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Subject: Re: Camera Raw default settings with Canon 20D



No, ACR does not view the image specific to your camera. I have a 300D, which is basically a "dumbed down" 20D. The advice above is good - the sliders in the settings tab are simply starting points. Good move to bag the auto settings, though! They are excess baggage in ACR.

A trick I have found is to adjust brightness while using the preview function after making exposure and shadow adjustments (using the alt key to check for blown shadows and highlights). Generally you can get by setting the brightness slider to achieve the original gamma (or less in your case) this way. Of course this assumes your camera is exposing correctly but I find my camera is pretty consistent about underexposing images. An onboard camera exposure adjustment of +1/3 to +2/3 generally gets things right 90% of the time when using the center focus/metering point.

But I've found color calibration to be such a headache now with ACR 3.2 that I'm going back to using Canon's software for RAW conversion most of the time unless blown highlights or shadows are an issue. The Fors script worked fairly well in ACR 2.3 but it now actually makes things more complex in that white balance considerations are adversely affected and in truth one must calibrate for each shooting session. I think Martin Evening hits it on the money in his new book about CS2. Highly recommended and enjoyable reading!

The biggest problem for me has been (strange) red colors that cannot be adequately corrected without considerable effort even though I am using high quality lenses. For some reason the Fors script now causes overly saturated and yellowish greens under "normal" lighting conditions even though "the numbers" are as close as one can get to the GM color chart after running the script. The reds are semi-corrected but the white balance just doesn't look right (tint tweaks help some but never get it just right) and it also becomes difficult to gray balance in Photoshop without causing unacceptable artifacts and noise in the "red zone". This is a problem with or without the script, though.

I think part of the problem is that ACR may simply be trying to do too much - it now has a relatively lame curves adjustment which I personally find to be useless for the most part (although you can use it to make a gamma adjustment in lieu of the brightness slider if you enjoy switching tabs and really get off on clicking your mouse!).

Why attempt to replicate what we can otherwise do so well in Photoshop? Sure it is theoretically non-destructive editing but this is a non issue for the most part when working in 16 bit files, especially in ProPhoto color space. Kind of like beating the proverbial dead horse!

ACR seems to be slowly evolving into a mini Photoshop of sorts, which seems to be creating more problems than it is solving for many Photoshop users. Perhaps it may work better with high end pro cameras when making huge poster size prints but many of us mortals are getting sub-optimal results with the new ACR. Sometimes less is more, especially when playing what amounts to an educated guessing game across a broad landscape with generally uncooperative camera manufacturers.

Perhaps Thomas Knoll will take heed in future versions of ACR. How about just giving us the equivalent of ACR 2.3 that will work with CS2? The new shadow and highlight checkboxes are a cool alternative to holding down the alt key I suppose but the rest of the stuff might be made available in an alternative version for those who find the extras to be helpful. Otherwise, the features in the settings tab are a particular strong point for ACR once you understand how to manipulate them. Just lose the auto settings - they are a waste of code!

Sorry about the length of this post but I hope it helps :)

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