What's new and different?

RichardRichard Mildly bemusedMadrid, SpainPosts: 18,630Administrators, Vanilla Admin moderator
edited May 30, 2018 in Finishing School

I realized the other day that I haven't changed the way I do my post-processing in at least three or four years. Since I don't like the subscription model of software, I'm still using CS5 and LR6.12, along with Noiseware and Silver Efex Pro2. I've developed macros and scripts that make for an efficient workflow, so I'm not really complaining. But I'm sure that I'm missing out on new capabilities in Adobe CC and I'm probably unaware of other, possibly better alternatives.

So my question is, what changes have you made in your post-processing in the past few years? What new functions would you not want to live without? My biggest complaint is still limited dynamic range, though I suspect that's more a problem of the camera than the software. But I'm usually not very happy with LR or PS HDR results. What would you be losing by going back to CS5/LR6?

Oh, and what's this Facebook thing that everyone talks about?

Comments

  • DyunDyun CAPosts: 38Registered Users Big grins

    Anytime new software comes out, I make it a point to download a free trial version and start processing some of my RAW files. I compare the results with previous versions processed through other programs. If I see an improvement in the newer software, I start using it. If it's so good that I feel like I can't live without it, I buy it.

    A few months ago someone recommended I look at DxO PhotoLab Elite. It's a lot like Lightroom in a way, but its noise reduction and sharpening capabilities are so much better than even Lightroom Classic CC. I have the Adobe subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop, but since I've started using DxO, I almost never go back to Lightroom for anything. The problem is that if you use DxO's "prime" NR, it is a lot slower to export each photo. The results are worth it so I go with it, but Lightroom is a lot faster to export things. I can't see myself going back to Lightroom to process high ISO files of any kind anymore, because DxO is that good. The Nikon D500 has a great sensor, but it's still a crop sensor, which means it still lags behind recent full frame models in noise. DxO cleans it up really well and easily, without having to mask any areas off:

    DxO PhotoLab Elite, Prime noise reduction applied, ISO 4,500:
    Yosemite National Park

    ISO 11,400:
    Yosemite National Park

    Here's a Nikon D750 full frame high ISO shot, 100% crop before and after DxO Prime NR:

    As good as DxO is, I find that Photoshop CC is still the best at cloning out unwanted elements in a photo. It has excellent content-aware fill. It is also very good at stitching panoramas. It is TERRIBLE at HDR though, and Lightroom is just OK at it. DxO is not good at cloning things out, even small things like dust spots sometimes can cause an issue. It's alright for small things, but Photoshop definitely has a huge edge over it at this time. They are expected to release a big update to DxO PhotoLab Elite in June, so I hope that's one thing they have improved.

    Photoshop CC shadow removal:

    For HDR, I've been using Photomatix Pro 6.0.2 and Easy HDR 3. Photomatix gives your HDR files a kind of ethereal look and is great at pulling details from clouds for example, while Easy HDR 3 gives a more -real- feel to the photos. They look flatter, if that makes any sense at all. Both programs have their use for that reason.

    Photomatix Pro:

    Easy HDR 3:

    Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

    For portrait touch-up a lot of people use Photoshop, and that's great,.. but programs like Portrait Pro or PT Portrait make this so much easier and faster. I have PT portrait, but Portrait Pro recently lowered their price and now it seems worth getting if you do a lot of portraits.

    As for what I'd be losing if I went back to the older versions of Lightroom and Photoshop,.... the awesome content-aware fill and smart panorama stitching of Photoshop, and the quick HDR and panorama stitching of Lightroom. There have been a few good improvements for both programs and $10 a month for both is not a bad deal IMO if you use them frequently. It really is the most complete photography software out there, but noise reduction, sharpening capabilities and HDR are not their strength. The sharpening ends up adding more noise to the images and the noise reduction wipes away details, so I find programs like DxO and Photomatix Pro more useful to me personally.

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,119Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 30, 2018

    I still use Photoshop CS2 for times when I need Layers capability, but mostly I use Phase One, Capture One Pro (C1P) for RAW processing and raster image processing.

    While the post-processing workflow is nothing like either Photoshop or Lightroom, and it takes some time investment to become fluent enough to be efficient, it has become very straightforward and natural.

