Quality versus Resolution


Today’s Question: After reading an answer from you about sensor size it made me wonder about the Canon EOS 5DS R compared to the 1D X. Since they both have the same size sensor would the 1D X have a greater dynamic range and less noise since the pixels are larger? Or are they using a different sensor?

Tim’s Quick Answer: As a general rule, with two sensors of the same physical dimensions, the sensor with the lower resolution (larger individual pixel size) will provide higher dynamic range and lower noise levels. But that isn’t always the case, as demonstrated by the fact that 5DS R is capable of providing better performance at low ISO despite having a much higher resolution in a sensor of the same physical size as that of the 1D X.

More Detail: There are, of course, many factors that impact overall sensor performance. Therefore, general rules about what you can expect always need to be compared to actual real-world results produced under real-world circumstances.

The Canon 5DS R and Canon 1D X cameras have full frame sensors with the same overall dimensions. The 5DS R, however, features 50.6 megapixel resolution compared to the 18.1 megapixel resolution of the 1D X. That means the 5DS R has individual photosites (pixels) that are much smaller than those found on the sensor for the 1D X, which would reasonably cause you to assume that the 5DS R would offer lower dynamic range and higher noise levels compared to the 1D X.

The 5DS R is actually capable of producing higher dynamic range and lower noise levels compared to the 1D X, which is impressive (and perhaps a little unexpected). But you need to take a couple of additional details into account here.

First of all, the 5DS R was released more than three years after the 1D X. That’s a long time when we’re talking about advanced technology. While smaller individual pixels on a sensor generally translate into higher noise levels, it is also true that with technological advancements the noise performance of imaging sensors has improved over time.

In the specific case of these two cameras, it is also important to look at the testing data a little more closely. The results that I’ve seen show that the 5DS R does indeed perform better than the 1D X in many image quality respects, but only at relatively low ISO settings. About an ISO setting of somewhere around 400 or 800 ISO, the 1D X actually starts to perform better than the 5DS R.

So, again, general rules can be helpful in evaluating the overall landscape of digital cameras, and in providing a sense of what you can expect and what you might want to look out for. But it is also critically important to keep in mind that general rules are just general rules, and there are typically exceptions to every one of those rules. Also, as noted above, when a particular camera is described as “better” in some regard compared to another camera, that comparison is often an over-simplification of what actually detailed testing will reveal.

As always, it is therefore very important to go beyond the published specifications and general statements about a particular camera, and instead critically evaluate the specific performance numbers that are important to you based on your particular needs as a photographer.

Skip Import Screen?


Today’s Question: I’m adapting (begrudgingly) to the new Import dialog in Lightroom. However, I feel it is redundant to choose a source of photos in the “first” screen when I can also set that source in the “second” screen. Is it possible to skip the first screen and go strait to the actual Import dialog?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can most certainly disable the “Add Photos” screen, which is the first screen you’re referring to with the new Import experience in Lightroom 6.2 (2015.2). Simply turn off the “Show ‘Add Photos’ Screen” checkbox on the General tab of the Preferences dialog.

More Detail: I should hasten to add that the response to the new Import experience in Lightroom has not been all that great, to the extent that Adobe recently announced they will soon be releasing a new version of Lightroom that reverts the Import experience to the previous interface before the changes in version 6.2 (2015.2) of Lightroom.

It seems that the “Add Photos” screen was causing frustration for some photographers not only because it added a step to the import process, but also because it seems to have been contributing to some issues that were causing Lightroom to crash. Thus, turning off this “Add Photos” option could streamline your Import experience, but also possibly improve the stability of Lightroom.

To disable the “Add Photos” feature, you need to first bring up the Preferences dialog. On Macintosh you can bring up the Preferences dialog by choosing Lightroom > Preferences from the menu. For Windows users you will find this option under Edit > Preferences on the menu.

Next, choose the General tab within the Preferences dialog. In the Import Options section you will find the “Show ‘Add Photos’ Screen” checkbox. Simply turn this checkbox off and close the Preferences dialog, and the initial screen will no longer be displayed when you initiate the Import process.

I will include a note in an upcoming edition of the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter as soon as the Lightroom update that reverts the Import experience has been released by Adobe.

“Hidden” Tools


Today’s Question: This may be a silly (or at least very simple) question. I was trying to use the Magic Wand tool [in Photoshop], but I couldn’t find it! I see the Quick Selection tool on the toolbar, but is the Magic Wand tool still available? I saw one of your tutorials that suggested using the Magic Wand tool, but I don’t seem to have it!

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Magic Wand tool is indeed available, it is just “hiding” beneath the Quick Selection tool on the Tools panel. You can access the Magic Wand tool by clicking and holding the mouse button down (or right-clicking) on the button for the Quick Selection tool on the Tools panel, and then choosing the Magic Wand tool from the flyout menu that appears.

