Today anyone can take photos, both from their camera and from their mobile. But if we really want our photo to have a professional finish, it is not enough to shoot it in JPEG, but we must use the raw format that our camera offers us so that, with specific software, we can retouch its raw values to improve the color, clarity, luminosity or lens values. This raw, raw format is what is known as RAW, and one of the best tools for editing them is Adobe Camera Raw .
Unlike a JPEG photo, which is already processed and compressed, RAW files store all the information captured by the camera sensor, as is. This will allow us to have more control over the image and make non-destructive changes to it until we find the setting that best finishes the photo.
Camera Raw, the best tool to develop photos
Camera Raw is not an independent program that we can download and install on the computer, but rather this software is rather a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom that is included by default with these programs. Any user of Adobe’s photo editing programs can use this plug-in without having to do anything else.
Broadly speaking, Camera Raw allows us to make the same adjustments that we can do, for example, in Lightroom. But the main advantage of this plugin is that, once we have made the adjustments we want, we can import the photo directly into Photoshop to continue editing, without loss of quality.
If we have ever used a professional reflex camera we will have seen that “RAW” is not a format as such, but that each manufacturer uses its own format (NEF, DNG, etc.) to save all this information in raw form. Broadly speaking, all these formats contain the same information, but it is saved in a different way, so the development software we use must be compatible with these formats.
Camera Raw is one of the programs that has the greatest compatibility with all types of formats. This software is officially compatible with virtually all camera models from the following manufacturers:
- Konica minolta
- Mommy now
Each update of this plugin focuses on adding support for new camera models, so the list is constantly growing. We can consult the complete list of compatible cameras in this link .
Retouch a photo in Raw
To open a photo with this plugin, all we have to do is open it directly with Photoshop . The Adobe software will detect that it is an image in RAW format and, instead of opening it directly in the editing program, it will load it directly into this plugin.
As we can see, the image will appear on the left side, occupying most of the screen, while the right side is reserved for the different editing tools . From here we will be able to control all the parameters of the photo, from the color profile to the exposure, color temperature, contrast, lights, shadows, texture … everything that the image has. We can adjust each of these values using the bar that appears next to it. In addition to allowing us to edit and improve the image manually, we can also retouch it, using AI, automatically.
In addition to the standard values, we will also be able to retouch the image through its color curves, mix colors, divide tones, modify the optics, apply effects … a wide variety of options at the click of a button. We will also have access to other tools that will allow us, for example, to make specific corrections to the image, apply filters, eliminate red eyes, etc.
To help us compare the result of our changes, Camera Raw also has a view mode that allows us to see the original photo and compare it with the modified one. This will help us to see if we are really improving it or the changes are losing the magic of the original photo.
When we finish with the retouching we can click on “Done” to save the changes directly to the RAW photo, or on “Open” to take it to Photoshop.
Download Adobe Camera Raw
This plugin installs automatically along with Photoshop and Lightroom . Therefore, to use it, all you have to do is download and install either of these two Adobe programs. Once installed, from Creative Cloud, we will have this add-on also installed on our computer.
Camera Raw updates are important, as new compatible cameras are included with each new release. And, to install these new versions, we simply have to download them from Creative Cloud, Adobe’s software center.
Adobe Camera Raw is probably one of the most complete RAW photo relief programs that we can find. But it is not, by far, the only option that we can find in the market. Looking a little we can find a large number of alternatives (some free, others paid, more complete, simpler, etc.) that will allow us to squeeze our photos to the maximum.
Darktable, an OpenSource alternative
Darktable is one of the best programs we can find to develop raw photos. This program is a mix between Lightroom and Camera Raw, a complete photo cataloger with photo editing, retouching and developing functions. Its main feature is that it is completely free and open source software, so any Windows, Linux or macOS user can use it without limitations.
We can download this program from here .
Capture One, the most complete, professional and expensive option
If we are looking for a professional option for developing and editing photos, even more than Photoshop, then we must consider taking a look at Capture One. Among all the features of this program we can highlight the large number of camera profiles that are included by default. This allows us to achieve a much more realistic color when developing RAW photos than with other programs, in addition to having specific ICC profiles for each camera model.
It is quite an expensive program. More even than Photoshop. And we can download it from this link .
Software for each camera
Nikon, Canon, Sony, and other professional camera manufacturers also have their own programs for editing and retouching their respective RAW photos. These programs, being specially designed for their own formats, are also usually much more compatible than third-party programs, and also free (we have already paid enough for the camera), so if we do not want complications, these programs can be an interesting alternative to consider.