A Review on Adobe Camera Raw Plug-in

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Camera raw! What’s it? This is how most people would react coming across this term. Well! It’s basically a tool that contains raw data of grayscale images collecting it from a digital camera’s image sensor. Besides that, it also contains image metadata like how an image was shot, where and when the image shot, and many more. The plug-in basically edits and enhances raw files availing of the camera information and the image metadata, thereby constructing a color image.

For a better understanding, let me compare the camera raw file with a photo negative. You can develop photos anytime from negatives by cleaning them. Likewise, you can reprocess the camera raw file using the available data and notch up the desired results adjusting white balance, contrast, saturation, tonal range, sharpening, etc. The camera’s original raw data, however, is preserved while carrying out the image adjustments.

How does the camera raw file differ from a JPEG file? When you shoot in JPEG file, the camera automatically optimizes the photo processing and compressing it. You hardly have any control to enhance the photo. But when it comes to camera raw file, you have the luxury to process the photo as you wish, making all the necessary adjustments. Even though you can do some sorts of retouching of JPEG or TIFF images but in this case, you will be editing pixels already processed by the camera. But in the case of camera raw images, you get the opportunity to edit and polish entirely unprocessed pixels from the camera.

We, in this write-up, would touch on different aspects of Adobe camera raw plug-in and provide you with a review if this piece of software in Photoshop is worth using or not. Here we go…..

How the Camera Raw Filter Works:

There isn’t any better way to understand the effect of camera raw filter other than viewing it directly on images. So, open a raw image on Photoshop CC to see its actual effect.

Raw Image


At first, convert the layer that you want the filter to make changes into a smart object in order to edit or alter the changes made by the filter. To perform this, right-click the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object or choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters.

Camera Raw Process-1


However, if you have multiple layers in which you want the effect of the filter, just select all these layers in the Layer Palette and convert all of them into one smart object.

In order to apply the Adobe Camera Raw Filter, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter. This will open the current layer inside the ACR.

Camera Raw Process-2


Now, you are free to make any sort of adjustments in the image with the available tools in ACR.

Camera Raw Process-3


There are a number of adjustments you can make in the ACR including white balance, shadows, highlights, saturation, tonal range, and so on and so forth. For example, if you want to adjust white balance, just click on the White Balance tool along with clicking on something that’s neutral gray on the image.

The ACR filters are also available so that you can use the Gradient Filter and the new Radial Filter to polish the image. Once you are done with all the adjustments, click Ok to apply all the modifications to the image.

Camera Raw 4


Keep a note that Smart Object Layer has its own layer mask in Photoshop so that you can use the layer mask to make adjustments in the effects that you just applied to the image. Apply black painting on the mask to remove them and white painting to reapply them.

Apart from that, you can also modify the Camera Raw Filter settings by double-clicking on the Camera Raw filter entry on the Layers Palette. As a result, the layer reopens in the ACR and you can make the tweaks that you want.

Final Image


That’s the final image after applying the ACR and making all the necessary adjustments in the image.

The striking difference between the raw image and final image showcases and substantiates the strong effect of Adobe Camera Raw. The transformation of the image is just marvelous improving the color, tone, saturation, hue, and removing the facial blemish.

No doubt, the camera raw filter is a wonderful tool when it comes to sharpening an image. Photoshop users can benefit from it immensely by making use of the masking slider when sharpening in the ACR. The benefit it offers is that the sharpening is limited to the areas of edges in the image rather than the areas of flat color.

Secondly, you get the opportunity to make use of tools including Graduated Filter, Clarity, Adjustment Brush, and Radial Filter that don’t exist in Photoshop.

Apart from that, the other options that the Camera Raw Filter offers is access to the Split Toning effect sliders, presets, the new upright correction, post crop vignette, the new chromatic aberration and defringe tools, and the noise reduction sliders.

However, if you save your image in a layered file format like PSD image, you can open the image at any time you wish and edit the camera raw filter adjustments that you made.

All in all, we can state that you are likely to fancy using ACR in raw images in Photoshop once you start dabbling into it. When you will notice some majestic effects of ACR, you have no other way but to embrace it in Photoshop for better editing output.