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Monday, 08 June 2009


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"I'll suffer less highlight and shadow clipping in ProPhoto RGB color space than AdobeRGB, my default space?"

That's assuming that your camera/scanner can acquire images in ProPhoto RGB already, right?

In other words, if my camera can only shoot Adobe RGB RAWs, I won't gain anything by converting it to ProPhoto RGB, will I?

Thanks for the reviews!

I just upgraded from CS2 to CS4 - would RAW CS3 be a waste of money?

Dear Thiago,

Your camera doesn't acquire RAW files in a color space; that is, it doesn't capture "Adobe RGB RAWs" it just captures RAWs. The color space that RAW data is mapped into gets chosen in the conversion process.

I just tried it on some photos with out-of-gamut stuff in them (xmas lights) and, indeed, setting the color space in ACR to ProRGB clipped a lot less of the saturated colors than AdobeRGB did.

(BTW, no scanner I know of acquires RAW files, so ACR wouldn't apply to scanning.)


Dear Kurt,

I'm running CS4, and the book's definitely not a waste of money! 95% of ACR is unchanged between CS3 and CS4.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

"In other words, if my camera can only shoot Adobe RGB RAWs, I won't gain anything by converting it to ProPhoto RGB, will I?"

Your camera does not shoot Adobe RGB RAWs , although it may very well have a setting on the menu that gives you a choice of various colorspaces for display purposes and for making JPEGs

Raw files don't have a color space until you convert them to a format that has a colorspace. That's one of the reasons they are called Raw.

CS3, is that an ancient version of CS4? Perhaps used in Egypt at the time of the pyramids?

@Thiago Silva:
Your camera's Adobe RGB setting is for Jpeg only and not limits the raw file which mostly contains a far bigger range.

Version-specific software guides drive me crazy sometimes, because they have a very limited shelf-life. With roughly 18 months between versions of Photoshop and the customary lag before books hit the shelves, there's a distinctly narrow window for such books to be optimally useful. I'll buy one, promising myself I'll slog through it "real soon now". There it'll sit on my bookshelf, silently rebuking me, as I never quite get around to anything beyond a cursory glance or looking up a specific topic. So many books, so little time. Next thing you know, it's two versions out of date, and headed to the recycling bin, while the new version beckons.


Thiago: your Camera Raws are not shot in AdobeRGB, or anything else - a colour space is only imposed during the later Raw conversion. ProPhoto, AdobeRGB or sRGB are the typical choices at that point. If the camera itself is set to a particular colour space, that affects JPG only - also in-camera reviewing and histograms.

Good tutorial on ProRGB over on Luminous landscape


Ctein: Scanner output can be directed to RAW files with the correct software. The processing to full RGB files that most scanner software does is not inherently required.

VueScan supports RAW output to DNG format files along with TIFF and JPEG. Which I'd be using if I could figure out how to get ACR to invert a negative. It's excellent software despite the awful documentation and somewhat odd UI.

Both of these books, particularly the Photoshop CS3 book, do seem to be arriving a bit late. But I suppose that it's never too late for a genuinely useful book. The market for Photoshop books seems bottomless.

I will note that while Ctein is correct that, like most previous updates, Photoshop CS3 and CS4 share most features and functionality Adobe's Camera Raw (ACR) has undergone radical changes during the past year or so. ACR 4.x was the version in-place during most of Photoshop CS3's tenure. But the latest versions of ACR (version 5.0 through the current public beta of 5.4) have undergone some tectonic changes. Specifically they've implemented much of Lightroom's "Develop" module functionality. (i.e. Gradients, localized adjustment brushes, etc.) As long as Aaland's book addresses ACR 5.x it should be up-to-date.

I completely agree with Geoff when he says, "Version-specific software guides drive me crazy sometimes because they have a very limited shelf life." I've certainly donated thousands toward these land-fillers. I don't buy many software books any more. Rather I will sometimes buy books that offer useful and rather timeless guidance, and which might incorporate contemporary software tools secondarily as practical mediums for their exposition. I'll certainly not upstage Ctein's reviews here to list other titles...perhaps these two Aaland books feature such styles. But unless you really need software version-specific dance-step guides I recommend looking for titles that offer solid long-term guidance value for your money.

Unrelated note: While some scanner softare can produce DNG-format files these are not, at least to my knowledge, genuine RAW image files. They're just DNG files. Scanners produce their image files in very different ways from digital cameras. You may, however, be able to handle these scanner "raws" in a manner similar to real raws (just as you can process JPGs with ACR) but you're dealing with a different creature.

Dear Geoff,

If you're buying books to get up to speed on the new features of a program version, yeah, you're kinda screwed. 'Cept for a handful of gurus who get extremely early access and work closely with the developer (e.g., Martin Evening for Photoshop), you're pretty well stuck with books that won't be out until well into a version's shelf life.

