Lightroom 2.4 Update

Adobe recently announced updates to Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw.  This version, Lightroom 2.4, aims to add additional camera support as well as fix a few bugs that had been found in Lightroom 2.3.

It is important to note that for those who are installing the Lightroom update, the latest version of Camera Raw is included so there is no need to install both.  For those running Photoshop, I believe the Camera Raw update may need to be installed separately.

What do these updates mean to users?  Personally, the Lightroom update means little for most users.  The bug fixes seemed focused around language support and updates to the crop module (which I have never experienced problems with).  However, for those users using newer camera such as the Canon EOS 500D (Digital Rebel T1i) or the Nikon D5000, the Camera Raw updates to support these cameras are welcome!  (As well a those users using Hasselblad digital backs which I expect is a very small number of my readers).  To view the official release notes, please go here.

Lightroom Links

Camera Raw Links

Lightroom Release Candidate 2.1

Adobe Labs has released a “Release Candidate” for Adobe Lightroom 2.1.  While this isn’t an official update, it’s no longer a beta release either.  In other words, it may not be perfect, but it should be relatively safe for the masses.

No new features are introduced, but there is a list of bug fixes and new camera support including the Nikon D700 and Nikon D90.  Great news for all those early D700 users as this would cause a major snag in a Lightroom work flow.

To get this update, go to the Adobe Labs page for Lightroom 2.1 and download it.  It won’t occur automatically due to its Release Candidate status.  Once it’s finalized, I’d assume that it will pop up as an update from within Lightroom.

As soon as I have a chance, I’ll be checking this out.

The Evolution of an Image

I’m not sure why, but I was feeling somewhat moody with regards to image processing today. This is an image which wasn’t really that spectacular when I took it. I was literally standing on my front lawn when I snapped it. Today, I found the urge to edit it.

NIKON D50 @ 62mm — ¹/160 sec, ƒ/7.1, ISO 200 | zoom in

Of course, the power lines had to go.  It also had to be straightened.  The shot was taken just before a storm.  The wind was starting to pick up and there were some very threatening clouds approaching.  So I decided to try to re-create the mood that existed at that moment.  Granted, I didn’t really capture it in the original, but thanks to the digital era, I was able to take some creative license.  The next few steps really just sort of happened and with a little selective burning and dodging, I ended up with a moody shot which I believe captures the feeling that day.  Click on the image to see a larger version as I don’t think the small version does it justice.

NIKON D50 @ 62mm — ¹/160 sec, ƒ/7.1, ISO 200 | zoom in

Let me know what you think.  I submitted it to a couple stock agencies so we’ll see if they think it’s sellable.  All comments are welcome!

Shooting Stock Photography

I feel it would be remiss if I did no apologize for the long time between this and my last entry.  However, with my acceptance to Alamy and my testing of SmugMug, I’ve been somewhat preoccupied.  In fact, I’m somewhat amazed at just how much time stock photography takes!

While Alamy doesn’t have overly difficult requirements to meet as far as image uploading goes, they do ask for a few simple things (once you understand them).  They require at least 48 megabyte uncompressed files saved in a high quality JPEG format.  They also ask that the files have no sharpening applied to them.  In my opinion, the hard part is finding technically perfect images which Alamy won’t reject due to image softness.

As an Adobe Lightroom user who shoots in the Nikon RAW format of either my D50 or my D200, I find this rather easy to accomplish.  Both of these cameras have an approximate 2/3 ratio of short edge to long edge.  For example, my D200 takes photos of 3,872 pixels by 2,592 pixels.  The D50 has a similar ratio.  Knowing this, if I resize the photos for the longest edge to a length of 5,128 pixels, my photos will be approximately 5,128 by 3,418 pixels or 17,527 pixels.  Given that a JPEG format has 8-bits of data per channel per pixel, that brings the file to around 50 MB.

Under the Lightroom export settings, I simply tell it to resize so that the longest side is 5,128 px and to export using the highest quality JPEG compression.  I’ve never had a Quality Control rejection using these settings.

It is important to note a few things.  First of all, the resulting JPEG will be around 6 – 10 MB.  This is because JPEG format uses compression.  That is just fine.  This is where a lot of people get hung up.  Second, if I’ve cropped the photo at all, the size may not be correct.  In these instances, it’s important to verify the actual uncompressed size of the final image.

After hearing a lot of people have problems with this process, it occurred to me that I hold very high standards when it comes to my Alamy workflow.  I won’t use any original files which need drastic cropping.  Even taking just a little off the side of an image will result in a drastic loss of pixels.  Also, I ensure that the photos are perfectly in focus and sharp.  So far, I’ve not had any problems so I guess it’s working!

I haven’t forgotten my SmugMug vs. Zenfolio debate either.  I’m currently in the process of evaluating them and will definitely be posting more information in the next day or so as to how it’s shaping up!

Using Lightroom 2 with the New Adobe Camera Profiles

Adobe’s announcement of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 coincided with their release of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) 4.5. Both ACR 4.5 and Lightroom 2.0 were touted as being able to use the also new Camera Profiles (still in Beta – see the full writeup here). According to Adobe Labs, there are multiple improvements with these new Camera profiles.

  • Updated Adobe Standard profiles which are supposed to improve color rendering in the reds, oranges and yellows
  • Camera Matching which is supposed include profiles for popular manufacturers allowing better matching of what the camera’s natively produce
  • The DNG Profile Editor which allows users to manually edit camera profiles
  • The new DNG version 1.2 standard

How do Adobe ACR Profiles Affect Me?

