Adding grain in Lightroom excessively softens image

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  • Updated 10 months ago
In trying to add grain to an image, the image not only turned grainy,
but also substantially softened.  See attached screenshot from Lightroom.  (NOTE: the original overall screenshot was much sharper, but had to be downsampled to meet Adobe's 2MB file limit.)  I can mitigate the effect by making the grain coarser, but the softening is still over the top.
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William Griswold

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Posted 10 months ago

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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Resize the original image file for the target usage with the Export module before applying Grain. Also keep the Grain Size at 25 or less to prevent softening and view at the target image size in the LR Develop Loupe when making Grain adjustments. Images resized for screen-viewing should be viewed at 1:1 Zoom.  Images resized for printing (Example 300 dpi) should be viewed at the Zoom setting closest to the actual print size onscreen.
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William Griswold

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Ugh, so much work.  One of the things I like about (most) of LR is that it does what I want in a step or two, rather than feeling like an elaborate hack.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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I was able to duplicate the Nik Silver EFEX Pro 2 Kodak TMAX 3200P film type using just LR. No hack and no plugin needed. Nik Silver EFEX Pro 2 - Kodak TMAX 3200P default settings with below LR settings. The LR only image looks sharper to me.


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William Griswold

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So it seems like just keeping the grain size below 25 (15 in this case) works.  That helps a lot.  Thanks!
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Also adjust Sharpening and Clarity to achieve a more "film-like" rendering.  You can then create a Develop Preset with just those settings selected (Treatment, Black & White Mix, Grain, Sharpening, Clarity) for future use. Create as many different film-look presets as you like and give them descriptive names.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Some softening is inevitable. Sharpness is edge contrast and adding grain lowers contrast because you add brighter pixels to dark areas and darker pixels to bright areas. You could increase the contrast after adding the grain.
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William Griswold

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Yes, that helps a little.  But the result is so much softer than if I just jack up the ISO in-camera.  Here is a blog post (and unfortunately a bit of a rant) that discusses this in more detail, including comparisons to other tools:

http://bw.ipcloud.mobi/2015/12/26/why-lightroom-grain-sucks/