Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic & Desktop | October 2023

  Adobe  ‘Max 2023’ saw the announcement of Camera Raw 16, Lightroom Classic 13, Lightroom Desktop 7 along with updates to Lightroom Mobile and Web. Main features in desktop applications include:


  • Edit and Export in HDR
  • Edit colors with Point Color
  • Add AI powered Lens Blur
  • Edit locally stored photos (Lightroom Desktop only)
  • Support for new camera and lenses

I’ll discuss each in more detail below using LrC as my application of choice. However, were a feature in specific to either Camera Raw or Lightroom Desktop I’ll use that application.

Point Color [Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic and Desktop]

The HSL/Color panel has been replaced with new Color Mixer panel, which has two tabs:

  • Mixer – For HSL/Color settings from HSL/Color panel
  • Point Color – For Point Color settings

With Point Color you can adjust individual colors with greater precision, including the ability to control the range across HueSaturation, and LuminancePoint Color can also be used with Masking, giving you greater control over specific color.

Point Color allows you to sample a color in three dimensions (Hue, Saturation and Luminance), and change in three dimensions. By contrast, the existing HSL mixer allows edits to be made in three dimensions, but your input color is only one dimensional – hue.

By using Point Color, you can select and edit a darker skin tone differently than a lighter skin tone.

Point Color samples can overlap. Therefore, you can make an adjustment to a color, then add a second sample that makes an adjustment on top of that.

For example, you can remove red undertones from skin, making the skin more uniform. Then you can sample the overall skin tone and make an adjustment to that; because the first sample brought those red tones to the overall tone, the second sample can adjust those pre-adjusted colors along with the colors that were there in the first place.

Point Color is available both as a Global Edit setting and Local Edit setting in the Masking.

An excellent video by Julieanne Kost of Adobe can be found on Youtube.

Edit and Export in HDR [Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic and Desktop]

Edit and Export in HDR was first previewed by Adobe in Camera Raw 15. While it generated a lot of interest the most common request was to make it available in Lightroom.  As of Lightroom Classic 13 and Lightroom Desktop 7 this request has been implemented.

With HDR Output you now have the ability to view and edit HDR photos. However, you’ll need an HDR display and a supported graphics processing unit (GPU). For macOS, the recommend Apple XDR displays, such as the MacBook Pro 14” or 16” (November 2021 or later). For Windows, the recommendation is a display with at least a 1000 nit capacity. See the DisplayHDR site for a list of VESA-certified displays with a rating of DisplayHDR 1000 or higher.

HDR also works in Lightroom iOS on all currently supported iPhone and iPad devices with iOS 16 and later.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) displays offer greater brightness and contrast than Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) displays. Photos optimised for HDR displays have brighter highlights and more detailed shadows, resulting in an increased sense of realism and greater impact. On my 16 inch MacBook M1 Pro with XDR display the results can be quite breathtaking.

Histograms and Color Readouts in HDR mode

When editing a photo in HDR mode, the histogram is split into two parts- an SDR section on the left and an HDR section on the right.

A vertical grey line between the two parts indicates the standard graphics white level, the white of the user interface. If the histogram extends to the right of this divider, the image contains HDR content, and will require an HDR display to show correctly.

Red horizontal bars indicate ranges that are beyond the display’s current capabilities.

The dashed grey vertical lines mark zones above graphics white, in increments of 1 exposure value or f-stop.

A context menu option to toggle readouts between Percentage and Absolute numbers is also available.


The highlight clipping warning indicator (small triangle button in the upper-right corner of the histogram) uses the same color scheme as follows:

  • Yellow indicates highlight areas in the HDR range that is within the display’s current capabilities.
  • Red indicates pixels beyond the display’s current capabilities

The Visualise HDR Ranges option provides a color-coded visualisation of different HDR ranges, in f-stop increments. To toggle this option, right-click the histogram and select Visualise HDR Ranges from the context menu.

In above example, Visual HDR has been enabled and the histogram indicates that the photo contains 2-stops of HDR content.

