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Adobe bridge CC (which is free) enables its support for the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in when Photoshop CC (trial) is activated too. The Bridge+ARC combo satisfies my need for quick adjustments and media browsing, but it won't run without an activated version of Photoshop.

I was wondering if the following trick will work: If I buy Photoshop Elements 15 (which at times can be found on the cheap) and install it alongside Bridge CC; will the Camera RAW plug-in be re-enabled inside Bridge CC or will it only work from within PSE?

Of course I've read that Camera RAW for PSE disables things like gradient filters, split toning and spot removal, but I don't mind; If I need more fine-editing I can always open the raw inside Affinity Photo that is more capable.

Anybody who thinks/knows this will work?

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In short

One can utilize the Adobe Camera Raw(ACR) bundled with Photoshop Elements(PSE),as if it were near-native to Bridge Creative Cloud(CC) (read below for the caveats though, because there are some quirks and some things you cannot do)

What works and what doesn't

  • The Adobe Camera Raw included with PSE seems to be a separate instance from the CC one (probably resides in a different folder too)
  • From within the PSE Editor, opening a RAW file will bring you the ACR dialog (simplified for PSE, without the advanced tools that come with the full CC version - complete list here)
  • From withing Bridge CC, clicking on Open in Camera Raw... shows the message Camera Raw editing is not enabled. However,
  • from within Bridge if you press on Open With -> Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 Editor, it will in fact launch ACR (PSE's version; after initializing PSE), at which point
    • you have the opportunity to work on the RAW just as before, and either
    • press Done (or Cancel) and return to Bridge, or
    • press Open Image and have the image open further in PSE.

What Works

  • Bridge can without any issue send multiple files to PSE's ACR (which helps a bit with batch editing)
  • Bridge seems to be reading the new/updated XMP files just fine as if they were "its own"
    • the previews generated are accurate
    • there is also the icon indicating that this particular raw file, has adjustments applied on it
    • the edited thumbnails inside Bridge refresh instantly as if they were made with its own version of ACR (ie the full CC ACR)
  • inside ACR
    • you can re-edit adjustments that were previously created by the full CC ACR version and interestingly enough
    • the adjustments that are not supported here (like spots removed, perspective correction etc) will remain, albeit no further adjustable. However
    • if you click reset camera raw defaults, these adjustments will be discarded as well.

What doesn't Work

major caveats

  • you can no longer use the Develop Settings -> Camera Raw Defaults/Previous Conversion/Clear Settings from within Bridge, so you have to do it from within ACR which means that for batch editing, there are a few extra steps involved.
  • you loose access to good tools such as the spot removal tool, split toning, perspective correction, lens correction, dehaze and of course masks (complete list here)

minor caveats

  • you may end up keeping a copy of PSE always open since it needs to have been launched before ACR launches (unlike the CC version that can be hosted directly by Bridge)
    • another implication of that is, that if inside ACR you click Done or Cancel, the ACR window will close, but not the PSE Editor window
  • The Open in Camera Raw... context menu (just like the Develop Settings mentioned above) inside Bridge doesn't do anything useful anymore - instead you have to click on Open With -> Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 Editor which is a bit more cumbersome thanks to the one extra click, and having to scan for it in a bigger list (if you have multiple photo-editing applications installed).
  • Being an independant version of ACR, also means that you probably are not eligible for perpetual updates, unlike the CC version that updates forever. This is just an assumption, but the compatibility list here indicates that PSE version (PSE 13) never made it to ACR 9.0 or above)
  • after editing in Camera RAW, if instead of closing the window, you decide to press Open in order to edit the image inside PSE, PSE apparently imposes further constraints, when compared to editing the same files inside PS. Among others, you are limited to 8bit per channel.

Conclusion

All in all, it's quite usable even though not directly supported.

Background (how I tested it)

on my system I have Bridge CC 2017 and Photoshop CC 2017 trial, but the Photoshop trial has already expired. Since then, whenever I would choose from within Bridge the Open in Camera Raw... option, I'd get an error message (Camera Raw editing is not enabled. Camera Raw editing required that a qualifying product has been launched at least once to enable this feature.).

  1. After downloading, installing and launching ACR from within PSE 15's trial version, I tested Bridge again but no luck. The PSE trial that I downloaded had ACR 9.7 (or was it 9.6?).
  2. From within the program I was given the option to download a newer version of PSE and a newer ACR version (9.8), which happens to be the same version that my Bridge CC 2017 contains; so I thought I could try that too. This hinted that CC and PSE had their own separate copy of ACR that needs separate updating.
  3. I installed the update, but no luck with getting Bridge to integrate properly with that version either.

afterthoughts

I haven't tried the full version of Photoshop Elements, only the trial and I haven't uninstalled the expired trial of Photoshop CC 2017 but I don't see why this could had any different result.


copied and edited from my reply found on the adobe support forum here

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    Thanks for the great explanation! There's one more point that maybe worths to be added: as you develop a photo in ACR everything happens in 16 bits, but when click "Open" to do more edits in PSE you may be prompted to convert the image to 8 bits, since PSE doesn't fully support 16 bits editing. For example, you can crop, adjust levels and curves and still save your photo in 16 bits, but you can't use layers or use the clone tool without converting it to 8 bits. – gerlos Mar 14 '17 at 14:16
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    Thank you @gerlos - good point! I added it - While I avoided touching the topic of opening the file inside PSE (or even PS) understandably at some point you need to at least export your images and you'll have to use either PS, PSE or a 3rd party image editing software. – FotisK Mar 14 '17 at 20:39

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