Adobe's new Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in is an ambitious effort on Adobe's part to add support for raw image data captured by a number of popular professional-level digital cameras to Photoshop 7.0. The plug-in's advantage over other formats is its ability to reinterpret white balance and default tone curves, and to override the in-camera settings for sharpening, smoothing, and artifact removal. However, while Photoshop Camera Raw offers much faster conversions than a camera's native software, its batch processing is limited to applying the same settings to every image.
This product provides a simple but powerful user interface for massaging a raw image, and it then delivers the image in either 8- or 16-bits-per-channel form, converted into any of the standard Photoshop work spaces. The plug-in also offers a new resizing algorithm that delivers noticeably better results than Photoshop's Bicubic interpolation.
Photoshop Camera Raw's colour conversions have already been debated heatedly online. For each supported camera, the plug-in uses two generic profiles: one for D65 illumination and the other for tungsten. The white-balance slider interpolates between the two. On the cameras we used, a Canon EOS-1Ds and a Kodak DCS 460, we obtained better results from Photoshop Camera Raw than from custom profiles, but owners of other cameras, notably the Nikon D1X, have reported less-satisfactory results.
If your workflow requires that you edit individual images, or that you batch-process images with identical settings, Photoshop Camera Raw may be for you. It offers an elegant way to bring the images into Photoshop. However, this plug-in isn't a substitute for an industrial-strength converter, such as the considerably more expensive CaptureOne, from PhaseOne.