Of most importance to me are the first two. My understanding with the Camera Matching is that these profiles should better match the JPG output of the cameras internal RAW to JPG converters with no customization of the settings. If you have messed around with your in-camera settings, these profiles will not match them. They will match the settings as if they had all default values. I also noticed on the Adobe FAQ page, they make mention that the Camera Matching profiles work with Canon and Nikon cameras. In fact, there are five profiles for Canon designed to match the Canon Picture Styles Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, and Faithful with their default settings. There are 8 profiles for Nikon cameras designed to match the Nikon Picture Controls for Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Landscape, Portrait, D2X Mode 1, D2X Mode 2, D2X Mode 3.

Installing Adobe ACR Profiles

The installation is outlined pretty well on the Adobe Labs page. They do make mention to close Photoshop and Lightroom if they are open. The installation is quick and when I opened Lightroom again, in the Develop module under the “Camera Calibration” section on the right side under the Camera Calibration panel, there are additional options for ACR.

The first two options (ACR 4.4 and ACR 3.3) were there before installing the update. All the rest are new. I don’t have any Canon images, so I really can’t speak for how they will work or what would appear.

Using the Adobe ACR Profiles

One thing I particularly like about this setup is that I can change these profiles after the import of the RAW image. This makes perfect sense as these profiles are used to tell Lightroom how to display the RAW image. Therefore, the profile isn’t really part of the image and therefore, switching it around really just changes how Lightroom interprets the color bits contained in the actual RAW file. Cycling through each of the presets does indeed show different results. In fact, the new Adobe Standard beta 1 profiles does exactly what they say — better rendition of reds, oranges and yellows.

NIKON D200 @ 220mm — ¹/80 sec, ƒ/5.3, ISO 100 | zoom in
ACR 4.4 vs. Adobe Standard Beta 1

Clearly, the image I chose had strong orange / red tones to it to start with. But to my eye, the difference is very noticeable and I really think the new Adobe Standard is far better. The colors look much richer and less washed out.

Comparing the Profiles

In order to give a good idea of what each profile does to a raw image out of my Nikon D200 with no adjustment except for resizing / cropping. I omitted the “Camera Portrait beta 1” on purpose since the lily in the photo really doesn’t lend itself to skin tones. Perhaps I’ll do another post which deals more with portraits. I also omitted all the D2X profiles. Feel free to experiment with all of them.

Also, the following photos will show everything compared against the new Adobe Standard Beta 1 profile. I chose to do this for a couple reasons. First, it’s the new standard Adobe profile. Second, if I were to compare everything to multiple profiles (such as the old standard ACR 4.4), the images of this post would become difficult to examine due to sheer numbers. Finally, I really think I’m going to pretty much stop using the ACR 4.4 profile as the new profiles are that much better. Your mileage may vary.

The easiest way to view the following images for me is to click on one and let the lightbox open. If you move your mouse to either edge of the image, a ‘Next’ or ‘Previous’ button will appear. This will let you cycle through each image.  Also, I’m viewing all of these on a color calibrated monitor.  Please understand that if your monitor isn’t calibrated these may look very different.

NIKON D200 @ 220mm — ¹/80 sec, ƒ/5.3, ISO 100 | zoom in
Adobe Standard Beta 1 vs. Camera Landscape Beta 1

The Camera Landscape profile gives a bolder look. For the above photo, it makes the oranges more vivid and the greens less brown. For this photo, that works well, but for some others I’ve tried it gave an almost over processed look to the image.

NIKON D200 @ 220mm — ¹/80 sec, ƒ/5.3, ISO 100 | zoom in
Adobe Standard Beta 1 vs. Camera Neutral Beta 1

The Camera Neutral profile seems to give everything a more yellowish tint. For this photo, I really don’t think it works. Everything looks a bit washed out. This could be perfect for other images though. It’s all about flexibility!

NIKON D200 @ 220mm — ¹/80 sec, ƒ/5.3, ISO 100 | zoom in
Adobe Standard Beta 1 vs. Camera Standard Beta 1

The Camera Standard is my favorite for this particular image. To me, it gives the most accurate representation of the colors in the image without making them look ‘too vivid’ or over processed.

NIKON D200 @ 220mm — ¹/80 sec, ƒ/5.3, ISO 100 | zoom in
Adobe Standard Beta 1 vs. Camera Vivid Beta 1

The Camera Vivid profile is just that. For those sunsets that just need more color, this might work perfectly. For this photo, it’s too much in my opinion. Either way, it’s a great way to bump up the colors without having to do any adjustments.

Conclusion

There are many opinions about which RAW format converter gave the best colors. For me, I think Adobe handled this in a fantastic way — letting the user choose what profile works the best for them. And since you don’t have to just pick one and stick with it, this whole system affords a ton of flexibility.

If you’re like me and decide that there is a better default setting for your camera, you can save the default develop settings. This is a little tricky as there are a few options. Please note: I have tested these instructions on a Mac. I have not tested them for a PC. First, go to Preferences and select the ‘Presets’ tab. Under the Default Develop Settings heading there are two check boxes we’re concerned with — ‘Make defaults specific to camera serial number’ and ‘Make defaults specific to camera ISO setting’. This allows the user to select if they want to use different default profiles for different cameras and even different ISO values.

Once you’ve this choice has been made, view a RAW file in the Develop module. Select the profile you want to set as default and from the Develop menu, select Develop->Set Default Settings. This will save your default profile as well as any adjustments which were made to it using the sliders in the Camera Calibration section.