My next edition of DIGITAL RESTORATION, for example, will be current thru CS4, but it's a tossup whether it will be published before CS5 comes out. Such is life.

Many authors skip whole versions. Katrin Eismann did that with PHOTOSHOP RESTORATION AND RETOUCHING. Skipped CS2 or CS3 (I forget which) entirely; she didn't think there was enough new in whichever version to justify a rewrite of the book.

I'd not be recommending books I thought they were obsolete.

Bottom line-- buy it if you're interested in learning how to better use the 95% of the program that hasn't changed.

pax / Ctein

Thanks to everyone that replied. I really didn't know that color mapping was done during RAW conversion, not generation. Will make some tests using both color profiles. Cheers!

"The conceit is a charming one."


Ctein: My Nikon CoolScan V can save scans as NEF raw files using the supplied Nikon Scan driver. Whether ACR can open these files, I don't know, as, so far, I have used only Nikon Capture NX2; however, NX2 works fine with them. (I do own CS3; I just haven't had time to learn it yet.)

Dear Adam, Ken, Chuck--

Thanks! The few scanners ( plus software) I've owned couldn't produce anything (useful) except TIFF, and I didn't realize there was third-party software that would do differently. I echo Ken's question, which is whether these are truly RAW files or merely a different encoding of the same data you would get, say, in a 16-bit linear tiff scan.

There's no particular advantage to having your scan in "raw" format unless it allows you to encompass data at the extrema that a tiff scan would clip.

Incidentally, Adam, it's easy to turn a negative into a positive in ACR; just go to the curves palette, grab the point at 0,0 and drag it up to 255 and grab the point at 255, 255 and drag it down to 0. Voila, inversion!

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

>>I completely agree with Geoff when he says, "Version-specific software guides drive me crazy sometimes because they have a very limited shelf life." I've certainly donated thousands toward these land-fillers. I don't buy many software books any more.

Hey folks - you really need to try out an O'Reilly Safari subscription.


When the book for V4 is released you simply take off the V3 book from your bookshelf and replace it with the new version.

(Using my Safari subscription I was able to check out both books.) I do like the Lightroom one.

Actually I'm amazed that more people don't use Lightroom or Aperture. i.e. that anyone doesn't. Shell out to PS when you need to. But even for people who don't shoot very heavy volumes it's still great. I only do a few thousand images a year, which is very modest in the digital age, but if I can get 100 prints and 10 really good prints a year I'm happy. Lightroom makes working through all the other files so easy. If I shoot 500 images I will usually want to do LR corrections on maybe 20-30 and go to PS for 5? Makes sense to spend most of my time in LR.

I highly recommend the Michael Reichman and Jeff Schewe video tutorials from Luminous Landscape.

@Ctein: never even thought of using the curve tool, thanks.

@Craig Arnold: Lightroom and Aperture don't work for everybody. I personally find Lightroom more painful to use than Bridge (As I'm on Windows, Aperture is not an option). Bridge's clear support for my heirarchical filestructure allows me to easily navigate my files and keep my organization and processing directly tied to the original files. Lightroom (and Aperture) show their organizational wizardry when used to organize based on keywords or metadata, neither of which I use much or at all, as I prefer a strongly organized folder structure.


Lightroom allows you to do both. I use a folder structure to organize my files, and collections for specific projects I have.
All you have to do is select the preferred mechanism when you import the files.

That said, as far as I know almost all the automation that Lightroom provides can be achieved in Bridge in some form or another.

My main reason to use Lightroom is much more basic, cost. Lightroom will provide cost effective ACR and will render PSD/TIFF files for me even if I use older Photoshop. This way I can stay with a specific PS version and only upgrade Lightroom which is a much cheaper option.

@Erez: I'm aware that Lightroom allows you to work that way, it's just not as good at it as Bridge is since Bridge is actually designed to work that way while LR is designed to work around Keyword/Metadata-based organization. Overall I'm mostly uninterested in LR's automation, it doesn't suit my workflow well.

The cost difference is not an issue for me as I have access to student pricing, which makes PS a LOT cheaper but doesn't affect LR's pricing as much. Also the free Adobe DNG converter gives you access to all currently ACR-supported cameras in ACR versions back to 2.4 for CS. This is in fact how I work as I'm using CS3 and shooting a Panasonic G1 (first supported in ACR 5.2 for CS4).

@Adam, Yes, student pricing is a huge difference :)
Interesting about DNG converter and ACR. I had some issues with it in the past. I guess I'll have to try again, I am probably doing something wrong. Maybe I should buy the book...

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