacked together as CS3 Beta smart filters. The combinations are endless, and the restrictions on not being able to view the results of the whole combination while one filter is being modified make experimentation hard. Perhaps attempting to use smart filters was just the wrong thing to try, but I only recently bought the book. (But I did learn a lot about smart filters, and that isn't bad!)
                                • 13. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                  Level 1
                                  on page 87 of Bruce Fraser's Camera Raw with CS2 book he clearly states ACR sharpening is a blunt instrument and that better results are obtained in Photoshop. That is exactly what I suspected and mentioned earlier. But I am fully understanding your points (and his) about doing more in ACR as opposed to CS2. I see the curves slider and can now start to do more finetuned results in ACR. It looks like I will be still using CS2 for the final resizing and sharpening phase. I am not one to revisit a RAW file and do different conversions later. I like to do it once, as well as possible, and post it to the web.
                                  I'll look in to the Pixelgenius sharpener some day - thanks for the link.

                                  Sorry I am a bit confused by the intimacy/rapport of the respondants here. Do you know each other? Do you personally know Mr. Fraser or the aforementioned Thomas Knoll? I am still confused by the response and dropping of Mr. Knoll's name. Am I susposed to know who he is? Was it assumed I should? Does he appear on these forums at times?

                                  Is there any chance we can find out how ACR works and applied the edits we make in ACR?
                                  • 14. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                    Level 1
                                    Another way to go about doing global color adjustments is to create a RGBK workflow where as you have CMYK layers - each layer has a corresponding mask and color to create that channel. Then you go about redefining the value of each channel.

                                    It's not for the faint of heart and it does a similar functionality in some regards to ACR, but with no user interface - just number punching.

                                    It's what's REALLY missing in Photoshop for power users...

                                    It's more or less what I consider a flux color space tweener...
                                    • 15. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                      01af Level 1
                                      Phil, if you prefer doing your adjustments in Photoshop rather than in ACR then just go ahead! As long as you are converting to 16-bit TIFF for further processing (as opposed to JPEG or 8-bit TIFF) then you won't suffer any quality penalties.

                                      Most prefer doing as much as possible in ACR simply because it's so convenient. If no local adjustments are required then Photoshop can often be avoided altogether which usually will speed up the workflow considerably.

                                      The functions in ACR may have minor advantages here or there over the respective Photoshop functions---but that's mostly academic ... and definitely irrelevant when preparing images for the web.

                                      .
                                      Jeff Schewe wrote:
                                      > The controls and adjustments in
                                      > Camera Raw are vastly superior ...

                                      Frankly, I don't think so. Some may be slightly superior but not vastly. And still, the visible difference in the results will be hardly, if at all, noticable.

                                      For example, sharpening is not very good in ACR. Or it may be good when compared to the plain Unsharp Mask filter alone but is bad when compared to what can be done in Photoshop when doing it the right way.

                                      And ACR's upsizing function isn't good either. The results are very similar to Photoshop's Image Size function used with resampling method Bicubic Smoother ... except that ACR will add lots of tiny artifacts to high-contrast edges which Photoshop wouldn't. Furthermore, Photoshop can resize to any arbitrary new size while ACR offers only a few fixed size options.

                                      That said, I prefer doing as much of the work as possible in ACR ... except resizing and sharpening.

                                      -- Olaf
                                      • 16. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                        Level 1
                                        "Sorry I am a bit confused by the intimacy/rapport of the respondants here. Do you know each other? Do you personally know Mr. Fraser or the aforementioned Thomas Knoll? I am still confused by the response and dropping of Mr. Knoll's name. Am I supposed to know who he is? Was it assumed I should? Does he appear on these forums at times? "

                                        Hum...well I suppose it's not odd these days to find people who don't know who first wrote Photoshop (and also Camera Raw)...although just launching Photoshop does bring up a splash screen with his name on it.

                                        I also suppose people may not know about PixelGenius and the fact that Bruce Fraser, Martin Evening, Andrew Rodney, Seth Resnick and I formed a company a few years ago and that Bruce and I developed PhotoKit Sharpener (I actually had to teach Bruce advanced action writing since he hadn't really learned about it-course, he ended up getting better at it than I was).

