On Friday, February 21, 2014, Adobe made the Camera RAW Release candidate 8.4 available for download over at Adobe Labs and Lightroom Journal blog. A release candidate is basically a beta version of software that’s almost ready for prime-time. The release candidate offers the software’s more advanced user base the opportunity to play with the software a bit before final release. The reason is simple. The software engineers feel the program is ready to go, but want to have it looked at with a fresh set of eyes. Users can often spot problems the engineers overlook because advanced users will actually use the software in their varied workflows. This allows Adobe to tweak the program before its final release.
Camera manufacturers are producing new cameras all the time. With each new camera model there are new feature sets and senor considerations. Also, each camera manufacturer creates their own specifications for their proprietary RAW file. So, for Photoshop or any other software company creating a photo editing package, they need to modify that software so it will recognize that camera’s RAW file. Now, this almost made sense fifteen years ago because the digital imaging industry was new. In 2004 Adobe introduced the Digital Negative (DNG) as an open source solution. But only a few camera makers adopted the idea of a “universal” RAW file. So Adobe must respond by constantly updating their Camera RAW converter in Photoshop and Lightroom to handle the new cameras that are being produced.
While Adobe must keep track of these new camera models they also, tweak and improve the abilities of their ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) engine. So some of the new enhancements in the ACR release candidate are, a new preview mechanism for better before/after image comparisons and an improved set of color matching profiles for Fujifilm X-Trans cameras; it also corrects issues reported from the Camera Raw 8.3 release and a list of new Lens Profiles, “Check All” and “Check None” buttons to synchronize custom ACR presets, and changes to Local Corrections. There is of course the usual set of bug fixes. In all, this seems to be a major update to the ACR engine, which is the same one used in Adobe Lightroom. So there should be a release candidate for Lightroom on its way very soon.
If you you think you would like to see what’s coming to Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, you can check it out at Adobe’s Lightroom Journal blog for the list of new features and enhancements. Also, if you are one of those people still sitting on the fence about the Creative Cloud, and just bought a Fujifilm X100s, then download the 8.4 DNG Converter. This will allow you to convert RAW files to older versions of Photoshop CS. However with ACR 8.4, Adobe no longer supports Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS 10.6.x (Snow Leopard).