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Author Topic: Capture Sharpening in Lr4  (Read 7109 times)
Remo Nonaz
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« on: September 24, 2012, 08:05:04 AM »
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I think I'm in need of some guidance on the sharpening workflow with Lr. I've read Sharpening-Make it really sharp, but I'm not sure if the discussion of capture sharpening is valid in Lr where you are working with unadjusted DNG files.

If you sharpen at import and conversion from camera format to DNG, does that change get 'baked' into the DNG RAW file or is it just set as a default adjustment in Lr? If it is just a default, what would be the point since further changes would just change it to the new settings?

Having read through severa other posts on this topic, it seems that capture sharpening is advised, but I'm not sure why. Huh
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 11:23:05 AM »
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If you sharpen at import and conversion from camera format to DNG, does that change get 'baked' into the DNG RAW file or is it just set as a default adjustment in Lr?
No (unless you choose linear DNG, but I'm not sure it's an option and it wouldn't be advised in general), it still is a parameter, as are all the develop parameters in LR : metadata stored with the raw file, while LR shows you a preview of its effect.

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If it is just a default, what would be the point since further changes would just change it to the new settings?
Well, because you have to start from somewhere!
That said, I'm waiting for the wiser guys to chime in...
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Keith Reeder
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 11:39:03 AM »
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Traditionally, capture sharpening was mainly about making up for the softening effect of the AA filter: whether that's necessary these days is debatable (especially given the recent trend for AA filter free/cancelled-out bodies) and I stopped capture sharpening a good while back, so that the files would go to Photoshop completely clean.

It's an easy enough thing to test for yourself though -  convert a few files, with and without capture sharpening, put them through the rest of your workflow, and see what works best for you.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 01:29:53 PM »
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If you sharpen at import and conversion from camera format to DNG, does that change get 'baked' into the DNG RAW file or is it just set as a default adjustment in Lr?

No, it is only "baked in" when you export the file out as a TIFF, JPEG or PSD. Until then the settings are adjustable.

If it is just a default, what would be the point since further changes would just change it to the new settings?

The default capture settings in Lightroom (whichever version) are pretty mild. In the Presets menu (left side coloumn in the Develop module) there are two presets the Lightroom team devised: Sharpen-Landscapes and Sharpen-Faces. You should try these out on different subject matter. My general rule of thumb  is to start with the Sharpen-Landscape settings. I have set that as part of one of presets to apply during importing. The amount setting is higher and the radius is lower.
If  the shoot was portraits or other subjects where smooth textures predominate I will use the Sharpen-Faces preset.

Beyond that, as you experiment you may fine that other settigns suit your images better than either of those two presets.

Having read through severa other posts on this topic, it seems that capture sharpening is advised, but I'm not sure why.
Capture Sharpening is advised as it compensates for the "softening" effect that is part and parcel of shooting with cameras equipped with anti-aliasing filters -almost ll digital cameras are . Even the Nikon D800E has an anti-aliasing filter although it is weaker than the one in the D800.

Ideally sharpening should be a two if not three step process.

As a two step process use Capture Sharpening for the image capture (sensor and processor) characteristics and  then Output Sharpening based on the size (Hx W), resolution,  and reproduction method.  If making a print the media surface, the media type (generally glossy or matte) is taken into consideration - matte and rough surface papers need less sharpening than semi-gloss, luster and gloss surfaces do.

As a three step process, subject specific localized sharpening (creative sharpening) can be applied. This can add a sense of depth to the photo and almost subliminally draw the viewer's eye to what you want to stand out in the image.
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Schewe
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 05:16:31 PM »
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Having read through severa other posts on this topic, it seems that capture sharpening is advised, but I'm not sure why. Huh

Read this and get back to us...Thoughts on a Sharpening Workflow by the late Bruce Fraser. If you want to drill down deeper, there's a whole book that deals with the subject Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom, course, I might be a bit biased since I was the coauthor...