                                        And yes, I know Thomas (and most of the other Photoshop and Lightroom engineers) pretty well because I've been alpha and beta testing since the mid 1990's and hang out in SJ whenever I go to the west coast (or Ann Arbor to visit Thomas)...

                                        And yes, the current implementation of sharpening in Camera Raw is not optimal-which is why Bruce tended not to use it but did prompt Thomas to hire Bruce (and I) to consult on way to improve it for both Camera Raw & Lightroom. I suspect you'll see the results of those efforts in the not too distant future...

                                        "Is there any chance we can find out how ACR works and applied the edits we make in ACR? "http://www.adobeforums.com/Images/m/pstmsg.gif

                                        Yeah...ask Thomas. He does hang around the Camera Raw and Lightroom forums and answers questions when he feels like it (or has time on his hands-at the moment, he doesn't have a lot of) but to be honest, knowing exactly how it works is a little bit like knowing exactly how sausage is made-it may kinda put you off eating it-and you really don't need to know the exact order Camera Raw works in to use it. In general, work from the top down and then from left to right in the tabs...
                                        • 17. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                          Level 1
                                          Yeah, I guess I better brush up on the Who's Who of the digital imagery world. Perhaps I am runnin' with the wrong crowd not to know the industry celebs - the shuttererati, so to speak. Best renew my subscription to People and Hello mags.

                                          But I must say I am happily surprised to see such eminent folk on this forum. Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me.
                                          • 18. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                            Omke Oudeman Level 5
                                            Phil

                                            try also this link, saves you subscription to people and Hello mags and aside from that it provides you with tons of useful information, and yes, Jeff Schewe is also behind this.

                                            http://photoshopnews.com/
                                            • 19. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                              John_Cornicello_Photo Level 2
                                              It is easy to forget that some of us in the Forums have known each other for many years. Jeff, Bruce, and I go back 15+ years to the DTP and Adobe Forums on CompuServe.
                                              • 20. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                Bill_Janes Level 2
                                                >"What does Pixelgenius PhotoKit Sharpener do that I can't do, perhaps with more trouble, by applying what I've read in his book? And would I have a problem trying to use it with CS3? "

                                                I have a few observations and perhaps Jeff can comment. With images taken with a digital camera at high ISO, noise reduction may be necessary in the capture phase of sharpening. PhotoKit offers the sharpen and smooth option for this purpose. One can exert some control over the smoothing process by changing the opacity of the smoothing layer and the blend if sliders.

                                                In his sharpening book Bruce uses Photoshop's reduce noise and despeckle filters to reduce noise (sometimes using the despeckle filter multiple times), but I don't know what filter is used in the PhotoKit smoothing operation or what parameters are used for the reduce noise filter if it is used.

                                                If you use Bruce's book and the "roll your own" approach, you have more control over the noise reduction process and also the possibility of using a third party NR product such as the Noise Ninja plugin. Furthermore, just as an edge mask is used to restrict the sharpening to the edges, a surface mask may be used with NR to keep the smoothing away from the edges. The surface mask may be derived by inverting the edge mask used for sharpening, but Bruce says that some tweaking may give improved results.

                                                An alternative would be to use the third party NR prior to using PK sharpener. However, you would still need to make a surface mask for optimum results, but I doubt that many users take the trouble of doing this.

                                                In my own work with the Nikon D200 (which has rather high noise at high ISO), I find that I often get unacceptable noise and artifacts with PK Sharpener when used with high ISO images.

                                                Also, many landscape photographers mask off areas of clear blue sky and foliage that do not need sharpening, thereby avoiding accentuation of noise secondary to sharpening in these areas.

                                                >Bruce gave you the recipies...he didn't give you the exact numbers to use. So, you'll have to do what he and I did...trial and error, to arrive at optimum numbers...

