Adobe Lightroom and Camera RAW are two slider-based programs for processing raw files that allow you to reach the same end via different means. While most Mastin Labs users work in Lightroom, our preset packs also work in Adobe Camera RAW. Since an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription contains both programs, you can take your pick and edit however you’d like. If you’re wondering what the differences between Adobe Capture RAW and Lightroom are or you’re curious how to use Adobe Camera RAW, we’ve got answers.
Adobe Camera RAW VS Lightroom
Since Lightroom version 7.3, presets for Adobe Camera RAW and Lightroom are exactly the same. Both programs access the same .xmp preset file, stored within Adobe Camera RAW’s folder structure. Whether you apply a preset from Lightroom or Camera RAW, there is absolutely no difference in what happens to your photo. What does differ between the two is the workflow.
Lightroom is essentially a catalog-based asset management software that also happens to be a full-featured raw editor. On the other hand, Adobe Camera RAW is the raw processor built into Adobe Bridge, which allows you to peruse your photos more passively. Where Lightroom actively manages your photos, Bridge is for browsing. Lightroom is a more focused and curated experience that begins with importing your photos into its environment, and Bridge lets you find images anywhere on your machine or hard drives and go to work on them where they are.
You’re probably getting the feeling by now that Lightroom is for thematic, continuous editing, and Adobe Camera RAW is more of a choose your own adventure, one-off editing experience.
Another way this concept shows itself is batch editing. Lightroom makes it simple to sync edits across photos. This drastically cuts down editing time for photographers who shoot and deliver tons of files to their clients, like wedding photographers. While it is possible to make batch edits in Adobe Camera RAW, it’s much less streamlined and efficient.
Even die-hard Lightroom users can benefit from familiarity with Adobe Camera RAW’s interface, though. From both Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW, you can open an image in Photoshop as a smart object.
Smart Objects allow you to revisit and make changes to your raw edit within a layer structure using the Adobe Camera RAW filter inside Photoshop. So, if you’ve got a background image with adjustment layers above it, but you decide you want to change the preset you applied, you can double-click the smart object background layer to re-open the Camera RAW filter and make changes.
How To Edit In Adobe Camera RAW With Mastin Labs Presets
There are three ways to open up Adobe Camera RAW and make changes to your photos. The first is to use Bridge to locate the raw file you’d like to edit, and double click it or use the keyboard shortcut “command/control + R.”
The second is for Lightroom users: choose a photo in your catalog, right-click it, and select “Edit In > Open As Smart Object In Photoshop.” After you’ve done that, you can double click the smart object layer, signified by a small icon in the lower right corner of the layer thumbnail.
The third way to access Adobe Camera RAW is to open it from within Photoshop as a filter. You can find it in the Photoshop menu under Filter > Camera Raw Filter, or use the keyboard shortcut “shift + command/control A.” If you use this option, be aware that although you’ll be using the same editing methods, you won’t be working with all the data of a raw file, so if you use presets this way, they will apply differently.
Once you’ve got Adobe Camera RAW open, you’ll see the image in the middle of the screen and an editing panel on the right. The editing panel has tabs near the top, below the histogram and camera settings. The two tabs you’ll be using for a simple Mastin Labs edit are the “presets” tab and the “basic” tab. Start with the presets tab - it’s the one second from the right. Choose your preset there, and then hop over to the basic tab.
If you’re already a Lightroom user or are at least familiar with Lightroom, the basic tab will look very familiar to you. In the basic tab, you can adjust your exposure and white balance to taste. That’s the Mastin Labs “three-click” workflow. You can go back to the presets tab to use the tone profiles and lens correction workflow, but these few things are all you really need to know to edit your photos in Adobe Camera RAW using Mastin Labs presets.
If you’d like to take your image into Photoshop for further edits, you can click the “Open Image” button at the bottom of the screen. Or, hold the shift key so that the button changes to “Open Object” if you’d prefer to open the image as a smart object that’s linked to the raw file for additional raw edits.
Exporting From Adobe Camera RAW
Bridge saves all the edits you make in Adobe Camera RAW, but to do anything with them, you’ll need to export the photo. At the bottom left corner of the screen, there is a “Save Image” button. If you press that, it’ll open a page of options where you can choose your export location and settings. After export, you can find your edited photo where you told Adobe Camera RAW to export to and post it online, send it to a printer, or enjoy the fruits of your labor however you see fit.