Batch Processing Camera RAW Images In Photoshop CS

By John Virata

I’ve been shooting with the Canon Digital Rebel camera for a few months now and up until just recently, I was shooting exclusively in the JPEG file format, because in part, I was familiar with the format, and because of storage limitations, I didn’t feel the need to shoot in the RAW file format that the Digital Rebel supports. On a recent trip to Hawaii, I chose to shoot in the RAW file format for the first time after reading some excellent books on Photoshop, (Photoshop CS for Digital Photographers and Adobe Photoshop CS: The Art of Photographing Women), detailing why those of us who have cameras that support RAW, should use it. The authors likened the RAW file format to that of a digital negative, meaning that every bit of information that is captured by your camera’s CMOS sensor (or CCD for those with CCD based digital cameras), is retained, as opposed to the JPEG file format, which compresses the information in part to achieve smaller file sizes.

Automate/Create Droplet

As I shot in the RAW file format, I noticed that I wasn’t able to see the images via Windows XP’s file browser when I downloaded the images from the camera to the computer, because XP’s file browser does not support the .CRW or RAW file format that the Digital Rebel can output. The Photoshop CS Browser does support the format, but because my sister in Hawaii does not have Photoshop CS on her computer, I had to convert the .CRW images to JPEG, so they could be viewed on her computer. In Photoshop CS, there are basically two ways to convert .CRW images to JPEG (or any other image format); one at a time, or, you can set up a batch process and convert them via a Droplet, which is basically a custom set of actions that you apply to an image or folder of images. In this tutorial, we’ll explore how to set up a batch session Droplet to convert several hundred .CRW images to JPEG.

Creating the Droplet

A Droplet is a unique set of actions that are created for your specific camera or project. For example, you can create a droplet for an Olympus C2020 digital camera to convert JPEG files to GIF or another file format, complete with other data, such as a new naming convention other than that given by the camera, or you can create a droplet for a Canon Digital Rebel that automatically converts .CRW image files to JPEG, such as what we are going to do here.

The first step in the process is to create an action via the action palette. First you create a set using the Create new set icon, which looks like a folder located in the bottom portion of the Action’s palette. For this project, I named it Hawaii_raw_to_jpg. Once you create a set, you can create an Action using the Create new Action icon, which is right next to the Create new set icon.

Creating a new set.

When you click on the Action icon, a window pops up called new action. I typed in Canon Batch RAW to JPG. You can type in what you feel corresponds to your project. Hit the record button. From here on, every action that you perform in the next several steps will be recorded. The red record button located in the Actions palette will be live.

Ready to begin? Click on an image that is in the Camera RAW (.CRW) file format. It will open up in an editing window. This window will show the color space depth, size, resolution information of the image. The title of the window will include the camera information, such as the type and model of the camera used to capture the picture, the name of the image given by the camera, as well as the ISO speed, f/stop and aperture, your basic digital camera metadata.

Raw edit window.

To the right of the image is the Adjust and Detail tabs, which are viewable from the basic button. If you are in advanced mode, lens and calibrate tabs are also viewable. Any changes that you make to the image, such as adjusting the white balance, temperature, or tint, are recorded in the action, and will be applied to all the images that you batch process using this droplet, so be careful with the adjustments that you make. When you are satisfied with the setting adjustments, click OK. All the adjustments that you made to the image are now saved in the open action.

Save appears in the Actions palette.

Now you want to save the image as a JPEG. To do this, go to the file menu and choose Save as, and select JPEG. The JPEG Options window appears, which enables you to adjust the image’s file size for whatever purposes you intend. Since I am saving this to a CD and want the highest quality, I selected 12, or maximum. Click OK. Now, a Save appears in the Actions palette.

Everything associated with the Save that you just performed, the file type and in this case, quality settings, will be applied to all the images that you process via the droplet that we are creating. Now you can stop recording. You’ll notice that the red record button has now been grayed out. You now have everything you need for your batch.

Override Actions checkbox.

Next, close the image and go to the File menu and select Automate/ Create Droplet. You’ll then give your droplet a name and location. For this, I chose Canon_batch_droplet, and saved it to the desktop. Now you can select your action, in this case I chose Canon Batch Raw to JPEG, because that is what I set it up to do. After you select the action, you must now check Override Action “Open” Commands. If you do not check this, you will be busy closing all the open windows because all the Camera RAW dialog boxes will open for every image that you choose for batch processing.

If you select, Include All Subfolders, all the images in any subfolders in the folder that you drop onto the droplet will also be converted as well. The Destination, located below the Play field, is where you want the images to be saved.

For this project, I chose to have Photoshop CS save them to the Hawaii_2004 folder. Below the Destinations folder is another check box, Override Action “Save As” Command. You must check this in order for the images to be saved in the folder that you specified. File naming is next. In this case, all the images in the batch will be renamed hawaii with a 2 digit serial number, the date, and an extension. An example of the file name is shown in the image above, under the File Naming header. Now you can select OK. You now have a new droplet on your desktop. Just drag your .CRW images onto the droplet and it will launch Photoshop CS, convert them to JPGs, and place them in the folder you specified when you created the droplet. That’s it. Rather than rename your CRW images one at a time, you can have Photoshop CS do it for you.

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