Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Truth about Lightroom Develop Defaults Settings II

In response to my last post, Sehmuz wrote the following. If you guys don't know, Sehmuz is very technically sound. I would think twice before challenging his technical knowledge if I were you :)

Q: I take it that you're not using the LR5 yet, cause with that you wont even get the exclamation mark. And LR5 comes with 2012 raw processing that you have to convert to and it is really good :)

Anyways I disagree most of what you said about LR4 (it is same RAW processor is as CS6 ACR btw).

LR4 converted me back to Lightroom from Capture One, cause it actually deals with all aspects of the image histogram properly (at least in the Basic Settings). No more ambiguous Exposure vs Brightness crap, or Fill light or Recovery BS. And you can actually 0 out the settings (even though you may not like what 0 is, but they are actual 0s from the processing perspective ). And since the LR3 basic settings were overlapping and ambiguous the conversion from LR3 settings to LR4 settings are not what you want to leave to Lightroom. It does a good job in some cases but messes up in most. You need to build your new default setting manually if you want to see a specific look from LR4 rather than autoconverting the default preset. I find LR5 does a little better job in the autoconversion but any localized adjustments may be zeroed out.

If you want to achieve the same look I suggest the following:

1. Create Virtual Copy
2. Change Processing to the latest version in the Virtual Copy <-Lightroom will apply default settings 3. Zero out the settings in Basic and curves (other than the Color Balance) 4. Go up to the histogram, and match it as much as you can to the original histogram by simply moving it around, the sliders will adjust automatically 5. Fine tune the sliders, at this point should be easy because each slider directly moves one specific part of the histogram. 6. Fine tune contrast through slider or tone curve.
In the end what you have in your Camera in RAW will always be converted when its transferred to your computer. It is about how much control you can have for this conversion matters.

I shoot BW RAW, I have a default BW preset in LR4 that gives me very close presentation of what I see at the back of the camera based on the camera model : so I pick BW-Canon5DIII, BW-Canon7D, BW-Nex7 profiles during image import. Post import I apply additional presets to selected Virtual Copies before moving to PS.

A: I agree that LR3 had more ambiguous adjustments. But as with all things Lightroom, the adjustments are geared towards to amateurs and not meant to be a full-fledged photo-manipulation software such as Photoshop. It's easier for people to understand Recovery/Fill Light rather than Whites/Highlights/Shadows/Blacks. And for what it's worth I sometimes miss the Brightness slider in Lr because Exposure is indiscriminate about blowing highlights.

For the record I sometimes use the Brightness slider in Photoshop.

I think the point is that people have to understand that "zero" is not universally-accepted objective term. Somewhere someone is making some decision about how "zero" is defined. Whether it is Sony/Nikon/Canon/Adobe/or you the user, the conversion between an analog scene into a digital image requires much subjective decision-making. You might argue that Lr4/Lr5's zero settings are the most true to the RAW image "zeroes" but that interpretation assumes that Sony/Canon/Nikon has interpreted the image properly in the first place. But what does "properly" even mean? So first and foremost one has to acknowledge that all "zero" settings are dependent upon the engineers writing the DAC conversion code which are all ultra proprietary hence the NEF and CR2.

Assumptions built upon assumptions.

I suppose the premise of my original post was faulty to begin with because the assumption was that Lightroom was "lying to me". But the truth is that Lightroom doesn't know the truth to begin with because they are assuming that Nikon/Canon/Sony know the truth. It's like going to see the Wizard of Oz and finding out he's just some old dude that helps us realize that everything we want we already possess within us all along. Or like Neo (from the Matrix) seeking the truth. When the truth is he already knows the truth and the only question is whether or not he is ready to accept it or not.

There is no "truth". It's all interpretation.

Philosophy aside I am intrigued that you make profiles matching your camera-back displays because again, that assumes that the camera-back display is capable of interpreting the digital file properly. Economics tells us that the camera-back display is not a high priority for color accuracy. It's neither capable of representing color accuracy, color gamut, brightness/contrast, or color profile. And when you create profiles to your cameras such as the Sony NEX-7 do you profile to the EVF or the camera-back display? The EVF has much more contrast especially in with the B&W images. I fear that creating Lr profiles that match the camera-back displays would require substantial RAW adjustments that reduce the dynamic range of the RAW file. Camera-back displays are notoriously bad at displaying extreme shadows and highlights. I typically use the camera-back only for reference. The only thing I trust on the back of the camera is the histogram.

But if you ever needed those shadows/highlights, you'd have them in spades! In fact with those profiles you've probably got plenty of headroom in the exposure and recovery in the shadows to spare!

1 comment:

  1. OMG you made a post for me :)

    I think you got the core of what I was trying to say. Since you mentioned Matrix, I wanted to say 'There is no spoon'.

    When you're shooting RAW everything is interpreted. Camera back screen interprets what it captured and when you transfer it to your RAW processor which has its own interpretation of the RAW. And some RAW processors are better than the others and in my opinion LR3 sucks :)

    I think I was not clear on what my flow was, and reading what I wrote I obviously misrepresented what my goal is. My end goal is to have an initial processed file normalized across cameras. So the image came out of NEX looks not far from the image that came out of the 5DIII. And images taken with multiple cameras in the same shoot will have a uniform look at ingest time. That is why I use different profiles per camera.

    When I say I am trying to capture what is back of the camera in initial processing I mean I am simply trying to retain the BW look I captured in camera during the ingest. As you know the default process is color in Lightroom and if you are not controlling the process you will see a default color conversion of your image.

    The ingest profiles actually lowers contrast, opens up shadows and decreases highlights, and applies camera & lens profiles

    So the overall flow is :
    BW RAW Capture -> BW Profile per camera ingest to LR5 -> Select -> Develop

    The strangest thing is even though I shoot almost always B&W the final images are rarely BW.