Adobe Camera Raw 8.1 release candidate supports Olympus E-P5 and more, saves the goodies for Creative Cloud members


posted Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 12:43 AM EST

A month before public availability of its controversial, subscription-only Creative Cloud product line, including the next-generation Photoshop CC, Adobe has issued a release candidate version of the Photoshop Camera Raw 8 plug-in. As the company promised at the Creative Cloud launch, Camera Raw 8.1 also compatible with the existing retail release of Photoshop CS6.

The move is a little unusual, as in the past, Camera Raw updates have typically only functioned with the latest version of Photoshop, a fact Adobe justified by stating that it wasn't feasible to provide timely updates for Camera Raw that would interoperate with older Creative Suite products. An upgrade to a new camera, therefore, required a simultaneous update of Photoshop if you wanted native raw support, rather than to first pass your images through DNG Converter.

The release of Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw 8.1 with simultaneous support for Photoshop CS6 and CC -- at least, once the latter becomes available -- might seem to fly in the face of the earlier statement, but there's a reason Adobe needed to provide an overlap with Photoshop CS6. Perhaps in recognition that many users -- and especially, photographers -- will not wish to pay an ongoing subscription to the entire Creative Cloud suite simply to access Photoshop, Adobe plans to continue to offer the older version as a perpetually-licensed product, rather than a subscription one. Since it's still available at retail, Adobe therefore needs to keep it up to date with the latest camera releases -- and that means retaining compatibility through Camera Raw 8.

While the Camera Raw 8.1 release candidate will work with CS6, though, it's important to note that customers buying the earlier version of Photoshop will not be able to access the new features provided in Photoshop CC -- even those which are a part of Camera Raw itself. Instead, the new features are locked away as exclusives for Creative Cloud members, and those using CS6 will simply receive the new camera and lens profile support. That means no radial gradient tool, "automatic upright" skew / tilt correction, overhauled spot removal, vignetting, or using Camera Raw itself as a filter.

The new Camera Raw 8 includes improved perspective control -- but only when used with Photoshop CC. Owners of Photoshop CS6 will receive its new camera / lens support, but nothing more. (Note: Camera Raw 8.0 shown.)

It also isn't clear if there will be further updates to Camera Raw through the remaining sales life of Photoshop CS6, or whether at some point Photoshop CC may get Camera Raw updates that CS6 fails to receive. Speaking to the point, Adobe's Tom Hogarty -- principal product manager for Camera Raw, DNG, and Lightroom -- noted only that:

"I don’t have a timeline for how long this camera raw support will continue for Photoshop CS6 but I want to be consistent with our past policy of providing raw support for currently shipping products."

The removal of Creative Cloud features from Camera Raw 8 when used with Photoshop CS6 will doubtless irk some customers, but it does follow past precedent. Even with perpetual licenses, the company typically reserved significant new features for the subsequent major release of Photoshop / Creative Suite, rather than making them available immediately, and indeed that's largely what's happened to date with Creative Suite 6 unless you had a Creative Cloud subscription.

Of course, in the past you could get the new features while retaining a perpetual license, but that's no longer possible -- a point that has inspired more than one petition requestion Adobe to change its new policy.

Be that as it may, it's certainly good news for CS6 owners that they continue to receive new camera support, enabling them to draw further life from their existing purchases, and owners of older Photoshop releases can still use DNG converter -- itself updated in release candidate form -- to access the new camera support.

Newly-compatible cameras in Adobe Camera Raw 8.1 RC and DNG Converter 8.1 RC include the following:

  • Hasselblad H5D-60

  • Olympus PEN E-P5

  • Olympus PEN E-PL6

  • Phase One IQ260*

  • Pentax Ricoh GR

  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G6

  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LF1

And lenses include:

  • Canon PowerShot G1 X

  • Canon PowerShot G15

  • Hasselblad HCD 4.8/24



  • Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

  • Pentax HD PENTAX-D FA645 MACRO 90mm F2.8ED AW SR

  • Pentax HD PENTAX-DA 560mm F5.6ED AW

  • SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A013 (Canon and Sigma mounts)

  • SIGMA 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C013 (Nikon mount)

  • SIGMA 19mm F2.8 DN A013 (Olympus and Sony mounts)

  • SIGMA 30mm F2.8 DN A013 (Olympus and Sony mounts)

More details and the updates themselves can be found on Adobe Labs.