                                                For output sharpening, the PK defaults seem to work quite well and the trial and effort of rolling your own is usually not worthwhile, IMHO.
                                                • 21. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                  Level 1
                                                  Thanks Jeff, Ramón, and Bill.

                                                  The obvious next step is to try it and see! It appears to have a 7-day trial?

                                                  It will have a wait for a few days. I'll wait until I have got rid of CS3 Beta and upgraded to CS3 proper. I live in the UK, and so things are late as well as more expensive. (But at least I can run ACR 4.0 proper under CS3 Beta!)
                                                  • 22. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                    Level 1
                                                    Yes I know this is request is a value-laden question but I will ask it anyway. I have given Mr. Fraser's book a cursory look over. I really like his style. His book strikes an excellent balance with a good amount of theoretical explanation (and I manage to stay awake) and hands-on examples. Sidebar topics in this thread have me interested in the Pixelgenius plug-in as well as Mr. Fraser's book on sharpening but considering the price of both, I wonder if both are neccessary. I have to wonder about the value of a $100 plug-in and a book. I am a photo-enthusiast/hobbyist. I take about 15,000 shots a year (not all are keepers of course). I don't use any of my images to generate revenue. This is solely a labor of love. I am happy with the results of the sharpening I get in CS2 but not at all happy with the time and effort it takes. Will the Pixelgenius program speed up the sharpening process workflow or is it really just a tool to get optimum results (something that is not essential for me since I don't sell my images and just use them for the enjoyment of me and my friends)? Yes - I know it has a free trial period. But you all are familiar with it so maybe I can save time by asking. Do i really need BOTH the book and the plug-in if I am just an enthusiast, non-pro? Should I get the sharpening book to expand my understanding of sharpening in CS2 or should I forget that route because the Pixelgenius software is a time saver?
                                                    • 23. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                      Level 1
                                                      "try also this link, saves you subscription to people and Hello mags and aside from that it provides you with tons of useful information, and yes, Jeff Schewe is also behind this.

                                                      http://photoshopnews.com/ "

                                                      OK thanks - I'll give this a go. Though I am not sure if this site will have the risque photos of the pixel-bender elite that I really want to see. I was hoping Hello would have late night party photos of Schewe, Knoll, Fraser et al. hanging with deCaprio, Richard Branson, the Olsen twins, King Juan Carlos, Agassi and Brangelina.
                                                      • 24. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                        Level 1
                                                        "the Pixelgenius software is a time saver?

                                                        There's nothing in PK Sharpener (at the monment) that you can't do in Photoshop-except automatically select the "right numbers". So, do you want to learn or save time? Buy the book and you'll have to learn how to write actions and develop your own set of numbers or buy the plug-in and just get the right numbers...there's a 7 day demo with the ploug-in (and you can paw the book in a book stare).

                                                        " I was hoping Hello would have late night party photos of Schewe, Knoll, Fraser et al."

                                                        Well, try this: PixelMafia 2005 Dinner (although Bruce didn't make that year's) or: PixelMafia 2006 Dinner.

                                                        It should be noted that having celebrities come to the dinner would be "ok" but we generally barely have room for the digeratti so the odds are the movie stars would have to take second fiddle. Although Greg Gorman has a lot of Hollywood friends who love to meet Photoshop gurus-since they're all trying to learn Photoshop themselves. I've given "lessons" to several celebs...

                                                        :~)
                                                        • 25. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                          01af Level 1
                                                          In the course of the last two years, I bought approx. $500 worth of books about digital imaging, digital asset management, colour management, and Photoshop (Eisner, Fraser, Krogh, Margulis et al.) ... and I consider Bruce Fraser's book "Real-World Image Sharpening" the single best of them all, and his "Real-World Camera Raw" a close second. I warmly recommend both.

                                                          .
                                                          Phil Marion wrote:
                                                          > Do I really need BOTH the book and the plug-in if I am
                                                          > just an enthusiast, non-pro? Should I get the sharpening
                                                          > book to expand my understanding of sharpening in CS2 or
                                                          > should I forget that route because the Pixelgenius software
                                                          > is a time saver?

