I've just read and appreciated this new work by Dr. Roach on Camera RAW. I was an early adopter of RAW files. After seeing what I could do, even with early versions of Photoshop, I was sold. I learned just enough to actually use the basic features, and got good results (mostly) with my methodology.
Adobe CS5 is a game-changer. The Creative Suite's fifth version is bullet-proof on functionality, and Photoshop CS5 was more than an incremental step up from CS4. One significant portion of that is the enhanced RAW capabilities it offers. Enhancements in de-mosaic, sharpening, and the new processing engine put this version far ahead.
Dr. Roach offers this tutorial in a step-by-step presentation and analysis of each and every tool within the Camera RAW module. I learned new tricks... I especially like the local adjustment tool and the graduated tone tool, neither of which I had noticed before. The section on tools has concise descriptions of all the tools, and the illustrations show the results of the tools on images. I had never realized the full potential of the detail tool, but you can bet I'll be using it more now.
As with all of Dr. Roach's writings, the reader will benefit from clear discussion with ample illustrations. Build your standard RAW file methodology from these tips and explanations, and you'll be well on your way to true mastery.
PS - as I write this, CS6 has just been announced by Adobe. The upgrade prices are (as usual) a little steep for my budget. I'll be using CS5 for a while yet, probably until well into next year. I think this illustrated guide is a sound investment for today, and for months or years to come.