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Gear & Apps

Update Sees Adobe Camera RAW Performance Boost & Lightroom CC Features

By Kishore Sawh on April 23rd 2015


I’ve always felt that Adobe Camera Raw was never the recipient of the type of affection it deserves, and Adobe’s latest move proved that. While there was fanfare with trumpets, crumpets, and a fatted calf heralding the arrival of Lightroom 6 as if it was the prodigal son, Adobe rather quietly released the update to Camera Raw as if it were the older, more obedient, boring one – much like the parable of The Lost Son.

This is somewhat understandable considering Lightroom is the behemoth in popularity, but ACR, now in its 9th version, received very much the same major feature points and upgrades that Lightroom did. There’s the performance boost, RAW HDR blending, RAW panorama stitching, and the typical added support for many cameras and lens profiles. It’s good to note here that even though you are using RAW files to merge or stitch, the resulting file will be a DNG. It should retain all the edibility of the RAW files, which means you no longer would need to adjust or edit the images beforehand. This is huge.


ACR 9, like LR6, can now utilize the GPU card power in your computer, which will give you significantly more power than previously had, though fair to say ACR never seemed to stutter and cough the way Lightroom did. I suspect this was an inevitability for both programs especially with the advent and growing popularity of monitors that support 4K resolution and higher.

To ensure you are taking advantage of this capability, simply visit the Camera Raw Preferences dialog and see that the ‘Use Graphics Processor’ box is checked. When this is done, ACR will automatically determine what the GPU is, and if it can be used. If it can, the name will be displayed, and if it can’t, you’ll simply get an error message.

Usage instructions for Panorama and Merge Features:

▪ To merge files in ACR, select the photos that you want to merge then press the “Merge…” button at the top of the filmstrip. Select “Panorama” or “HDR” from the pop-up menu.
▪ After a preview of the merge is generated, select desired options in the merge preview dialog and click the “Merge” button to start a full-size merge.
▪ The full-size merge is performed in the background so you can continue to edit other photos or start other merges while you wait. To view status, or cancel a merge, press the link in the lower left area of the main ACR window (it will say “1 remaining” if you’ve started a merge).
▪ Once the full-size merge is complete, the resulting DNG file will be added to the bottom of the filmstrip and be available for further editing.
▪ HDR deghosting has three amounts: low, medium, and high. In order to make it easier to select the best option for a given image, a visualization option is also available

[REWIND: Render Impeccable Skin Tone Easily, Using Camera Raw & A Slider You Didn’t Know Existed]

Camera Support Updates

Canon EOS 5DS R
Canon EOS 5DS
Canon EOS 750D (Rebel T6i, Kiss X8i)
Canon EOS 760D (Rebel T6s, Kiss 8000D)
▪ Canon EOS M3
▪ Casio EX-ZR3500
Fujifilm X-A2
Fujifilm XQ2
▪ Hasselblad Stellar II
Nikon D5500
Nikon D7200
Olympus OM-D E-M5 II
Olympus Stylus SH-2
Olympus Tough TG-4
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 (DMC-TZ70, DMC-TZ71)
Samsung NX500

For the full list of camera and lens updates see here, and to download ACR9.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rick Baker

    I love the fact of RAW merging and stitching. This is a huge part of my landscape photos.

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  4. Thomas Horton

    Is there a way to get a copy of just ACR9? I don’t think there is. So being that ACR9 is just a component of other software packages, it is not unusual that ACR9 did not receive the same “fanfare” as PS or LR.

    I wish there was a way to get ACR9 by itself.

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    • adam sanford

      I don’t think you can get ACR standalone. I thought it was just a module/plug-in for PS.

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  5. Dave Haynie

    Oh, and I did try some panoramic merges. Not a power tool, but it does a better job than I found in Photoshop, the last time I used Photoshop for merges, anyway. That might have been CS5 or earlier.

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  6. Dave Haynie

    I got the CC demo, rather than the LR6 demo… I’m inching toward buying the $9.99/month “Photo” option, despite my concerns for the abuse of a subscription model, not so much any issue with the implementation of it so far.

    Anyway, I’ll admit, I have a really fast PC already, but I didn’t see any performance improvements. So I double-checked… my AMD Radeon HD6970 is not making LRCC happy. Could be something OpenGL-related (not OpenCL — the one used for GPGPU stuff — just the basic OpenCL/3D package, which I use for work all the time for 3D circuit board visualizations). Ok, it’s a card from 2010, but it’s really fast card from 2010. I keep it because Sony Vegas is lacking full support for newer cards in one of its CODECs. And, well, because good GPU cards ain’t cheap. Anyway, never had much issue with LR’s speed, and I suspect much of what I did suffer was the fact I had my main catalog on a 16TB Drobo via Firewire 800. That recently changed to USB 3.0, much faster.

    And it’s nice to have OM-D E-M5 mk II support. Even just a few weeks of kludging it was no fun.

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    • Graham Curran

      Your $9.99 p/m is 30% higher in the UK and that is more than the standard VAT rate of 20% which we would normally expect to pay. :(

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  7. Rob Harris

    Glad to see support for Nikon D7200 even if it isn’t in my hands…

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  8. Ryan shanahan

    Have you run any tests to determine if using the GPU does in fact speed things up or are you assuming? Tony Northrup has a YouTube video where he does test the new LR CC and it does show that LR is now using the GPU a lot more, problem is that there isn’t any increase in speed.

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  9. Lauchlan Toal

    The merging raw photos is a very welcome feature, I never much liked having to go through all my frames individually before merging without knowing what the final composite would look like. Thanks for the heads up!

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  10. adam sanford

    “While there was fanfare with trumpets, crumpets, and a fatted calf heralding the arrival of Lightroom 6 as if it was the prodigal son, Adobe rather quietly released the update to Camera Raw as if it were the older, more obedient, boring one – much like the parable of The Lost Son.”

    …that just *might* have something to do with LR costing $149 while ACR comes gratis with Photoshop. :-)

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