Lightroom: Auto adds rectangular artifacts to images

  • 2
  • Problem
  • Updated 4 weeks ago
  • Not a Problem
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. 

Note: This conversation was created from a reply on: Lightroom: Auto settings pretty useless.
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shreddie

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Posted 4 months ago

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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I just tested this in LR 8.1 / Mac OS 10.13.6, and I too observe the rectangular artifacts after applying Auto to the test images:

Before:


After:


Before:



After:





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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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The blocks appear to be present in the unedited version as well. Take one of the unedited into Photoshop and apply a severe levels adjustment and you can see the blocks are already there. 

Probably need to check out the hardware making the capture.
(Edited)
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shreddie

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@ Rikk - Perhaps, but that's not apparent until Auto Settings makes them visible.  I believe these 2 pictures were taken with an iPhone 7+, but I have photos from the same trip taken with an iPhoneX that has the same issues.

So if it is a given that the images taken with the newest model of iPhone have these problems inherent in them, I have 2 questions:

1. Short term: What is the recommended workflow for improving photos like these? (Ideally something Auto, or that can be automated, e.g., saved in a preset that can be easily applied).

2. Longer term: Can Auto Settings be improved to help with these types of photos? 

I'm willing to share loads of photos that have these kinds of problems if it will help the team to improve the feature.

Thanks!



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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Actually, I could see some of the artifacts prior to editing them - that is why I was suspicious of the original files. With the blocky artifacts already part of the image - any editing you do is going to enhance them.

I would recommend looking a how you are capturing the photos to see if there is something in your capture workflow that is causing this. It may simply be a device software issue also.  
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Interesting, you can also see the artifacts in LR by adjusting the basic sliders:



PS shows there is just one pixel-value difference between those areas of sky, (254, 254, 254) versus (255, 255, 255).  So it seems to be a variant of the traditional banding problem of 8-bit JEPG images. 

Was the photo taken with the Ios camera app or some other app on your Iphone Plus 7? It's curious that the boundary between the areas of the sky are such large rectangles -- usually the banding in skies has relatively smooth, irregular boundaries.

You could avoid this problem by using LR Mobile to capture the photos in DNG format rather than JPEG, which will use 16 bits per channel rather than 8.
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Tom Mickow

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I have seen this issue in overexposed areas of images from the built-in camera app of iPhone 8 and X models for awhile now.  In most cases, it shows up exactly where John described - areas with one pixel-value differences from 254, 254, 254 to 255, 255, 255.

It's definitely easy to identify/most pronounced when using the Exposure and Highlights sliders in Lr Classic and ACR, but I can also replicate it in non-Adobe editors, so I've always assumed the issue is baked into the original images coming from the phones.

I've also seen it on images in both JPEG and HEIC formats.  I'm a bit handcuffed since my Windows version of Ps & ACR still can't open HEIC files (ugh!), but I thought that was a 16-bit format that wouldn't/shouldn't have the banding issues of an 8-bit JPEG?

Lastly, I can't find any occurrences of this issue in my catalog prior to October 2017, which leads me to believe this may have started with the release of iOS 11 in September 2017.

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shreddie

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Very interesting @Tom Mickow.

Lightroom Team: Is this a known issue as described by Tom, and will you work with Apple to address it?

Thanks!
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"I thought that was a 16-bit format that wouldn't/shouldn't have the banding issues of an 8-bit JPEG?"

HEIC supports both 8-bit and 16-bit images. But the Apple Ios camera appears to record only in 8-bit and doesn't have a 16-bit option.  The LR Mobile camera records 16-bit (or 10-bit?) DNGs, though, avoiding the issue.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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"Lightroom Team: Is this a known issue as described by Tom, and will you work with Apple to address it?"

This is purely an issue in the Apple Ios camera app, independent of LR, and should be reported directly to Apple. 
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Tom Mickow

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"HEIC supports both 8-bit and 16-bit images. But the Apple Ios camera appears to record only in 8-bit and doesn't have a 16-bit option.  The LR Mobile camera records 16-bit (or 10-bit?) DNGs, though, avoiding the issue."

Good to know.

"This is purely an issue in the Apple Ios camera app, independent of LR, and should be reported directly to Apple."

Completely agree.  It looks to be baked into the processing of the original image coming from the iPhone.
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shreddie

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@John Ellis - will you, the Lightroom team, report this to Apple, or expecting me/us to do that? If the latter, can you tell me how?
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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It never hurts to send them your feedback directly: https://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html

I can see if it's every been raised with Apple after the holiday.

In the meantime, try shooting with the Pro option in Lightroom CC for iOS. As John R says above, it will give you a raw file with way more latitude and zero JPEG artifacts.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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(To clarify, I'm not an Adobe employee or contractor.)
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shreddie

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Thanks everyone. I reported it to Apple today using that form. I borrowed heavily from this thread to compose the bug report:

"We have seen an issue in overexposed areas of images from the built-in camera app of iPhone 7+, 8 and X. In most cases, it shows up in areas with one pixel-value differences from 254, 254, 254 to 255, 255, 255, e.g., the sky.

It's definitely easy to identify/most pronounced when using the Exposure and Highlights sliders in Lightroom Classic or Photoshop, but can also be replicated in non-Adobe editors, so it seems to be in the original images coming from the phone.

We can't find any occurrences of this issue prior to October 2017, which leads us to believe this may have started with the release of iOS 11 in September 2017.

HEIC supports both 8-bit and 16-bit images. But the Apple iOS camera doesn't seem to have a 16-bit option, which we believe would help avoid this issue."  

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shreddie

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Hello @Jeffrey Tranberry

FYI: there has been no response from Apple to me directly on this issue.

I did some further testing of these types of images in the Apple Photos application (Version 4.0 (3411.5.190)) in MacOS 10.4.1 and used their Auto settings corrections for Light. It does not result in any blocky artifacts, yet still manages to improve the images to an acceptable level. 

It seems that Apple has made a deliberate decision that the compression savings are justified, and their tools teams have engineered solutions with this in mind. 

I don't think it is helpful, or reasonable, for Adobe to say this is Apple's problem.

While the suggested workaround of capturing with the Lightroom Camera/Capture creates a RAW file that does not have this issue, it is not a great solution. I end up collecting photos from family members and friends that have this issue too. I am not going to get them to change their capture workflow - the camera app in iOS is all they use.
(Edited)
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Robert Somrak, Champion

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I don't think it is helpful, or reasonable, for Adobe to say this is Apple's problem.
Why should Adobe spend time trying to fix a problem Apple created.  Its obvious the blockiness was created by Apple.  As an Apple user these kind of issues are becoming more common lately.
(Edited)
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shreddie

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Why should Adobe spend time trying to fix a problem Apple created. 
Fair question.

It seems that, based on the all-Apple workflow, Apple doesn't consider it to be a problem. It appears to be an iOS Camera engineering decision regarding the level of compression to apply to their images, and their downstream tools provide an Auto-fix solution that does not have the same blocky artifact problems. 

Auto-fix solutions try to be a panacea, and as such, must have code for addressing different issues in images. While Apple has done this, Adobe has not gotten around to adding a fix to address this special case yet. 

It seems that Adobe hasn't been aware of this until we pointed it out, or perhaps they are aware, and just have other priorities. I'm just trying to raise awareness, because this affects many people, and it appears that Apple has no intention of changing it (perhaps until their camera starts shooting RAW images).

As a former Adobe team member, I know that Adobe has a long history of fixing problems that Apple has created. ;)