Guys, I'm back.
Went and got CS3. Now I understand it uses ACR 4.0+ for it's RAW files, which is pretty much exactly what Lightroom boasts, right? I'm VERY pleased with the abundance of tools available, especially the highlight recovery tool.
I went and did a few tests to see ACR vs. DPP myself, and now I get what people meant by 'punchier results' and 'better colours' with DPP. I straight converted some RAW files with CS3 and did it with the same files with DPP (made sure to negate all those PS settings prior to converting) and the result differences are definitely noticable.
A few silly questions:
1) Does the ACR 4.0+ RAW plugin in CS3 contain more tools than Lightroom? I'm very impressed with the ACR plugin in CS3.
2) Suppose I wanted to use tools like highlight recovery which are not available in DPP. Assume I have CS3 and DPP, but not LR.
What should I do? Should I do the all the necessary adjustments in DPP, do the initial conversion to TIFF/JPEG and then use the highlight recovery tool in CS3..
or should I just bite it hard and not use DPP at all for that particular shot. In other words, do all the work with ACR and then do the RAW conversion there instead?
Pretend time isn't an issue here. For instance, I know the former process mentioned would be pretty damn time-intensive, but I'm just looking for advice at the moment regarding methodology.
3) From my trip, there were some shots which were just blown highlights galore (mainly skies). I guess some shots I didn't view valuble enough to bother with bracketed exposures for HDR composition later on, but now that I think about it.. I shouldn't of been so negligent.
My question is, is there some function/tool in CS3 which just allows me to select/highlight all the areas of an image which is pretty much white. I thought perhaps I could even just apply a consistent light blue over all of those areas.. would atleast look much much better than pure white.