    Lots of tutorials on line too, both written and video.

    Things to like are:

    • Possibly the best Sharpening engine I have seen for any RAW renderer. A light touch of Sharpening (Unsharp Mask, much like other image processors), followed by the Structure control (part of the Clarity control set) and you can create very nice detail with no visual halos, etc.
    • Excellent Color control and Color Correction.
    • Clarity control works extremely well, and better than Adobe products, very much IMO. (Specifically I believe that I get a better subject "Pop" and without as much color shift as Adobe products display for a similar amount of Clarity.)
    • The C1P Chroma Noise Reduction is also some of the best I have seen and tested, although I generally defer Luminance Noise Reduction to Neat Image.

    C1P does have a "High Dynamic Range" panel with Highlight and Shadow controls, but it's more for tone redistribution than what most folks think of for HDR.

    For HDR work I still use MediaChance's Dynamic Photo HDR.

    Aurora HDR 2018 now supports Mac and Windows platforms, and I do intend to look at it soon.

    The usual disclaimer: I am a very happy user of Phase One, Capture One Pro. I don't work for Phase One in any capacity, and I paid full retail minus a discount anyone can get if you purchase through a Capture One Ambassador. (Just Google, "Capture One Ambassador". It does not have to be a "Capture One Brand Ambassador".) Ditto for MediaChance and Dynamic Photo HDR. I have no affiliation other than as a happy user, and paid full retail on that one.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,325Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 31, 2018

    Interesting responses.

    Richard, I have continued with Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC by subscription. I still use NoiseWare if I really want to reduce noise, but the noise reduction of LR Classic CC and modern sensors ( even Canon and Lumix sensors ) are such that noise is not usually a great issue to me at ISO's less than 3200-6400 or more. I was impressed by the DXO noise reduction example above, but I rarely use anything but LR Classic CC, with an occasional step out to NoiseWare on a layer in Photoshop at times as I frequently don't treat a whole image with NoiseWare, but just a sky or a selected area.

    I find I really do like my ability to search LR Classic CC and find an image among my 140,00 or so files quickly. I also like the ability to search and sort my images by camera bodies, lenses, ISOs, shutter speeds, apertures, locations etc. I even try to keyword all my better images so they are just a keystroke away from my desktop. I recently reviewed what lenses I used on previous workshops to help decide what I wanted to take to Alaska this spring - easily done via the metadata search tools in LR Classic CC.

    I seem to find the sharpening of LR less disturbing than Dyun, and more than adequate for my purposes. I can always wander into PS if I need more sharpening , or one of the several add on apps that I very rarely use anymore. DeNoise 5 or 6, Luminar, Noiseless, etc.

    I am not suggesting LR and PS are the best tools - mostly that I am comfortable with them and too lazy to learn something new unless I can see a dramatic difference, and I rarely can see enough difference to justify the aggravation of a change for me. I DO think that LR Classic CC continues to get better and better. The DeHaze tool and the new LUT profiles have been really valuable to me.

    I do find I don't shoot as much HDR as I did a generation or two of sensors ago. I still shoot them at times, but find I don't really need them for a satisfactory image unless the dramatic range gets pretty strong. I wrote read about my sharpening and noise reduction in LR about two years ago here - https://dgrin.com/discussion/257127/a-brief-discussion-about-sharpening-and-noise-reduction-in-lr-cc#latest

    It is a bit out of date, but I think the sharpening and NR in LR are even better now, but there is a bit of learning curve to getting the most out of the tools, It is true that noise reduction can blur images so one needs to restore that a bit as I do in that thread.

    One other comment occurred to me, and that is using PS to swap backgrounds - I wrote a thread here on dgrin maybe a decade ago and I still see it being read - and I thought the other day I needed to update it, because it is pretty easy now in PS to use the Quick Select tools, and the Select and Mask tool to create a mask for a subject that is copied up onto a new layer, and then you can simply drop a new background on a layer beneath your subject and it works pretty darn good, even with hair and feathers which is a pretty neat trick, That is what I used to replace a very dull, flat , grey sky with a few branches in this image below - notice the lack of rim color or edginess to give the composite image away. I will entertain all criticisms of this composite

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • colourboxcolourbox Major grins Posts: 2,064Registered Users Major grins

    @Richard said:
    So my question is, what changes have you made in your post-processing in the past few years? What new functions would you not want to live without? My biggest complaint is still limited dynamic range, though I suspect that's more a problem of the camera than the software. But I'm usually not very happy with LR or PS HDR results.

