After spending most of last weekend playing with various RAW converters — both for output and speed — I finally believe I found the foundational problem in my workflow. ACR was defaulting to Adobe Standard as the camera profile. There were also some other settings that needed tweaking as my defaults, but this was the root of my evil problems. I remember long ago making a change in ACR that had things coming out of it looking good, but somehow with the loading of ACR 5.6, my settings went bye-bye. Or it could’ve been the addition of images from my new 7D. No matter, it’s more or less resolved now. (Thanks Tim!) [BTW, Tim is also doing a Project 365 exercise.]
Of course, ACR can do tons to the image, and this weekend, I swallowed my ignorance, and purchased Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS4. I’ve plowed through the foundational chapters, not yet touching a single control. But that day is coming, and I really do feel more confident in treating ACR as another tool in the workflow, rather than a Ron Popeil “set it and forget it” gateway through which my RAW images stroll.