Every photographer forum seems to have discussions about which software you should use to achieve the best results. The thing about doing pictures for a living is that you have to have a reasonably simple, endlessly repeatable and very reliable workflow. After the first few thousand images it all becomes second nature and making changes to your workflow becomes a major drama.


I have used Photoshop since version 2.5 came out. I have used Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) in Photoshop from the days of the Canon EOS1D when I could no longer use the Kodak software that made the 1.9 megapixel DCS520 such a great camera. Every evolution of ACR and every new generation of cameras that it supports has been an improvement and it has take a very short time to adapt my workflow to make use of them.

When I took delivery of Photoshop CS4 at the end of November I was working with a combination of a Canon EOS50D and Canon EOS1D MkII cameras as well as having a Canon G9. The new version of ACR looked and acted a lot like the previous one and I was a contented boy. On December 1st 2008 I got my first Canon EOS5D MkII and suddenly ACR behaved differently. The default settings have always been a great starting place with the CRW and CR2 files from other cameras but they made my 5D MkII files look dark, overly contrasty and very saturated.

I know that there is a simple solution for this - set up a profile for the 5D MkII files. I've done that and below you can see the default settings on the left with the one that I am currently using for the 5D MkII on the right. I know that you can change the default settings to any that you want but that would make my files from other cameras wrong. The white balance shown is a custom one in the camera for my trusty old white Elinchrom shoot through umbrella which has yellowed with age.

ACR Default settings

Custom 5D MkII settings

The thing here is that professional photographers who just use the equipment and software for work have a great deal to learn from the amateurs, software enthusiasts and geeks who populate discussion forums because these guys get into the real "nitty-gritty" of the software and work out how to do almost everything and then let the world know by writing about it on forums. It would have taken me a week to work out how to do all of this by myself whereas a ten minute session on the Adobe Forums gave me the answers to my questions as well as the answers to stuff I didn't even know that I didn't even know!

I have always been careful not to take information found on forums at face value and I always do a lot of testing before I really trust something new. To the guys writing about software on forums - thank you - you have made a very positive contribution to my workflow.

Here I am writing about this stuff and I would probably be better served just diving back into the forums and finding out even more about ACR. It's an amazingly powerful tool and I'm only just scratching the surface.

It doesn't end here. I am going to set myself the challenge of learning far more about ACR and about how to make my files as good as they can be. I have been using this software for converting CRW and CR2 files for a long time now and I have no intention of going back and learning a whole new workflow.

What about the EOS5D MkII? I hear you asking... Still loving it, still learning about it and still waiting for my dealer to deliver the second body that I ordered. There was an issue with battery life, but a few charge cycles seems to have sorted that one out. I did have a worry about a magenta cast on the LCD but that has gone away too.

©Neil Turner 7th January 2009

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