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Thread: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

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    Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Hi, I noticed a problem when editing in Lightroom. In some of my photos there is a pink cast to areas which are nearly blown out. This is because both the red and blue channels are at approx 100% whilst the green is at approx 95%.

    I tried out Capture One and the problem seems less severe. Also it seems easier to correct a problem like this in Capture One since it's possible to edit RGB histograms individually (so I could, for example, clip greens at 95% for an easy fix).

    Is there an easy way to fix this in Lightroom?

    I have attached two pictures which are quick exports from each program. In Lightroom the pixels in the sky are typically (98.5%, 94.5%, 99.5%), and in Capture One they are (100%, 100%, 100%) and a few patches at (100%, 98%, 100%). It does look like there is some highlight recovery happening in Lightroom, even though the recovery slider is set to 0.

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    It's not accurate to say there is "It does look like there is some highlight recovery happening in Lightroom, even though the recovery slider is set to 0".

    Basically most users don't have to think about what a miracle of math is actually going on behind the scenes of any raw processor and so the assumption is that there is "one true photo" and that the different processors are all trying to create it.

    In reality the raw data itself is a myriad of very confusing information, full of errors, noise, stuck/hot pixels, color responses which are not linear, lens aberrations, distortions, inversions, and otherwise not just a picture-waiting-to-happen. This is increasingly true as you get to either extreme of the exposure range of the camera (deep shadows and strong highlights) and especially true at higher ISOs and longer exposures.

    Now there are some standards (e.g. ICC definitions of color/exposure/ISO etc) and some conventions. But the fine tuning of the math and where to place the default settings are largely arbitrary. There is no "real image" which each software is trying to get as close as possible to. Instead there is a set of data each software is trying to render in the way that will be most pleasing to their target audience (and encourage that target audience to purchase future upgrades and evangelize the product to others).

    There are patents, scholastic research, purchasing of proprietary algorithms, collaboration with the camera manufacturers, user feedback, and the tastes/aesthetics of the higher-ups at each company.

    In addition to the general math the software uses there is a variable amount of fine tuning for individual cameras. As you'd imagine the amount of tender loving care that goes into fine tuning for a particular camera depends on everything from market share, to how difficult that camera is to tune for, to business arrangements (e.g. Phase One makes both Capture One and manufacturers digital backs - you better believe they spend a lot of time fine tuning Capture One to get the most out of Phase One, Leaf, and Mamiya digital backs), to what cameras the software engineers themselves use (you can bet if the lead software engineer buys an XYZ point and shoot that it will get extra attention).

    So what you're seeing is just two different attempts to make sense of that data. There are many cases where a particular camera is better tuned in one software or the other other.

    Anyway, it's just one of my schticks.

    The more practical answer is to try running the X-Rite Color Checker Passport calibration to create a DNG profile. This may bring the results more into line with the good out-of-the-box experience you're getting with Capture One.

    (warning bias - I work for a Phase One dealer) Of course you may also opt not to fight an uphill battle. If you're getting better color and rendition out of Capture One at defaults maybe you should learn Capture One a bit better. I edit massive numbers of images for the wedding photography I shoot in C1 and do very extensive raw-level editing (modest HDR/tone-mapping, local adjustments, color editing, sharpening/noise-reduction) in C1 on a small number of landscape/fine-art images. I've never found software that can do either function as quickly or with as good of quality as Capture One.

    Of course Aperture and LightRoom have a broader set of plug-ins and functions like web-galleries and book-making for those who need speciality software like that. I use Aperture for it's book making (I process out of C1 and import the relevant files to Aperture).

    And of course things are done differently in each program so there is a learning curve involved.

    Anyway, try the DNG profiling and develop some presets and see if that gets you where you want to go. If not, explore using C1 for your main workflow.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Hi Doug, thanks for the very detailed response.

    I do understand that different raw processors will give different results and there is no "one true photo".

    The line you quoted: "It does look like there is some highlight recovery happening in Lightroom, even though the recovery slider is set to 0" wasn't worded very well by me. What I was trying to say was that, for some of my photos, LR and CO are differing significantly in the output they present for the raw data from the overexposed sky region. Of course, as you say, there is no single correct algorithm for deriving the pixel colours from the raw data, but I was speculating that in this case the algorithm used by Lightroom might have identified that it can't determine much colour in that region and so was using a (highlight recovery) algorithm on further surrounding raw data (more aggressively that it should have in this case IMO).

