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Enhancing Details with Adobe Camera Raw

You can use the Details tab in the Adobe Camera Raw dialog to really enhance your photos.  This works great if you’d like to create custom settings for your raw files before you run the HDR or Photomerge commands. The Detail tab offers precise control over both sharpening an image as well as reducing noise.  All raw images will need some sharpening.  Noise on the other hand may not appear unless the image was shot with a high ISO setting or under low light.

1.  Open a raw image with Adobe Photoshop.  The Camera raw dialog will open.

2. Double-click the Zoom tool in the top toolbar to switch to 100% magnification.It’s easier to accurately judge both sharpening and noise at a 100% view.

3.  Click the Details tab. In the Detail tab, you can adjust sharpening to bring out fine image details.

  • Amount – Increases definition at the edges of an image.  Use a lower amount for a cleaner image. When you open the file, Camera Raw plug-in calculates the settings to use based on camera model, ISO, and exposure compensation.
  • Radius Use a low number for fine detail and a higher number if the photo lacks much detail.
  • Detail Controls how much high-frequency information is sharpened in the image and how the edges are emphasized.
  • Masking – This controls the edge of the mask.  Using a value of zero means that everything receives the same amount of sharpening.  A higher number will limit the sharpening to those areas near the strongest edges.

An easy way to tell how much masking to use is to hold down the Option (Alt) key while dragging.  White areas will be sharpened while black areas are ignored (masked).  Try this out, hold down the Option (Alt) key and drag slowly to the right.  A value of 50 seems to be the right balance for this image.

4. Noise reduction controls let you remove extra grain from the image.

  • Luminance – Reduces luminance noise. Set this to 10 for this image (it’s not very noisy).
  • Luminance Detail – This sets a threshold for the noise reduction. Higher values preserve detail but can produce noisier results. Lower values tend to produce cleaner results but likely remove some detail.
  • Luminance Contrast – This option works best for very noisy photos.
  • Color – Reduces color noise.
  • Color Detail – Use a higher value to protect detailed edges.  A lower value preserves more color, but can result in color bleeding.

5.   Toggle the check box for Preview to see the before and after states.

New Digital Camera Support Added to Mac

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Apple just released the Digital Camera RAW compatibility Update 3.9. Here’s the list of which new cameras are added to the Mac platform.

* Canon PowerShot S100
* Nikon 1 J1
* Nikon 1 V1
* Nikon COOLPIX P7100
* Olympus PEN E-PL1s
* Olympus PEN E-PL3
* Olympus PEN E-PM1
* Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ150
* Sony Alpha NEX-5N
* Sony Alpha SLT-A65
* Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 3.9 is 7.20 MB and requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or OS X 10.7.2 or later.

Go Big! Use Camera Raw to Make Time-lapse Movies

Using Raw Photos in a Time-lapse from Richard Harrington on Vimeo.

In this Triple Exposure tutorial, Rich Harrington shows you how to use raw files in a time-lapse movie. Learn how to access Adobe Camera Raw from right within Adobe After Effects.

Want to use After Effects and Camera Raw in your own time-lapse movies? We’ve got a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Production Premium to give away. Just follow us on Twitter at and mention us in a tweet.

Apple Adds Support for Five More Cameras

Apple just released another Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update (version 3.7 in fact). This adds support for the latest formats to Aperture, iPhoto, and the Finder. The new cameras supported are:

  • Fujifilm FinePix X100
  • Nikon D5100
  • Olympus E-PL2
  • Olympus XZ-1
  • Samsung GX-1S
You can find a complete list of all cameras that work under OS X Snow Leopard here –

Avoid Clipping Your Highlights With Adobe Camera Raw

A popular stop for panoramic images is to pre-process them using Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.  Fortunately both provide access to the Adobe Camera Raw engine which allows for powerful processing of Raw files. As you make adjustments to the developed image, it’s possible to clip data (essentially a loss of detail).

One of the greatest benefits of shooting raw is the ability to rescue details in the Shadows and Highlights.  Here’s how to put the commands to work.

  1. Select all of your Raw files and open them.
  2. Choose an image that is indicative of your full exposure range.
  3. Locate the Histogram in the upper right corner.
  4. In the Histogram display, you’ll see two small triangles. You can click the one on the left for shadows and the one on the right for highlights.
  5. Make adjustments to your image as needed, but keep an eye out for clipping.  When enabled, clipped shadows appear in blue, and clipped highlights appear in red. Highlight clipping will warn you if any one of the three RGB channels is clipped (fully saturated with no detail). Shadow clipping will warn you if all three RGB channels are clipped (black with no detail).
  6. Adjust sliders (especially the Recovery and Fill Light sliders until the proper exposure is achieved (and clipping warnings disappear).
  7. To create a unified exposure click the Select All button in the upper left corner, then click Synchronize and click OK.
  8. You can now click Done to store the Raw processing settings for use in your Photomerged image.

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