Adobe Camera Raw Tutorials

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In previous tutorials, we learned the basics of using the Crop Tool in Adobe Camera Raw to crop our images non-destructively, and we learned how the Crop Tool, along with its Show Overlay option, can be used to rotate and straighten images.

Adobe Camera Raw tutorials 7 hours ago I am intrigued by the variety of uses of ACR (being a long time PS user) and I see it as being very beneficial if/when you know how it can be used. PROCESSING VIDEO TUTORIALS On this page you will find Max Rive's famous from Start to Finish tutorials. Each instructional video has been edited with Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Photoshop. The tutorial will start with an introduction by Max Rive - talking about the location, photography gear, compositions and more.

In this tutorial, we'll learn how to straighten photos using the combined power of Camera Raw's Straighten Tool and the Crop Tool, both designed to work seemlessly together to straighten and crop our photos at the same time.

Again, just a quick reminder that these tutorials in our Adobe Camera Raw series are for Camera Raw 8, part of Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) and available as a free update for Photoshop CS6 users. To get the most from this lesson, I recommend first reading through our main Crop Tool tutorial as well as our Rotating And Straightening Images tutorial. For other tutorials in this series, check out our complete Photo Retouching section.

Adobe Camera Raw Tutorials

Here's a photo I shot of a couple of cruise ships arriving at port early one morning. I was standing on the deck of a third ship when I took the photo, and like I said, it was early morning, things were still a bit fuzzy, and I obviously wasn't holding the camera quite as level as I thought I was:

Camera raw update

Camera Raw Cc

The original photo.

Let's see how I can quickly straighten the image using the Straighten Tool. You'll find the Straighten Tool in the toolbar along the top left of the Camera Raw dialog box (directly to the right of the Crop Tool). Unlike the Crop Tool, the Straighten Tool doesn't have any hidden menu options so to select it, simply click on its icon. Or, you can select the Straighten Tool by pressing the letter A on your keyboard:

With the Straighten Tool selected, look for something in your image that should be straight, either horizontally or vertically. Then, simply click on one end of it, keep your mouse button held down, drag over to the other end, then release your mouse. In my case here, I'll use the large observation deck on the ship on the left since it should appear horizontally straight in the photo. To make it easier to see, I'll temporarily access Camera Raw's Zoom Tool by pressing and holding Ctrl+Spacebar (Win) / Command+Spacebar (Mac) on my keyboard. This changes my mouse cursor to a magnifying glass with a plus sign in the middle. I'll click a couple of times on the area where I want to zoom in:

Zooming in on the image by temporarily switching to the Zoom Tool.

Now that I'm zoomed in, I'll release Ctrl+Spacebar (Win) / Command+Spacebar (Mac) to revert back to the Straighten Tool. Next, I'll click somewhere on the left side of the observation deck to set my starting point, and with my mouse button held down, I'll drag across it to the right side. As you drag, you'll see a dashed line appearing so you can make sure you're lining things up correctly:

Clicking and dragging the Straighten Tool along an area that should be horizontally straight.

Quick Tip: The Straighten Tool's default mouse cursor makes it hard to tell exactly where you're clicking. Pressing the Caps Lock key on your keyboard will change the cursor to a crosshair so you can more easily line up your click spot with the center of the crosshair. Just make sure to turn Caps Lock off when you're done, otherwise you may forget it's on and wonder why other things are suddenly not working properly.

Release your mouse button when you're done and watch what happens. Camera Raw instantly switches from the Straighten Tool to the Crop Tool (if you look up in the toolbar, you'll see that the Crop Tool is now selected) and it automatically draws a crop box around the image. The crop box is rotated to the same angle you dragged with the Straighten Tool. If you zoomed in on your image as I did, you'll most likely need to zoom back out to see the entire crop box. To instantly jump to the Fit on Screen view mode, press Ctrl+0 (Win) / Command+0 (Mac) on your keyboard:

Camera Raw draws a cropping border and rotates it to the angle needed for straightening the image.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on your keyboard and the image is instantly straightened. You'll probably notice that a bit of the image around the edges had to be cropped away in the process, but the image itself should now appear straight:

The image after pressing Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to accept the crop.

