Importance of Proprietary Raw Capture

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Today’s Question: What could I lose if I did not keep a proprietary raw file?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Assuming you discard a proprietary raw capture only because an appropriate derivative image was created to take its place, the only risk would be losing camera-specific metadata proprietary to the camera manufacturer.

More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up to an earlier question about converting proprietary raw captures to the Adobe Digital Negative (DNG) file format. In my answer to that previous question, I mentioned that one of the reasons I prefer to retain the original raw captures rather than convert to DNG is to ensure I retain all original capture data without the risk of losing some information.

For most photographers with most typical workflows, this is not really of any concern. If you’re not taking advantage of unique features of your camera that require proprietary metadata, then you aren’t at risk of losing that metadata by virtue of the information not being applicable to your workflow.

Put another way, if you were taking advantage of features that depended upon proprietary metadata, you would have a workflow that made it reasonably clear that was the case.

For example, one example of this sort of proprietary metadata that could be lost if you convert a raw capture to DNG is automatic image cleanup information, which is a feature of some Canon cameras. To take advantage of this feature, not only do you need to enable it on the camera, but you need to use the software from the camera manufacturer to leverage the feature.

So, if you are using a workflow that revolves, for example, exclusively around Adobe software, then you obviously aren’t taking advantage of any features of your camera that require software from the manufacturer of your camera to take advantage of. If that’s the case, in my view there is no real risk in converting raw captures to the Adobe DNG format.

Having said that, I still personally prefer to retain the original proprietary raw captures from my camera, without converting them to Adobe DNG or any other file format, at least in terms of the original capture (as opposed to creating derivative copies of selected photos).

Develop Badge without Adjustments

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Today’s Question: I have quite a few images in Lightroom Classic that have develop adjustment icons (badges) on the grid, but the photos only have import and exports and no develop adjustments [in History]. Do you know why the development adjustment badge is being shown?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This scenario means that the images in question were either edited prior to being imported into Lightroom Classic or had a Develop preset applied during the process of importing them into Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: Badges in Lightroom Classic are small icons that appear on thumbnails for photos to indicate a particular status. For example, the Develop module badge is an icon showing a plus at the top-left corner and a minus at the bottom-right corner, indicating the image has been adjusted.

However, the Develop badge does not necessarily mean the image has actually been adjusted within the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. It is possible that the adjustments occurred either before or during the process of importing photos into the Lightroom Classic catalog.

For example, if you processed a raw capture in Adobe Camera Raw via Bridge or Photoshop, the adjustment settings would be preserved in an XMP sidecar file for that image. Those adjustments are exactly the same as those available in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic, and they are compatible. If you later import such a raw capture into Lightroom Classic, the image in Lightroom Classic would reflect the prior adjustments, and the image would have a Develop module badge, even though the history would not show any adjustments from the Develop module.

Similarly, you can use a Develop module preset to apply changes to the appearance of photos during the process of importing them into your catalog. This is done by selecting a preset from the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section on the right panel in the Import dialog. In this case the adjustments reflected in the preset would apply to the image, the image will display the Develop module badge, but there won’t be any Develop adjustments shown in history.

Note, by the way, that the history can be cleared for an image in Lightroom Classic without removing or resetting the adjustments related to the history steps. This is done by clicking the “X” icon to the right of the History heading on the left panel in the Develop module. Clearing history in this way will not alter the image, so it will retain its current appearance. In addition, clearing the history will not remove the Develop badge from an image.

However, in this case the Import history state would also have been removed from history, which is why in the scenario addressed in today’s question it is obvious that the issue was that adjustments had been applied prior to or during import, not that the history had been cleared.

Sharpening After Noise Reduction

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Today’s Question: I apply Noise Reduction, and then I use Sharpening to improve softness that was caused by Noise Reduction. Is it okay to do that?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can most certainly apply a small degree of additional sharpening to help compensate for a loss of sharpness caused by noise reduction. However, in many cases you’ll likely find that increasing the value for Texture and Clarity will provide a better result.

