Adobe Camera RAW 13 – not so bad!

A few months ago I wrote a blog post criticising Adobe for making wholesale changes to the Camera RAW interface with Photoshop and Bridge. It appeared that they wanted to make it more like Lightroom and I questioned why they would do that given that there are relatively few crossover users of the two very different (but identical under the hood) RAW conversion options. If you want to go back and read the whole post then you can on the link above but in summary I said the following;

… my other main gripe with Adobe is to ask why call this an update move from .2 to .3 and not actually call it what it is with some decent warnings – as a user this feels like a whole new version and I would like to have had some warning before having to spend time (which I luckily have right now but that’s immaterial) getting to know the new interface. At the end of the day my workflow isn’t going to change much, if at all. Equally, this is still a more suitable application than any of the others I have tried and tried again – including Lightroom. I have challenged myself to work with the default version of the new workspace to see if it is better because a couple of others have assured me that they prefer it and those are also people whose opinion I would always respect but I have to be honest and say that I’m not looking forward to the next big edit

I have been working away with various updates and then, along with the 2021 version of Photoshop CC which appeared a few days ago, version 13 of the Camera RAW module landed and I am able to pronounce myself reasonably happy. That’s for two reasons really, the first is that I have been plugging away learning how to work with the new interface and the second is that I have gone over to using more and more keyboard shortcuts – which makes so much sense given that I have always been a fan of them in other applications such as Photo Mechanic.

In version 13 the option to adapt the right hand panel has evolved and become one of the strengths of ACR in Photoshop. I have been able to hide the many workflow options that I rarely and/or never use and I have been able to keep those that I do use open all of the time. By right or control clicking in the background of that panel you bring up a small dialogue window that gives you a few options and thereby editing what the panel shows. In my case that is Basic, Detail and Optics so that I can do my normal toning, sharpening and my occasional lens corrections without having to scroll past the other options that I don’t use. Then by selecting multiple panel mode I can have all three of them open at the same time and by going for the compact layout option when I’m on my 5K monitor I don’t even have to scroll up and down the panel – it’s all just there.

The number of clicks of the mouse and the amount of scrolling is suddenly reduced and the interface makes sense.

I was critical of the loss of some of the tool options that had been there throughout previous versions and the two that were killing me were the spirit level and Save.

Both now have excellent keyboard shortcuts; for the spirit level just the use of the A key will bring that up on the frames selected and Command + S on a Mac and Control + S on a PC will give you the save dialogue box. Life just keeps getting simpler.

There are tons of other keyboard shortcut options for Adobe Camera RAW and I am only just scratching the surface of their use. There will be some that my workflow will never need and a few others that I will use so rarely that I’ll forget that there even is a shortcut but for a precious few others I am getting ever faster with them. You can get the full list from Adobe’s Help page here and a lot of them use the same shortcuts that you’d expect from widely used applications so there are no surprises for copy, paste, paste and zoom. I find myself using Command + 0 to make the image fit the window quite a bit and the reset crop Command + Option + R is getting a bit of action too.

The bottom line here is that I still miss the old interface. It was so familiar that I could close my eyes and imagine it and I could talk someone through an operation without having it open in front of me. I’m not there with the latest version yet but I am no longer swearing at it and it is starting to become very familiar.

I’m in two minds about having had to customise the interface though. On one hand I’m glad that I can and on the other slightly aggrieved that I have to. Basically, I’m not easy to please when it comes to people making changes in software that I love and use a lot. I still have to revert to the classic editor when composing blog posts in WordPress and don’t even get me started on the latest Facebook awfulness…

So – if there’s anyone with connections to Adobe reading this who wants to make me happier still, there’s two more things that I want you to do:

  1. Please, please make it possible to use plug-ins designed for Lightroom inside Photoshop too. If you want an example then top of my list would be Negative Lab Pro – which I use for processing colour negatives when archiving but others will surely have their own favourites too.
  2. No more shocks. If you are going to make big changes again, please signal them well in advance.

So that’s it for now. I’m still developing my killer workflow and that’s a sentence that I’ll probably be able to repeat for as long as I keep on working.


  1. Almost 25 years ago, when I worked for a rather large American corporate company as a graphic designer, I called Adobe support with a bug that was a show stopper for what we were trying to do. I don’t remember the version or what the problem was and it’s almost irrelevant. I had to talk through how to replicate the bug without having a computer, let alone Photoshop, in front of me. My colleagues at the time stared open-jawed, as I talked the tech support guy, on a different time zone, through the process from memory. The point being, not that I’m showing off, but that it cannot be underestimated the value of familiarity with our tools. I’ll just leave this here … 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like you Neil I have more time to look at how it works but less inclination to do so much preferring things as they were before the upgrade
    Thanks for looking into it and reporting your thoughts. It’s made me feel like further exploring the new options .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.