:~)
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Chris Kern
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 07:51:10 PM »
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Capture Sharpening is advised as it compensates for the "softening" effect that is part and parcel of shooting with cameras equipped with anti-aliasing filters -almost ll digital cameras are . Even the Nikon D800E has an anti-aliasing filter although it is weaker than the one in the D800.

My experience with a D800E (I've never shot medium-format digital, so this is for me, as lawyers here in the States say, “a case of first impression”) is that I'm better off starting out with no sharpening and then ramping it up visually, as necessary, rather than using some preset sharpening default and modifying it after I've applied other corrections.  I've concluded that I'm better off making other modifications that may influence the viewer's perception of the “sharpness” first (contrast, clarity, etc.) before unleashing the sharpening slider on D800E files.  With some D800E images, I find I don't want any sharpening prior to export—and, although I haven't tried to keep count, I suspect I wind up decreasing sharpness locally to influence the viewer's attention at least as often as I increase it.
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2012, 12:09:39 AM »
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Read this and get back to us...Thoughts on a Sharpening Workflow by the late Bruce Fraser. If you want to drill down deeper, there's a whole book that deals with the subject Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom, course, I might be a bit biased since I was the coauthor...

:~)

I can not count how many times I have referred to Real World Image Sharpening in the years since I purchased it.  It is always on my desk within arms reach. It is my "sharpening bible".
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2012, 05:04:02 AM »
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Having read through severa other posts on this topic, it seems that capture sharpening is advised, but I'm not sure why. Huh

Hi Remo,

Capture sharpening is essential to image quality. The capture process is inherently blurring the original signal's micro-detail contrast/resolution. One contributor to blur is the optical system, either by residual lens aberrations or by diffraction. Another contributor is the fact that sensor elements (sensels) each take an area sample of the light striking the sensor, which means that micro-detail will lose contrast. And there is often an Optical Low-Pass Filter (OLPF, or Anti-Aliasing filter) which is designed to blur the input signal. Therefore, input signal blur is a given.

The effect is demonstrated by the MTF curve of a typical camera system, which shows increasingly lower contrast modulation as detail gets closer to the limiting resolution where contrast ultimately becomes non-existing.

Capture sharpening can (up to a point) compensate for those capture process losses, and restore the original input signal strength. Who could object to that? However, the difficulty with optimal capture sharpening is that we get insufficient help from the Raw converter software to dial in the objectively correct settings. When I say 'objectively correct', I mean that it is possible to analytically determine the amount and character of the blur that crippled our input signal. Once that is known, it is also possible to mathematically reverse part of that blur process.

One of the problems with Lightroom (and other Raw converters) is that the Detail tab starts with the Amount control, instead of the Radius control (which is the key to successful Capture sharpening). It also starts with the (in most cases) wrong default radius, in fact it should be trivial for the folks at Adobe to pick a better default, based on the EXIF data of the file. It appears as if they are stuck in old school thinking about sharpening.

The amount control needs to be set only after the radius is set to the correct value, and it usually is best to set it to an amount that avoids the introduction of halos. That combination of Radius, and Amount (which may need tweaking if noise reduction is changed), should restore the original signal as much as possible without adding artifacts that will prevent high quality magnifications. That is optimal Capture sharpening in my book.

We then have the option to use a detail brush for local adjustments, and clarity and tone curves to modify the more global contrast response, but that would be more Creative sharpening than Capture sharpening. Like Output sharpening, that's a different subject.

Cheers,
Bart
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tommm
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2012, 08:43:51 AM »
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I have to agree with Bart that Lightroom still haven't quite got sharpening right yet. Although the sharpening is good it isn't really possible to separate capture sharpening from creative sharpening.

Bruce Fraser advocated a three stage sharpening where capture sharpening is a basic sharpen to compensate for capture softening and once dialled in for a certain camera, scanner, etc should be applicable each time without much thought. Creative sharpening should then be applied, which is subject specific. And finally Output sharpening to compensate for output media softening / spread.

