Lightroom: Auto settings pretty useless

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In the previous iteration of LR, Auto tone would lower the contrast on pretty much all of my images. In the present one, it does the same thing but also makes the image darker, even if it is dark already. It shows absolutely no discrimination from image to image. In its current incarnation it is pretty much useless.
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walterono

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Posted 3 months ago

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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Based on reports in these forums, many people find Auto very useful.  To help Adobe understand why it isn't working well for you, perhaps you could upload several diverse originals to Dropbox or similar, post the sharing link here, and post before/after screenshots here.
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Andy Hewitt

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I'm also finding this as well.

When I first starting using the Auto Tone feature in Lightroom Classic CC, I found it worked really well and was very near to what I wanted.

But recently I've found it tends to darken too much. It seems to bung the Highlights slider down well enough, but it doesn't move the Shadows slider up much at all.

I've had to use Jeffrey Friedl's 'Bag-O-Goodies' plugin to tame things down with the Exposure and Contrast adjusters too. If I leave those to default it's even worse - the Contrast only ever seems to go negative, and never into positive values.

It almost seems that the more the Sensei AI function is learning, the less able it's becoming. On that note, does anyone know if the Sensei Auto Tone use data based on your own image adjustments, or is this a global thing?

I've noticed a lot of anomalies with some of the updated processes though, the latest Colour Profiles and Process Version 5 are producing some very strange and undesirable results. Perhaps it's all linked.

In my case the files affected are varied, from 15 year old Olympus E-1 ORF images to slightly less old Nikon D5100 NEF images, as well as a fewFuji RAF ones too.

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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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As far as I know, there is no learning involved. The algorithms were created by using AI, but they are not self-learning.
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Andy Hewitt

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OK, perhaps I misunderstand the marketing blurb then, which makes mention of 'AI' and 'Machine Learning' technology in reference to the Sensei system within the description of the 'new' Auto Adjustment feature (back in December 2017).

If it's not a self-learning system, then surely it's not 'AI' or 'Machine Learning' then? It's just complex algorithms for making adjustments to your images using a vast amount of stored data.

But, anyway, thank you for clearing that up. I just hate ambiguous and misleading marketing tactics.
(Edited)
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"If it's not a self-learning system, then surely it's not 'AI' or 'Machine Learning' then?"

The term "machine learning" has a reasonably precise technical meaning, and the Auto algorithm is fairly called "machine learned".  I read that Adobe built a "training set" of thousands of photos by having expert photographers manually adjust the photos in LR to produce pleasing results.  From that training set, Adobe used machine learning to build an algorithm that, given a new photograph, would Auto adjust it to closely approximate what the experts would have done. This is classic machine learning.

Machine-learned algorithms and AI algorithms don't necessarily continue to "learn" after they've been defined.  Traditionally, most are defined by the training set in the lab and then deployed into products and don't change after that (until the engineers re-train with a new training set in the lab).  

The term "AI" doesn't have as precise a technical meaning, often used by marketing to mean anything new and gee-whiz. But AI usually does include "machine learning", so it's not unreasonable for Adobe marketing to use "AI" to describe Auto.


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Andy Hewitt

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Understood.

However, I still cannot help feeling it is marketing tactics. It has to be to some extent, and is understandable I suppose, most businesses use all sorts of methods to sell products.

In this case, it is taking advantage of the average user that probably doesn't understand the definitions of such terminology.

I would say the general understanding of AI was that it did self learn - it's what the media has been scaring the general public with for many years.

However, an understanding of what happens in reality is very useful, so thank you for that.

On that point though, my feeling now is that it maybe isn't necessarily what every user would want. As many photographers and photos editors tend to have a personal style, perhaps it would be better to narrow the Auto AI/Machine Learn algorithms to include only the photos edited by that user (Luminar is supposed to be able to do this, although I own that, I haven't used it enough to tell if it does work or not).

Just a thought of course there. Maybe it should have an option to use either the traditional Auto adjustments, or the new Sensei powered Auto adjustments.

It's certainly clear that both methods have their fair share of likes and dislikes.

All the best
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Floris van Eck

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My results with auto in Lightroom are pretty satisfactory. It generally does a good job of brightening the image for me since my images are most likely to be slightly underexposed. I always think it removes a bit too much contrast for my liking, but that's easy to fix. 

Compared to the auto mode in Capture One it does a much better job, and for more challenging images it does a better job to then DxO PhotoLab 2. The thing I like about that software is that an Auto profile is applied by default, and it does a really good job in general (except for the more challenging images).
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"The thing I like about that software is that an Auto profile is applied by default,"

Just in case, did you know that LR can also do that?  You can define a preset that does Auto, and then have that preset applied automatically on import.
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Floris van Eck

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I know Lightroom Classic can do it, but Lightroom CC for desktop as well? It is one of those features that I miss.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I think it would help Adobe (and others) if those dissatisifed with Auto posted examples here (before and after, including the full-resolution originals via Dropbox or similar).  Without the examples, Adobe can hear the dissatisfaction but not have any actionable data.
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shreddie

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I'm having problems with images that have been taken on days where the light is flat, and not much contrast in the skies. When applying Auto Settings (cmd+U) to these images, I get huge blocks and stepping around things like columns, poles, spires, branches, etc.

Here's a link to a Dropbox share with the originals and after Auto Settings have been applied:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/xiawqbh3pi8hbm3/LR%20Auto%20problem%20pics.zip?dl=0

I have to apply Auto Settings, then go into Develop mode and spend time adjusting, which basically defeats the purpose and value of Auto Settings. 


(Edited)
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I forked this off to a separate bug report, since the rectangular artifacts are a much different problem from the issue that Auto isn't adjusting the sliders according to one's preferences: Lightroom: Auto adds rectangular artifacts to images
(Edited)
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shreddie

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Thanks John