9 Replies Latest reply on Sep 14, 2011 5:40 PM by areohbee

    Mastering the Detail tab

    Yammer Level 4

      They say that "the devil's in the detail", and I'd be inclined to agree where ACR is concerned.

       

      Does anyone know of a comprehensive guide to using the Detail tab? At the moment, I tend to either leave it alone, or move the sliders in a trial-and-error way. The only sliders I really use are Amount, Masking, and Luminance.

       

      I guess I need a better understanding of what the sliders actually do, how I should use them, and practical examples of their use. I have the Fraser/Schewe book, but my copy's getting a bit old now. Would it be worth getting the latest edition?

       

      Any help will be gratefully received.

        • 1. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
          Noel Carboni Level 7

          Once I set it to default to 100, I haven't messed with it myself.  I sometimes use higher values than my default of 15 for the Luminance Noise Reduction slider to offset the fine noise it brings out.

           

          Notably I always convert to the largest possible pixel count, and I do occasionally use noise reduction after the fact in Photoshop proper.

           

          Can't say I've been unable to achieve the image quality I want with this strategy.

           

          -Noel

          • 2. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
            areohbee Level 5

            Sharpening:

             

            Radius: lower if photo is already sharp, or subtler/finer sharpening desired; higher when photo had some shake or focus wasn't spot on, or crummy lens, or you just want to give the sharpener more oomph...

            Detail: lower if high-iso, or smoother look desired; higher if low-iso and more textural detail desired, or just to give the sharpener more oomph...

             

            A more thorough explanation would include balancing global  parameters with locals, but that's more than I want to go into now,  except to say:

             

            - local application is using all the  same parameters as set globally, except amount has some characteristics  worth being aware of:

            0 to 100 additive (total sharpening = global amount + local amount)

            -1 to -49 partially masks global sharpener.

            -50 totally masks global sharpener.

            -51 to -100 blur.

             

            +.02: One can keep globals low and supplement locally, or keep globals high and reduce locally, or a little of each...

             

            And of course there's Clarity, which is akin to coarse "sharpening".

             

             

            Lum. NR

             

            Luminance Detail: becomes valuable at higher-ISOs when a fair amount of Lum. NR has been applied, in which case crank this up high to maintain detail lost due to luminance noise reduction, don't be afraid to go all the way to 100. It can also be lowered below 50 when detail is not desired, e.g. light painting at night...

            Luminance contrast: very subtle effect at all but highest ISOs with substantial Lum. NR applied. Helps maintain dark tones...

             

            Color NR:

            Color: almost never needs to be changed from 25, but you can lower it to eak out more detail..., I've never had to raise it, but I suppose that's possible too for some cases - probably depends on the camera... Too low and color noise will begin to show.

            Detail: this can be boosted to maintain dark tones in high iso shots, or lowered for smoother effect, too high and color noise will begin to show.

             

             

            A more thorough explanation would talk about balancing noise reduction with sharpening, but that's more than I want to go into now, except to say:

             

            I try to reduce sharpening detail before adding luminance noise reduction. My experience is that the sharpener has a very difficult time discriminating between what's noise and what's non-noise detail. Likewise, the noise reducer has a hard time discriminating noise from fine detail. So it doesn't make much sense trying to increase sharpening detail and luminance noise reduction simultaneously (ok, maybe a little...) - *unless* you are using locals in the mix, then that changes everything. Although, there is no local noise reduction, there *is* local sharpening, *and* local sharpener masking*. i.e. if you are doing local sharpening or "de-sharpening", then it makes more sense to have both lum. NR and sharpening detail cranked up, since then you can overpower the noise reduction with more detailed local sharpening, or conversely, mask the sharpening for more luminance smoothing.

             

            *Note: in this context, when I say sharpener masking, I am NOT talking about the masking slider - I am talking about negative local sharpen settings that partially or completely mask all sharpening effects including the sharpen masking slider - important distinction.

             

            R

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
              Vit Novak Level 3

              Hm, guys, it looks like you are using far more NR with your DSLRs than me even with my compacts 

              • 4. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
                areohbee Level 5

                I use ISO range-based presets to apply defaults for detail settings.

                 

                Lum. NR = 0 at lowest ISOs up to 20 at highest.

                 

                Endpoints are same for Nikon D300 and Canon G12, although the curve is sharper on the G12 since the max ISO is lower.

