Transform your photos with total control over colour, detail, lens and calibration settings using Photoshop's camera RAW plug-in. Part 1

In essence, a RAW file is a digital negative: a file containing all the raw sensor data from the camera, along with information on the settings used.

Photoshop’s Camera RAW plug-in becomes the digital darkroom and gives you the controls to convert this data into a finished image, just as a photo lab would with a film negative in a traditional darkroom.

Using RAW files provides many benefits, including complete control over the most commonly applied adjustments, such as sharpness, colour, brightness, contrast, colour balance, and white balance settings.

On the downside, the image is much larger than the more common JPG format (though smaller than a TIF format) and can’t be opened without a converter (either an application supplied by the manufacturer or the Camera RAW plug-in) to interpret the data as an image.

Still, the advantages of having a RAW file with its almost infinite control over the final output makes it the format of choice in a professional environment, or in any situation where quality and flexibility issues outweigh speed.

Opening raw images

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1. First, download your images to a folder on your hard disk, then use Photoshop’s File Browser (or Adobe Bridge as it’s called in CS 2) to navigate to the relevant folder.
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It’s also possible to process a RAW image by using the File > Open command, but the File Browser is far more flexible when reviewing a batch of files. If you have a number of files in the folder, it may take a while for all the image previews to appear. 
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<p>
2. To open an image for processing, doubleclick on its thumbnail. This action opens a large preview of the image in a dialog box, and it’s here that all the processing decisions are made.
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<p>
<h2>Basic features</h2>
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<div class=inlineimage><img src=

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