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LightZone resurfaces?

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#21 schwett

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:04

... but for best ease of processing and excellent print quality LightZone is the best thing so far.


ease of processing!?!? things must be inverted in the southern hemisphere. :wink:

maybe the supplied x-e1 tone curve is junk (i don't see anywhere to adjust the tone curve in the 'normal' way), but all my images look absolutely horrible in lightzone, requiring an export as 16 bit tiff to photoshop for further editing and 'fixing.' quadruples the storage requirement and easily quadruples the time to process images. i was willing to put up with this for dcraw because at least you could automate the creation of 'neutral' tiff files and then work them through acr/ps in the normal way.

govin the inability to quickly get at good basic tonal adjustments coupled with the interface being really slow and not-very intuitive, i can't see using this. but i agree with you that someday someone (really, adobe) will probably get it right.

Edited by schwett, 02 January 2013 - 01:06 .

http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#22 schwett

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:17

here is how a typical image looks in the lightzone 'browse' tab

Posted Image

and as soon as you hit 'edit' it looks like this, with all corrections zeroed :

Posted Image

here is how the same raf file looks in ACR with all corrections zeroed :

Posted Image

the frustrating thing is that the nasty greyish cast of the image can't be removed with any of the controls in lightzone's edit panels. there's no contrast curve, as far as i can tell. have you found one!?
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#23 Alan7140

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:48

Maybe my computer has more oomph than yours. Whatever, I'm not having any slowness or difficulty at all. It's as quick to process a raw in LZ as it is in ACR here. If you don't like the zone curve, just disable it and use the standard zonemapper (first icon in the edit panel), if you think that's even necessary, of course. Usually the images open up here in an editable state without having to do any zone mapping shenanigans. I removed the Fuji curve from the folder after trying it because I couldn't see it making any sense for me to use. The program now opens with the standard, linear graphic displayed. I can set my own tonal preferences just as easily by now, I would have thought.

None of my images look terrible in LightZone. A bit dark initially, but that seems to be a DCRAW thing. Just hit the "Relight" icon (second in the edit panel) and the image gets an instant lift. Keeping in sequence usually ends up with a good edit in quick order - from a few seconds to a minute at tops. The beauty of the interface is that you can then revisit each panel and fine tune each setting in a similar manner to ACR, only it's better because you can preference to leave the panels (on right) open so you can see the other settings you have made and access them without having to switch anything over (works better on a big screen, of course - less scrolling). ACR makes you switch from panel to panel sequentially, so you can't see, say, the basic panel when you are using the sharpening panel, for instance.

The whole thing makes sense in a very ACR way, unlike some of the other editors I've tried in this X-Trans raw quest which seem to want to reinvent the wheel just to be different (like Photivo - mind-numbing in its relabelling and duplication of functions, or SilkyPix's "Tastes" - WTF?).

Granted ACR is what I know, I've been using it since version 1, so maybe I'm a bit biased to that method of function. LightZone therefore fits well here with minimal learning curves to climb as a result.

#24 Alan7140

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:56

To adjust the zones, just click on the dividing line between each one and drag up or down. A little "X" will appear next to any moved line, clicking it will remove the edit. If you have the Fuji graph displayed, click on the top line and drag down - your highlight zones will be revealed. For whatever reason the authors decided that Fuji needed its highlights compressed.

As a rule I don't use presets unless I've made them myself to suit my own images. This is one reason why.

#25 Alan7140

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 02:13

The image you are seeing in the LZ preview screen when the file is first clicked on is the camera preview jpeg - the same thing which appears on the LCD after the shot is taken. Clicking on it to edit launches the DCRAW converter, so the image you see on the Edit screen is the unadjusted processed raw, which is why it differs. As mentioned above, hitting the "Relight" button will average the tonal rendition to a default spread, just as you get with ACR. Just as ACR offers camera profile presets, that is what this is, only ACR applies either the standard preset or last used preset by default, not an unadjusted raw conversion. At this stage you can either load a preset or get the default to load by pressing the Relight button. I guess it's done this way because DCRAW is a stand-alone program being utilized. Equally updating LZ would mean that all you should have to do is replace the dcraw.exe in the installation folder with the new version.

