What’s The Difference Between Mixer and Point Color?

by Andrew S. Gibson
What's The Difference Between Mixer and Point Color?

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A few weeks ago we looked at Lightroom Classic’s new Point Color tool. Today I’m going to explore the differences between the Mixer and Point Color, both of which are located in the new Color Mixer panel. This is to help you understand the advantages of using Point Color over the Mixer.

What is the Mixer?

The Mixer is the new name for the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders that appeared in the HSL/Color panel in earlier versions of Lightroom Classic. In the 13.0 (October 2023) update, Adobe moved them to the Mixer in the new Color Mixer panel.

Lightroom Classic Mixer

What is Point Color?

Point Color is a new tool for adjusting color, also located in the Color Mixer panel. It’s more accurate than the Mixer and has other advantages which we’ll explore in this article.

Lightroom Classic Point Color

Difference #1: Point Color is more accurate

Colors are comprised of three values – hue, saturation and luminance.

The sliders in the Mixer identify the colors to adjust through one value only – hue.

Point Color uses all three values – hue, saturation and luminance – to identify the color to work with.

This means that in Point Color you can be much more specific about which colors you want to adjust.

Difference #2: Point Color uses swatches

In the Mixer, you can use the Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) to target specific colors. When you use it, the Mixer adjusts the values of the color under the cursor. But it doesn’t tell you what that color is. Nor does it let you remember that color so you can come back and adjust it again.

Point Color lets you select a specific color and save it as a swatch. Swatches give you a way of seeing which colors you’ve already adjusted. They are saved as swatches so you can go back and change them if you want.

Point Color Lightroom Classic

You can create up to eight color swatches with the Point Color tool.

Difference #3: You have full control over the Range with Point Color

With the Mixer, the range of colors affected by an adjustment is predetermined and you can’t change it. 

For example, if you move the Red Saturation slider, it affects a range of colors that Lightroom considers to be red. You can’t expand that range to include more colors, or contract it to contain less.

But you can do that with the Point Color tool.

Let me give you an example with the following color patches.

Color patches

When we go to the Mixer, click Saturation and move the Red slider left to -100, this is the result. Lightroom reduced the Saturation in all the red patches. 

Mixer tool Lightroom Classic

In Point Color, I used the eyedropper to sample the middle red patch and the Luminance Range bar to restrict the Saturation adjustment to the middle patch. In other words, I could reduce the Saturation in one red patch only without affecting the others.

Point Color tool Lightroom Classic

These are the Luminance Range bar settings I used.

Point Color tool Lightroom Classic

Note: You nay have noticed that setting Sat. Shift to zero in Point Color doesn’t reduce Saturation as much as setting the Red Saturation slider to zero in the Mixer. You can mark this up as another difference between the two tools if you like.

Difference #4: You can use Point Color with masks

The Mixer sliders are global adjustments only. That means Lightroom applies any changes you make to the color values across the entire photo.

You can use the Point Color tool as a global adjustment (in the Color Mixer panel) or as a local adjustment in the Masks panel. The ability to use Point Color with masks gives it an even higher level of accuracy.

The main benefit of Point Color is that the tool is the same in both the Color Mixer panel and the Masks panel. That makes it easier to learn how to use.

You can make HSL adjustments in the Masks panel, but you don’t get the full range of sliders that you do in either the Mixer or Point Color tools.

For example, in the photo below I used Select Subject to mask the door and then Point Color to change its color without affecting the red wall. The original photo is on the left, the new version on the right.

Point Color tool Lightroom Classic

Final thoughts

I’ve outlined the key differences between the Mixer and Point Color tools in this article to help you understand the benefits of using Point Color. I’m going to follow up with an article that shows you some practical ways of using both the Mixer and Point Color tools to improve your photos by taking control of color. 

By the way, if Adobe is listening, I’d love to see a version of the Point Color tool added to the B&W panel as well, so we can target different grayscale values and save them as swatches. 

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