                 

                Likewise, sharpening detail goes from 20 at lowest ISO down to zero at higher ISOs.

                 

                PS - I don't use Lightroom's sharpen masking if I can help it - I don't like the sparkling artefacts around the edges of things. If I can't get satisfactory results in Lightroom with the globals sans masking, I combine locals, unless it will be too much work, in which case I usually take it into NX2, since u-points allow quick selection of bokeh for noise reduction or whatever..., - on rare occasions I use Photoshop instead or as well, although I miss the u-points there, and unlike in NX2, Nik's Photoshop plugins don't allow u-point selection to be shared between plugins or other Photoshop tools.

                 

                Sharpening and NR are very much subject to personal taste...

                 

                -R

                • 5. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
                  Noel Carboni Level 7

                  Vit Novak wrote:

                   

                  Hm, guys, it looks like you are using far more NR with your DSLRs than me even with my compacts

                   

                  Not sure who you're talking about, but I normally don't dial any Color Noise Reduction in, and just a little Luminance Noise Reduction by default, since the high Detail level tends to bring it out.  I use additional NR if the noise level is distracting, which doesn't much happen except if I'm going for a very large print with a lot of detail or have had to use very high ISO.  Thankfully, gone are the days when we "absolutely had" to use "a lot" of noise reduction.

                   

                  15 is really not a lot of Luminance Noise Reduction when the Detail is set to 100 and the Sharpening is turned up a bit.

                   

                  -Noel

                  • 6. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
                    Yammer Level 4

                    Phew!

                     

                    Thanks for that detailed (no pun intended) reply, Rob. I hadn't got a clue what you were talking about the first couple of times I read it, but I've taken it a piece at a time and I think I'm following your logic now.

                     

                    I certainly feel a bit happier about the noise reduction controls now. Ever since the extra controls appeared, I've been a bit clueless about how to use them. However, your insights into using sharpening controls to limit noise sharpening are most valuable, and that's definitely something I'm going to explore more—I suppose I never really understood how to use the Detail slider, which is why I never use it. Ever since the appearance of PV2010, I've been much more aware of noise, and its quality (as opposed to that of PV2003).

                     

                    Also, I have never used the local adjustment controls in ACR5+ to control sharpening. I've tended to stick to exposure/saturation/clarity adjustments, and done additional masked sharpening the old way, in Photoshop itself. I think it's a minor art form—sharpening images, whilst keeping images clean-looking—and noisy skies have always proven to be an irritation for me (although less so, since I've been using the Masking slider more).

                     

                    I originally asked for pointers to a useful resource, but this has been a valuable post in itself. Thanks very much!

                    • 7. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
                      areohbee Level 5

                      Yammer P wrote:

                       

                      Phew!

                       

                      Thanks for that detailed (no pun intended) reply, Rob. I hadn't got a clue what you were talking about the first couple of times I read it, but I've taken it a piece at a time and I think I'm following your logic now.

                       

                      You bet. - there was a lot there - more than I originally intended: kinda like going into the grocery store for milk - I always come out with multiple bags...

                       

                       

                      Yammer P wrote:

                       

                      I certainly feel a bit happier about the noise reduction controls now. Ever since the extra controls appeared, I've been a bit clueless about how to use them. However, your insights into using sharpening controls to limit noise sharpening are most valuable, and that's definitely something I'm going to explore more—I suppose I never really understood how to use the Detail slider, which is why I never use it. Ever since the appearance of PV2010, I've been much more aware of noise, and its quality (as opposed to that of PV2003).

                       

                      When Lr3 first came out, I tried twisting the noise reduction "tuning" sliders around, and I couldn't tell they were doing anything, so I forgot about them for a few months *until* I had a photo of a red fish with true black speckling, taken at high ISO. When I converted it from PV2003 to PV2010, it wiped out a lot of the black detailing. PV2010 tends to gobble up a lot of dark tones in the interest of removing noise, mostly its a good thing, but sometimes not. I had to lower color noise reduction, increase color detail, and increase luminance contrast to restore some of the black tones, and although I ultimately kept the PV2010 rendering, I still think it looked better in PV2003. Anyway, for lower ISOs the NR  "tuning" sliders can pretty-much be ignored, and even some higher ISO shots they don't much matter. That said, for some photos at higher ISOs, they can matter a great deal... Of all of them the Luminance Detail slider most often offers the most bang for the buck, since one can use it and apply more noise reduction whilst maintaining detail in objects that have it - it doesn't generally noise up the sky, but it may help maintain detail in foliage and rock, and feathers or fur... - One tip: zoom in well above 1:1, even 11:1 if your eyes aren't that good, to scrutinize effects of the noise reduction "tuning" sliders.

