OldbenI sent out another batch of tips to my Extra-Strength Tip e-mail list last night. This time I covered Photoshop CS’s Camera Raw dialog box.

Read the full tip after the jump

The Extra-Strength Tips for the Clients and Friends of Ben Willmore (www.digitalmastery.com):

This time around, let’s explore Photoshop CS’s Camera Raw dialog box. You can only access this dialog box by opening an image that was shot with a digital camera in RAW mode (it doesn’t work with JPG’s, TIFF’s or any other file format).

If you’re using a Nikon camera, and you get a small dialog box that only has a few choices when opening an image from the camera, you’ll need to disable the Nikon plug-in. Navigate to the Photoshop>Plug-Ins>Adobe Photoshop Only>File Formats folder and remove the file named Nikon NEF Format and then restart Photoshop.

Camera Raw has some sharpening controls (found under the Detail tab in Camera Raw) but I personally prefer to sharpen my images in Photoshop where I have a better command of the sharpening by using the Unsharp Mask filter. But before I get the image into Photoshop, I still like to see a somewhat sharp image within the Camera Raw dialog box. To accomplish that, you’ll need to first switch to Advanced mode near the upper right of the Camera Raw dialog box, then choose Preferences from the side menu of the dialog box (it looks like a triangle inside of a circle) and set the Apply sharpening to pop-up menu to Preview images only. 

The default settings for Color Noise Reduction (found under the Detail tab) is 25. I find that’s way too high for most images and would instead prefer a default of somewhere around 5. To change the default, choose Camera Default from the Settings pop-up menu that appears just below the histogram, click on the Detail tab, set the Color Noise Reduction setting to what you desire and then choose Set Camera Default from the side menu of the Camera Raw dialog box.

The choice we just talked about was called Camera Default for a reason. Each camera you use can have different Camera Raw default settings. That means that you can customize the settings for older cameras that might require more noise reduction, or modify the settings found under the Detail tab if you find the default view of your image to be too low contrast.

After adjusting an image in the Camera Raw dialog box, you have two options of what to do next: Update the image and return to the File Browser, or open the image in Photoshop. Clicking the OK button will do three things: 1) Open the image in Photoshop, 2) Attach the Camera Raw settings to the RAW file so that those settings will be used the next time the RAW file is opened, 3) Update the thumbnail and preview images shown in the File Browser to reflect the new Camera Raw settings applied to the image. If you hold the Option key (Mac), or Alt key (Win), you’ll cause the OK button to change to Update. Updating an image will apply the Camera Raw settings and update the thumbnail and preview images, but will not open the image in Photoshop.

Photoshop can attach Camera Raw settings to your RAW files in two ways: In the Camera Raw database, or in sidecar .xmp files. You can choose between these two options in the Camera Raw preferences dialog box I mentioned near the beginning of this tip. I prefer to save my Raw setting in .xmp files because the advantages are numerous: 1) The Raw settings will be used regardless of which copy of Photoshop is used, 2) the settings can be burned to CD or DVD along with the RAW files, so they can be used from any machine, 3) There isn’t one central hidden file that contains all the Raw settings for your images and it is therefore much more difficult to have the information deleted or corrupted. The disadvantage is that you have to deal with twice as many files. For each Raw image you have adjusted, you’ll also have a tiny .xmp file of the same name. Changing the name of the Raw file without doing the same to the .xmp file will break the bond between the two files, therefore preventing Photoshop from reading the proper Raw settings. That’s a small price to pay for the added functionality that .xmp files provide.

I’ve started a brand new Blog (blog=journal on the web) at www.whereisben.com which features information about Photoshop, digital photography, travel and more.

I’ve also started up the Photoshop Question Clinic again. If you’d like to submit your own Photoshop questions, then visit www.digitalmastery.com/questions and visit my new blog at www.whereisben.com to find answers to common Photoshop questions.

And for those of you who have been waiting for me to get my new training DVDs off the ground, they’re finally here! My first two titles are:
• Mastering Color
• Advanced Masking
Information about the new titles can be found at www.digitalmastery.com/DVD

-Ben Willmore

PS: Don’t forget about my combo digital photography and Photoshop hands-on seminar coming up July 25-29 in California. Details at:  http://www.leppinstitute.com/LeppInstitute/quality.htm


If you find this information to be useful, please tell a friend or family member about it. Anyone can sign up for free at http://www.digitalmastery.com/tips That’s also where you can find the Extra-Strength Tip archives.

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