Use Smart Objects to combine the power of Photoshop with the versatility of RAW
Smart Objects were intro-duced in Adobe Photoshop CS4 as a way to bring more non-destructive editing into the pixel-based application.
Smart Objects live on special Smart Object layers and allow you to make certain kinds of edits to your layers without perm-anently changing the layers’ original pixels. Smart Objects let you open a RAW file in Photoshop and do things like copy, paste, transform, and resize as if it’s a normal pixel layer. But you can still go back and reconvert if necessary, using all of the tools in Adobe Camera Raw, without losing your changes.
When a Layer is a Smart Object, you have access only to some of Photoshop’s tools and filters. When you use a filter on a Smart Object, it becomes an editable Smart Filter. Note that you can also convert normal pixel layers to Smart Objects, allowing you to shrink and enlarge them without loss of image quality.
One of our favorite ways to use Smart Objects is with RAW files. When you open a RAW file as a Smart Object in Photoshop, you can always reopen it in ACR to reprocess according to your needs. And although these days the targeted adjustment tools in Lightroom 4 and ACR are pretty good, sometimes it just works better to use Photoshop’s powerful selection tools to edit specific areas.
Here’s how to combine Smart Objects and a RAW file to create an image with the widest possible range of tones.