                       

                       

                      Yammer P wrote:

                       

                      Also, I have never used the local adjustment controls in ACR5+ to control sharpening. I've tended to stick to exposure/saturation/clarity adjustments, and done additional masked sharpening the old way, in Photoshop itself. I think it's a minor art form—sharpening images, whilst keeping images clean-looking—and noisy skies have always proven to be an irritation for me (although less so, since I've been using the Masking slider more).

                       

                       

                      I think Adobe did the Lightroom/ACR userbase (and therefore themselves) a disservice by hiding some really great features of the local sharpener, and not properly documenting them.

                       

                      My guess: most people clamoring for local lum.NR don't fully appreciate that masking the sharpening completely (by using a local sharpening value of exactly -50) and leaving only lum. NR in its wake (as applied globally) darn near *is* local lum.NR!

                       

                      In other words, Lightroom essentially already has local lum.NR, its just that most people don't know how to use it.

                       

                       

                      Yammer P wrote:

                       

                      I originally asked for pointers to a useful resource, but this has been a valuable post in itself. Thanks very much!

                       

                      There are a few good resources but I don't have any references for you. But, I think once you understand what the general idea is behind all the sliders, the rest is best learned from experience. Just make sure you use some crappy out-of-focus shots and some ridiculously high ISO shots to practice with too.

                       

                       

                      Regarding the real global sharpen masking slider: it is great for reducing noise in skies.., I just wish there was a way to "pull it in" around the edges of things to attenuate what I call "sparkling".

                       

                      Regarding sharpen detail slider: It has its own artefacts that many people find unacceptable. I know some people who mostly do without sharpening detail altogether because they don't like what it does. Me? - I keep it low usually, but sometimes (almost exclusively confined to low ISO shots), sharpen detail can really do amazing things for foliage and rock detail... But unlike the luminance noise reduction detail slider, the sharpen detail slider will "enhance detail" everywhere. even where there is none - like clear sky...

                       

                       

                      Cheers,

                      R

                      • 8. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
                        Yammer Level 4

                        When you say "local sharpening", I assume you mean sharpening applied using the adjustment brush, etc.

                         

                        It occurs to me that one very useful and easy application of this for me would be landscapes, where I am already applying a graduated filter to reduce sky exposure and increase saturation. I could also apply -50 Sharpening, to remove any sharpening applied globally. However, this won't have any effect on areas of sky where Masking already has an effect. To improve these areas, you'd have to go even lower than -50, to introduce blur.

                         

                        On second thoughts, maybe this isn't such a good idea. I often cross the horizon with graduated adjustments, and I wouldn't necessarily want to lose any sharpness there. Maybe a large adjustment brush on just the sky would be better.

                        • 9. Re: Mastering the Detail tab
                          areohbee Level 5

                          Yammer P wrote:

                           

                          When you say "local sharpening", I assume you mean sharpening applied using the adjustment brush, etc.

                          Correct - brush or gradient.

                           

                           

                          Yammer P wrote:

                           

                          It occurs to me that one very useful and easy application of this for me would be landscapes, where I am already applying a graduated filter to reduce sky exposure and increase saturation. I could also apply -50 Sharpening, to remove any sharpening applied globally. However, this won't have any effect on areas of sky where Masking already has an effect. To improve these areas, you'd have to go even lower than -50, to introduce blur.

                           

                          On second thoughts, maybe this isn't such a good idea. I often cross the horizon with graduated adjustments, and I wouldn't necessarily want to lose any sharpness there. Maybe a large adjustment brush on just the sky would be better.

                           

                          I think you're getting the hang of it... - but be aware: blur is truly a blur: best not to go beyond -50 unless blur is truly what you want (usually not what you want in a landscape shot, even in the sky, and since blurring totally wipes out all detail and texture, I usually combine blur with grain when I use it (not doable in Lightroom, since grain can not be applied locally), to restore a hint of grit that matches the natural "grain" in a photo that hasn't been sterlized...).

                           

                          R