Thursday, April 12, 2018

Improvements in Lightroom

1/320 sec. at f5 and 2500 ISO - developed in Lightroom Classic from the Sony ARW file
Just in time for working with the new Sony A7M3, Adobe has updated its Lightroom software, not only to include RAW (Sony's ARW) profiles for that new camera but also to add several new features and a couple of useful tweaks to the interface.

Same shot developed in Lightroom Classic from the in-camera jpeg, which had NR set to "Low".
After waiting for three weeks for Adobe to come up with a RAW converter for the new camera, I was very pleased to see the results of batch processing in the case of this theater production. The lighting was uneven, concentrating on the center of the stage and falling off quickly towards the edges. I took care to expose for neither the brightest nor the darkest faces. Still, there were big differences in the luminosity in the faces, as you can see from these two photos below.

Straight out of the camera RAW

"Auto tone" brought down the highlights, punched the shadows and added vibrance and a bit of saturation.
All in all, this auto tone is a good place to start. Sometimes it'll add clarity to the photo as well, which can add noise, as does the boost to the shadows, so keep your eyes on those sliders.

Now with the newest version of Lightroom, you have the choice to create a common look among all the pictures in a series such as the 400 pictures I took of this performance. If you don't have a set aesthetic with you like to bring to your pictures, you can try one of a number of color or black-and-white presets. Of course, presets have been around a long time, but now you can hover the mouse over thumbnails in the right-hand panel (F8) to see what the image will look like after you apply the preset.

Your camera already has several color presets for jpegs (the bottom three thumbnails above), but Adobe has added new ones, including Vintage, Modern and Artistic. Different strokes for different folks - but also for different sets of photos. There are also 26 B&W presets which basically increase or decrease a certain native color one at a time or in conjunction with another one.
If you know what you are doing, you can create your own presets (color, B&W or otherwise) to increase the speed of your workflow. I use ones I've created for bringing out detail in a blown-out sky, for increasing the detail in a scene, for adding some light to people's faces and for popping a landscape. Plus I have my "Highlights" slider set at -15 because I notice I often want to retrieve some detail from the brightest areas of the photo.

1/60 at f4 and 8000 ISO - developed in LR from the Sony ARW file

This was developed from the in-camera jpeg. It was difficult to achieve a natural looking skin tone because the jpeg (perhaps on account of the high ISO) offered only patchy reds and yellows on her skin.

1/320 sec at f5 and 2500 ISO - here the RAW file has a lot of detail and little noise

The jpeg doesn't have quite the smooth gradations in the colors of the face and it loses some detail on account of the in-camera "Low" noise reduction.

This version was processed in Sony's Image Edge Editor, which created yet again different skin tones.
Another thing that was supposedly improved in this version of Lightroom is the face recognition. I say "supposedly" because, first of all, it seems to have lost all the data I had painstakingly stored in the catalog and, secondly, because Alane looks nothing like a head of salad (see below). Yes, the program may find more faces than it use to, but what good is it if it can't match the faces? I don't use this feature much anyway.

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