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jpassafi
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LR5 Poor JPG Export Sharpness?

Jan 28, 2014 8:17 PM

I've noticed something interesting since upgrading to LIghtroom 5. The quality of its jpg's are vastly inferior in regards to sharpness and clarity as compared with LR4, which produce images which were sometimes actually TOO sharp. Has anyone noticed a difference, or is there a setting I'm missing? Photoshop by comparison is even worse.

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 29, 2014 6:35 AM   in reply to jpassafi

    What settings are you using when you export? Knowing that will save us a bunch of guessing.

     

    Hal

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 9:48 AM   in reply to jpassafi

    Try installing Lightroom 5.3, and see if the problem goes away.

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 10:25 AM   in reply to jpassafi

    Can you upload your original file, please--via www.dropbox.com?  And tell us your Detail section settings?

    There was a bug in the initial versions of LR5 where resizing smaller than 1/3 skipped sharpening and/or noise-reduction.  I haven't seen a good example that shows this bug still exists but you may have one so it would be nice to have your original files to work with.  Usually there is confusion between Develop's resized-down preview sharpening estimation that is too much, but this is different because you're comparing LR4 and LR5 exports.

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 10:36 AM   in reply to jpassafi

    It would also help for us to see a single composite image of the various examples side-by-side (perhaps vertically) instead of having to click on individual images, which cannot be viewed simultaneously.  The JPG previews embedded in forum messages have been dumbed down to some degree so looking at them in a message isn't accurate.

     

    Having downloaded the LR4 and LR5 images, above, the darker areas of the LR5 one are significantly darker. 

     

    One thing I notice is that my Windows can see that there is an sRGB profile in the LR5 one but cannot see it in the LR4 one, so something has changed about how the profile is embedded which could lead to the differences I'm seeing on my side.

     

    Except, if I open both in Photoshop and alternate between the tags, I can see the same darkening of the LR5 dark areas, so something does appear different with the processing.

     

    All the more reason to try it for myself.

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 10:40 AM   in reply to jpassafi

    As far as the Photoshop version being noticeably blurred.  The sharpening in LR seems to be available on in the workflow options when saving directly from ACR.  Is that how your PS image was produced, or did you open it in Photoshop and save from there, without doing any other sharpening?

     

    Also, I think I remember that resized Exports are actually produced from LR preview files, not necessary directly from the raw file, so it might be worth discarding and recomputing 1:1 previews in both LR's and seeing in that makes a difference.

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 11:54 AM   in reply to ssprengel

    For sharpening images with fine details in Photoshop, I have long used the Smart Sharpen filter, with a tiny radius and large strength and faded highlights (and sometimes faded shadows) to keep light things from getting lighter.

     

    This one is probably oversharpened but it is easy to get PS to sharpen things ok:

    2014-01-29_132128.png

     

     

    Here are my extreme settings for the demonstration - Note that when resizing an image like this smaller prior to SS, you want to use plain Bicubic, not Auto or Bicubic Sharper which will add sharpening halos that will sharpened again with Smart Sharpen.

    2014-01-29_124655.png

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 12:06 PM   in reply to jpassafi

    It is unclear which reply of mine you're replying to since you replied to your own post, but guessing that you're replying to the post just above yours:

     

    The last part of my post was not about workflows, but about LR's internal speed optimizations:

     

    To save time, when LR is producing smaller images from originals, it may go look at its previews that have been generated internally and decide to use one of those preview sizes for resizing smaller and exporting instead of always going and resizing the raw data down. 

     

    What this may mean is that LR4 and LR5 may be optimized differently about when to use previews, or even how they make previews, so your Exports could be different if they are resized smaller.  It also might be that your LR Standard-sized previews size setting is different between LR4 and LR5.

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 12:53 PM   in reply to jpassafi

    There is obviously a difference between LR4 and LR5 regarding sharpening on your computer with its particular OS, video card, and monitor size, and previews sizes that LR may have cached for the image in each case.  What to attribute the difference to is yet unknown.

     

    For you, the LR5 is darker than the sharper LR4 version, but my Smart Sharpen version is darker still, perhaps due to my uneven usage of SS fade amounts for lights but not darks.

     

    You are resizing things to 1/6th the original resolution -- 3000px down to 500px, so LR could easily be doing all sorts of optimizations that result in the differences.

     

    What are your standard-sized preview set to in your LR catalog settings?  Mine are currently set to 1680 which is my monitor size.

    --

    I will try to experiment with LR4 and LR5 later today when I have more time to carefully go through various scenarios to see if my results track yours and whether they are the same in all cases.  

     

    Previews of various sizes get generated on the fly and stored in the preview cache when you zoom in and out of an image or fit or fill it to whatever size your LR windows is.   To carefully test if LR is doing something different or the the preview sizes generated could be accounting fot the difference I'll have to start with a fresh catalog without any images or previews in it and carefully do exactly the same things to the image in both LR4 and LR5 in hopes of seeing them act the same or not act the same. 

    --

    If I remember correctly from when LR first added the current Export sharpening system, they licensed technology from Pixel Genius, so in your quest to get images similarly sharp to how LR-whatever-version is doing things you might try the current Pixel Genius PS plug-ins to see if you can gain some consistency.  I'm thinking you may be able to forego LR altogether if you can get PS to do what you want--which was also why I showed what I do with Smart Sharpen:

    http://pixelgenius.com/sharpener2/

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 1:08 PM   in reply to ssprengel

    ssprengel wrote:

     

     

     

    Also, I think I remember that resized Exports are actually produced from LR preview files, not necessary directly from the raw file, so it might be worth discarding and recomputing 1:1 previews in both LR's and seeing in that makes a difference.

