Camera Raw gone lame?
July 23, 2007 1:07 AM   Subscribe

What did I do to my default Camera Raw settings and, more importantly, how can I undo it?

Embarrassingly, I'm not exactly sure how this happened but whereas before whenever I opened a RAW file from my Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) in Adobe Photoshop CS3 (with Camera Raw 4.1) the image's colour saturation, contrast settings, etc. were all as they were when I shot the image, now when open these files the settings seem stripped out of them. I get a file with very dull colours, not much contrast, etc. If I open a preview of the file using Microsoft RAW Image and Thumbnail viewer, I can see how the shot should look, but when I open it in PS I get this version with all the settings seemingly removed.

This is how images from my camera appeared in Adobe Photoshop CS(1) with... whatever the latest version of Camera Raw was for that (which didn't support the 300D, hence the lack of proper image data). I was messing around with Bridge CS3 before this happened and am guessing I might have reset the raw preferences but would that really "reset" them to something that looks like it doesn't know how to interpret files from my camera rather than go with what I thought were the default settings I was using before.

I've browsed around for help on this and haven't been able to find anything on this specific problem. It's incredibly frustrating and I appreciate any help anyone can provide.
posted by DyRE to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
I don't think you've searched very hard. how to do a complete reset of your camera is outlined in every canon manual (it does vary between certain models). you can download a pdf manual from canon's site if you've lost yours.

in general: you didn't mess up the RAW custom functions. photoshop guesses the correct settings when importing a RAW file. a RAW file is not an image with set values but a collection of unprocessed data. shoot RAW+JPEG when in doubt and you will have an actual processed image to look to for lighting and saturation clues, albeit with a set color temperature.

I recommend searching the flickr canon dslr group - there are thousands of threads dealing with these two issues.
posted by krautland at 1:16 AM on July 23, 2007

Response by poster: krautland, I wasn't asking how to reset anything on the camera. Nothing's been changed on the camera itself. What's changed is something with Camera Raw/CS3. If I open the images with another program that can read RAW files like Capture One Pro or RAW Image and Thumbnail Viewer, they look as they should. It's only in CS3 that the colours, etc. are messed up.
posted by DyRE at 1:44 AM on July 23, 2007

krautland did answer your question:

photoshop guesses the correct settings when importing a RAW file. a RAW file is not an image with set values but a collection of unprocessed data.

Something is making photoshop guess incorrectly.
I expect someone with the pertinent expertise will actually be able to tell you why as soon as it's properly morning.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:57 AM on July 23, 2007

Response by poster: I guess I didn't really explain myself very well so I apologise for any confusion. I know that RAW files are a set of data, not a processed image, and that programs which read RAW files are interpretting that data. I realise I didn't make that clear in my intial post. I'll try to rephrase my actual question in the hopes of getting a more specific answer later:

When I first installed Adobe Photoshop CS3, its interpretation of RAW files from my camera was to my liking. This is no longer the case. I've tried the option to 'Reset Camera Raw Defaults' and this changes nothing. I'd like to know how I can get CS3 to interpret RAW files the way it was doing so before.
posted by DyRE at 2:45 AM on July 23, 2007

I understand you.

I only have CS2, but you probably saved over the Camera Raw defaults, such that it is automatically choosing some settings other than "as shot" (meaning that it reads the EXIF data and makes changes accordingly).

In CS2, when first opening an image, under White Balance on the Adjust tab I must choose "as shot", and under that, there is a totally non-obvious "Auto" and "Default" and you want "Auto".

If that doesn't help, you'll want to go a step further. Click the little arrow next to the "Settings" dropdown, and choose "Reset Camera Raw Defaults", which should delete any custom thing you may have saved.

There will be some differences in CS3, but I think this should point you in the right direction.
posted by fake at 4:58 AM on July 23, 2007

I mentioned the camera only because there is a slight chance you might have stumbled over the custom functions. there are some powerful ones hidden in your camera and it can be tempting to play around. I didn't think you would have accidentally activated one but hey, I've seen it happen.

the interpretation of every raw file can be different from application to application because there isn't a preset for it. there is no "this is how it is supposed to be read" setting in photoshop and most other applications (capture one pro being the only difference I know of) when opening unprocessed RAW files.

you can delete your photoshop preferences to reset PSD to its factory defaults (wait, you are windows. check the web on how to reset it there) but I wouldn't expect any significant change.

you will always have to manually adjust RAW files unless you get really lucky. your camera should be pretty decent in guessing the correct white balance but especially exposure and brightness are things PSD likes to overadjust.

your camera does come with software. give DPP a try. the import function actually sharpens a lot better (less fractals) and you get the added benefit of working in 16-bit color (RAW files are 12 bit vs. the regular color space for JPEG files is 8bit). you can always transfer them into photoshop (automatically!) after having opened and adjusted photos. also great are lightroom and aperture.
posted by krautland at 8:54 AM on July 23, 2007

DyRE: I think I know what you're talking about, but I need to check on my home computer for the exact setting. It's something about using previous settings on RAW imports vs. "normal" settings, and whether or not Photoshop keeps the individual image import settings.

I think. I'll post another comment in about 4 hours letting you know if it's what I'm thinking of.
posted by niles at 12:59 PM on July 23, 2007 that I've checked, this may not be your problem. But here it is:

In the RAW Open Dialog (where you can futz with the color, etc settings), hit Ctrl/Cmd + K to open up the Preferences box. Clear the cache, uncheck anything in the "Default Image Settings", and, (my personal preference) save image settings in .xmp files. This is off of CS2, so Your Screen May Vary. This will clear out anything that you may have accidentally messed up, and restores most of the default color settings for RAW images.

Does that do anything?
posted by niles at 3:59 PM on July 23, 2007

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