The latest updates to Camera Raw (15.3), Lightroom Classic (12.3) and Lightroom Desktop (6.3) have been released to customers. These updates include new camera and lens support along with bug fixes. There is one major new feature along with other minor features and enhancements that I’ll discuss below.
AI-powered Denoise [Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic & Desktop]
With these latest updates, Adobe is introducing AI-powered Denoise!
Using artificial intelligence, Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic and Desktop can now remove noise from your photos. Better still, the noise is removed whilst preserving fine detail, far more effectively than the legacy noise reduction controls.
At present, Denoise will only work with Bayer and X-trans raw files. It won’t work on files such as JPEG, HEIC, ProRAW, sRaw, etc. However, Adobe plan to expand support for other file types in future versions.
Lightroom Classic Denoise
Denoise Workflow and File Management
The process of denoising your photos is very simple.
First, Adobe recommend that photos are denoised before editing, especially healing and masking as they can be affected by noise. Edits such as Highlights, Shadows, Dehaze and Clarity can also look different in denoised photos.
Denoise can be accessed via Photo > Enhance menu, or via the ‘Denoise…’ button in the Detail panel (see above screenshot).
Adobe Denoise analyses each photo dynamically to find the optimum range, but the default ‘Amount’ value (50) is always halfway between least and full denoising. In other words, the meaning of ‘full denoising’ varies with the photo, based on the analysis.
In the Enhance dialog, you can press-and-hold anywhere within the preview image to see the photo without Denoise applied. This provides a simple way to make before/after comparisons, especially when fine-tuning the Amount setting.
As with previous Enhance features, any adjustments you may already have made to the original photo will automatically be carried over to the enhanced DNG, although denoising first is recommended for the reasons mentioned above. Any legacy luminance or colour noise adjustments are ignored, and set to zero in the new DNG file. You can edit the new DNG file just like any other raw photo, apply your favourite presets, etc.
The zoom level used in the Enhance Preview panel is 200%, which is a tad high for normal resolution displays but is fine for 4K and higher.
The Denoise process produces a new derivative DNG file with ‘Enhanced-NR’ appended to the filename. Making the result of Denoise into a DNG has all the advantages that normal raw files do, and is similar to other features that produce a DNG. These include, Merge to Panorama and Merge to HDR. However, in the case of Denoise, like the other Enhance features, the resulting DNG also contains a copy of the original mosaic data, so nothing is lost. That being said, Denoise can’t yet be applied on an already enhanced image (Super Resolution or Denoised).
To make the task of finding files that have had ‘Denoise’ applied, the engineering team have provided an option to automatically add keywords to ‘Enhanced’ images. This option can be found under File Handling tab in Preferences dialog as shown in screenshot below.
The new keyword is added to each file based on the enhance workflow you have selected.
- Raw Details
- Super Resolution
A new badge has also be added to Grid thumbnail and filmstrip. Apparently, the keywords and badges are to make Denoised file easier to find. Personally, I think the engineering time would have been more usefully spent in providing a ‘filter’.
No doubt, there will be numerous comparisons between Adobe Denoise and third party offerings such as those from DxO and Topaz. Each will have areas where they perform well and others where they perform less well. By way of example, some of the third party products may excel at removing all traces of noise without human intervention whereas Adobe’s Denoise at it’s default setting of 50 tends to leave a little residual noise. However, this should not be seen a shortcoming, especially since a small movement of the Amount slider is all that’s needed to remove the noise. Another example, Some 3rd party applications apply global sharpening whilst Adobe Denoise does not. Personally, I prefer to have some control over the amount of noise reduction and sharpening applied to photos, but other users prefer that the process be a single click.
A comprehensive explanation of Denoise written by Eric Chan from the Camera Raw team can be found here.
Masking continues to be improved with new tools and UI tweaks. I’ve highlighted some of the new features and UI tweaks below.
Curves [Lightroom Classic and Desktop]
A ‘Curves’ panel has been added to to Masks in Lightroom Classic and Desktop. This brings both versions of Lightroom into line with Camera Raw.
Other Curve enhancements include:
- Indicators (dots) have also added to Tone Curve and Masking Curves panel to indicate if that Curve has active settings. See above screenshot.
- Support has also been added for Renaming and Deleting Curve Presets through the UI. The option is only available for User Created Presets.
- The Histogram shown in local curve will be displayed for the selected mask, and not of the entire image. See above screenshot.
Select People [Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic and Desktop]
Two new attributes for the People mask.
Also, the People mask attribute ‘Face Skin is now renamed to ‘Facial Skin’.
History Step [Lightroom Classic]
The Mask Name would now be added to History step when its settings, like Exposure, Contrast, etc., are changed.
Adaptive Presets [Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic and Desktop]
The Portrait Group of ‘Adaptive’ Presets has been expanded to include
- Polished Portrait
- Darken Beard
Library Enhancements [Lightroom Classic]
The Lightroom Classic engineering team have spent some time working to improve Scrolling and Walk Performance. However, at this time these improvements are limited to macOS systems.
For example, many Library module views now leverage native macOS capabilities for drawing/rendering of Images. This should help in optimising overall scrolling performance.
With these changes, you should experience better performance in the following views in macOS.
- Improved / smoother Publish Grid scrolling and People View Scrolling.
- Improved/ smoother scrolling experience in Import Grid , Import Loupe.
- Faster walking in Full Screen.
Other Performance tweaks have been implemented as follows:
- Keywords – optimised ‘Purge Unused Keywords’ workflow.
- Map – the embedded browser framework that is used to render web content Classic in Map and Web modules has been updated.
UI Enhancements [Lightroom Classic]
Eyeball icons & Edit indicators
- Eyeball icons replace the ‘switches’ and are now visible by default for all Edit panels and Healing, Redeye, and Masking tools. They can be clicked and held to temporarily hide settings of that panel. However, should you wish to switch a panel off, then press and hold Option/Alt key to convert Eyeball icons to a Panel Switch.
- Edit Indicators are also available in the toolbar. For the Global Panels, Eyeball icons also act as edit indicators.
Edit in Photoshop > Select Photoshop Version
Lightroom Classic now includes an option to select Photoshop version from all the different Photoshop versions installed on your system for your ‘Edit in Photoshop’ workflows. You can select the preferred Photoshop version from ‘Photoshop version’ dropdown in Preference > External Editing tab > Edit in Adobe Photoshop section. By default, latest version of Photoshop installed is selected. Once the Photoshop version is selected, it can be used for all the Edit-In Photoshop workflows.
Open as Smart Object Layers in Photoshop
A new option has been added to open selected images as Smart Object Layers in Photoshop.
Feature Enhancements [Lightroom Desktop]
In addition to the headline feature mentioned above, Lightroom Desktop receives the following enhancements.
- Video Improvements (Auto – B&W – Extract frame – Export frame – Trimming improvements (Timeline, Numeric in Crop))
- Batch Editing -Already have it, just more discoverable -Copy -Paste -X to clear current settings -Gear to specify what gets copied
- Resize Filmstrip
- Preference to turn off Tool Tips
- Performance Improvements: Crop, Scrolling, Pan and Zoom
- [Beta] Content Authenticity feature via Export (opt in) -File or Cloud – Credentials to include -Verification site – https://verify.contentauthenticity.or -See list of creators, tools, what was done -See original (See original and edit side).
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.