More Detail: There are several tools on the Tools panel in Photoshop that appear on a flyout menu connected with the “primary” tool for each button. Those tools that include additional “hidden” tools are indicated by a small triangle icon at the bottom-right corner of the buttons found on the Tools panel.

In all cases, if you click-and-hold the mouse on the button, or right-click on the button, you will see a flyout menu that includes the additional tools available. So, for example, when you click-and-hold the mouse on the button for the Rectangular Marquee tool, you’ll see a flyout menu that includes the Elliptical Marquee tool, the Single Row Marquee tool, and the Single Column Marquee tool, in addition to the Rectangular Marquee tool.

Bad Import Update?


Today’s Question: I haven’t yet upgraded to the latest update for Lightroom, but heard that the Import experience changed dramatically. Can you provide input on whether I should upgrade now, and how best to prepare for the new Import features?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I am not a fan of the new Import experience introduced with Lightroom 6.2 (2015.2 for CC users), and frankly I consider the new experience to be a bit dangerous for those who don’t realize that additional options are available. Adobe has announced that a future update will revert Lightroom to the previous Import experience, and so unless you need updated RAW support or other new features, I might suggest waiting for the next update before upgrading.

More Detail: My primary concern about the new Import experience introduced in Lightroom 6.2 is that if you don’t access the settings panel all of your photos will be downloaded into the “Pictures” folder for your operating system, without a customized folder structure. This can lead to some serious organizational challenges if you imported various sets of photos without being aware of the settings panel.

In addition, the update to a new Import experience removed the option to automatically eject the media you were downloading cards from. I considered that to be a very helpful feature, and was sorry to see it disappear.

The new Import experience also removes the option to preview what your folder structure will look like after the import, which can present a challenge to some users.

Understandably, many photographers were far more concerned about Lightroom crashing more frequently after the version 6.2 update. While these crashes seem to have affected a relatively small percentage of Lightroom users, there was most certainly a very significant issue for those who did experience the crashes. My understanding is that these issues have been resolved for most users via the version 6.2.1 (2015.2.1) update.

And, as noted above, Adobe has indicated that they will be reverting to the prior version of the Import experience with an upcoming “dot” release (presumably a version 6.3 update, but in any event a version later than 6.2.1). For those who don’t otherwise have a need to update to an interim version of Lightroom, I would suggest waiting until the update with a reversion to the prior Import experience.

I suspect the Import experience will change again in the future, as Adobe is obviously looking for ways to improve this feature. Even the prior Import experience could be a little bit cumbersome for some users, so a more elegant solution would be welcomed by many photographers, I’m sure. Hopefully we’ll see more significant improvements (without the loss of any features) in a future update to Lightroom.

Keywording Challenges


Today’s Question: I photograph a number of events and have dozens and dozens of people’s names entered in Lightroom as keywords. I use first-name-first because I don’t want to try to put a comma into a last-name-first entry. If I enter a name for someone who may be a keyword already, I have to remember that person’s first name and whether I entered it as Robert, Rob, Bob or something else. Spouses are a problem, since I probably know one member of the couple but can’t remember the other’s first name. Entering the last name into the keyword entry box does not bring up the keyword. There does not seem to be a sort option as you would find in an address book to sort by last name. I know I can search by last name, but I am more concerned about entering the names. Is there anything I can do to simplify entering names of people other than reentering them all as last name, first name without any punctuation?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I think the Keyword List option in Lightroom is your best solution for adding keywords. This option enables you to filter keywords by text (such as last name in your example) and simply turn on a checkbox to add a keyword to the current image (or multiple selected images in the Grid view display).

More Detail: First off, I certainly recommend using the “full name” approach to adding keywords for the names of people. Adding keywords with the last name and first name separated by a comma is really a matter of adding two separate keywords. I prefer to have the full name reflected, since this approach provides more flexibility.

To begin with, when searching for images that contain particular keywords, you can use the “Contains” option on the Text tab of the Library Filter bar so that you can search for any text (such as first name or last name) that appears within the Keywords field.

In addition, you can filter the list of keywords in the Keyword List section of the right panel in the Library module, allowing you to filter by any text that appears in keywords for any photos. So, for example, when it comes to people names you could type the last name into the “Filter Keywords” field in the Keyword List section of the right panel, causing only keywords that include that text to be displayed. In other words, in the context of full names added as a keyword, you could type only the last name and see all people with that last name. You could then simply turn on the checkbox for the applicable names in order to add that keyword to the current photo (or selected photos in the Grid view).

So, by using full names you are maximizing your flexibility. And by using the Keyword List as a primary method of adding keywords, you can make sure you’re adding keywords consistently while also reminding yourself of names for specific people who might appear in your photos.