Whilst Lightroom's does have sharpening available as a brush it is crude in that the sharpening being applied is dictated by what has been used for "capture" sharpening. It would be far more powerful and easier to use if there was truly separate capture and creative sharpening.

Capture sharpening could then be dialled in for each camera, etc and saved as a preset which was just applied at import. Creative sharpening can then be applied on an image by image basis if desired. Output sharpening applied as it currently is on output.

Output sharpening would also be vastly improve if it's strength could be adjusted by a slider rather than just three levels. This would allow photos to be sharpened appropriately on screen with capture and creative sharpening and output sharpening set purely with output sharpening. Whereas currently I find I need to dip back in to develop module sharpening to fine tune the sharpening for output with different media.

Whilst on the subject, being able to restrict sharpening and clarity to the midtones as is achievable in photoshop would really top things off......

Cheers,
Tom
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Remo Nonaz
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2012, 12:39:28 PM »
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Jeff:

Since you jumped in, I'll direct this to you. I did read Real World Sharpening and it made perfect sense when I was going from RAW files to PSD files to do capture sharpening. Now, however, I've moved over to using Lr4 most of the time and am bringing in my RAW files and converting them to DNG. Normally, I do not do any adjustments to them in this step.

If Lr is not actually changing the data when it imports (other than the DNG conversion) and only adjusts the DNG by whatever pre-set amount is set for sharpening, wouldn't this be negated when the sharpening is added in the workflow later on? Or are the two sharpening steps additive?

I understand that output shapening is a whole different issue and have used some of your published techiques successfully, though I confess now I just use the Lr output settings, which also seem to work well.

As an aside, do you know if Epson is planning to run another Print Academy?
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« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2012, 06:42:35 PM »
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If Lr is not actually changing the data when it imports (other than the DNG conversion) and only adjusts the DNG by whatever pre-set amount is set for sharpening, wouldn't this be negated when the sharpening is added in the workflow later on? Or are the two sharpening steps additive?

All sharpening in the Detail panel and the local sharpening adjustments are accumulated parametric settings that are not actually applied unless you export or open in Photoshop. Then of course, all the capture/creative sharpening is applied. Also not that the main sharpening in the Detail panel and later adjustments in the local controls are inter-connected. The settings in the local adjustment will alter the Detail panel Amount settings with the following caveat: -50 to +100 in the local panel will change the effect Amount settings that are set in the Detail panel. When you go to -51 to -100, you can actually introduce lens blur type blurring and the -51 to -100 does not impact the original Detail panel settings.

The inter-relationship between the Detail panel settings and the local adjustment Sharpening settings is really pretty useful. I do this all the time. I can use a stronger Amount settings in the Detail panel and then locally reduce the amount settings by brush. Depending on the areas you can also to the opposite–low Amount in Detail then increase the amount locally. Just note that the only parameter the local sharpening adjustments are the Amount settings. It can't alter Radius, Detail or Edge Masking (although the the local painting actually works as a hand drawn sharpening mask).
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Schewe
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2012, 06:48:56 PM »
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One of the problems with Lightroom (and other Raw converters) is that the Detail tab starts with the Amount control, instead of the Radius control (which is the key to successful Capture sharpening). It also starts with the (in most cases) wrong default radius, in fact it should be trivial for the folks at Adobe to pick a better default, based on the EXIF data of the file. It appears as if they are stuck in old school thinking about sharpening.

The reason for the current default was that Thomas wanted to have a normalized default setting in ACR 4.1 (when the new sharpening was introduced) that was visually similar to previous versions of ACR. So if you want to call that "old school" go right ahead...

I don't disagree that the Radius settings is arguably the most important settings to get optimal. I also don't disagree that it would be useful to have some sort of method of determining that by analysis. We'll see what th boys decide to work on for ACR 8 and LR 5...last time around it was all about tone mapping. I don't know what they plan on working on next. But it's not like ACR/LR sharpening and noise reduction is currently totally crap, is it?