#26 schwett

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:02

The image you are seeing in the LZ preview screen when the file is first clicked on is the camera preview jpeg - the same thing which appears on the LCD after the shot is taken. Clicking on it to edit launches the DCRAW converter, so the image you see on the Edit screen is the unadjusted processed raw, which is why it differs. As mentioned above, hitting the "Relight" button will average the tonal rendition to a default spread, just as you get with ACR. Just as ACR offers camera profile presets, that is what this is, only ACR applies either the standard preset or last used preset by default, not an unadjusted raw conversion. At this stage you can either load a preset or get the default to load by pressing the Relight button. I guess it's done this way because DCRAW is a stand-alone program being utilized. Equally updating LZ would mean that all you should have to do is replace the dcraw.exe in the installation folder with the new version.


i understand that (the preview JPG.) clicking 'relight' for the most part results in grey images with very compressed tonal ranges and a strange nonlinearity to the white/highlight areas. i got rid of the x-e1 tone curve file, which was even worse, and it's more workable now. i don't mind the basic concept of the interface, but i do mind that there's no precise way to adjust tonality throughout the range (all we have are shadows, highlights, and exposure. at least two are missing,) and it's just too slow.

it takes several seconds to go from preview to edit, which is unacceptably slow on a 6 core (3.2ghz) machine with 32gbram, a pci-e SSD for boot and swap (about the fastest on the market) and fast drives in a raid 0 array for primary storage. not the fastest machine in the world by any means, but very very fast for every image editing task i've every thrown at it (including gigantic 10-20,000 pixel on a side composites). the same operations are absolutely instantaneously in ACR - (even on 36MP files!), allowing real-time adjustment and exploration.

still, it's very promising. i might use it here and there for subjects of the type that ACR totally mangles.
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#27 schwett

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:23

now that my initial irritation has worn off (heh) i see that instead of presenting the standard adjustable tone curve they have the zone mapper thing. it's basically the same function but in a visually different way. a little less precise since you can't easily visualize the transitions, but on the other hand the way the image flickers through the represented areas is interesting. i don't see a way to do it for the three color channels separately, but maybe it's in there somewhere.

overall i have to agree with fred that the little blinky/scattered/speckly bits are preferable to the mushy renditions of other converters on x-trans files. processing with a tiny bit of blur and a little more sharpening helps a little - but not a huge amount. running it through a 1/2 pixel median filter in photoshop helps a bit too, but at the cost of some detail.

another overall image, processed through lightzone except for final resizing, sharpening, and tweaking of levels.

Posted Image

100% crop - there's a lot of detail here and it hasn't been sharpened much. you can actually make out the chain link on the little enclosure middle of the frame just above the railing. the brightly colored (magenta and green) spurious highlights are pretty obnoxious but are of a small enough scale that they wouldn't show up in a reasonably sized (for me) print. you can see them very clearly in the water at bottom middle. other edges which should be smooth (like the vertical posts of the railing) have the same dithered pattern but without the false color, likely because there's no color to be falsely sampled nearby.
Posted Image

a 1/2 pixel median filter (in lab color) in photoshop doesn't really help any more than a little blur.
Posted Image

Edited by schwett, 02 January 2013 - 06:23 .

http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#28 aerobat

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 21:43

So today I was able to download LZ 3.9. The first installation didn't work. So reinstalled it and now it works.
My first picture to be edited from RAW was a backlit tree see below. Lefthand side we have the out of camera JPEG viewed with LR4. Righthandside the RAW with default settings in LZ.
I don't like the default tone curve. The blacks aren't really black. Also I see more noise in the shadow areas. Also there's slightly more CA.
Still I feel it's more promising than LR4 and I'm willing to climb the learning curve.

Thanks Fred for your heads-up and patience.

I'm mainly missing the ability to work on the tone curve as in other programs.
Tried relight but didn't get what I want.

Attached Images

  • LR vs LZ.jpg

Edited by aerobat, 02 January 2013 - 21:51 .


#29 schwett

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 22:04

...I'm mainly missing the ability to work on the tone curve as in other programs.
Tried relight but didn't get what I want.


yeah... it's not a particularly intuitive approach they've got going with the 'zone mapper' - but it *does* have the same function as the tone curve. the 'stacked tab' approach also results in a lot more clicks (unless there's a way to get a default set of them to pop up as soon as you go into edit) since you need to move through more tabs than a typical ACR workflow. (for example, the initial ACR tab has the equivalent of three different lightzone tabs - the 'raw adjustments,' 'relight,' and vibrance/saturation!).

your result looks just like mine did upon default. simultaneously muddy and flat and blown in spots. i think you'll discover it's not too hard to get a decent result color/tonewise, but there is a real tradeoff in the nasty dithery speckling at 1:1 versus the smooth edges - and detail lost under blotches of 'paint' - of ACR. looking again at the samples i posted (from a different set of screens), i'm no longer quite as optimistic.
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#30 Alan7140

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 22:42

Daniel, for whatever their reasons the originators went with a pseudo Zone System in place of curves ("ZoneMapper - the first icon in the row under the histogram in the edit window).