Cropped Print


Today’s Question: I shoot with a Nikon 800 full frame camera and edit my photos in Lightroom. When I export my images as JPGs I can see a full picture but when I go to print 8×10 prints the picture is cropped significantly. What’s going on?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two basic factors here. First, the aspect ratio of the images you are capturing is 2:3, which translates to a print size of 8”x12”. Second, you are printing at a size of 8”x10”, which requires that two inches of the “long side” of the image be cropped. The key is to disable that cropping, which in Lightroom translates to turning off the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox.

More Detail: When you are printing a single image in Lightroom, most of the templates will cause the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox to be turned on. This relates to the way Lightroom defines image sizes for printing via a cell size. A cell is defined for each image to be printed on the page, and the photo will be fit within that cell. The question is whether the image will be cropped in order to completely fill that cell.

For example, when you choose the 8”x10” template in Lightroom’s Print module, the cell size containing the image is exactly 8”x10”, and the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox is turned on. As a result, the photo will be printed at exactly 8-inches by 10-inches, with two inches cropped from the full image. That cropping is literally performed as a “zoom”, so that in this example you would be cutting off one inch on the left and right edge of the photo.

If you want the entire image to be printed without cropping, you can turn off the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox in the Image Settings section of the right panel in the Print module. That will cause the image to be sized within the boundaries of the cell, but with the entire image visible. So, for example, and image that would normally print at a size of 8”x12”, but that is being fit into a cell that is 8”x10”, would print at about 6.7”x10”.

Ultimately, your options when printing involve either showing the full image but not necessarily at what might be a desired aspect ratio, or printing at a desired aspect ratio but cropping the photo in the process. My general preference is to ignore aspect ratio and print the photo in its entirety based on the way I chose to crop my photo. But of course there are certainly situations where a specific aspect ratio is needed for a print, in which case cropping is going to be involved.

Missing Metadata?


Today’s Question: I updated from Lightroom 5 to Lightroom CC. All seemed to go well, except I had notes regarding my specific Lightroom Print Adjustments for various papers in my Metadata section of Lightroom 5 under Comments. This section is not in Lightroom CC and the data didn’t transfer. Would you have any ideas how to recoup this data?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Your metadata didn’t disappear. It is simply “hiding” at the moment. It sounds like you are using the “User Comment” field of metadata, which is part of the EXIF metadata standard. You can find that field by clicking the popup to the left of the Metadata header on the right panel in the Library module and choosing “EXIF” or “EXIF and IPTC”.

More Detail: Lightroom enables you to choose which metadata information is displayed for your photos, so that you are able to get to the information you need without necessarily being overwhelmed by information you don’t need to see (or don’t need to see very often).

While you’re not able to pick and choose the specific metadata fields you want displayed in the Metadata section of the right panel in the Library module, you can choose among several different categories of metadata using the popup to the left of the Metadata header on the right panel.

Choosing the “EXIF” option, for example, presents the EXIF metadata fields, which primarily consist of the information recorded at the time of capture, such as the equipment and camera settings used to capture the photo.

So, if you don’t see a particular metadata field you are interested in, you can simply choose a different option from the popup to the left of the Metadata header. I generally prefer to use the “EXIF and IPTC” option, though admittedly this results in a significant amount of information being displayed for the current photo. In any event, you can change the display option, or even collapse the Metadata section when you don’t need to view the information about your photos and want a cleaner display within Lightroom.

Image Processing


Today’s Question: It’s clear to me that when I shoot a JPEG in camera the JPEG image is created from the RAW capture with the camera’s internal “formula”.  But what “formula” is being used with either the Image Processor in Photoshop or in the Save Image approach in Adobe Camera Raw? And can that formula be adjusted?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “formula” used to create a JPEG image from a RAW capture when using Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, or Lightroom is essentially the “Adobe Camera Raw” formula. And yes, you can most certainly adjust that formula at least in terms of refining the settings for RAW processing for the photo before creating the JPEG image.

More Detail: I think one of the things that photographers don’t always realize about a RAW capture is that there isn’t a single “correct” method for processing that RAW capture. Obviously there is a degree of artistic interpretation the photographer can apply, but in addition different software will interpret the same RAW capture in different ways.

Thus, the software you’re using to process RAW captures will generally produce a different (and sometimes very different) result compared to the preview you see on the camera’s LCD display. The underlying software algorithms are different from one RAW processor to the next, the available controls may be different, and of course you may apply the various adjustments in different ways.

When a RAW capture is processed in Lightroom or Photoshop, the underlying “engine” for processing that RAW capture is Adobe Camera Raw. Thus, the result you will see when you create a derivative image (such as a JPEG file) based on a RAW capture will depend upon the underlying settings for Adobe Camera Raw. That may translate into the adjustments you’ve applied in the Develop module in Lightroom, the settings you’ve applied in Adobe Camera Raw, or simply the default settings if you haven’t actually modified the adjustments for the image yet.