:~)
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Remo Nonaz
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« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2012, 07:12:40 PM »
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But it's not like ACR/LR sharpening and noise reduction is currently totally crap, is it?

I can't speak for the big boys in this forum, but I LIKE it!
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2012, 08:03:09 PM »
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The reason for the current default was that Thomas wanted to have a normalized default setting in ACR 4.1 (when the new sharpening was introduced) that was visually similar to previous versions of ACR. So if you want to call that "old school" go right ahead...

Hi Jeff,

No, I'm afraid it's something more profound than keeping visually similar settings. The way things are stuctured suggests that the clever people at Adobe still think in terms of 'small radius for high spatial frequency detail' and 'large radius for low spatial frequency detail'. That is IMHO old school.

Capture sharpening should be all about reversing the Capture blur, which has a given PSF shape for all spatial frequencies. That shape depends on lens aberrations mixed with diffraction and for digital sensors added with the sensel area aperture sampling (for film capture that would be diffusion and lightscattering) and possibly an OLPF (AA-filter).

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I don't disagree that the Radius settings is arguably the most important settings to get optimal. I also don't disagree that it would be useful to have some sort of method of determining that by analysis. We'll see what th boys decide to work on for ACR 8 and LR 5...last time around it was all about tone mapping. I don't know what they plan on working on next. But it's not like ACR/LR sharpening and noise reduction is currently totally crap, is it?

:~)

No, but then I didn't say that it was. I said that "the difficulty with optimal capture sharpening is that we get insufficient help from the Raw converter software to dial in the objectively correct settings". The tools are there but the users are not assisted in making the correct choices. Judging the effect by eye is very hard and often leads to sub-optimal settings, the Alt/Option previews are only partially helpful (I like them, but most normal people don't know how to interpret them). Being presented with the wrong defaults and in an illogical order also doesn't help.

We can only hope that interpolation quality, which even differs between LR and PS, and sharpening do get updated in future versions.

Cheers,
Bart
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2012, 12:00:07 AM »
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I also don't disagree that it would be useful to have some sort of method of determining that by analysis.
Why not use some kind of blur profiling : instead of shooting a Colorchecker, one would shoot a given pattern with eg small dots, to help profile the PSF needed for capture sharpening?
I really like conceptually Bart's vision of capture sharpening as hardware-dependent, more than content-dependant - shouldn't be creative sharpening the only content-dependent one?

And BTW, thank you Jeff for the tip about local sharpening!
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2012, 12:22:11 AM »
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I really like conceptually Bart's vision of capture sharpening as hardware-dependent, more than content-dependant - shouldn't be creative sharpening the only content-dependent one?

I'm not sure Bart has a lot of experience developing software for a major application like Lightroom or Camera Raw...Adobe already has an installed user base of many millions. There is no way Thomas and Eric would be willing (or able) to turn on a dime and do something that is completely different that what has been done in the past. Ain't gonna happen. So, methodical and persistent change for the better is what the ACR/LR engineers are into. Radical stuff? No so much. There was a lot of blowback when they released PV 2012 even though the results were consistently better in the long run. Yes, Thomas and Eric (and all of the ACR/LR engineers) are very tuned towards improved image quality but change comes with a price meaning it changes people's workflow. And that is not done lightly...

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And BTW, thank you Jeff for the tip about local sharpening!

You are welcome...it just goes to show that what is already available isn't always obvious. I really think that the ACR/LR sharpening and noise reduction is much deeper than a lot of people suspect. Yes, the "default" ain't really optimized...but there are ways to get what you need if you know how.
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2012, 12:27:18 AM »
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No, I'm afraid it's something more profound than keeping visually similar settings.

Nope...I was there in the meetings where the "defaults" were derived and determined...the motive was nothing more that coming close to previous version's sharpening effects–nothing more. The thought was people would learn how to use the sliders to get what they need. Obviously, that hasn't really happened...(although I've gotten pretty good at making the optimal adjustments for my own work).

