How To: Convince Photoshop CS5 and DxO Optics Pro to process Sony α77 II (ILCA-77M2) RAW (*.arw) files
Yesterday I had the chance to pick up my new Sony Sony α77 II. After unboxing, I tried to configure it a little bit like it’s predecessor, the Sony α57. After configuration, I did some test shots. So far, so fun 🙂 Then I remembered that Adobe has the bad habit of not providing updates for the Camera Raw converter for Photoshop. I wanted to open the *.arw file with the Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop CS5, but unfortunately both refused to open it due to an unknown camera type. I tried my luck finding alternatives like the native Sony image converter, but that does only export TIFF and JPEG – so either large files or quality loss. The Adobe DNG Converter hasn’t a new version yet and doesn’t recognize the Sony α77 II files either. Sooo… Shooting in JPEG only? Not an option for me – I love the quality and the possibilities that *.arw provides. As an IT guy, I tried my luck with some hacking… And it worked! Here is what you need to make your Sony α77 II *.arw pictures readable for Adobe Photoshop CS 5:
- This manual, which you now obviously have 😀
- The invaluable ExifTool by Phil Harvey – thank you very much!
- The courage to work with a command line based tool – the ExifToolGUI didn’t work, at least for me.
- The awareness that this is just a workaround I found and I take over no responsibility for corrupt files or anything else that screws up.
Let’s start with the second step, the ExifTool. The zip file contains a executable file, which you cannot start by double-clicking, because it’s “just” a command line tool. Unpack the exiftool(-k).exe to a folder of your choice. For future use, you might want to be able to execute the ExifTool like any other command line command, without browsing to the corresponding folder first. For that, rename the file to exiftool.exe and copy it into your Windows folder. So far so good – now it comes to the real stuff.
Now you can copy your *.arw files from your camera to your PC. In this example, let’s say you copied the pictures to the folder D:\Files\Pictures\2014-05-29. Now you have to open the Windows command prompt, either by hitting Windows+r and type cmd.exe into the text line and hit OK, or by opening the start menu and enter cmd.exe into the quick search bar and hitting the Enter key. The following screen, or similar, should appear:
Screenshot by T§ in the German Wikipedia, click on the picture to see the origin.
Now for the above path, enter the following:
exiftool D:\Files\Pictures\2014-05-29\*.arw -SonyModelID=SLT-A77
Change the path to your folder accordingly. Pro tip: The tab key (above caps lock) auto completes your input; hit several times for the next possible folders.
What happens now is that the ExifTool crawls through every *.arw file and changes the EXIF data for the camera model from ILCA-77M2 to SLT-A77, the predecessor. Apparently hence the Sony α77 II is “just” an update of the Sony α77, the RAW engine seems to be close to old one – luckily for us 🙂 Please note that ExifTool creates a backup of each file with _original as suffix to the file name extension, doubling the space needed for your files. After successful operation, you can delete the originals.
You should now be able to process your *.arw files with Adobe Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Photoshop as you are used to, at least in the first two tries it works for me. Please note that I have no empirical values if this works in every environment and for every picture – use on your own risk! However, feedback on whether or not it works is very welcome!
Disclaimer: All mentioned trademarks (e.g. Adobe and their products, Sony and their products) belong to their respective owners.
PS: This also seem to work with DxO Optics Pro, but you have to replace more EXIF information:
exiftool D:\Files\Pictures\2014-05-29\*.arw -SonyModelID=SLT-A77 -Model=SLT-A77
Eventually you also have to replace the software version:
exiftool D:\Files\Pictures\2014-05-29\*.arw -SonyModelID=SLT-A77 -Model=SLT-A77 -Software="SLT-A77 v1.07"