You can adjust the settings by first applying adjustments in Lightroom or in Adobe Camera Raw, though you obviously can’t change the underlying algorithms within these applications. But by applying adjustments in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw before creating a derivative image using Lightroom, Adobe Bridge, or Photoshop, the derivative image you create as part of that process will reflect the adjustments you applied to the original RAW capture.

Image Corruption


Today’s Question: I have attached an image file with color bars at the lower right hand corner. I was wondering if you have seen this before and can identify the source of the problem. I have experienced this probably about three times over the last 6 months. I have a Canon 5D MKIII camera and used my Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 lens for this shot. Is my camera sensor starting to go bad, lens problem, bad memory card, etc.? Any help is appreciated.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The image provided by the photographer who submitted this question demonstrates the classic symptoms of a corrupted capture. This type of issue is generally caused by a problem when the file is written to the card, or when the file is copied to your computer. Thus, the key is to isolate the specific cause of the issue.

More Detail: Identifying the source of file corruption for a digital capture can be a little bit of a challenge, with some misleading information along the way. For example, an uncorrupted image displayed on the camera’s LCD does not necessarily indicate that the image file isn’t corrupted, because what you’re seeing is the JPEG image rendered by the camera, not the actual RAW capture.

It is possible that the source of this problem is the camera itself, the card being used to store the photos, the card reader you are using to download the photos, any of the cables used to connect the camera or card reader, or the computer itself, among other possible causes.

As soon as this sort of issue starts to show up, it is important to try to isolate the problem as quickly as possible. This involves keeping track of what equipment is in use when the problem occurs, and trying to isolate the specific source. So, for example, you can test different cards, different card readers, and possibly even different cameras to try to identify the cause.

Once this sort of issue arises I’m not comfortable trusting the components involved. To be sure, it is possible that the corruption was created by ejecting a card from the camera before the file had been completely written. But if you’re confident that wasn’t an issue, there is likely a hardware problem at play. I would tend to stop using any card that exhibits this sort of corruption. But again, the key is to test out different hardware to isolate the specific source of corruption. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if the problem only occurs sporadically. But in most cases if the problem is not a matter of user error it is caused by hardware problems, so you’ll want to find the source as quickly as possible so you can capture new images with confidence.

You can learn more about the issue of corrupted captures in my article titled (appropriately enough) “Corrupted Captures” that appeared in the April 2015 issue of Pixology magazine. If you’re not already a subscriber you can sign up at http://pixologymag.com, and I would be happy to send you the back issues at no additional cost.

Reverting Lightroom


Today’s Question: I updated Lightroom CC yesterday and now I have a complete mess on my hands. The software doesn’t run. It opens for a second or two then crashes. I have restarted, shut down, reinstalled the software, and still nothing. Any thoughts on where to go next?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you’re able to get to the Preferences dialog, I would try turning off the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox on the Performance tab. I have also received a report that turning off the “Show ‘Add Photos’ Screen” checkbox on the General tab of the Preferences dialog has helped prevent crashes. If you’re not able to get there or turning off this option doesn’t resolve your issue, I would suggest uninstalling the latest update and then downloading and installing the initial Lightroom 6 release as an initial step in reverting to an earlier update.

More Detail: I have received more than a few emails from readers who are having difficulty with the latest update to Lightroom (version CC 2015.2 or 6.2). These users are reporting frequent crashes. I am using the latest update, and am not experiencing any problems myself, but clearly the latest update has created some problems for a number of users.

I’ve found that in general disabling the “Use Graphics Processor” option can be helpful for those experiencing crashes with Lightroom. This option is found on the Performance tab in the Preferences dialog, which can be accessed by choosing Lightroom > Preferences from the menu on the Macintosh version of Lightroom or Edit > Preferences on the Windows version of Lightroom.

As noted above, I’ve also received reports that turning off the “Show ‘Add Photos’ Screen” checkbox on the General tab of the Preferences dialog has helped resolve issues with Lightroom crashing. So I would certainly recommend turning that option off if you are having issues with the latest Lightroom update.

If turning off checkboxes doesn’t provide a solution (or you’re not able to get to this option), you may want to revert to an older version of Lightroom. Start by uninstalling Lightroom 6/CC. Then download the original Lightroom 6 version from this page on the Adobe website:


You can then install the original Lightroom 6/CC release, using your Adobe ID to sign in during the installation process to validate your CC version of Lightroom. I would then suggest waiting for another update beyond the 2015.2 (or 6.2) release of Lightroom. Hopefully that update will be arriving very soon, and will resolve the crash issues that some users are reporting.