The biggest issue with Camera Raw right now is that it's a Photoshop plug-in. It really needs to be made a standalone application, escaping the restrictions of the modal dialog, gaining scripting support, etc. Camera Raw is the product; Photoshop is secondary at this point. Photoshop is basically a plugin for Camera Raw.
At this point, there are only a few reasons I generally take an image into Photoshop: retouching for dust or whatever; LAB mode adjustments; Merge to HDR; and resizing, sharpening, and saving as JPEGs. It's gotten pretty rare that I need anything else from it. I save most of my edited pictures as DNG now, even; no sense in going to a PSD or whatever just to hit "save" and get a file 8 times as big.
So, my wishes for Camera Raw 4:
1. LAB color mode curves. Operating on the image after the regular curves. This sounds non-trivial, since it would mean implementing LAB color in Camera Raw, but man, it would rule.
2. Individual-channel RGB curves. Not that important, but would be nice to have the option.
3. Ability to healing-brush out dust or whatever. This would have to be non-destructive, of course, and saved as metadata in a DNG file, which may or may not be practical. But it would be nice to be able to remove some dust and still have the option to go back and change some RAW conversion settings without re-doing the retouching.
4. Integrated "Merge to HDR".
With all of the above able to be applied non-destructively, I think I'd be in photographic heaven.
... View more