Click on that gives a vertically depicted tone scale in the edit panel. Click on the dividing icon and push up or down to expand or contract that part of the "curve", and the histogram will change to match the movement. Or shift the divider to another tone boundary and click-hold-move to adjust that tone. If you think of this tone graph as a normal curve with the dividing lines similar to when you click on an ACR curve and then adjust the curve by pushing the little square that's generated up & down to change the curve - well, similar thing.

Along the bottom of the histogram is a sequence of grey boxes from black to white which highlight as yellow corresponding to the grey you mouse-over on the default Raw Tone Curve - the default curve that opens with the image - expand it and the graph appears, right click the orange bar and an "Unlock" option appears, click that and the graph becomes editable, and you can choose to "remember" the default curve adjustment if you think your adjustments are better, although at this stage I'm just disabling it and starting with a fresh ZoneMapper graph until I fully get it and understand why they set the Fuji default graph the way they did, because at the moment it makes no sense to me.

Or you can leave the default curve intact, then click on the ZoneMapper icon and it will open another graph so you can edit the initial edit - a curve to edit over an already edited curve if you like. You can add a number of these fine-tune edits (as with all the edit options, for that matter). No other editor has this facility, as far as I'm aware.

Perhaps it's because the authors thought that fewer people understand the curve in relation to the image tonality (being that it's a pass-on from film days), and more understand a histogram as that's the way digital cameras have presented tonality of an image. It's just something that takes a bit of practice. I don't think anyone became an expert in ACR in one day, and the more I use LZ the more sense it's making and I'm finding the greater the degree of control that is available.

I still battle a bit with blown highlights - ACR will be hard to nbeat here - but I think that's a DCRaw problem at processing stage, so LZ will be stuck with that. I may be proved wrong, though - there are little surprises every time I do another edit.

#31 Alan7140

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 23:02

Having spent some time on just the zone mapper, I'm finding that this works well:

Leave the default Fuji "Raw Tone Curve" in place and open a new ZoneMapper graph, then adjust this so that the histogram properly displays deepest black at the left of the histo (not off the edge as seems to be the case often) and same for the highlights at the right, just as one endeavours to do when judging exposure via the camera's histo.

Then adjust the spread of tones between to give the image you're after.

Just like (blushing) Ansel Adams Zone System, as HansC has already indicated.

I'm seeing enormous potential in this for B&W, and it also clears up for me why they included a separate B&W edit icon. Processing a B&W rendition using the zones makes immediate sense, rather than getting a balanced colour result and then editing that to B&W afterwards as is the norm. This thing just gets better and better, I'm just hoping an online facility to buy it appears before my trial expires. I'd buy it just for the Zone System in B&W, because I used to use that in film days, only with digital one doesn't have to go messing about with the initial exposure and subsequent individual development, a well-exposed raw will supply all the info for exposure and "development" adjustments to be made onscreen.

Bravo, is all I have to say.

Edited by Fred Nirque, 02 January 2013 - 23:34 .


#32 Alan7140

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 00:44

Just to put pictures to what I wrote in my last response regarding B&W, Zone System & multiple edits, screenshots to show adjustments & histogram, same image as before just for consistency:

Fuji default "curve" and B&W rendition (no other edits):
Posted Image

First ZoneMapping edit:
Posted Image

Second ZoneMapping edit:
Posted Image

Which manages to completely kill the nasty highlight blowout at the top of the sign, yet still keep good separation throughout other tones. No doubt this could still be further improved, but it is good enough for the purpose of demonstration.

#33 schwett

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:15

... This thing just gets better and better, I'm just hoping an online facility to buy it appears before my trial expires. I'd buy it just for the Zone System in B&W, because I used to use that in film days, only with digital one doesn't have to go messing about with the initial exposure and subsequent individual development, a well-exposed raw will supply all the info for exposure and "development" adjustments to be made onscreen.

