In this week’s October 2023 (13.0) upgrade release Adobe added two new Develop module tools, Lens Blur and Point Color, a niche tool in HDR editing, and several minor but useful new features.
The new tools aren’t as game changing as the masking, AI Noise Reduction and Generative Fill (Photoshop) updates we’ve had over the last couple of years, but they still give you some interesting new ways to develop your photos.
Today I’ll take a look at how they work, and I’ll go into more detail on Point Color and Lens Blur in future articles.
How to upgrade to Lightroom Classic 13.0
First, check your operating system.
- If you’re a Windows user you need Windows 10 v22H2 or later, or Windows 1111 v21H2 or later.
- Mac users need macOS 12 (Monterey) or later.
Open the Creative Cloud app and click on the Apps menu. You’ll see a list of any applications you use that need updating. Click the Update buttons to upgrade them.
When you open Lightroom Classic 13.0 for the first time it lets you know that it needs to update your Catalog. This is normal and safe, so go ahead and click the Upgrade button.
New features in Lightroom Classic 13.0
Adobe has added three major new features to the Develop module.
Point Color in the Color Mixer panel
The new Color Mixer panel replaces the HSL panel. You might wonder what happened when you first see it, but there’s no need to panic. It contains all the sliders from the old HSL panel, so you haven’t lost anything.
Instead, we’ve gained a Point Color tool, which is like an advanced version of the Targeted Adjustment tool used with the HSL sliders.
It lets you pick a specific color in your photo, then adjust its Hue, Saturation and Luminance values, as well as how far the adjustment bleeds into other colors.
You pick as many colors as you want, adjusting each one individually. The result is that you have more control over the colors in your photos than you did in the HSL panel.
Even better, Adobe added the Point Color tool to the Masking panel, so you can adjust colors within a selection. That means if you have a photo of person wearing a blue jumper in front of a blue sky, you can use masks and the color picker to adjust the hue of the blue jumper without affecting the sky.
For example, in the photo below, I used Select Subject to mask both the tower and the flag, then subtracted a Linear Gradient so just the flag was masked. Then I used the Color Picker to increase Luminance and Saturation in the flag without affecting the tower, which has similar color.
It’s a powerful new feature that I’ll explore in more depth in another article.
Lens Blur lets you apply a lens blur effect that blurs the background while keeping the subject sharp. You can refine the blurred area, shift the area of sharp focus and apply different bokeh effects.
It’s not as advanced as the Lens Blur tool in an application like Exposure X, which allows you to emulate the effect of vintage or tilt-shift lenses. But it’s still a useful tool that you can apply creatively to your photos.
It gives the best results when you use it to add blur to photos with already blurred backgrounds, as in the example below (original left, version with lens blur added right).
Lens Blur is a new, but experimental tool (hence the panel’s Early Access button). It’s in development, and Adobe wants to gather feedback to develop it further. Expect things to change and the tool to get better over the coming months.
I’ll show you how to use Lens Blur properly in a future article.
The third major new feature is HDR editing. This is best described as a set of new tools that let you develop photos to take advantage of a HDR display, if you have one.
Once you’ve developed a HDR photo, there’s two new file formats in the Export window you can use to create a photo file for somebody else with a HDR display to view – AVIF and JPEG XL. Not all software supports these file formats, but Adobe expects their use to become more widespread in the future.
HDR editing is a niche tool that’s only useful to photographers with HDR displays. In fact, that’s its only purpose – you shouldn’t use it if you want to print your photos using an inkjet printer, use them in a photo book, send them to a magazine or sell them for stock. There’s also no point in using it if you have what’s known as an SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) monitor, which is most photographers.
Adobe has added these tools because it expects more photographers to use HDR displays in the future.
For those of you who are interested, this Adobe article explains how to use HDR editing in depth.
Minor new features
The following features are minor updates.
History step and Snapshot hover
Hover over a Snapshot or History step to see a preview, just like you can with a Develop Preset. Now you can use the History panel to see the changes that each edit has made to the photo.
Develop Preset search
There’s now a search field at the top of the Presets panel in the Develop module, so that you can search for presets by name. You’ll find this useful if you’re the sort of photographer with hundreds of presets.
Lightroom Classic uses JPEG XL compression instead of JPEG compression when creating lossy DNG files. There’s no loss of quality and the resulting files are much smaller. That means you get smaller DNG files when using the Merge to HDR, Merge to Panorama and Enhance tools. You can expect at least a 50% saving in file size when using tools like Denoise, which should encourage more photographers to experiment with these tools.
There have been a number of performance enhancements that make Lightroom Classic run faster when switching between images in the Develop module, writing XMP data and converting files to the standard (lossless) DNG format.
Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module
You can learn more about every aspect of developing photos in Lightroom Classic with my popular ebook Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module.
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