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Editing Jpeg and Tiff Files in ACR and saving as DNG Files

November 18th, 2007

ACR 4.3 (Adobe Camera Raw) will open Jpeg and Tiff file and edit them as well. This is a nifty and useful addition to ACR. You can set ACR as your default preference for opening Jpeg and tiff files. Go to Edit/Preferences in Adobe bridge and set the thumbnail preferences to “prefer camera raw for Jpeg and tiff files.” There is also a setting in the Camera Raw preferences for “always open jpeg files with setting using CameraRaw.” When you open up a Jpeg or Tiff file in ACR 4.3 it saves your edits to a sidecar XMP file. Only by clicking the save image or opening the image in Photoshop and saving it do you apply your actual edits to the file.

You can also use ACR to save jpeg or tiff files as DNG files. This has some real possibilities. There are lots of reasons to shoot jpeg as an original file format: speed, card space, wireless transmission, etc. I don’t know of any good reason to shoot tiff as a camera file format. I do of course use tiff as derivative file format. The issue WAS that you had to edit the original file and save over it or you had to save a new file if you wanted to keep your original in tact. The DNG file format puts the original jpeg, the camera raw editing info, a derivative Jpeg preview file, and metadata all inside of the DNG bubble.

The jpeg preview file that’s included inside of the DNG is very important because it’s used by other applications like Expression Media for display and output. What you have inside a DNG is your original file (JPG or RAW), metadata, editing adjustments, and jpeg version of the applied edits. Looking at your corrected file instead of your original file is one of the biggest reasons to use DNG over other file formats.

I love having all my favorite ACR tools available for editing jpeg and tiff files. I’m used to these tools and they are all right there for use on jpeg originals and tiff derivatives alike. The ability to adjust the edits without damaging the file is also very nice, but (big but):

Using ACR on jpeg and tiff files is dangerous business. You no longer know that what your looking at is what the file really contains. There are other bleeding edge issues as well. The Adobe bridge Cache and the ACR Cache are complicated and problematic. I recently discovered that my Bridge Cache was 8Gigs of fragmented mess. I could not defrag it and I ended up starting a new cache folder and deleting the whole mess. There are small issues like files with layers and big issues like files opening up as 2.8 megapixels instead of 17 megapixels. If it sounds like I’m trying to scare you, I’m not. It’s just a warning that this is still a little bleeding edge and you need to be careful.

In my opinion, once you start using an ACR/DNG workflow on your tiff and jpeg files you will never want to go back.

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