Lightroom: Keep B&W style during import of RAW files

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  • Updated 7 years ago
If you set your camera to B&W and import the RAW files you shot into Lightroom, Lightroom will always generate new previews for your photos in the standard color profile. Even if I shoot RAW, I would like Lightroom to automatically recognize the B&W stlye and set the photo to B&W in the development settings. If I want to revert to color that is of course still in the RAW file, I would like to do that manually.
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Timo S.

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Posted 7 years ago

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Lee Jay

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Since that data isn't stored in a standard way, LR would have to read and interpret the makernotes section, which is different for each camera and each manufacturer. It's also not documented so it would require reverse engineering for each model.
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Timo S.

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I don't find the argument convincing in this case.
1) Except for DNG no RAW formats are open standards, yet Adobe manages to read information like white balance, etc. from each file as well and adds support for each new camera. So it should be easy for them to identify the relevant information in each RAW file.
2) Even my free image viewer XnView shows the color setting (B&W or COLOR) in the exif infomation. So it's not secretly hidden somewhere.
3) Even if it was hidden, it should be easy to identify whether the embedded preivew image of the RAW file contains any color information. But of course, that would be just a workaround and is not really neccessary as 2) shows.
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Lee Jay

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Not "etc.", just white balance, and that's because it's necessary. Your request is not necessary, just convenient for some.

Lots of people interpret this data (EXIFtool is a prominent example) but they carry very little risk. In the past, manufacturers have changed this data with firmware updates, and broken some of these tools. Adobe would carry a higher risk and possibly be forced to issue updates based on this type of thing.

My suggestion is to completely ignore any and all camera settings beyond the basic exposure settings (including White Balance) when you are shooting in raw. None of them are relevant to the image data.
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Timo S.

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LOL, if every feature request would be rejected because of the argument that it's not necessary but just convenient, I guess we could stick to Lightroom 1 or a Light edition of it since most features of today's software are just for convenience.
So, of course, this request is about convenience. Yet, does this make this a less favorable request?

Besides: please, what risk are we talking about? First of all it's highly unlikely that a manufacturer would change this kind of metadata with a firmware release, because that would also force them to update their own RAW conversion software that can interpret this kind of information. Second, even if it were changed, it would only affect the camera profile that is selected upon import - nothing that would harm the photos and something that can always be changed again.

Of course, I'm voting for a feature that would allow the user to activate or deactivate it according to their preferences. Just like many other features in Lightroom.
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Lee Jay

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"Besides: please, what risk are we talking about?"

Do you remember the flap that followed Nikon's decision to encrypt their WB information?
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Timo S.

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I do. But first of all that was not the result of a firmware update but a new product release. New products are not supported with existing Lightroom releases anyway. Second, Nikon shared and shares their SDK with companies like Adobe. Third, even if at some point it might occur that Lightroom would not be able to read the necessary information from a new RAW file, why not just revert to applying the standard camera profile in such a case? Again, the addition of such a feature does not cause any harm. But it may save some users time.

So, I'd prefer if this discussion focused on exactly this point: Is such a feature convenient for some users or not?
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Lee Jay

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"So, I'd prefer if this discussion focused on exactly this point: Is such a feature convenient for some users or not? "

There's no reason to discuss it. It certainly would be for some. Is it worth the effort versus other features? Don't know. It might also be a slippery slope too ("please include my contrast, color and sharpness settings, please include i-Contrast/active D-lighting, please include color swap, etc.). Those could lead to another slope (your contrast doesn't match Canon/Nikon's, your D-lighting adjustment doesn't match Nikon Capture, etc.).
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john beardsworth

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Lee Jay has outlined some of the problems, and you've also got to add in the cost of supporting all those raw formats out there. OTOH I think there's a case for comparing the embedded JPEG with Adobe's conversion of the raw data, and then applying adjustments to make a good enough match. Only "good enough" though.

The thing is, you get better b&w by converting on computer from the best-exposed raw colour image, not by trying to replicate what's on a 5cm panel on the back of a camera.
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Timo S.

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I'm not asking that LR should produce exactly the same output as the out of camera JPGs. I know this is difficult, and I dont even see a necessitiy to do that because RAW files have to be interpreted and there is no right or wrong.

The point is just: I would only like Lightroom to start from B&W mode, if I set my camera to B&W. I usually set my camera to B&W because I already know these subjects/scenes will probably look better in B&W for me. So, setting the camera to B&W already gives me an idea of my final image. When I import them to Lightroom, I have to set all these images manually to B&W and do my processing. Since during the same import I usually have color and b&w RAW files, applying a preset during import doesnt really help.
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Son Nguyen

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I don't want to turn you down but I don't see this is being done any time soon or if it will be implemented at all. People have asked for LR to retain in-camera-processing-data in RAW image for a long time. Things like B&W, Picture Styles (Canon camera), D-Lighting, Lighting Optimizer, etc...Like Lee Jay said and confirmed by others LR experts. I don't think this one will fly though I wish it would. But after a while of using LR, I don't think I need this option anymore.
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Rob Cole

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It just occurred to me that you can do this and your other similar request, right now, very easily:
- Use ExifMeta to extract picture style and treatment.
- Define smart collections based on picture style and treatment.
- Use CollectionPreseter to assign profile and color treatment preset to the collections.
Done!
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Timo S.

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Mhmm.. maybe I could. But that would require me to take a look into the Lightroom Plugin SDK first. We'll see. If this issue doesn't spark the interest of other users and the Lightroom developer team, I might try to do so this fall when I'm less busy.
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Rob Cole

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I think I changed my post on ya - sorry about that. But, all the pieces are already there. exif-meta & collection-preseter include source code. Present solution does require a couple hoops to jump through post-import but may get you through the summer. If you decide to optimize this fall, it should be fairly straight-forward, just have plugin:
- invoke exiftool to extract pertinent info.
- assign corresponding develop settings.
Another plugin dev resource: https://www.assembla.com/spaces/lrdev...