Adobe release Camera Raw 5.3 and Lightroom 2.3 updates

Adobe has released final versions of the Camera raw 5.3 and Lightroom 2.3 updates, now including support for

  • Nikon D3X
  • Olympus E-30
  • Links:

    Camera Raw 5.3 for Windows
    Camera Raw 5.3 for Mac
    Lightroom 2.3 for Windows
    Lightroom 2.3 for Mac

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    Expanding the dynamic range of a single RAW file

    This tutorial will focus on a technique tailored to expand the visible dynamic range of a single RAW file (as opposed to creating a HDR file or masking a bracketed sequence).

    Most RAW editors has several tools to do just that built-in, but often you can not achieve your desired end result without complicated Photoshop work and masking techniques. In this tutorial, I’ll share some of my secrets for expanding the dynamic range of a single RAW file.

    Observe the following photograph:

    Single RAW file - developing for the shadows blow the highlights.

    'Say cheese' Single RAW file - developing for the shadows blow the highlights.

    This image is from a Canon 40D RAW file developed with Adobe’s Camera RAW 5.2. As the original image was underexposed, out of necessity to keep the highlights in range, I’ve added a positive exposure compensation to brighten the shadows, in turn leading to a clipping of the highlights. Even with tricks like Curves, Fill Light and Highlight Recovery, I cannot both expose the shadows as I want them, and also get great highlights – at least not without an unintentional hit in contrast in the process. My opinion is that neither Fill Light or Highlight Recovery are perfect in ACR, as by affecting the left or right third of the histogram respectively, they are both too broad, and don’t go far enough. – And they don’t give you precise control over the tonalities you effect.

    Let’s look at my technique for dealing with this problem. For this tutorial we will be using ACR 5.2 as our RAW developer on a PC, as well as Photoshop CS4. The beauty of this technique is that it offers a more or less automated, lets call it ‘intuitive’, way of expanding your dynamic range without delving into Curves and complicated masking for every problem shot.

    1 ) Develop your RAW image in ACR only for the shadows (left side of histogram). That is, concentrate on getting good shadow separation, and let the highlights blow for now (that means do not even try to recover the highlights, don’t touch the Recovery slider, better to let them blow out).

    2 ) When satisfied, hold Shift key, and click ‘Open Object’ in ACR to open the image in Photoshop as a Smart Object.

    3 ) In Photoshop, right-click the SO layer, and select ‘New Smart Object via Copy’.

    4 ) Double-click the thumbnail of your new SO layer, to bring up the ACR dialog again.

    5 ) This time, develop for the highlights (right side of histogram), and ignore the shadows (left side of histogram). Typically for this technique, there’ll be around 2 stops of difference between the two versions. Essentially this is just a matter of dragging the Exposure slider to the left.

    6 ) Click ‘Done’ when satisfied that all highlights are recovered.

    7 ) In Photoshop, now hide the top layer, then go to the Channels Palette and Ctrl-click the RGB channel thumbnail to select the highlights of your lower, lighter layer. What you’ve got now is a so-called Luminosity Mask.

    8 ) Go back to the Layer Palette, turn on your top darker layer (select it if it isn’t selected), and click the ‘Add layer mask’ icon.

    9 ) You should now see a composite of the two layers that will have expanded dynamic range, but also will look a bit lifeless and with poor contrast.

    10 ) To add local contrast, you need to select your Layer Mask, and add Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. How much depends on a number of factors, including file size and detail frequency in your image. Typical key figures for Amount are in the 90-127 range. However, for some images, such as the sunset example in the end of this article, you may need to go as low as 1! This is up to your best judgement, and needs some experimentation and careful examination to set right for every image. You’ll want to achieve natural contrast and at the same time avoid visible halos and artifacts. Note that what you are doing here is essentially how Unsharp Mask worked in the dark rooms of yore. Only this digital equivalent is much, MUCH easier.

    11 ) Finally, you may need to adjust the tonalities affected. You can do this by adding a Curves adjustment (Image>Adjustments>Curves) to the Layer Mask. Typically, you want to darken the mask a bit, by creating a point in the middle of the curve and dragging down about 2/5th of the way. You may also use other tools and adjustments on the mask to localize the effect – all non-destructively.

