Lightroom 5 Beta

I’ve been playing around with the new Lightroom 5 beta. This post is going to take a look at the noise reduction capabilities of the new version versus LR4. The short answer is that I cannot tell them apart.

I’m going to be working with an image I grabbed a couple of years ago at my daughter’s school concert. I’ve shown this image before here, and so that’s one reason to stick with it. Another is that it was taken at ISO 6400 and has a very dark background due to a heavy curtain behind the little dancers on the stage.

So, here’s the image itself at full scale in LR4, just to give you a reference:

Image in LR4

Image in LR4

This is the un-edited version of the image. The following two versions are from LR4 and LR5-Beta with the same process version (2012), the same camera calibration (made with the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport for the lighting in that space), and the same exposure, white balance, tone curve, levels, sharpening, noise reduction, and et cetera, settings. In other words, if I could make it the same, then it is the same. The images are screen captures at 200% magnification:

Guess which?

Guess which?

Guess which?

Guess which?

Before you look ahead, try to guess which of the two screen shots might be LR4 and which LR5-Beta.

The answer

The first image is LR4. The second is LR5-Beta. If you can tell the difference, you’re better at this than I am.

It’s pretty hard to pick and choose between the two. This isn’t the sole difference between the two versions, of course; but by the time I set the white balance, the profile, the camera calibration, the lens correction (including chromatic aberration and purple fringing), the tone curve, the noise reduction values, and on and on, to be identical, it’s very hard to see any significant difference in the two images. Perhaps that’s reassuring, but it does say that there isn’t a huge difference in the two products as far as RAW conversion is concerned so far.

There is one nice thing in LR5-Beta, and that is in the lens correction panel. LR-5 has the ability now to automatically correct for horizontal, vertical, and keystoning problems. Here is this image before and after full keystone corrections in LR5-Beta.

Before keystone correction

Before keystone correction

After keystone correction

After keystone correction

It is perhaps a subtle difference, but what’s great about this new version is that it is automatic. Capture One Pro has a similar feature for full keystoning correction, but it involves manually setting up four perspective lines on the image. This approach involves the push of a button. Of course, I can’t claim to have worked on a lot of images so far; but being able to automatically apply this correction to a batch of images could save a lot of time.

Anyway, back to the primary null result that I have to report: Not much visible difference in noise reduction between LR4 and LR5-Beta, so far.

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