Paint Shop Pro X3 and Raw
Thanks for all the comments regarding Raw processing. I decided to process the same file with the various raw processors at my disposal and compare. These included the trial download of LR3, Canon's digital photo pro, PSP X3, Scarab, and Picasa.
I liked LR3 the best. As i changed color temp, I like what it did with the entire shot, background included. A close second was the Canon program. I still think the preview window in PSP is just too small. Poor design. I couldn't replicate the good results in Scarab or Picasa. Maybe it's just me. I'm only now shooting a lot of raw but definitely seeing the benefits.
I can't justify the cost of LR3 just to use ACR and I don't have elements 8 right now so I guess I will live with the Canon -- thankfully not too much of a sacrifice!