    12 ) For a final kicker, now press Ctrl-Alt-Shift-e to create a new composite layer on top of the others, then add Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask, Amount: 6-12, Radius: 90-127, Threshold: 0, to add a bit of extra local contrast. Typically I overdo this a little, then immediately go Edit>Fade to 66%. Alternatively, you can set the layer opacity of this composited contrast layer as you like.

    End result:

    The final result - highlights have now been smoothly recovered.

    The final result - highlights have now been smoothly recovered.

    Disclaimer: What you see above is no miracle cure for blown highlights. You will still need to expose your photo in a way so that all data can be recovered, and you might have to take care of increased shadow noise from pushing the shadow end.

    Here’s another example comparing ACR’s Highlight Recovery to this method:

    my method

    Dynamic Range expansion - top: image developed for the shadows, middle: Recovery at maximum in ACR*, bottom: my method

    * Recovery at 100, with positive exposure compensation of +2. A closer approximation of ‘my method’ could be achieved by maxing out both Recovery and Fill Light in ACR, leaving Exposure slider at 0, but doing so introduces nasty edge artifacts and very low contrast.

    Enjoy!

    I’ve compiled this technique into a Photoshop action, which you may download and study here.

    Copyright 2008 Mathias Vejerslev

    Camera RAW 5.2 released

    Adobe’s Camera RAW 5.2 contains new support for the following cameras:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Canon PowerShot G10
  • Panasonic DMC-G1
  • Panasonic DMC-FX150
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ28
  • Panasonic DMC-LX3
  • Leica D-LUX 4
  • Plus these new features:

  • Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT), for intuitive local adjustments of Curves, Hue, saturation for example.
  • Output sharpening for print or web
  • Snaphots feature, to save image-specific versions of your RAW image
  • Camera profiles – the previously mentioned camera specific profiles are now included
  • Download: For Mac For Windows

    Camera Raw 5.1, Lightroom 2.1 released

    They’re spitting them out faster than I can type…

    Adobe has just made Camera Raw 5.1 (Photoshop CS4 only) and Lightroom 2.1 available with added support for the following cameras:

    • Canon 1000D (Digital Rebel XS/EOS Kiss F)
    • Canon 50D
    • Fuji FinePix IS Pro
    • Kodak EasyShare Kodak Z1015 IS
    • Leaf AFi II 6
    • Leaf AFi II 7
    • Leaf Aptus II 6
    • Leaf Aptus II 7
    • Nikon D700
    • Nikon D90
    • Nikon Coolpix P6000
    • Olympus SP-565 UZ
    • Pentax K2000 (K-m)
    • Sigma DP1
    • Sony A900

    You’ll notice that this camera list is the same as the one I posted for camera Raw 4.6 for CS3, but these cameras did not make it into CR 5.0 for CS4 before shipping. Now they’re supported.

    Go to adobes download page.

    The DNG profile editor and the beta color profiles previously mentioned has also been updated.

    Beta camera profiles for Camera Raw

    This is kind of old news, but maybe you did not know.

    Adobe provides new and improved beta color profiles for all cameras over at Adobe Labs. Adobes new standard profile improves color rendering all over, but particularly in the red / yellow spectrum – where red were kind of orange with previous profiles, you can now get deep red.

    But there’s more! Adobe now also offers camera specific profiles that closely mimic the otherwise proprietary color renderings of cameras, for instance Canons ‘Picture Styles’.

    You must be using Camera Raw 4.5 or later, or Lightroom 2 Final to utilize these profiles. They will likely be standard in CR5.

    There’s also a new DNG spec and a DNG profile editor available on the same page.

    UPDATE: With CS4 now shipping, it turns out the new profiles are available, but not standard in CR5 (standard remains the CR 4.4 profile). Its fine that the beta period is prolonged a bit to find any errors. Maybe they will be standard in CR 5.1 due very shortly.

    Adobe releases Camera Raw 4.6

    Adobe has today released Camera Raw 4.6 with added support for the following cameras:

  • Canon 1000D (Digital Rebel XS/EOS Kiss F)
  • Canon 50D
  • Fuji FinePix IS Pro
  • Kodak EasyShare Kodak Z1015 IS
  • Leaf AFi II 6
  • Leaf AFi II 7
  • Leaf Aptus II 6
  • Leaf Aptus II 7
  • Nikon D700
  • Nikon D90
  • Nikon Coolpix P6000
  • Olympus SP-565 UZ
  • Pentax K2000 (K-m)
  • Sigma DP1
  • Sony A900
  • Download page:
    Windows
    Mac