Image Processing Reference
Adjusting Saturation—Not Yet
When first beginning to work with RAW images, many people are surprised by how
flat the images look when compared to the JPEGs they have been shooting. The pri-
mary reason for this is that JPEG images are already converted when you see them. The
camera has made decisions on how much saturation to apply, and more often than not,
tends to be optimized for vibrant color.
If saturation needs to be adjusted, I usually prefer to make these adjustments
after the conversion using the tools in Photoshop, which give greater control over the
process. If adjustments are to be made in Camera Raw, they should be minimal. There
is one exception to this rule of thumb though, and it's one that not many people con-
sider—black-and-white conversion in Camera Raw. I'll cover this technique in detail in
Although Camera Raw includes a Sharpness slider, applying sharpening during the con-
version is not the ideal method to use. Because sharpening needs will be specific to each
image and the intended output, setting a default sharpness can lead to problems after
the conversion. The other reason to avoid sharpening during conversion is that Camera
Raw doesn't offer the level of control over sharpening settings that Unsharp Mask
does. This can lead to halos and other problems that are nearly impossible to correct
after they have been applied.
Note: For more detailed information on sharpening images, I recommend Photoshop Sharpening, an
e-book by Tim Grey. It's for sale at www.sybex.com .
The problem with turning off sharpening is that your image will appear some-
what soft when displayed in Camera Raw since it is showing the image as recorded,
rather than the JPEG preview shown on the camera's LCD. Unlike your RAW file, that
JPEG preview has sharpening applied automatically. The best way to deal with this is
to use the Sharpness slider only on the preview image.
Photoshop CS2 allows you to apply sharpening to the preview only in the Pref-
erences dialog. This will let you see how your image will look with sharpening applied,
but when the conversion is done, it will not be applied to the converted image. To set
Camera Raw to use sharpening only on the preview, open the dialog's pop-up menu
(under the histogram, next to the Settings list) and choose Preferences. In the Camera
Raw Preferences dialog, select Preview Images Only from the Apply Sharpening To list,
as shown in Figure 3.28. Click OK to save your changes and return to Camera Raw.