If you find that the angle at which you dragged with the Straighten Tool wasn't quite right and your image still isn't straight, or you want to change the crop, here's a trick. Rather than reselecting the Straighten Tool, simply press the letter C on your keyboard to select the Crop Tool. Since everything we do in Camera Raw is non-destructive, your cropping border will reappear just as it was a moment ago, rotated to the same angle:

Reselecting the Crop Tool to bring back the crop box.

Any time the Crop Tool is active, you can temporarily switch to the Straighten Tool simply by pressing and holding the Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key on your keyboard. You can then re-drag across the same part of the image or try a different area that should appear straight. This time I'll drag from bottom to top through the vertical center of the ship:

Clicking and dragging across an area that should be vertically straight.

When you release your mouse button, Camera Raw re-adjusts the rotation angle of the crop box. You can then release your Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key to revert from the Straighten Tool back to the Crop Tool:

The crop box after trying again with the Straighten Tool.

If you also want to adjust the crop box itself, you can click and drag any of the handles around the box to resize it. If you have your Crop Tool set to a preset aspect ratio from the Crop Tool's menu, like 2 to 3 or 4 to 5, you'll find a resizing handle in each of the four corners. If you're cropping in Normal mode as I am here, you'll find additional handles on the top, bottom, left and right (see the main Crop Tool tutorial for more details on cropping to specific aspect ratios). To move and reposition the crop box inside the image, click anywhere inside the box, hold your mouse button down, then drag with your mouse:

Clicking and dragging the handles to resize the crop box.

When you're done, press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on your keyboard and Camera Raw crops and straightens the image at the same time:

And there we have it! That's how to crop and straighten an image using the combined powers of the Straighten Tool and the Crop Tool in Adobe Camera Raw 8! Check out our Photo Retouching section for more Photoshop image editing tutorials!

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Your problem: You can’t open your raw files!

Here’s the scenario: You just started shooting raw files because you need exposure insurance and white balance flexibility. But you can’t get those raw files to open in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Lightroom! You’re ready to give up. This camera raw tutorial will help you.

Here are some solutions for you!

Please read all the way down to the bottom of this page before trying anything, or before emailing me for answers. The answers are here – really. Capturing images in RAW file format is far more flexible than capturing jpgs. However, sometimes your camera and the software on your computer don’t quite sync up. This is true if you have a brand new camera and an older version of Photoshop, or new Photoshop that hasn’t been updated. If that is the case, you may have to update your Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plugin for Photoshop. Follow the directions in Step One below.Now, if that doesn’t work, you’ll have to download the free Adobe DNG Converter utility, which will convert files from over 200 digital camera Raw files to a more universal RAW file format, DNG (which stands for digital negative), which can then be opened in an older version of Photoshop. (Older being CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6.) Photoshop Elements can also open RAW files, and you may have to follow the same process if you have a newer camera and an older version of Elements. See Step Two and Three below.

Before you start – Check to see if your camera is supported.

Adobe’s list of supported cameras is here. If your camera is brand new on the market, it may not be supported for a couple of months after it’s release.

READ the following if you can’t open your RAW files in Photoshop

Step One: Update Adobe Camera Raw (ACR)

  • Update and install the latest version of ACR (for CS6 use v7.1 – and just note it will only work for CS6 – For earlier versions or Creative Cloud see below.)
  • Use the Adobe updater (if it’s installed on your computer). That way all the updates will be automatic and much simpler than the manual method.
  • Windows users: Download Adobe Application Manager and update from there.
  • Detailed instructions are included on the download page of the Adobe site.
  • If you are using Photoshop CS2 – the latest version of ACR is 3.7
  • If you are using Photoshop CS3 – the latest version of ACR is 4.6
  • If you are using Photoshop CS4 – the latest version of ACR is 5.7
  • If you are using Photoshop CS5 – the latest version of ACR is 6.7
  • If you are using Photoshop CS6 – the latest version of ACR is 7.1 (DNG converter goes to versions 9.2 and beyond)
  • Photoshop Creative Cloud only lists the DNG converter and no longer lists ACR
  • Once you have installed the latest version (according to your software version), try again to open your camera RAW files
  • Easiest way is to navigate to the folder where your RAW files are using Adobe Bridge
  • If this doesn’t work, go to Step Two.

