Authors: Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe
Publisher: Adobe Press (Peachpit Press)
Review by Conrad J. Obregon
As I was reading this book, I was reminded of the small child’s review of a book about penguins: “This book told me more about penguins than I really wanted to know.” Except of course that for the intermediate user of Photoshop, you should want to know what this book has to say.
Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) is a plug-in built into Photoshop CS4 (PSCS4) that provides adjustments to digital images taken in the RAW mode. Most PSCS4 books include a chapter on the use of ACR that will useful for those just getting used to the plug-in. However to get the full benefit of ACR’s capabilities for the rapid processing of images, it helps to consult a book dedicated exclusively to ACR.
This book is credited to Jeff Schewe and the late Bruce Fraser. Fraser, a well known and liked PS guru, was responsible for earlier versions of the book and his hand is still visible. The book includes not just instructions on the use and capabilities of all of ACR’s buttons, sliders and options, many of which are not immediately obvious, but also chapters on Adobe Bridge, the control center for PSCS4, as well as chapters on workflow, metadata and automation. The book does a fine job of clearly explaining all of these tools and even expert users may find that ACR has help that they didn’t know existed. Even though most of ACR’s functions can also be accomplished in the main PSCS4 software, ACR can be faster, adjustments are never destructive, and you will need a converter anyway for raw files.
Although the book contains a lot of useful information, the chapter which showed actual examples of the use of ACR to adjust particular images really helped to understand the usefulness of the plug-in. The chapter on metadata opened up some new ideas about the uses of this “information about information”.
Although the book is quite comprehensive it was by no means exhaustive. For example, I felt that the section on configuring Bridge could have used a few more examples but most users will probably be able to figure out the possibilities with a little thought.
One issue not covered by the authors is the comparison between ACR and Lightroom. The camera raw functionality is just about the same (with the exception of a point tone-curve in ACR) but the Lightroom interface is so much easier to use, and you get an asset management program as well. On the other hand you get ACR when you buy PSCS4 and you have to lay out additional money for Lightroom.
ACR can speed up your processing of files and has lots of capabilities. This is a good place to learn how to maximize its use.
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