    Anyway, my problem is just the pink colour in the sky, which I find hard to remove in Lightroom. The other parts of the photos have colours that I can tweak to my liking in Lightroom.

    I've attached histograms from LR and CO.

    I'm not sure that colour calibration tools would be a good solution (although they are something that I think would be worth using in he future when I want to print). I can't seem to tweak the colour options in Lightroom to remove the pink skies without majoring impacting the other colours in my photos. In CO it's possible to adjust the green levels to "shift" the green spike in the histogram to align with the red and blue, which removes the pink from the sky (it makes it white which I'm OK with).

    Thanks once again for the help, much appreciated.

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Histograms:

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    madmanchan
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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Can you please clarify which camera model you are using for this picture, and which ISO setting? The problem you are seeing in LR is most likely because the raw white point of your sensor at this ISo is a little lower than where LR thinks it is. This leads to a color cast in highlights once white balance is applied (usually pink or magenta).

    Eric Chan
    Camera Raw Engineer

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Hi Eric,

    I used a Panasonic Lumix G1, and the picture in the first post was taken at ISO 100.

    I'll have a look through my collection soon to see if I can spot a correlation between the problem I'm seeing and the ISO. After a quick browse I did notice these two shots (attached): first is ISO 400, which has a pink cast in the highlights, second is ISO 160, which doesn't. Both developed in Lightroom 3.

    Thanks.

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    madmanchan
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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Would it be possible for you to send me the RW2 file for me to study? You can use YouSendIt or similar with target email address of [email protected]. Thanks!

    Eric Chan
    Camera Raw Engineer

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    This actually looks like a lens flare problem. The highlight energy has spilled all over, right shifting the histogram and color torquing. Adjusting the white balance for the midtones then causes the highlights to go nuts.

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Quote Originally Posted by madmanchan View Post
    Can you please clarify which camera model you are using for this picture, and which ISO setting? The problem you are seeing in LR is most likely because the raw white point of your sensor at this ISo is a little lower than where LR thinks it is. This leads to a color cast in highlights once white balance is applied (usually pink or magenta).

    Eric Chan
    Camera Raw Engineer
    Eric, it really is great to have you here!!!

    That's reminiscent of similar pink-highlights we've seen with Aperture and Capture One on "fake" ISOs of some cameras like ISO50 of some Canons.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Seems to me you can solve this problem easily by toning down the magenta just a hair in the HSL panel or in the tint slider.

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    Seems to me you can solve this problem easily by toning down the magenta just a hair in the HSL panel or in the tint slider.
    Sounds like a band-aid. It would trade the problem of magenta-in-the-highlights for a problem of under-saturated magentas in the midtones and shadows.

    Unless the OP wants to forgo taking pictures of any subjects which contain purples/magentas...

  12. #12
    madmanchan
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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Hi Doug, yes, a mis-estimated white point calculation will result in a pink/magenta highlight. And you are right about it being ISO dependent (on how the camera hardware sets the sensor saturation clip point depending on ISO). The thing I'm not sure about in this case is whether it is unit specific or whether it's just a glitch in Lr. The reason I say this is that I've occasionally seen two units of a camera model that actually had significantly different sensor saturation clip points (by about 1/4 stop!). In any case, hopefully I can get a raw sample from this particular camera, in which I can sort it out ...

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    Sounds like a band-aid. It would trade the problem of magenta-in-the-highlights for a problem of under-saturated magentas in the midtones and shadows.

    Unless the OP wants to forgo taking pictures of any subjects which contain purples/magentas...
    It's not a band-aid. Far as I can see from the examples posted, in the images which have a pink sky there's too much magenta in all the other areas as well. So a simple fix of correcting out the excess magenta fixes the whole image.

    I have seen this issue with various cameras: under one or another circumstance, the overexposure in the sky shifts the processing curve and produces a color cast. It might be different in one or another raw processor, but it's always able to be corrected.

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    Re: Blown highlights: Lightroom vs Capture One

    Very intriguing, but if this is the case is there anything which can be done may be with a custom profile to correct the problem?

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