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Adobe Camera RAW 3.1 (ACR 3.1)

Changes to Compared to ACR 2.4

Adobe Camera Raw 3.1 retains all the functionality of Camera Raw 2.4 as discussed in my Photoshop CS review. Notable changes are:

1. More cameras are supported.
2. Added Color Sampler, Crop and Straighten tools.
3. Added "Shadows" and "Highlights" check boxes.
4. Inherited from Photoshop Elements 3 are the "Auto" check boxes in the "Adjust" tab.
5. Addition of the "Curves" tab.

If you are using Photoshop CS with ACR 2.4 and your camera is only supported by ACR 3.1 you either have to upgrade to Photoshop CS2 or use Adobe's free DNG converter so that you can open the image with Photoshop CS.

Adjust Tab

In the Adjust tab, there are the new "Auto" check boxes for the Exposure, Shadows, Highlights, and Contrast sliders and the "Shadows" and "Highlights" check boxes which show in color any clipping of shadows or highlights as you do the adjustments. While the live histogram shows you which tones are affected, this feature tells you where the clipping occurs. Also added are a Color Sampler, Crop and Straighten tool. The white balance tool proved very effective in correcting the reported white balance issues with Nikon NEF RAW files.

Curves Tab

The Curves tab is a great improvement. Please note that the "Linear" option from the Curves drop down menu will NOT perform a linear RAW conversion (which would lead to a much darker image). Also, Adobe Camera Raw will not recognize a custom tone curve which was uploaded to the camera and applied when shooting a RAW image (tested with Nikon NEF RAW images).

Detail, Lens, and Calibrate Tabs

ACR 3.1
Detail Tab

ACR 3.1
Lens Tab

ACR 3.1
Cailbrate Tab

These tabs are unchanged compared to ACR 2.4 in Photoshop CS. The noise reduction in the Detail tab performs much better than the new Filter -> Noise -> Reduce Noise command which works also on JPEG images, as will be shown on the last page of this review.

This article is written by Vincent Bockaert, author of
The 123 of digital imaging Interactive learning Suite featuring
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 & 3 and Photoshop 7, CS & CS2
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