Tone Mapping Makeover
The Basic panel controls (and Adjustment Brush controls) from ACR 6 have been updated, and in some cases replaced, in ACR 7. For a start, all of the Basic controls default to a neutral value of 0, and all of them follow the same general behavior. Moving a control to the right (positive values) lightens that particular range of tones, while moving it to the left (negative values) will darken those tones. These are small changes, but they make for a more intuitive.
The White Balance and Tint controls work as they always have, but the controls used for defining the contrast as well as setting the bright and dark points (sometimes called tone mapping) have changed. The new layout is shown in Figure 1, with the descriptions below.
Figure 1 The unedited raw file, with the new tone mapping controls in the ACR 7 Basic panel (at right).
Exposure (updated) -- The new Exposure setting is designed to control the mid-tones in your image; that is, the tones that are found in the central region of the Histogram.
The Brightness setting is no longer used in ACR 7.
Contrast -- This setting handles the global contrast, and behaves similarly to how it has in the past. Increasing the value makes the bright tones brighter, while simultaneously making the dark tones darker. This stretches the tones at either end of the Histogram further apart.
Highlights (new) -- Replaces the Recovery setting, and can be used to recover a wide range of highlight details. The full range of values (-100 to +100) can be used without creating unwanted posterization or color blooms in most cases.
Shadows (new) -- The counterpart to Highlights, this control is used to bring details back to the darker areas of the photo, again without creating unwanted side-effects.
Whites (new) -- This setting helps to recover extremely bright details not affected by the Highlights slider and can also be used to “set the bright point” in the brightest area of the Histogram, by “stretching” the brighter tones to the right edge of the Histogram.
Blacks -- Allows you to set the black point of the image (effectively), and like the Whites slider, can stretch the darkest tones to the left edge of the Histogram, ensuring a fuller dynamic range.