Over the past couple of years, one of my biggest complaints about Adobe has been the way that Photoshop Elements has supported Camera Raw (ACR). I have really wished that Elements users got all the features in ACR that Photoshop users got, but, even more, I have wanted Adobe to add the automatic update feature for ACR that Photoshop includes. It’s not fair that we have to go spelunking through our Program Files and Preferences folders to add a new version of ACR to our systems. (Don’t even get me started on the 64-bit stuff!)
If you’re an Elements 9 user, here’s some good news: the Updates feature will now automatically install the Camera Raw plug-in for you. I found this out yesterday, when I went to look at the info for the new Camera Raw 6.3 update. You can still download the plug-in and do all the dirty work of installing it yourself, but if you just go to Help>Updates, Elements will download and install ACR 6.3 all by itself. (You’ll need to close the Editor or the Organizer before it finishes updating, but that’s ok by me.)
I still wish we got all of the cool tabs and extra controls that Photoshop CS users got, but I’ll take an easier installation process any day.
If you want to see more on what new cameras are supported in the Camera Raw 6.3 update, you can go to the Adobe support pages, for Macintosh and Windows systems (or check out the Camera Raw 6.3 Read Me PDF). Unfortunately, Camera Raw 6.3 is only available for Photoshop Elements 9.0. The latest version of the Camera Raw plug-in available for Photoshop Elements 6.0/7.0 is Camera Raw 5.6 (Macintosh, Windows) ; for Photoshop Elements 8.0, it’s Camera Raw 6.2 (Macintosh, Windows).
TIP: If you have an older version of Photoshop Elements, and you get a new camera that isn’t supported by your maximum version of ACR (but is by a newer version), you can still work with the files; you just need to convert them to Adobe’s DNG (Digital Negative) format.
First, download and open the latest version of Adobe’s free DNG Converter (Macintosh, Windows. Then, point the program to the folder containing the Raw files you want to convert, use the file-naming section to name your converted DNG files, and select the version of ACR in the Preferences pop-up that corresponds to your version of ACR. (You can click the ‘Embed original Raw file’ if you want to keep everything neat and tidy, but I just back up my Raw files to a different hard drive, so I don’t worry about that option.)
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Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to open those DNG files with ACR for your version of Elements. I’ve been able to go as far back as Elements 5.0 with this tip.