I updated to the new version of Lightroom – I have the ‘stand-alone’ version, not the subscription version. There are some new features worth discussing: the dehaze filter, masking gradients with the
brush and the HDR/Panoramic capability. You might wonder about the dehaze filter since I don’t have the CC version. Turns out, Adobe left the capability in the software but there’s no control for it. So, someone worked the problem for the rest of us. Prolost – run by Stu Maschwitz – writes presets for Lightroom. Since the handles are there, Prolost has put together some presets that allow LR6 users to access the dehaze filter. And he gives it away. I haven’t tried out his other presets but you might want to take a look at them and see if you can use them.
So how good is the dehaze feature? Above is a picture of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse I took a long time ago. And below on the right, the same picture with a dehaze filter setting of 43. See the difference?
(Click on an image for a larger version.)
Bottom line. Looks like a good addition to the tool set for LR. Like all such things, however, it doesn’t work all that great on some pictures. Up to you if you want to use it or not.
What about the HDR/Pano tools?
So how good is the HDR in Lightroom 6? Well, far better than what I could do with Photoshop CS6. I pretty much gave up on the Photoshop version sometime ago and started using Enfuse – which is free and works extremely well. Obviously then, I’ll compare LR against Enfuse for my testing since that’s my option- yours may be different. Here’s a screen shot of the results of using both on the same images. On the left is the result of using LR, the right is the Enfuse result. There’s more detail in the Enfuse version. Both images are without me trying to improve the result. While the Enfuse version is sharper the tree is just a silhouette while in the LR version you can see some detail in the tree. Let’s look at another part of the image. OK, clearly the Enfuse image has more detail. In addition, the golden color on the horizon is better. But, wait, where’s the fishing boat in the Enfuse version? Look carefully and you can see three images of the boat. I used four captures to generate the HDR version; the boat is not visible at all in the first image of the sequence. So what’s going on? LR does “deghosting” which works with parts of the image that are moving. I had it turned on and set to low for this image. Enfuse does not do deghosting. Hence, there’s the ghost boat.
Except for the boat, I like the Enfuse version much better. I can remove the ghost ship either in LR or in Photoshop. If I really want the boat in the picture, well, LR would seem to be the best option.
I should point out also that LR is easier to use. Enfuse is a command line program. I put together a GUI using Pashua and a very small shell script so I don’t have to enter the arguments on the command line every time. If that sort of thing makes you go “Uh?” then Enfuse is probably not for you. Note the images must be aligned before you invoke Enfuse – I used align_image_stack, part of the Hugin software. Hugin has a GUI but I found it difficult to work with so I just used the parts I needed.
So what’s my choice? Depends. I’d go with Enfuse for the most part but LR is easy to use and the deghosting feature may be desirable if there’s something moving around. I find the result from Enfuse better to get to the image I want. Both techniques require some work after getting the basic result. LR generates 32-bit images to work with;
Enfuse only does 16-bit tiffs for the result. That might be a deal-breaker depending upon what you are trying to do. [Later – not so, another “read the manual” moment. ]
How does LR6 stack up with Enblend – same suite as Enfuse – when doing panoramics? Below is the comparison of the results using the two different programs. On the left, Enblend, on the right, LR. Both images were post processed after generating the pano. The adjustments were the same.
You can see in this 100% crop that Enblend again is the sharper image. And, again, LR is easier to use although for this, I used the Hugin GUI directly and that’s easy to use also – in spite of what I said earlier. Still, there’s slightly more crank turning for the Enblend version since it is a stand-alone program and only accepts tiffs as inputs. Here’s the total image:
The sequence consists of five images. I’ve always considered Photoshop my go-to pano tool but LR works fairly well and Enblend is somewhat better. The scene, in case you’re not familiar with it, is Alcatraz.
I have a sequence of nine images taken at dusk the night before that neither program can handle. The nine image sequence is a very low contrast scene with fog and clouds. Not clear exactly what happens but it is clear it doesn’t work at all.