More Detail: By its nature, noise reduction reduces the sharpness of a photo, at least to some degree. That’s because noise reduction operates in large part by averaging neighboring pixel values to minimize the appearance of noise. This is the reason that noise reduction should be applied in moderation, especially when it comes to luminance noise (you can be a bit more aggressive in many cases when it comes to color noise).

Because noise reduction can reduce the sharpness of a photo, it is common to want to apply some additional sharpening after you have applied noise reduction. However, I find that in many cases a better result can be achieved by using the Texture and Clarity adjustments available in Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic, and the cloud-focused version of Lightroom.

Texture operates at a very small scale and is therefore the most similar to sharpening. It is best used for images where there is a lot of fine detail you want to maintain or enhance. Clarity operates at a larger scale, enhancing midtone contrast, which can provide a nice supplement to Texture when it comes to enhancing perceived sharpness in a photo.

Today’s question, by the way, was a follow-up to my recent presentation on “Noise Be Gone!”, as part of the “GreyLearning Live!” webinar series. You can view a recording of the full presentation on my “Tim Grey TV” channel on YouTube here:

https://youtube.com/live/2Ua36sO82wQ

No Camera Raw with Free Adobe Bridge

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Today’s Question: I have Adobe Bridge on my new computer, but it does not include Adobe Camera Raw and can only be used as a browser for viewing images. When I try to open in Camera Raw, the message that pops up says a subscription is needed to use it. Am I missing something?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While Adobe Bridge is available for free without the need for an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, using Camera Raw to process raw captures requires a subscription that includes Photoshop, such as the Creative Cloud Photography Plan.

More Detail: As I’ve mentioned previously, Adobe Bridge is available for free to anyone with an Adobe ID, with no requirement to pay for a Creative Cloud subscription. That means anyone can use Bridge to manage their photos and other creative assets, without having to pay for the software. You can get more info (and download Bridge for free) on the Adobe website here:

https://www.adobe.com/products/bridge.html

However, Camera Raw is effectively a feature of Photoshop, even though it is possible to access Camera Raw from within Bridge. In other words, if you don’t have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription that includes Photoshop, you don’t have access to Camera Raw.

So, with the free version of Bridge you can manage your photos but not open them in Camera Raw to process them. You would need a Creative Cloud subscription so you can install Photoshop and therefore have access to Camera Raw, either directly from within Bridge or by opening a raw capture in Photoshop.

Lightroom Classic and Lightroom

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Today’s Question: As I read articles about Lightroom, it appears that I need to learn to use Lightroom as Adobe seems to be on a path to replace Lightroom Classic with Lightroom. My question: what are your thoughts on how I should start to get up to speed on Lightroom so that I will be ready to make the switch?

Tim’s Quick Answer: First, I don’t think you need to worry about Lightroom Classic being discontinued in the immediate future. In the meantime, however, if you want to get more familiar with the newer cloud-focused version of Lightroom, I can offer a couple of suggestions.

More Detail: Every now and then there is a flurry of rumors suggesting the impending demise of Lightroom Classic. I’m sure Adobe would prefer to streamline their portfolio of software applications focused on organizing photos. After all, we have Lightroom Classic, Lightroom, Bridge, and the Photoshop Elements Organizer, all from Adobe and with considerable overlap among them.

However, I don’t imagine that Adobe wants to discontinue Lightroom Classic anytime soon, considering the large number of photographers currently using this software. Of course, I could also just be too optimistic, since I use Lightroom Classic to manage my library of almost 400,000 photos. But I really don’t think Lightroom Classic will be discontinued anytime soon.

That said, if you want to get more familiar with the cloud-focused version of Lightroom, I do have a couple of (admittedly biased!) suggestions.