    I don't shoot in HDR very often because I don't always agree with the results. But the one feature that I really like in the latest Lightroom (7/Classic) is Range Mask. Finally I can lay down a gradient and use the Range Mask feature to limit the effect by tonal range or sampled color. This makes faux HDR a lot easier. Instead of having to painstakingly paint a proper shaped mask for an exposure boost/noise cut that only affects the shadows, just drop one gradient and use the Range Mask sliders to limit the correction to a shadow range within 0-255...takes about 15 seconds.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,325Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 31, 2018

    Here is another image in which the bird was selected to allow me to blur the background and to decrease its saturation and tone a bit - notice how the feathers on the right lower side of the bird were selected. I never could to this with the earlier selection tools in PS at all. This hawk was captured with a 40D back on Oct 19, 2008

    now one can edit skies without tell tale white lines along selections at the horizon - that's pretty cool I think

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,325Super Moderators moderator
    edited June 1, 2018

    I need to read some more about the Range Mask - I had heard about it, but hadn't actually made use of it yet. Now colourbox has given me the push to give it a go. One comment is to add that the Range Mask is not limited to only the gradient tool, but is available with the adjustment brush, and almost all the local adjustment tools I think.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,325Super Moderators moderator

    Now I wish I had looked at this earlier - I was still using an adjustment brush with the gradient filter in LR - worked ok for some images, but some needed PS for selections of the sky. This should be a big help

    Thanks colourbox

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainPosts: 18,630Administrators, Vanilla Admin moderator
    edited May 31, 2018

    Thanks for the information, everyone. The range mask looks like it could be quite useful, but it doesn't sound important enough to go through the trauma of an upgrade. Some of the other stuff--content aware fill, panorama stitching--is already present and useful in CS5. Mostly I shoot outdoors at low ISO so I don't have much of a noise problem, and LR6 NR is usually good enough that I rarely use Noiseware. I suppose I'm going to just keep on doing what I've been doing until some machine upgrade forces me to change software. The hard part is getting a good pic in the first place.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,325Super Moderators moderator

    Here's another about Range Mask with color - I will find this useful

    Software is useful for improving images, but ultimately it is the eye and the brain behind the viewfinder that really matters as you well know, Richard.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,613Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 1, 2018

    @pathfinder said:

    Software is useful for improving images, but ultimately it is the eye and the brain behind the viewfinder that really matters as you well know, Richard.

    @Richard said:

    The hard part is getting a good pic in the first place.

    Couldn't agree more ... somewhat pointless in having a well scrubbed pic that's pretty rubbish / same as everyone else's .

    @pathfinder said:

    I will entertain all criticisms of this composite

    Jim - too small to make any detailed comments, but the sky doesn't look blurred enough / in keeping with what I'd expect to see if a long lens - used wide open (or nearly so) has been used to capture the main subject. Yes, there could well be alternate scenarios for taking the pic of the bird in the first place ... but, just my initial response / what flagged up on my 'nit pick' radar :)

    pp

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,119Super Moderators moderator

    @ziggy53 said:
    I still use Photoshop CS2 for times when I need Layers capability, but mostly I use Phase One, Capture One Pro (C1P) for RAW processing and raster image processing.

    Typo: I have Photoshop "CS4", and I still use that for most of the work which requires Layers, just because I know how Layers work in Photoshop.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • sarasphotossarasphotos Major grins Augsburg, GermanyPosts: 2,010Registered Users Major grins

    I'm pretty much married to LR and have used the subscription model with PS since it started. I do wish adobe would update the basic library/grid/keywording module but there are a few recent changes that I love. One is the aforementioned luminance filter - fast and fabulous! Way better than "dehaze" which has a tendency to produce funny colored skies (at least with my panasonic raw /dng files.
    The other new feature I like is the addition of new color profiles. Saves a lot of play with vibrance and saturation.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,325Super Moderators moderator
    edited June 1, 2018

    @puzzledpaul said:

    @pathfinder said:

    Software is useful for improving images, but ultimately it is the eye and the brain behind the viewfinder that really matters as you well know, Richard.