Here are the direct links to the latest Adobe Camera Raw updates for Photoshop:

Step Two: Download DNG Converter

  • If Step One doesn’t work, you will need to convert your files to DNG format, and then use ACR after that to open the converted files
  • Once you get your file converted to a DNG, it will open in any recent version of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, and other RAW image converters too.

Links to the latest Adobe DNG Converters:

Step Three: Convert Your Files

To use the DNG converter, follow these steps: (These are for Mac, but the PC steps are very similar)

  • Go to the appropriate link above and download the latest Adobe DNG Converter
  • Place it in your Applications folder
  • Launch the DNG Converter application
  • Select the folder where your raw files are located and click Convert
  • You can save the new files to another folder, which I suggest you do, (and perhaps delete the original raw files once you are certain the new DNG files will open)
  • You can also re-name your new DNG files, but it might be simpler to keep their original file numbering
  • The DNG files are also slightly smaller than your raw files, but don’t worry, all the quality is there

Step 4: If all else fails, try another software other than Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

  • I use Luminar to open raw files that Adobe products don’t open.
  • If you don’t want to pay monthly subscription fees, check out Luminar.
  • Download a trial version for free.
  • If you decide to buy, use my coupon code: ImageMaven for $10 off the price.


Try one small folder of images first to test

  • The DNG converter converts your raw files to the DNG format which can then be opened using ACR and Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6 or CC
  • Very simple and fast. Converting files to DNG is actually considered very beneficial, as it is an archival format and it also uses a loss-less compression which makes the DNG files 15% smaller
  • DNG files can be opened by all RAW conversion software and in the future may become the standard file format for all digital cameras

Camera Raw for Photoshop Elements


Follow the same steps as with Photoshop above. Here are the updates to the Adobe Camera Raw plugins for Photoshop Elements MAC & Windows up to v.10. This will make it much easier to open your RAW files as you shouldn’t have to go through the DNG conversion process if you are using Version 9 or later. This is great news for Elements users.

Elements Version 11 +

For Elements v.11 and later, follow the camera raw update instructions on this page: Elements version 11 and later

Camera Raw Tutorial for Lightroom

If you are using Photoshop Lightroom for your image editing, keep your software up to date using the same method as in the Elements 11+ link above.

Related posts on working with Camera Raw Files

Adobe Camera Raw Video Tutorials

“Just wanted to say thanks for your page on Camera Raw files. After hunting around I stumbled onto your site and you gave without a doubt the simplest and most accurate information regarding newer raw camera files and older Photoshop programs. Adobe DNG rocks! And you rock even more!” –Timothy P.

Final Words

Many people write to tell me this tutorial helped them open their raw files.Many more people tell me I should charge for this tutorial. But I’d like to help as many people as possible, so I’ll keep this information free for all to see.

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If this tutorial helped you open your raw files, and you can afford it, please consider buying me a coffee. Just click the button below. Your support is greatly appreciated.

I have walked many people through this procedure in person and over the phone.

I have done it with Mac and Windows and I know it works. So don’t give up! Follow the directions carefully and you will succeed. Converting files to DNG format will also allow you to open your RAW files in other software such as Aperture, Lightroom, Capture One, iPhoto, GIMP and many more, especially if your software is a little older – not 5 years older or more though – just if you haven’t got the latest and greatest versions yet. There are also instructions for this procedure found on the Adobe site in the same locations as you get the ACR and DNG converter updates. And if NONE of these methods work for you after carefully following all the steps, then you can always use the software that came with your camera. If you’re lucky you will be able to convert to DNG files that way, and then open up the DNG files in your preferred raw image editing software.