                                                          You definitely don't need both ... albeit having both would be nice and no waste of money. If you still can't justify purchasing both just for subtle improvements on sharpening then I'd say get the book. A pro's choice most likely would be the software ... saving time in order to meet deadlines would be his top requirement.

                                                          The book will teach you a lot of valuable knowledge ... and it will be a time-saver, too. First you'd have to read it. Then you'd need to sit down for a good afternoon and write your own set of Photoshop actions, following the book's hands-on explanations. After that, you'll be able to put the book's wisdom into action by a mouse click or two.

                                                          -- Olaf
                                                          • 26. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                            Bill_Janes Level 2
                                                            Phil Marion wrote:

                                                            >Yes I know this is request is a value-laden question but I will ask it anyway.
                                                            >...but considering the price of both, I wonder if both are neccessary.
                                                            >... Will the Pixelgenius program speed up the sharpening process workflow or is it really just a tool to get optimum results (something that is not essential for me since I don't sell my images and just use them for the enjoyment of me and my friends)?

                                                            Whether you are a pro or an enthusiast, I would think that you would be interested in optimum results. One advantage us enthusiasts have over the pros is that we do not have to push out the work and meet deadlines, and we probably have more time than money to purchase additional software. While getting the "magic numbers" that Jeff talks about is desirable, the difference between magic numbers and acceptable numbers may be relatively small, as demonstrated by the fact that many reader's of Bruce's book can see no difference in some of the illustrations demonstrating various enhancements as compared to routine processing.

                                                            >... Should I get the sharpening book to expand my understanding of sharpening in CS2 or should I forget that route because the Pixelgenius software is a time saver?

                                                            There is no doubt that the software is a time saver-- you don't have to read the book and make your own actions or scripts; however, you won't learn much about sharpening. I would recommend getting the book first. I would agree with Olaf that it is perhaps Bruce's most useful book and unfortunately the last that we will have from him.

                                                            You could then download the trial and have some understanding of how it works and when you might want to deviate from its work flow. For example, with noisy images you might want to make a surface mask and use a third party noise reduction program.
                                                            • 27. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                              01af Level 1
                                                              I wrote:
                                                              > ... books about ... Photoshop (Eisner, Fraser, Krogh, Margulis et al.) ...

                                                              Oops! That was supposed to read "( Eismann, Fraser, Krogh, Margulis, et al.)".

                                                              -- Olaf
                                                              • 28. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                                don solomon Level 1
                                                                Phil,

                                                                You say, 'This is solely a labor of love'. Love is always worth the price (well, nearly!) :)

                                                                All joking aside, both Bruce's book and the Photokit Plugin are well worth the price and not expensive considering what you are getting. The virtue of PS is its plugin architecture.

                                                                Rest assured that Bruce and Jeff both got their expert knowledge into the PK sharpeners. I wouldn't work without them.

                                                                And, perhaps, Jeff is now working on a plugin for LR ???
                                                                • 29. Re: Adobe Camera Raw workflow question #2901
                                                                  Level 1
                                                                  "Do all your glbal corrections in Camera Raw and reserve local corrections for Photoshop. The controls and adjustments in Camera Raw are vastly superior (with the exception that they are glbal only). " Jeff Schewe reply #2

                                                                  It's been a few months since I started this post and I am happy to report that indeed it IS best to do as much as possible in ACR and reserve PP in PhotoShop for localised adjustments. I took everyones' advice and the results speak for themselves. Thanks everyone. I am a true convert to RAW and am a staunch believer and advocate. There is a bit of a learning curve but it is worth it. It was diffficult as I was moving away from my comfort zone and known workflow of photoshop. But eventually you get a sense of what ACR can do. Now I really only use PSCS2 for clone/repair tool, highlight/shadow, add saturation, batch resizing, sharpening, 8 bit conversion and saving as JPeg.
                                                                  And now that I have CS3 I imagine I'll be doing even LESS is CS3.

                                                                  Thanks for spreading the dogma of ACR RAW development to me!