February Update for Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC

Adobe has just released the first update to Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and Adobe Camera Raw for 2019. There are always the anticipated updates for new cameras and lenses (as well as some bug fixes), but let’s take a closer look at the main item included in this release first.

Enhanced Details

This is a new featured that was added to Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC for Mac and Win, and Adobe Camera Raw. As I primarily use it in Lightroom Classic, that’s where my examples were made. In a nutshell, Enhanced Details is a new algorithm for demosaicing raw files into pixels with the goal of producing even better detail with fewer artifacts. I’ve found this to be especially true along edges with high color contrast. Enhanced Details only works with mosaic raw files, whether from cameras with a Bayer array sensor (like Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc.) or X-Trans (Fuji).

The key to this new demosaicing method is the inclusion of Adobe Sensei-powered machine learning. I encourage you to read the Enhanced Details white paper that goes into the technical details behind the feature, and the Help Doc that covers the minimum requirements for use, unsupported files, and other details. Let’s look at some examples.

Putting it to use

One thing you need to understand from the start is that this process is not required or needed to be run on every photo in your library. In my experience (so far), I have found a limited number of photos where I can really see a noticeable difference. Your milage may vary, but I would suggest finding raw photos that have one (or more) of the following to test the feature:

  • Visible artifacts resulting from the initial rendering
  • A lot of fine detail
  • High contrast color edges
  • Photos you are planning to print at large sizes

Once you’ve found and selected a good candidate (in either Library or Develop) do either of the following:

  • go to Photo > Enhanced Details
  • right-click the selected photo and choose Enhanced Details from the contextual menu

This will bring up a preview window allowing you to compare the before and after of the Enhanced Details rendering at 400%. Click and hold within that preview to see the Before, and release the mouse to see if Enhanced Details offers any improvement. You can pan and zoom within that preview to visit other areas of the selected photo. My experience has been that the preview tends to show a greater difference between the before and after than the actual results show, but if you don’t see any difference in the preview you won’t see it in the output either. Note, you can run Enhanced Details on a batch of selected photos, but no preview will be shown.

If it looks like an improvement is possible, click Enhance to run it through the new algorithm. This will create a new DNG version of the original photo with the word -Enhanced appended to the end. Note, in my testing the resulting enhanced DNG file has been as much as 3 to 5 times larger in file size than the source photo. This (and the time to render) is the price to pay for the improved rendering. The new DNG will appear in the same folder as the source photo when done.

For comparison purposes, I’ve found exporting both the original and enhanced versions as 16 bit ProPhoto RGB PSDs and then opening them in Photoshop within a single document (each on its own layer) a good way to compare the results (zoomed into 400%). This way you can just show/hide the enhanced layer to see the differences. I didn’t have the update to the ACR plug-in when I wrote this, or I would have gone that route.

In the above example you can see the jaggedness along the edges of the leaves and stems has been greatly smoothed out in the Enhanced version. Here’s another example.

I’m excited at this first iteration of this new feature, and I’m very interested to see what the further inclusion of machine learning and AI can do to eek out every last bit of detail in our photos. I’m glad to have this feature in my kit, and will absolutely consider using it when printing photos at large sizes or if noticeable improvements are visible. I don’t see using it for every photo though. Time will tell.

Lightroom Classic

Aside from the Enhanced Details feature, Adobe has also brought the Nikon tethering up to par with the upgrade that was released for Canon last December. As a result, there is only one menu command for tethering under the file menu now, and Lightroom automatically detects which camera you are using. In addition to a faster and more stable tethering experience we can also control (depending on what mode you are shooting in) aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance from the tether bar.

Tethering support was also expanded to include the Nikon Z6 and Z7. Here’s the complete list of supported cameras.

Lightroom CC for Win and Mac

The desktop version of Lightroom CC has taken a few more steps closer to feature parity with Lightroom Classic with the addition of Merge to HDR, Merge to Pano, and Merge to HDR Pano. All three options can be found under the Photo > Photo Merge menu, or via the right-click contextual menu.

Although the interface has a more modern feel in keeping with Lightroom CC, the dialogs for each operation contain the same options as we’ve come to know in Lightroom Classic and ACR. I know this has been a feature set that has been in high demand by folks wanting to make the move to Lightroom CC from Classic, or who have already made the leap.

To sweeten the pot a little more, Adobe has also added the Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) to the Color Mixer and Tone Curve panels.

Highlight and shadow clipping indicators have also been added to the histogram.

Camera and Lenses

For new camera owners, the most important part of any update is support for their new babies. You can access the updated list of supported cameras and lenses. Adobe has also updated the list of fixes in this release.

Author: Rob Sylvan

Rob Sylvan is a photographer, educator, and aspiring beekeeper. He is the author of many Lightroom and photography related books, eBooks, and videos. Rob also answers all of the Lightroom questions on the KelbyOne Help Desk. Follow along on Instagram @sylvanworks.

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8 Comments

  1. Every company nowaday has machine language learning software or artifical intelligence how it’s also called. The question is, which machine is learning and which images are used? I don’t think that my local LR will be able to learn using my images in my local environment. So it’s just another marketing thing.

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    • Sure, the marketing folks do love their buzzwords, but that doesn’t detract from the technology being used to make this feature work. It is not that your local computer is learning from your photos. It is describing the technology used to improve the algorithm behind the feature that is included in the software (Lightroom). Read the white paper linked in the beginning of the post to learn more about it.

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  2. My Win 10 Professional via Security and Updates says it is up to date as of today but the Enhance Details in the new Lightroom release still gives me an error “Enhance Details requires Windows 10 October 2010 update or later.”

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    • Hi Kent, You’ll need to see if you can manually run the update to version 1809 of Win 10.

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  3. It would be interesting for some blogger to get the native raw software provided by Canon and Nikon and tweak it to produce best TIFFs and see how effectual “Enhance” is overall by comparison when using Camera Raw or LR. I saw extremely small differences (and mostly on thin stems and wires) from by D70, D700 and D750 images. Maybe the LR conversion for Nikon stuff is pretty clean to begin with anyway (?)
    Love to see some xtrans files worked over with it as their filter pattern is different than the Bayer on most other cameras, thinking of picking up an E3…

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    • Yes, the quality of demosaicing on Bayer array sensors was already quite good, so we’ll see fewer improvements than those shooting with the X-Trans sensor.

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  4. If you’re on Windows 10, make sure your updated to 1809 (October 2018) to “Enhance Details”

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    • Yup. That’s a surprising error message.

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