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Lightroom 4: 2012 Process Value

I’m spending this week grouping together several of the most important changes to Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom’s camera raw processing engine. With ACR 7, we continue to see ACR evolve in two important directions. The first focuses on capturing better image quality from both our existing images as well as new photos. The second expands the capabilities of ACR’s image adjustment tools to allow photographers (and others) to perform as much of their image correction as possible within Lightroom, minimizing the need to crack open Photoshop.

2012 Processing Value (PV)
Perhaps the most important, and most easily overlooked, improvement is the updated image processing algorithms. These mathematical equations, called Processing Value (PV) in Lightroom-speak, are used to convert your camera raw files into digital photographs. You can think of the PV as the recipe for performing the baseline processing of your files. From there, your image corrections are overlaid. One of the key ways the PV contributes to image quality is in the ways image detail is separated from digital noise. The more effective the PV is in separating these two components, the better your photos look. This is one of the primary reasons why your pictures look better in Lightroom 4 than in previous versions of the application.

When you open Lightroom 4’s Develop module for the first time, you’ll notice a small exclamation point in the lower-right corner of your image preview. This indicates the availability of an update to the photo’s processing value.

Clicking on the  icon allows you to quickly update the currently previewed image or all images visible in the filmstrip. Generally, you will be best served by upgrading to the most recent processing value, however, I suggest first performing the update on a few images to get a sense of how the newer processing value affects contrast, noise and color within photos taken with your cameras.

Changes to the PV are most easily viewed in high ISO images, photos with smooth gradients or images with subtle detail. To get a sense for how LR’s Processing Values have changed over the years, I recommend performing this simple experiment.

Jump over to the Develop module and single-click on your image preview to zoom to 100% view. Scroll the right panel all the way to the Camera Calibration tab at the bottom, then select between the 2003, 2010 and 2012 options in the Process pull-down menu.

 

 

In this image below, taken at a high ISO, note how much smoother the noise pattern is in the 2012 version than the 2003 and 2010 PV.

2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012

Discussion

2 comments for “Lightroom 4: 2012 Process Value”

  1. Does Olympus ever ask what people want in a camera? I tend to prefer function over beauty, as a scientific instrument more than for portraits.

    I’d like a camera with the options for more manual control of focus, f-stop and shutter speed (or equivalents), and perhaps as add-ons, remote power and shutter buttons, view screen and memory, probably attached by cable, for instance for a temporary security camera or holding the camera above the crowd with a close up eyepiece; shutter speeds from as fast as possible to maybe ten minutes or so; time-lapse photos or movies with a similar range and variable resolution; a view screen with folding eyepiece/sun shield.

    It seems like I used to have more options for many of these in fairly simple film cameras well below the level of my FE-115.

    For computer software, I’d like to be able to take two pictures side by side and display them that way on my computer, adjusting positions as needed, for 3-D viewing, probably viewing cross-eyed.

    Thank you much for whatever you can do.

    Posted by Dan Robinson | March 14, 2012, 12:10 pm
  2. Dan, Thanks for your comment. Yes, Olympus welcomes feedback from their users. I’d suggest visiting their wall on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/getolympus) to post your comment.

    In regards to the specifics of your request the E-system cameras (PEN, OM-D, E5, etc) can perform all the tasks you request (except the 3d). For example, the EPM-1, the least expensive PEN camera can work in full manual mode (focus, aperture, shutter, white balance, ISO), the E-PL3 and the E-5 have adjustable view screens for shooting with the camera above, below or to the side of eye-level and most of the cameras have a bulb function that can be used for long exposures.

    The E-5 has a port for an accessory shutter release or intervalometer (for time-lapse) and there are third parties (LCDVF) who make hoods and magnifiers for the view screens on the back.

    Photoshop CS5 extended can assist with the 3d creation, though the workflow for creating stereoscopic images is not as well established as the workflow for creating and distributing stereoscopic motion pictures, though that’s likely to change. The PEN E-P3 does have a simple 3d mode where you can take one picture (for the right eye) and display it on the screen while you take a second picture (for the left eye) and the two are paired in-camera. It isn’t a feature I’ve used much, but points to future capabilities in creating and viewing stereoscopic photographs.

    To me, the options we have today in digital cameras, software, accessories and output are dazzling and expanding all the time. If you let me know which Olympus camera you’re using, I’d be happy to help you find the resources you need to access the features listed above on your camera. Sometimes the advanced options can be a little tricky to find.

    Jay

    Posted by Jay | March 14, 2012, 3:20 pm

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