Matbe the engineers will turn their attention towards better demosiacing & sharpening (they are toed together at the hip). Maybe not. But it behooves users to learn how to use what they have now...

Just sayin'...
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2012, 04:58:19 AM »
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Why not use some kind of blur profiling : instead of shooting a Colorchecker, one would shoot a given pattern with eg small dots, to help profile the PSF needed for capture sharpening?

Hi Nicolas,

Exactly, although better targets are already designed for such a purpose.

I would suggest something like this:


The benefit of such a target pattern is that it's easy to produce at any size (it's vector based, therefore no resampling losses), and it allows to determine slanted edge responses for any angle, not only for horizontal and vertical resolution (although those are the main factors with rectangular sensor arrays, but e.g. lens decentering requires more flexible methods). The shooting distance is not critical, although shooting it square is. It also allows to compensate for uneven lighting, and can be combined with e.g. Opto-Electronic Conversion Function (OECF) patterns such as specified in ISO 14524, to calibrate for tonecurve and gamma effects.

Resolution/blur profiling would allow the advanced user to fully utilize existing sharpening tools, while it can be happily ignored by those who care less. However, with a built in generic database with corrections (using EXIF data like lens model and aperture) one could even automatically preset the adjustments for the existing sharpening tools, and one could also expand the operation to compensate for sharpness fall-off towards the corners (another required update to the 'old school' approach, spatially variant PSFs and thus sharpening).

Depending on image content, it could also be a semi-automatic function but it would not work as well on all images, so-manual intervention would still be required.
 
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I really like conceptually Bart's vision of capture sharpening as hardware-dependent, more than content-dependant - shouldn't be creative sharpening the only content-dependent one?

That's exactly the paradigm shift that has to take place, do not repair the symptoms but eliminate the root cause. Capture sharpening is hardware-dependent, Creative sharpening is content-dependent, Output sharpening is media and magnification dependent.

Cheers,
Bart
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2012, 09:17:04 AM »
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I'm not sure Bart has a lot of experience developing software for a major application like Lightroom or Camera Raw...Adobe already has an installed user base of many millions. There is no way Thomas and Eric would be willing (or able) to turn on a dime and do something that is completely different that what has been done in the past. Ain't gonna happen.

Hi Jeff,

I am aware of human interface design issues. But that's exactly what I was hinting at, the revolution can be under the hood, no need to upset the installed user base. The blur analysis can take place without user intervention, and the result can (automatically, with an auto button) be used to preset the current controls to something more meaningful. I find it hard to believe that that wasn't considered, if one in fact already made the mental switch to a different approach to Capture sharpening. I hope I'm wrong, but that's why I suspect that that penny has not dropped yet. Maybe this discussion can help.

Cheers,
Bart
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JRSmit
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2012, 02:04:41 AM »
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I'm not sure Bart has a lot of experience developing software for a major application like Lightroom or Camera Raw...Adobe already has an installed user base of many millions. There is no way Thomas and Eric would be willing (or able) to turn on a dime and do something that is completely different that what has been done in the past. Ain't gonna happen. So, methodical and persistent change for the better is what the ACR/LR engineers are into. Radical stuff? No so much. There was a lot of blowback when they released PV 2012 even though the results were consistently better in the long run. Yes, Thomas and Eric (and all of the ACR/LR engineers) are very tuned towards improved image quality but change comes with a price meaning it changes people's workflow. And that is not done lightly...

Jeff,

But what was the root cause of this blowback on pv2012?

Was it the quite different (my rephrase of radical) approach to tone development,
or was it the lack of a proper introduction to users on how to use it,
or not getting across to those millions of users the tangible benefits for them (at a price of loss of raw speed for given compueter platform),
or something else?

Note that personally i really like the pv2012 as it is giving me a more natural tone, a better match to my visual experience of the scene (as i remembered it).

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