ACR 6.2 2010 Process – huge improvement

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Before the launch of the NEX models, the last camera we reviewed here was the Alpha 550. The final review pages dealt with the high ISO performance.
Following the release of Adobe Camera Raw 6.1 and 6.2, the new ’2010 Process’ has replaced the ’2003 Process’ in conversions (you can select either option). The 2010 Process used with manual adjustment of the Noise Reduction controls can produce really exceptional ISO 6400 results.
This changes any previous conclusions about the usefulness of Alpha 550 high ISO settings, and indeed brings them into line with the results we have seen from NEX – which of course defaults to the 2010 process, and can not be processed using earlier Adobe Camera Raw versions.
Here is the old process, top, seen at a reduced scale of a 100% view at ISO 6400:

Click the Process 2003 image above to open the original 100% size screen shot.
Below is the new 2010 process, which is more than just a minor tweak – it’s an entirely different way of getting the data out of the raw file.

Click this image to see the Adobe Process 2010 result full size. All the settings were identical for these two conversions. The improvement is on such a level that ANY test reports on the Alpha 550 produced in 2009 using CS4 and Adobe Camera Raw 5.x are invalid.
The NR can be moderated to produce more detail on the 2010 process midtones at the expense of more visible grain (but it’s nothing like the 2003 pattern – it remains mainly a fine luminance pattern). I have used a setting which produced a clear comparison. Entirely different NR settings are actually better, with the two processes, but no matter how you adjust the ‘2003’ version it never looks anything like as fine as the 2010 one.
Should dPreview and others update their RAW sample images because the old process was so badly matched to the .ARW format? Nothing like the same difference is made for example to Nikon raw files, 2010 is better, but 2003 didn’t mess up the higher ISOs in the way it always did for Minolta/Sony raws.
Please note that if you don’t want to get CS5, you can still get the benefit of this new conversion with Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.
– David Kilpatrick


  • No lens profiles available in PSE 8.
    I’ve played around with the ACR 6.2 update (the one specifically for PSE 8), and it is clearly a crippled version. It does not use ‘process 2010’. See more in my post on Dyxum: (alpha_in_exile).
    Half the reason I bought PSE 8–just a couple weeks ago–was for the compatibility with ACR 6.2, and I get no improvement whatsoever from the ACR 5.5 or whatever it was before.

  • Have tried using 6.2 with PSE 8 and no joy, as far as the 2010 process. Under Camera Calibration all I get is one Camera Profile drop-down menu with choices of ACR 4.4, ACR 4.2, and Adobe Standard. And my high ISO photos with A100 (ISO 800 or 1600) & A700 (ISO 2500 & up, firmware v4) still look very bad. ACR 6.2 is definitely installed, but it does not give access to Process 2010 in PSE 8. Confirmed by another user on Dyxum, as well.
    Any insight appreciated. (maybe I will have to wait for PSE 9?)

  • If you process the files using Lightroom and apply CA or lens profiles, Elements 8 will read the .XMP sidecar files and can apply the corrections you made in Lightroom. But as you say, Adobe deliberately cripples the way Elements 8 can access ACR. I do not have Elements 8, but perhaps someone can tell me whether it is able to use the Lens Correction Plug-in? This accesses profiles in PS CS5.
    There seems to be good moral reason for someone to write and sell a plugin for E8 unlocking access to the ‘missing’ parts of ACR. Adobe themselves could do it. Many users would pay as much for such an extension as they pay for Elements itself.

  • But you do not get CA removal with ACR in Elements 8 as far as I know. A clever way to force users into Photoshop or LightRoom if CA is an issue. LR3 also employs Process 2010.

  • David, does it mean that even for Minolta 7D/5D we should see an improvement?

    • Yes. Big improvement to Minolta Dimage 5, 7, 7i, 7Hi, A2, A200 as well. Any raw files. I have been able to put ISO 800 images from the A2, which were unusable for any purpose, on sale on Alamy. This raw process transforms the way noise reduction and sharpening can be adjusted, as well as offering a superior de-Bayer method.

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