I’m pretty impressed with LR3′s new demosiacing, sharpening and noise reduction in LR3′s new process rendering. To the right is an image taken at this month’s workshop in Mono Lake (larger view). This is a 15 second “star points” exposure taken at 1600 ISO with a 5Dmk2. Below is a side-by-side detail comparison, processed in LR2.5 on the left and LR3b on the right. Click the image below to view at it’s full resolution.
“We’re only halfway through our noise reduction efforts but believe that you will be very pleased with the results so far. We’ve actually disabled the previous Luminance Noise Reduction so that you can focus on evaluating the Color Noise reduction implementation.”
I’m finding a few reasons to actually increase luminance noise reduction on high res long exposures in low light, so I’m yearning to see these sharpening tool evolve a little further from where they are in this beta. But I’m impressed with the results so far.
Tom also points out that images previously developed in previous versions of Lightroom will initially appear the same in LR3 with a warning triangle that appears above the upper left hand corner of the Histogram. If this triangle is pressed, the image will be re-rendered using LR3′s new processing, including the new demoasiacing, sharpening and noise reduction algorithms. The screen grabs above were taken before and after clicking this triangle using LR’s detail panel defaults. It appears that LR3′s new process quality improvements are best seen on high ISO images, especially those from 20+ megapixel cameras files.
I particularly like the improved sharpening, noise reduction, demoasicing, watermarking and new grain tools. There are significant quality improvements especially for high ISO and long exposure photographers. The completely redesigned Import dialog allows you to browse all images on the hard drive (similar to Bridge functionality). LR3 now archives the catalog during exit instead of upon launch (but they use the term “backup” incorrectly). There are also some exciting features in the wings that aren’t in this public beta yet. The LR3 beta takes up lots of RAM, isn’t optimized for speed and can be sluggish compared to LR2.5. This is fun to play with but professionals should continue using LR2.5 for their work until LR3 is ready. The LR3 beta is available for download from Adobe Labs.
Q) Which is better for scanning – negative or positive film?
A) Generally speaking, color negative (C-41) film is a dream to scan relative to transparency (E6) and black and white films. Color negative not only captures a huge dynamic range but compresses it to a very small dynamic range that’s easy for scanners to extract. Color negative film allow allows the photographer to print in either color or black and white. Images can be scanned in color mode and in front of the lens filtration (yellow filter, red filter, etc) can be simulated during the process of converting the image to a grayscale mode. Fuji has concentrated recent efforts on tweaking their new color negative films to be even more optimal for scanning. Some B&W neg films (like TMAX 100) can be problematic because they can exceed the dynamic range of the scanner so you have to loose some of either the highlights or shadows.
Now, there are always exceptions. Some scanner software applications aren’t great at handling color from color negatives. Some drum scanner applications, for example, just don’t know what to do with the orange mask and it would take a super skilled operator to overcome the software limitations to get good scan out of it. Most drum scanning applications were designed to scan transparency films so you might hear an operator say E6 is best for scanning (at least on *his* scanner system). Finally, some people might prefer to shoot their favorite B&W neg film for the sake of the unique grain structure.
Imacon/Hasselblad and Nikon scanners are great for color negative scanning and with those scanners you’ll probably want to shoot color neg, especially Fuji’s latest flavors.