This week, February 12, 2019 to be exact, Adobe launched version 8.2 with a brand new feature called Enhance Details. A description of the feature from Adobe’s website says,
“The new Enhance Details feature available in Camera Raw, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom CC approaches demosaicing in a new way to better resolve fine details and fix issues like false colors and zippering. Enhance Details uses machine learning—an extensively trained convolutional neural network (CNN)—to provide state-of-the-art quality for the images that really matter. Enhance Details works well on both Bayer (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.) and X-Trans (Fujifilm) raw mosaic files.”
Using Lightroom Enhance Details is easy, you simply select the image RAW file, right click, and the option is there next to HDR Panorama. A dialog will open giving you a preview. Click OK and let the program work. Lightroom will spit out a new RAW file in DNG format with “-Enhanced” appended to the filename. This is the image will supposedly have more fine detail than the original.
This new feature is basically a new way for Lightroom to process RAW files. The feature definitely made Fuji shooters’ ears perk up since Adobe specifically mentioned the X-Trans sensor on their website. Because of the issues that Lightroom has had with Fuji files, I am writing this post as a Fuji shooter. RAW files from Bayer sensors might have different results.
Fujifilm “Wormy Artifacts” in Lightroom
There is an issue with the way Lightroom processes .RAF files from Fujifilm X-Trans sensors. When sharpening images often times you would see “wormy artifacts” appear in fine detail. Personally, I think this problem is a little overblown since you most likely only see them when looking at your image at unrealistic zoom levels. Also, you need to sharpen Fuji X-Trans files differently and if you sharpen correctly, the problem is mitigated greatly.
However, the issue definitely is there and can be a problem. Many people have used Iridient X-transformer to convert their .RAF files to .DNG. Iridient does a great job of handling details in Fuji RAW files that allows for more aggressive sharpening without those artifacts. What Lightroom Classic version 8.2 brings to the table is another option for you.
But will this new update finally take care of the wormy artifacts?
Testing Lightroom Enhance Detail
When I learned of the update, I immediately downloaded it to try it out. I decided to do a quick, down and dirty comparison. I took the same image and processed using Lightroom’s standard processing, Enhance Detail, and Iridient X-Transformer.
I pretty much knew going into this test that both Irident and Enhance Detail would be better than Lightroom’s standard processing. So this test was really to see how Enhance Detail compared with the tried and true method of Iridient X-Tranformer.
Base File Comparison
The first thing I did was run the same .RAF file through Enhanced Detail to see how it compared with Iridient and the standard file. Here is a comparison of the image as a Standard .RAF file, Enhanced Details DNG, and Iridient DNG.
Here is the entire image I used to take a look at the new feature. Click to view the full size image.
Let’s take a look at a 100% crop to see what’s going on.
It’s very difficult to see any difference even at 100%. There is an improvement of overall detail in the Enhanced version, but I had to zoom way in to 500% or so in Photoshop to be able to see any improvement over standard.
Just for kicks, here is a 100% crop of Enhanced Details and Iridient.
I don’t really see any difference.
Sharpening Test – Standard vs Enhanced vs Iridient
At first glance, it is difficult to see any difference between Standard, Enhanced Details, and Iridient. Also, I still couldn’t tell whether or not Enhance Detail takes care of the wormy artifact problem since it appears during sharpening. So now let’s look at the image to see how each file handles capture sharpening. For this test, I pushed sharpening up to 100 or so. This is far more than I would normally add to an image at the capture sharpening stage, but I wanted to see how each file would handle it.
The first image is a comparison of all three. Click the image to view the full-size version.
Here is a 100% crop.
From the look of this file, you can clearly see the standard .RAF is the worst of the three. The wormy artifacts are horrible. Since that is what I originally expected, here is a closer look at just the Enhanced Details and Itridient X-Transformer versions of the file.
The Enhanced definitely looks better than the standard RAW. However, looking closely at the two other files, the Iridient clearly shows fewer artifacts the Enhanced Details file.
A More Realistic Test
Iridient looks to be a clear winner in this very early and quick test. However, I couldn’t help but think about how much of a difference there is between the three files in the real world. Taking sharpening to that level and/or viewing files at 400% or more is not realistic unless you are printing super large prints.
I decided to make copies of each file and put them through a realistic round of capture sharpening. Rather than copying sharpening settings to each file, I separately sharpened each file so they looked ok to my eye. They still might have a little too much sharpening but I’m going to blame that on my 5k monitor.
Here is the full size image.
And here is a 100% crop.
Standard still is showing a little too much artifacting than the other two. It probably wouldn’t show up in a 24″ print or an image sized for the web. But it is definitely there so let’s look closer at the other two. Here’s a better look at the Enhanced Details and Iridient versions:
When sharpening with realistic capture sharpening settings, I personally can’t tell a difference between Enhanced Details and Iridient.
In this very basic and non-scientific test, I can see that Lightroom Enhance Detail is definitely better than Lightroom’s standard processing of Fujifilm .RAF files. I would also say that the results are, at least on the surface, very comparable to Iridient. I think Iridient might do just a little better of a job. As far as I can tell, the differences appear to be minimal when using proper sharpening techniques.
I look forward to reading the thoughts of the print masters to see if Enhance Detail is, in fact, a better file. They are likely to do extensive testing on this feature to see how good it can be.
Why don’t you just switch to Capture One?