Bravo, is all I have to say.


you getting paid by these guys, fred? ;)

there doesn't seem to be distortion control, chromatic aberration control, or defringing.have you found those anywhere? i'm even more confused by the fact that lightzone seems to INTRODUCE distortion and fringing. seriously:

check out the distortion from the 18 f/2 :O
Posted Image

here is the same image processed in ACR with camera profiles turned off and manual distortion controls all zeroed out. very little distortion.
Posted Image

magenta fringes and speckly edges from lightzone
Posted Image

slightly smudgy rendition from acr
Posted Image

very obnoxious magenta fringe from lightzone, which i ASSUMED was a characteristic of the lens.
Posted Image

but it's not!!! again, all automatic profiles are turned off, remove CA unchecked, defringe zeroed out.
Posted Image
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#34 schwett

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:19

i wonder if ACR is somehow correcting faults in the lens without asking. i've never seen it do that on nikon gear, so i wouldn't think it's doing it for fuji gear, especially without any camera profile activated.....

screenshot to confirm i'm not going insane. distortion controls all turned off, no camera profile.

Posted Image

??
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#35 schwett

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:48

here's a trickier image, illustrating more obviously the differences in approach. it's possible to get the overall tonality pretty close between the two approaches - ACR's traditional sliders vs. LightZone's 'zone map.' it takes a lot more clicks in LightZone, but once you get used to it it's not all that bad. not good. but not bad.

Posted Image

Posted Image

i wouldn't normally do this, but this 200% crop (nearest neighbor resampling) illustrates the difference between the dcraw engine and the acr engine. incidentally, the results i get from lightzone are *very* similar to what dcraw gives me with the right settings.

Posted Image

one can decide for themselves which rendition they prefer, and i'd wager that it depends a lot on the image and the intended use/size.
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#36 afx

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:56

I'm just hoping an online facility to buy it appears before my trial expires.

Don't hold your breath.
There will be no more licenses and it will take a while until the updated the build structure to work with free tools before the Open Source version can be released that will not need any license key.
I guess creative people will find out where the trial counter is hidden and then just reset that until the Open Source version is ready.

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#37 Alan7140

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:19

you getting paid by these guys, fred? :wink:

there doesn't seem to be distortion control, chromatic aberration control, or defringing.have you found those anywhere? i'm even more confused by the fact that lightzone seems to INTRODUCE distortion and fringing. seriously:



Seriously - no-one, but no-one cares what an image looks like at 200% as it bears absolutely no relevance to any practical end use of an image. Even moreso no-one would think of looking at a tiny square out of a huge overall result to pick on something that would be invisible in any final usage. What ACR does to X-Trans files is visible in normal usage, however, As far as reasonable discussion goes, surely that should be the point of conjecture.

This 100%, 200% BS is bordering on obsessive/compulsive behaviour. I'm not getting paid by anyone to do anything - as far as I know I was one of the first to bring up the ACR problem, was howled down initially, and am now vindicated by comments from all over the net. No-one any longer who actually uses an X-Pro1 or X-E1 could honestly say different - ACR is crap with Fuji X-Pro files at any size.

As far as the DCRaw-based programs go, I am really tired of repeating over and over and over and over that it isn't perfect, just that it does provide a practical processing solution for those who hate their shots being colour depleted and turned into paintings by ACR and sell or show complete photographs and not one inch excised squares.

If you hate everything about the Fuji so much, just sell the f@cking camera and be done with it.

Anyhow, a good friend of mine committed suicide a couple of days ago and I've got a shedload of better things to do at the moment than argue about pixel-sized flaws in some processing program that really is irrelevant in the broader scheme of things.

This thread ends for me now.

#38 schwett

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:37

i'm very sorry to hear about your friend. it doesn't need to be said that there are far more important things in life than the sharpness or smoothness or whatever of digital images.

i use the camera all the time. and i enjoy it. i've taken thousands of shots with it and i'd simply like them to look good for whatever purpose i choose. not smudgy and wierd, but also not stippled with little off-colored dots. and it would be nice to be able to achieve these results with reliable and easy to use and well supported software.

i'm sorry if you're offended by anyone carefully examining the options - but this *is* a photography forum. others can look at the images and decide if they want to try it (the software, the camera, whatever) themselves. if they're not interested, they can move on.
http://photo.sfmthd.org/ [under construction]

#39 aerobat

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 21:59

Hi Fred,

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your good friend. My thoughts are with his family and you.

Thanks for your extensive help which got me started. I used the zone mapper and like it.
A lot of thought went into LZ and it's well documented in the help system.

Regards, Daniel

#40 steveh0607

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 23:39

Capture One by Phase One is supposed to launch an update that processes Fuji X RAW files very good. At least according to the beta testers. I have the XE-1 and although the jpg files are great it would be nice to have a converter that isn't SilkyPix. I just can't get used to their workflow and terminology.





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