First Impressions of Photoshop CS3 Camera Raw

I finally got a chance to download the Photoshop CS3 beta and used it to do some raw conversions last night. So, I haven’t touched photoshop itself yet, only Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW since those were all that I needed for the roughly 200 photos I needed to go through.

I had been using either Photoshop CS2 or the Lightroom beta and while CS2 was usable on an Intel Mac despite not being a universal binary, it wasn’t always pleasant. Lightroom had some very nice features and I still plan to examine it further but it wants you to work in this library centric model where you import all the files and then work from there. That’s not really how I want to work. For me, I’m processing a directory of images to produce jpegs for the web or I’m working on an individual image or two for print. I don’t really need the overhead of the whole library mechanism. Just give me a good, easy way to view files, rate them and occasionally delete them. Adobe Bridge generally does that for me reasonable well. And, in my brief usage last night, it did a good job of presenting me what I wanted to see and doing it without any really long pauses. I’d like to be able to delete an image from the slideshow but at least I can change the rating and use that to delete the bad images later. I’d also like to toggle from the display mode in the slideshow from “fit image” to 100% with a keystroke to make fine examination quicker without having to go into ACR, but it isn’t a huge problem. I couldn’t do those things in CS2 so it’s not a step back, just not as much of a step forward as I’d like.

ACR now incorporates much of what the develop panel in liightroom provided and that is a welcome change. Overall, ACR was quick and made adjustments easy and looks like it’s going to be a very nice improvement from CS2. The fill light and highlight recovery and very intuitive and convenient. Also have to cumulative curve controls looks to be potentially very useful. I say potentially because while I played with it last night, I didn’t really have much need for it with the images I was working with. The default curves were fine in all but one case.

I’m looking forward to getting a bit deeper into it. From what I’ve read, the changes to photoshop itself should be very useful.

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