First, if you haven’t already seen my webinar presentation on the subject of “Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, or Bridge?!”, I think it is worth watching. During the presentation I shared an overview of each of these applications, and suggestions for choosing the right one for you. You can view the full presentation on my “Tim Grey TV” channel on YouTube here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwpneG4y0nQ

If you want to take a deeper dive into the cloud-focused version of Lightroom, including the relatively new ability to browse locally stored photos in addition to managing photos stored in the cloud, my “Mastering Adobe Lightroom” course provides comprehensive coverage. You can find the course on my GreyLearning website here:

https://www.greylearning.com/courses/mastering-adobe-lightroom-cloud-2024

Note, by the way, that I have recently published updated courses on Bridge, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom. All these courses, and much more content, is included in my GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle, which you can learn more about here:

https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/greylearning-bundle?coupon=99ultimate

Synchronizing a Smart Collection

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Today’s Question: As a follow-up to your answer about synchronizing a folder in Lightroom Classic, is there a way to work around not being able to synchronize a smart collection by somehow using a regular collection?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can use a smart collection as the basis of creating a normal collection in Lightroom Classic, so that the photos from the smart collection can be synchronized to the cloud using the normal collection.

More Detail: When you synchronize a collection in Lightroom Classic, the photos contained in the collection are synchronized to cloud-based storage. That, in turn, means you can access those photos from virtually anywhere using the Lightroom ecosystem, including the Lightroom app on a smartphone or tablet, or even Lightroom in a web browser (https://lightroom.adobe.com).

However, in Lightroom Classic you can only enable synchronization for normal collections, not smart collections. Smart collections are based on a set of filter criteria, so the contents of the collection update in real time based on changes to the images in your catalog. It is possible, however, to work around the limitation of not being able to synchronize smart collections, though with a few extra steps.

First, you’ll want to browse the smart collection that contains the photos you want to synchronize to the cloud (or create that smart collection if you haven’t already done so). Make sure the Library Filter bar at the top of the grid view in the Library module is set to “None”, so that all images in the smart collection are being viewed. Then select all the photos in the smart collection by choosing Edit > Select All from the menu.

Next, click the plus icon (+) to the right of the Collections heading on the left panel and choose “Create Collection” from the popup menu. In the Create Collection dialog, enter a meaningful name for the new collection in the Name field. Be sure to turn on the “Include selected photos” checkbox, so the photos you selected from the smart collection will be added to the new collection you’re creating. Also turn on the “Sync with Lightroom” checkbox, so synchronization will be enabled for the new collection.

This will cause the photos from the smart collection to be synchronized to the cloud via the normal collection. However, while the smart collection will update automatically based on the criteria defined for the smart collection, the normal collection will not be updated. Therefore, if you want to later make sure that the normal collection is an updated reflection of the smart collection, you’ll want to delete the normal collection (by right-clicking on it and choosing “Delete” from the popup menu), and then re-create the normal collection based on the smart collection as outlined above.

Synchronizing a Folder to the Cloud

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Today’s Question: I want to synchronize all the contents of a folder in Lightroom Classic to the cloud so I can have them on my phone in the Lightroom app. Is it possible to create a synchronized collection that includes all photos from the folder, and that gets updated automatically if I add photos to the folder?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, this isn’t entirely possible because it would require a smart collection, and smart collections can’t be synchronized to the cloud. However, you could create a bit of a workaround using a normal collection.

More Detail: With Lightroom Classic you can enable synchronization for collections of photos, so that they are available through the Lightroom mobile app on a smartphone or tablet, for example. You can also create a smart collection, including a smart collection that includes all the photos contained in a particular folder. However, you can’t synchronize a smart collection, which in this case means you need to use a workaround to synchronize all photos in a folder to the cloud.

You can, however, use a workaround to accomplish the same goal, though without the automatic updates for when the contents of the folder get changed. But you can also work around that limitation without too much difficulty.

The first step is to create a collection that contains the full contents of the applicable folder. This can be done incredibly easily by dragging the folder from the Folders section on the left panel in the Library module down to the Collections section. This will create a collection with the same name as the folder, and with the same contents. You can then enable synchronization for this collection, and once synchronization is complete, you’ll be able to see the collection as an album in the Lightroom mobile app (and throughout the Lightroom ecosystem).

If the contents of the folder change, such as if you import additional photos to the folder, you can update the collection relatively easily.

One option would be to select the newly added photos from the folder to the collection. However, if you don’t want to keep track of what specific changes were made to the folder, you could simply delete the collection and created it again. To do so, right-click on the collection and choose Delete from the popup menu. Then drag the folder again from the Folders section to the Collections section and enable synchronization for the collection. You’ll need to allow synchronization to complete again, but once that’s done the updates will be reflected throughout the Lightroom ecosystem.