     

    I think the previews are ONLY used when printing in "Draft" mode.  The exports I think always use recomputed RAWs.  If the exports are using previews than this was a bad programming decision if you have to worry if the previews have been updated.

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 1:58 PM   in reply to Bob Somrak

    Bob, thanks for remembering differently than me.  I remember there being more than one thing that Previews are used for.  I haven't found the original post I was thinking of, but adding in Draft Printing into my Google Search found a paragraph from Martin Evenings LR5 book that mentions several things: Slideshows, Web Photo Gallery and Draft Printing, so maybe that is what I read and the original post may have said Exported Web Galleries so my fuzzy mental retrieval remembered the word Export out of context.

     

    As far as the user worrying about recomputing previews or not--for the above three items, I'm sure LR would be smart enough to use a preview if it was up-to-date and not use one if it needed to be computed, though I've seen LR get it wrong about a preview needing to be updated because discarding and recomputing 1:1s has fixed something.

     

    2014-01-29_154609.png

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 2:02 PM   in reply to Bob Somrak

    Bob Somrak wrote:

     

    The exports I think always use recomputed RAWs.

    You think correctly - previews are most definitely not used for exporting (unless you are using PreviewExporter ). I mean smart-previews will be used for exporting if original (whether raw or not) is offline, but that's a whole different thing... (smart previews are not really previews - i.e. they're not "baked" - they represent the original unedited image).

     
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    Jan 29, 2014 7:13 PM   in reply to jpassafi

    All tests with LR4 and LR5 on my side have the same darker tone like your LR5 image; however, if I turn up the sharpening all the way in the Detail panel, I can make things lighter when I resize smaller and sharpen via export sharpening.  Are you sure your LR4 Detail settings are all zeros and no other adjustments have been applied that would change how the file exports?

     

    I did a difference in PS between the LR4 and LR5 files, for both yours and mine.  To make the differences more visible I stretched the difference image by dragging the top Levels slider from 255 down to 63, effectively multiplying the brightness by 4.  

     

    Comparing the two images visually, by alternating them in my OS preview application, I don't see any difference in tone like I see for yours, but I see a very few pixels near the lower, darker area of the IZZO letters change slightly, mostly adjacent dark and light pixels switching places.  I think this may be a slight moire pattern generated because the fullsize image has a crosshatch pattern and some halftone dots, which probably can't quite be resolved at the much lower resolution of the exported file. 

     

    Here are you two files and their difference following by my two versions and their much smaller difference.  Sorry about the difference layer shifting places.  I haven't quite figured out how to have PS's 3-up arrange function keep things in the same order.  The LR4 images do line up and you can see yours is lighter than mine:

    2014-01-29_211228.png

     

    I also tried a difference between LR4 and LR5 exports with the export sharpening turned off and saw a similar difference between them although slightly less.  This leads me to believe that the resizing algorithms LR4 uses are different than LR5 and so one may respond to sharpening slightly better than the other, or maybe it is more that one resizes from the corner of the group of pixels and the other resizes from the center of the group of pixels so they are slightly different when resized smaller.  There were some off-by-one errors and maybe the resizing algorithms were tweaked a little, too. 

     

    I have no explanation about your LR4 being lighter and sharper than your LR5 or my LR4 or LR5, other than your detail or other settings aren't actually zeroed like you think they are--your LR4 TIF defaults aren't zeros, somehow.  If you are using a version of LR older than LR 4.3 then that could also be a difference, since I don't have a way to test that.

     

    For this particular image, at least, you can easily make LR5 work more like your LR4 by severely oversharpening in the LR5 Detail panel.  This gives the resize-smaller and export sharpening operations more texture to bite onto.  The addition of white sharpening halos in the full-res file will also cause the resized file to be lighter.  You would need to back this off the oversharpening a bit if your reduction amount wasn't nearly as much--6-times-smaller in this example.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 30, 2014 7:01 PM   in reply to jpassafi

    Out of curiosity, I uninstalled LR 4.3 and installed LR 4.1 that you said you're using.  Now I see lightening of the Exported file as you did, but apparently it is not the Export sharpening that is different between LR4.1 and LR4.3+, it is the resizing that is different, because the lightness in LR4.1 is the same whether or not Export sharpening is applied:

    2014-01-30_193019.png

     

    Of possible interest, is a discussion in Dec 2008 about the differences between LR and LrMogrify/ImageMagick, and mentions how with LR 2.2 Adobe changed the resampling algorithm from Lanczos to Adaptive Bicubic, where if LR 4.1 is still using Bicubic Sharper for resampling the lightness is probably due to sharpening halos of the microdetails from the halftone dots and engraving lines, and maybe Adobe changed things again after LR 4.1 to avoid such lightening or to avoid moire from halftoned images.

     

    http://www.lightroomforums.net/archive/index.php/t-4053.html

    Last two replies:

    Mark Sirota

    22 Dec 2008, 9:31 pm

    LR 2.2 uses an adaptive bicubic algorithm acting in linear (zero gamma) space, while LR 1.x used Lanczos, also working in linear space. I believe the sharpening algorithms have also gotten minor tweaks as the version numbers have grown.

     

    While Tim did great work coming up with the idea to turn Mogrify into an LR plugin and implementing it, the credit for those resizing and sharpening implementations go to the ImageMagick team.


    Sean McCormack

    28 Dec 2008, 1:03 am

    Correct Mark, although 2.1 still uses the Lanczos kernal method.
    The new system isn't merely a switch between bicubic, bicubic sharper and bicubic smoother, but is very much a combination based on the size of the up or down sizing.

     
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