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The high-level answer to your question is that we build the new "Adobe Standard" profiles by beginning with the older profiles (e.g., "ACR 4.4") and then editing them to address the complaints & concerns we received from photographers in the past, in this forums and elsewhere. The older profiles were designed with scene-referred colorimetry in mind, based on calibration work we've done in the lab. So the new Adobe Standard profiles do have a consistent starting point rooted in colorimetric accuracy but we've tweaked them to make colors appears more the way photographers have told us they want them to appear.
Great, thanks for the detailed reply. That's exactly how I thought it was.
I have experimented with the "new" profiles quite a bit on my EOS 40D images, and to my own surprise I have come to the conclusion that ACR 4.4 is the best and most accurate for the vast majority of my images! I even find it difficult to understand why many people have been raving about the new profiles. And I do not see the 'Adobe Standard' as an improvement -- it is just a variant, and often less "accurate" in my view on my system.
The following are my findings:
ACR 4.4: Natural and neutral colors. On ALL skies it is by far the best rendering of all the "canned" profiles, both for the blues and for the clouds.
Adobe Standard: Good, but quite often makes lightly brownish and greenish areas to redish, often at the expense of good green. Blue skies are too pale with lower contrast and tend towards green rather than the much better definition produced by ACR 4.4. Flowers, leaves and skin tones too redish.
Camera Standard: Same direction as Adobe Standard, but to an even greater extent. Brown becomes pretty strongly redish. Often a bit too saturated, except the blues. Makes deep shadows too light with bad contrast. ACR 4.4 makes shadows much better!
Camera Neutral: Neutral but washed out colors.
Camera Faithful: Nah, not my cup of tea.
Camera Landscape: Jeezes! WAY too over-saturated! Makes it flat! Meant for exaggerated advertising? For political posters?
The opinion of profiles certainly depends on what monitor quality you have, and what other settings are used in the imaging application, which in my case is Lightroom 2.2.
My monitor is an NEC SpectraView (colorspace is close to Adobe RGB) profiled with SpectraView Profiler (same as basICColor) and a Gretag colorimeter.
In Lightroom I always have my own Tone Curve that lowers deep shadows smoothly instead of using the harsh Blacks slider (so my Blacks slider is zero by default). In Camera Calibration, all sliders are at zero, except Shadows Tint which I have set to -1.
I wonder: will ACR 4.4 continue to be available in future LR versions, or will it be phased out in favor of Adobe Standard? I would like to keep the ACR 4.4 rendering since I perceive it as more accurate, which seems completely in line with what Eric says about how it was developed based on colorimetric measurements.
I think the profiles are different for every camera, so it's difficult to generalise, if you've only got one camera.
One definite plus for the new system is that it's now easy to make your own accurate profiles, if you have access to a ColorChecker card. Whereas before, the script calibration system was fairly hopeless (slow, inconsistent and incomplete).
It is true that some people prefer the 4.4 style. That is a perfectly valid viewpoint. However, over the years Adobe has received a lot of feedback from users who don't like it and want something that "looks better." Hence Adobe Standard was born, and judging from the feedback we've received, many more users prefer it to 4.4.
However, we also recognize that you can't build a single profile to please everybody. (Kind of like how you can't write a single economic stimulus package that pleases everybody, but I digress.) Hence the existence of the DNG Profile Editor.
BTW, the purpose of the "Camera" prefix profiles (e.g., Camera Standard) is to match what the camera vendors provide. That's it. Not because Adobe thinks these are accurate or pleasing color renderings, but because that's how the camera software's renderings look. This has been a very common requested feature.