Exporting HDR images

When you’ve finished editing a photo in HDR mode, you can Export it with HDR settings by selecting the ‘Enable HDR Display’ checkbox in the File Settings section.

After Enabling HDR Display in Export dialog, you should see new options for HDR Color Spaces.

Supported non-Raw HDR file formats include:

  • AVIF
  • TIFF
  • PSD
  • PNG

Adobe recommendations are:

  • Use AVIF or JPEG XL for sharing and web applications, such as online web galleries.
  • Use TIFF or PSD for workflows where additional HDR work is required, such as compositing.

A comprehensive essay on the HDR Edit and Export feature by Eric Chan of Adobe can be found on the Adobe Blog Another useful source of information on HDR Output can be found on Greg Benz’s Youtube channel.

Lens Blur [Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic and Desktop]

The ‘Lens Blur’ feature adds a blur effect that is normally seen in photos taken with lenses that have wide aperture/short depth of field. Using this, you could blur foreground/background of an photo.

Unfortunately, in many of the examples I’ve tried with portrait and wildlife shots in particular the results, especially hair/fur/feathers often look like they’ve been chopped off with a blunt knife.

My experience with photos containing physical structures (e.g. buildings, bridges, statues) where the AI-model can determine a clearly defined edge are better.

The inclusion of Refinement brushes for ‘Focus’ and ‘Blur’ helps, but provide far from perfect refinements when working on subjects that include hair/fur/feathers.

Adobe has identified the ‘Lens Blur’ as an ‘Early Access’ feature (i.e. Work in Progress), and provided a dedicated feedback thread on the Lightroom Classic Community Forum. The thread is being monitored by the Adobe engineering staff who developed Lens Blur. So, well worth a visit if you have any feedback.

Improvements to Metadata Operations [Lightroom Classic]

Adobe have improved the performance of Metadata Operations of read metadata, save metadata, metadata status.

The automatic  XMP writing logic for Develop module has also been changed. As compared to earlier versions where each edit operation resulted in XMP writing causing frequent disk writes. Now XMP writing will be done on following user actions.

  • Change in Active Image
  • Switch to another module
  • Move LrC app in background
  • Quit LrC app

To avail of automatic XMP writing you will need to enable the Catalog Settings preference for automatically writing changes into XMP.

Develop – History and Snapshots [Lightroom Classic]

When you hover  over a History Step or Snapshot, the corresponding preview is shown in Develop Loupe view.

This feature shares the same the same preference as ‘Preset’ previews and can be found in the the Performance tab of Preferences. On lower powered computers it may be necessary to disable this feature as it can have a significant adverse impact on performance.


Edit Locally Stored Photos [Lightroom Desktop]

Users of Lightroom Desktop can now work with their photos without having to import or sync the, to the cloud. In effect, Adobe has provided a File Browser within Lightroom. This is something that Lightroom Classic users have requested since the very first public beta in 2006. So, how does it work?

When you click on the ‘Local’ tab in the upper left corner of the UI will give you direct access to your hard drives. You edit your photos with Lightroom (both photo edits and metadata edits) without first needing to import the photos or sync the photos to the cloud. This will speed up the workflow considerably, especially if you have an Internet connection with limited bandwidth (or no Internet access at all).

After working with photos locally you can choose to import them and sync them to the cloud if you wish, either as a batch or individual photos.

The ‘Local’ feature has some limitations, namely any feature that relies on the cloud server side services (e.g. face detection, auto tagging, etc) doesn’t work with photos that you haven’t  already synced to the cloud. Also, since Lightroom Desktop has very poor metadata support compared to Lightroom Classic and Adobe Bridge, then some users may find the limitations far outweigh the benefits. As such, users who do not need or want cloud storage, etc may be better served by Camera Raw hosted in Adobe Bridge.

System Requirements

The minimum OS version for Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic and Desktop have changed from those applicable to the previous version.  Each is provided at the following Links:

Camera Raw

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Desktop

New Camera Support

Details of new camera support added since the last release can be found here

New Lens Correction Support

Details of new lens support added since the last release can be found here

Disclosure: As an Adobe Community Expert I receive a free subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.