Most midrange to high-end digital cameras can capture images as raw data files. That's beneficial because it gives you image-editing flexibility. For example, a photo that seems too dark may actually have detail in the shadows that you can bring out in processing.
Like many people, I prefer to have a high degree of control over that processing, so I perform my initial edits in Adobe Camera Raw, a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. Before the release of Photoshop CC, you had to run Adobe Camera Raw in a separate window, but now it's also a filter inside Photoshop CC. This change has two key advantages:
In this video, I show you the power of using Camera Raw as a filter in Photoshop CC. You can use the filter on all image file types (not just raw/DNG, TIFF, or JPEG files), and also use the filter on images that are already open in Photoshop. (6:00)
The beauty of Adobe Camera Raw is that you can apply several nondestructive adjustments to your image. If you decide to go back to make additional corrections or changes, or revert to a previous stage, you can pick up right where you left off without any penalty or sacrifice in image quality.
If you combine the Camera Raw filter with the Smart Filter feature (by selecting a layer in the Layers panel and choosing Filter > Convert For Smart Filters), you can achieve this nondestructive benefit on any layer in any Photoshop file.
The latest version of Adobe Camera Raw (version 8.1 at press time) has some great enhancements. With the non-circular Patch tool, you can remove objects from a photo more easily than before — and unlike the Patch tool and Healing Brush in Photoshop, the adjustments you make in the Camera Raw filter are nondestructive.
With the new Radial filter in Adobe Camera Raw, you can make multiple adjustments to parts of an image and control the exposure, saturation, clarity, sharpness, and more. Adobe Camera Raw 8+ also has a new Upright feature for correcting the perspective and straightening images.
Terry White is a worldwide design evangelist for Adobe, and an Adobe Certified Expert, who leads the charge in getting customers excited and educated about Adobe Creative Cloud products and services. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years and is a columnist for Photoshop User Magazine. Terry is also the host of the top-ranked, award-winning Adobe Creative Cloud TV.