How to Use Photoshop CS4 With a New Camera’s Raw-Format Files
I had a brief period of grief when Adobe abandoned standalone versions of Photoshop. I’m a huge fan of using raw-format images, and every new camera model’s raw format is different. I was convinced that any of my new camera’s raw photos wouldn’t be supported in my Photoshop CS4.
Some people (like me) naively believed Adobe when they bought a “lifetime” license for Photoshop. I guess Adobe didn’t specify how long a lifetime was.
It turns out that there is a way to keep Photoshop CS4 updated, however. It’s a bit complicated, but it works. What I’m about to describe is a pure Windows discussion; I don’t know how to do the same thing using a Mac.
The key to using raw-format photos (e.g. Nikon’s NEF or Canon CR2, CR3) in Photoshop is to first convert them into the Adobe “generic” DNG format. DNG stands for “digital negative”, and it’s still a raw format, just a different raw format. Many other photo editors understand this DNG format, as well. Fortunately, you don’t lose any quality by converting your raw photos into the DNG format. To be clear, though, you’ll be using the DNG file and not your camera’s original raw-format file to make use of Photoshop.
There’s another problem to solve, however: how to set up the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in to be able to use DNG photos in Photoshop CS4.
Convert Raw Shots into DNG Format
The DNG format continues to be supported by Adobe. They still offer their “DNG Converter” program, and it’s free. Here’s a link to their Windows/MacOs converter program:
The Adobe DNG converter program is very fast, and it lets you batch-convert your raw files as well. In this way, it takes very little labor or time to convert your shots.
Some programs only support older DNG formats, so the DNG Converter program lets you convert your camera raw photos into a specific DNG version. Adobe Photoshop CS4 can only use DNG files up to version 5.7.
Convert into a specific version of DNG for older programs
After installing the Adobe DNG converter, you can execute it in Windows by running it from the Programs list.
The most common way to use the DNG converter is to just click on the “Select Folder…” button that lets you tell it where your raw (e.g. .NEF, .CR2, etc.) files are. This button is located in the “Select the images to convert” section.
Next, click the “Select Folder…” in the “Select location to save converted images” section. This assumes you also select the “Save in New Location” option; you can also save the new DNG files in the same folder as your raw shots, if you wish.
If you need the DNG version number to be compatible with older programs, then click the “Change Preferences” button to pick another version. For Photoshop CS4, the latest DNG format that can be selected in the converter is version 5.4, as shown above.
Finally, just click the “Convert” button to start converting your camera’s raw files into the DNG format files. Your original raw files won’t get modified, so they’re safe.
Install the Last Supported Camera Raw Plug-in Version 5.7
Adobe stopped supporting the Camera Raw plug-in for CS4 after version 5.7, so that’s what you need to get for Photoshop CS4.
There are actually two different plug-ins for Windows; the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Each of these plug-ins is called “CameraRaw.8bi”, and the 64-bit version will be found in a directory called “win64”. It’s confusing to have these two versions called the same name, so be careful to keep them in separate locations.
Here’s the link to get the Camera Raw V5.7 plug-in :
The discussion about getting this file (NOT the "updater" version) is found here:
If you already have an older version of Camera Raw, then you should be able to update it using the “Help | Updates” option. If that won’t work for you, then you can get plug-in installed manually. I’m going to describe how to manually install the plug-in in Windows.
First, you need to un-zip the “Camera_Raw_5_7.zip”.
Make sure you exit Photoshop.
Execute the CameraProfiles.exe in the un-zipped, newly-created folder “Camera_Raw_5_7”. Follow the program’s instructions.
Using Windows File Explorer, navigate to the 64-bit folder called:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Plug-Ins\CS4\File Formats
If the folder shown above doesn’t exist on your computer, then create it manually. Windows will probably ask you for permission to do this operation.
If there is a file in this directory called “Camera Raw.8bi”, then you should move it to some other folder for safekeeping. This is an older version of the 64-bit Camera Raw plug-in.
Copy the newly-created file in your un-zipped folder “Camera_Raw_5_7\win64\Camera Raw.8bi” into the 64-bit folder “File Formats” shown in the path above. This is the new 64-bit plug-in.
For the 32-bit plug-in, you’ll need to navigate to (or create it):
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\Plug-Ins\CS4\File Formats
If there is a file in this directory called “Camera Raw.8bi”, then you should move it to some other folder for safekeeping. This is an older version of the 32-bit Camera Raw plug-in.
Copy the newly-created file in your un-zipped folder “Camera_Raw_5_7\ Camera Raw.8bi” into the 32-bit folder “File Formats” shown in the path above. This is the new 32-bit plug-in.
You now have a technique that should allow you to use your new-model cameras’ raw shots, once you convert them into DNG, in your standalone Photoshop CS4!
Make your investment in Photoshop pay off for a little bit longer with this trick.
Using Camera Raw from Photoshop CS4