Maximize Compatibility for Lightroom Classic

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Today’s Question: When I imported all my photos into Lightroom Classic, it generally went well, but I found that many would not load because Lightroom said that there was an incompatibility with them. The message I got indicated that the files could not be read and that I need to enable Maximum Compatibility mode. Do you have any idea how I can recover my photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic only supports the import of Photoshop PSD files that have the “Maximum Compatibility” option enabled. Therefore, for PSD files you weren’t able to import due to this issue you’ll need to re-save them with the option enabled, which you can do in batch with the Image Processor.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic doesn’t employ layers the way Photoshop does, and so in order to import PSD files into Lightroom Classic you need to have the Maximize Compatibility option turned on. This saves the image with what amounts to a flattened copy of the layered file embedded, so that Lightroom Classic is able to generate a preview, for example.

You could set the “Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility” option to “Always” on the File Handling tab of the Preferences dialog in Photoshop, and then open and re-save each individual PSD file that Lightroom Classic couldn’t import. However, it is much easier to use the Image Processor feature for this purpose.

The tricky part of this process can be keeping track of the images while processing them in an efficient way. If there aren’t too many of them, for example, you could move them all into a single folder for processing, import the processed images into Lightroom Classic, and then move each of them into the desired folder from within Lightroom Classic.

The easiest way to process images for this purpose is to use the Image Processor feature of Photoshop, initiating the process in Adobe Bridge. Start by browsing the location where the PSD files are located and selecting all of them that need to be processed. Then from the menu choose Tools > Photoshop > Image Processor.

This will launch Photoshop if it wasn’t already running and bring up the Image Processor dialog. In the second section of the dialog you can choose the “Save in Same Location” option, as long as you are comfortable replacing the non-compatible versions of the image with compatible versions. In the third section you can turn on the “Save as PSD” checkbox and then turn on the “Maximize Compatibility” checkbox, turning off the checkboxes for the JPEG and TIFF file type options.

You can then click the Run button, and the images you had selected in Bridge will be processed and saved with the Maximize Compatibility option enabled. Those images can then be imported into Lightroom Classic and managed through your normal workflow.

Canon 400-Megapixel Mode

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Today’s Question: I’m sure you are aware of Canon’s new firmware for the EOS R5 camera that enables its sensor to capture with 400MP. What implications does that have for photographers both negative and positive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Canon’s 400-megapixel high resolution mode produces large images with pixel dimensions that represent a print size of almost five by seven FEET without enlargement. However, the files are indeed quite large and you generally need to avoid any movement in the frame or of the camera to get a useful photo.

More Detail: Canon certainly grabbed a lot of headlines when it announced the new high-resolution mode for the EOS R5 (https://bhpho.to/4ax0oOu) that enables 400-megapixel captures. The images captured in this mode feature a resolution of 24,576 pixels by 16,384 pixels. Printed at 300 pixels per inch, that would yield a print size of about 82-inches by 55-inches (about 7-feet by 4.5 feet) without any enlargement.

Of course, such high resolution also means large file sizes, with files ranging from about 100 to 300 megabytes depending on the level of detail in the scene being photographed.

This feature operates by capturing a series of images (nine captures in the case of the EOS R5) with tiny movement of the image sensor between each capture. The images are then combined in-camera to produce a single image with extreme resolution.

Because the sensor must be moved to capture multiple photos over a brief period of time, any movement within the frame or of the camera will result in a motion blur effect in the resulting image. That means that to make full use of this feature you need to photograph a scene that is extremely static, and you need to ensure the camera is held very still as well. For example, if you’re photographing a landscape and the leaves of trees are moving with the breeze, those leaves will be blurred in the final photo.

Because of the inherent limitations of the capture requirements in terms of motion, and the very large file sizes, I consider this to be a specialized feature that won’t likely be used very extensively by most photographers. Rather, I expect this feature to be used in very limited circumstances, when a particularly large print will be produced and the subject is such that it can remain perfectly still through the exposure process.