Lightroom Tips

Lightroom 3 beta, CS5 and Sharpening

Morning everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. I wanted to cover something today that I’ve seen mentioned quite a bit (in the comments) here on the blog – sharpening and how it affects Lightroom 3 beta and Photoshop CS5. See, Adobe introduced something called the process version in LR3 and CS5. You can watch a video I created about it here. It’s a whole new way of reading the raw file. By default, any new photos will automatically be converted to the new process version. But if LR3/CS5 detect any previous camera raw settings on the photo (whether its a sidecar XMP or info in the DNG file), it’ll keep the photo in the old process version and let you convert later. So what’s the problem?

Well if you’ve added, say, sharpening to photos and you convert them to the new 2010 process version (in the Camera Calibration panel), sometimes that sharpening may appear overbearing (which is why Adobe doesn’t do the conversion for you automatically). Check out the example below (you have to click to see it larger to see what I mean). On the left is the 2003 version with (some liberal) sharpening applied. It looks fine. On the right is the same photo and I just changed the Process version to 2010 manually. As you can see, the 2010 process version shows the sharpening effects more.

So what’s the answer? I guess it depends. Visually, the process version only really affects sharpening, noise reduction and vignetting. So if you haven’t used any of those on your photo then there’s nothing to worry about. Also, even if you have used those settings, sometimes changing process versions leaves the photo just fine. In that case, you don’t have to do a thing. But depending on the amount of sharpening you’ve added to a photo, you may need to adjust the sharpening settings for your photos which can be a total nightmare. There are ways to make it easier. If you always used a large sharpening setting like 90-100 then chances are it’s going to look bad. So you could always just sharpen one photo with lower settings and sync that with a group of other photos that were similar. There really is no “great” answer though. As LR3 officially comes out (again, please don’t ask me when) 🙂 I guess we’ll see how big this really is but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the meantime. Especially if you’ve already upgraded to CS5. Have you seen any issues with some of your older photos?