Camera Raw 7 – Photoshop CS6 Beta

Skill level

For photographers who deal with RAW images, you’ll be pleased to know that Camera Raw has been updated to version 7 with Photoshop CS6! Check out what’s new in the updated Camera Raw!

For those who have been using Lightroom 4, this update may not impress you too much, as the adjustments are almost identical. Let’s take a look at what’s been changed in Camera Raw 7, part of Photoshop CS6.

When a RAW image is dragged into Photoshop, Camera Raw will pop open, allowing you to make adjustments to the raw data of that photo, and just like in Lightroom 4, all the adjustment sliders are now set at their midpoint which allows us to bring back data that we didn’t even know existed. Increasing/decreasing any of these sliders will increase/decrease the corresponding data in your photo. For example: Increasing the Highlights slider will bring back light areas of your photos. Decreasing this slider will dampen the light areas. Pretty simple!

We also have a few new sliders. Instead of Fill and Recovery, which most users didn’t know exactly what they did, we now have a Shadows and Whites slider. But before you start messing with the sliders, you should take a look at the histogram at the top. This will give you an idea as to what needs to be adjusted.

On the far left, we have our blacks and shadows, on the far right, our whites and highlights. And in the middle, we have our exposure, which is basically the brightness of the overall image. Looking at this histogram above, there’s a lot of clumping on the left side, and very little data on the right, which is resulting in an overall dark image. Increasing the Exposure will help even out the histogram, and brighten up the image.

But even after doing that, we still have a spike on the far left, which represent the black tones of the image. To correct this, we can increase the Blacks slider until that spike it dealt with. Once you’ve dealt with any major spikes, adjusting the other sliders will help deal with any additional dark or light tones that you want to bring back to remove from the photo.

Camera Raw 7 also gives you access to the improved Clarity adjustment, which can help bring back detail and sharpen up your images, without the nasty halo effect you might have seen in previous versions. Depending on the image you’re working with, you may only want to increase this slider a touch.

At this point, looking at the before/after, we have certainly made an improvement from what we started off with!

However, if we zoom into the gorilla’s face, you’ll notice that our adjustments left us with a lot of noise, which is common when brightening up a dark photo. Luckily, Camera Raw has a pretty impressive noise reduction feature, which can be found under the Detail tab.

Depending on the amount of noise present, you may only need to increase the Luminance slider a touch. As you can see in the image below, much of the noise has vanished, without blurring the subject. Of course, if you feel that some of your detail was lost in the process, you can increase the Luminance Detail slider to bring some of that lost detail back.

The last area of Camera Raw I want to touch on, is the Adjustment Brush, which has also received some nice updates, including the addition of the Shadows, Highlights, and Noise Reduction sliders.

The Adjustment Brush allows you to make many of the same adjustments you made to your overall image, but to specific areas of your photo. For example, this slab on the right side of the image is quite distracting. Right off the bat, I know that I want to pull back it’s Highlights in order to darken the stone. Once I chose the adjustments I want to brush in, I’m able to brush over the areas that I want to change.

And those are a few of the changes in Camera Raw 7! Download the beta to check them out for yourself!

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