It’s that time of the year again. The time Adobe does an update to its photography apps. To be fair, ever since they introduced their photographer’s subscription service they have been pumping out multiple updates per year. Some of those are highly significant, others, simple bug fixes.
The February 2019 update probably falls squarely between a big update and a bug fix. There is not a huge amount of things added but there is one feature that will be of interest to anyone that shoots with a camera that does not have a Bayer filter. In particular, photographers using the Fuji X-Trans sensor. We will look at that in detail later in this article but let’s kick off with the headline additions.
The Main Features
Enhanced Details is the biggie here and we will take a look at how to use it in a moment. Faster tethering for Nikon cameras. This had been a major issue for Nikon users wired up to Lightroom. The Canon version of tethering was much faster. Adobe has now addressed that.
Map Altitude is a useful addition for drone pilots. As well as pinpointing your GPS position on the Lightroom map, you can now also see the altitude. Interestingly, in my catalogue, this appears to work for original DNG files from my DJI Phantom, but images that have been worked on and are now PSD files seem to have had the altitude data stripped.
Lastly, there was also a number of bug fixes.
Enhanced Details, The Main Event
For a long while, there have been serious image quality issues when using Bayerless cameras with Adobe Lightroom and RAW. In particular the X-Trans images from Fuji X series cameras. Fuji owners, including myself, have been disappointed with the overall sharpness of RAW images processed using Adobe’s algorithms.
Adobe has addressed those issues albeit in a somewhat clunky fashion. Let’s look at how to use the Enhanced Details tool.
With your RAW file selected in the Library module, go to the menu and select Photo – Enhance Details. A new window will open with a zoomed preview of your RAW file in it’s Enhanced state. You can move the position of the zoom by selecting the magnifying glass bottom left of the window then re-clicking on your preferred location.
If you click and hold on the image it will show you the original version, releasing returns you to the enhanced version. In reality, I found I could not determine much difference between the two this way. Now click on Enhance.
Adobe RAW/Lightroom will now run its algorithm to enhance your RAW file. Depending on the power of your computer, this may take from a few seconds, into minutes. The end result is a new Adobe DNG raw file with the suffix -Enhanced.dng.
So Does It Work?
Short answer, in the case of Fuji RAW files, yes it does. The long answer is that it’s not as simple as that.
First of all, looking at the positives, in my brief tests, my converted RAW files do indeed look sharper at 100 and 200%. There is more detail in areas of fine detail. There also seems to be a very slight bump in dynamic range as well.
However, that improvement does come at some cost. There is the somewhat clunky procedure of converting the Fuji RAW to an enhanced DNG. Then there is the time element.
While it may be suitable for one or two images, this is certainly not the answer if you are needing to process hundreds of Bayerless images. Lastly, there is also a space cost. As well as producing a new RAW file, in the case of my Fuji RAF files, the new DNG Enhanced file more than doubled from 50mb to 108mb.
If you are shooting significant amounts of images that is going to have a serious impact on your hard drive space.
A Word About Fuji Worms
One of the major complaints about Adobe Lightroom with Fuji X-Trans files is the appearance of “worms”. These are worm-like artifacts that appear in areas of high detail in Fuji Raw files processed through Adobe Lightroom.
It seems to get progressively worse with higher ISO values and is one of the main reasons many Fuji photographers prefer to use other editing suites such as Capture One.
In my experience, these worms seem to be more pronounced in images processed in Lightroom as opposed to images processed in Photoshop through Adobe RAW.
The new Enhance Details function does seem to improve the appearance of the worms to an extent but it does not remove them completely.
A Recap Of the Update
- Enhanced Details For RAW
- Faster Tethering for Nikon Cameras
- Tethering Support Added For Nikon Z7/Z6
- Camera Support For Fuji X-T30, Nikon Coolpix A1000, Olympus OM-D E-M1X, Sony A6400
- Profiles Added For Several New Nikon Lenses
- GPS Altitude now show in Map Module
A Mixed Bag
In reality, then, the Adobe February 2019 update is a bit of a mixed bag. The Enhanced Details certainly does work and does add an extra lift to images shot on X-Trans and other non-Bayer sensors but with a time and space cost.
Nikon users will be happy with both the Z7/Z6 compatibility and the big improvement to tethering. Overall though, this will probably not be regarded as one of Adobe’s more memorable updates.
Fuji owners may be interested in a brief video I did explaining and reviewing the Enhance Detail features and whether it works. You can find that here: