Here’s the good stuff. If you’re a Lightroom user, all the adjustment options you’re learned to love there are in ACR 4.0. The Fill (for shadows) and Recovery (for highlights) are profoundly useful, within limits, and the Parametric Curve tab is great for easy, selective contrast tweaks. A surprisingly useful tab is the Hue-Sat-Lum adjustments for individual colors. I shoot on location in funky mixed lighting, and my camera profiles can mess up skin tones when the light is weird. In this tab I can adjust the hue of the red only, and clean up the Velvia face.
The geography of the screen has changed some from ACR 3.7,and from the beta. There have been a lot of comments on the forums about the loss of the auto options for individual sliders, but the auto adjustment results are never any that you'd want to live with anyway, so it’s a kindness that the temptation is gone. The bundle of output options is hidden in a separate menu box, which frees up a lot of screen real estate for a larger preview.
So what’s the problem? Well it’s really sluggish and hesitant. The Fill and Recovery sliders especially take several mouse clicks to get them to respond. This was truly an annoyance in the beta, and I expected a fix by now. Most work in ACR 4 is a stop and go affair. Click on the image to set the adjustment, and then click on he next, and the hourglass appears. You’d think I was running Photoshop on a 486 Pentium. I’d love to know if this problem is showing up on the Mac side.
I had 800 images to process, and I did them in CS3 Bridge and ACR 4. I loved having the additional adjustment sliders, and the images looked better than ever. But it took me much longer to do them, much of it waiting for my program to wake up and respond. Then I ran my jpg conversion action in Photoshop proper and went to lunch. After about 200 images, an error box showed up saying I was too short of RAM to complete the operation (on a machine with 4 gig, mind you). I tried again, and it choked after another 40 images. Something is really wrong here. I had to convert them from ACR, then run an action (in CS2) to sharpen and resize them. I missed today’s FedEx drop.
The next job had 1700 images. I went back to CS2. Everything in the program responded instantly. I zipped through them at my accustomed pace and had them done by dinner.