    @Richard said:

    The hard part is getting a good pic in the first place.

    Couldn't agree more ... somewhat pointless in having a well scrubbed pic that's pretty rubbish / same as everyone else's .

    @pathfinder said:

    I will entertain all criticisms of this composite

    Jim - too small to make any detailed comments, but the sky doesn't look blurred enough / in keeping with what I'd expect to see if a long lens - used wide open (or nearly so) has been used to capture the main subject. Yes, there could well be alternate scenarios for taking the pic of the bird in the first place ... but, just my initial response / what flagged up on my 'nit pick' radar :)

    pp

    HI Paul - Great catch, and great comment!! I get your sardonic humor in "getting a good pic in the first place!"

    I briefly thought about blurring the sky before collapsing the layers, and decided not to; but I think in the future I may give that thought far more serious consideration. I agree, the only way to get the bird and the sky that sharp simultaneously, might be at an aperure of f128 or so with a very mid range tele . The reason I didn't was that I rather like that sky and if it is blurred it is less interesting to my eye. Ah well. I do suspect that many viewers will not notice that issue, unless they are photogs.

    It was a mediocre image to start with, shot, as I said in flat, grey, light with a flat grey sky, captured with a 7D Mk II at ISO 6400 - which is beyond the ideal ISO for a 7D Mk II. But I find the composite more interesting to me than the original file, and the margins of the selection ( edges of the bird ) seem pretty credible - better than I could ever do in years past. I look on it as a learning experience. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • sarasphotossarasphotos Major grins Augsburg, GermanyPosts: 2,010Registered Users Major grins

    Richard, one thing I forgot is that in the latest version the automatic tone settings in the Develop module are (at least for my camera) VASTLY improved.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,325Super Moderators moderator
    edited June 2, 2018

    I agree with Sara's comment - the automatic tone settings now are a great improvement, one that frequently can't really be improved upon ( at least in my hands)

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainPosts: 18,630Administrators, Vanilla Admin moderator

    I spend a lot of time on tone adjustments, so that sounds interesting. I'm still hoping that someday, Adobe releases an updated perpetual license version of LR. Seems like PS hasn't changed much, at least for photographers, but LR keeps getting better.

  • hadronhadron Big grins Posts: 49Registered Users Big grins

    Dyun, does DxO have facial recognition?
    If not, any alternative to Lightroom which has facial recognition?
    Hadron

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,119Super Moderators moderator

    @hadron said:
    Dyun, does DxO have facial recognition?
    If not, any alternative to Lightroom which has facial recognition?
    Hadron

    "Facial Recognition" is an emerging technology.

    Please define what qualities of Facial Recognition you require/desire.

    Also, what operating system you use, or would be willing to acquire, in order to meet your expectations and how much money you are willing to sump into the project. (Competent AI systems required for advanced Facial Recognition requires high-level super computers. Think DOD for the best and most accurate systems, which include real-time Facial Recognition.)

    The more information you supply, the better we can make recommendations.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • hadronhadron Big grins Posts: 49Registered Users Big grins

    Facial Recognition should to be part of a photo editing/management package. I would like to have the FR software tag the recognized names in keywords which then can be searched on Smugmug. Windows 10 is the OS. A perpetual license for around $200-$300 would be acceptable.
    As I said, I'm looking for an ALTERNATIVE to Lightroom Classic.

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,119Super Moderators moderator

    @hadron said:
    Facial Recognition should to be part of a photo editing/management package.

    Perhaps, someday it may be so?

    @hadron said:
    I would like to have the FR software tag the recognized names in keywords which then can be searched on Smugmug. Windows 10 is the OS. A perpetual license for around $200-$300 would be acceptable.

    I am unable to find any specific Windows software which meets your needs of accurately recognizing individuals under any condition of facial position, image size and any lighting situation, and adding an internal metadata field to the image file with the name of that individual (in a form and format compatible with SmugMug keyword extraction automation).

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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