Lightroom: Tie the Grain tool to the print resolution

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I've been exhibiting large, 60+ inch prints for years and have been manually improving my own grain look over the years in Photoshop. The idea of bringing this to LR would be a dream come true. I like the new Grain tool but think it would be infinitely more usable were it tied to the print resolution instead of the capture resolution.

Similar to film, the grain function is tied to the capture resolution so we see larger grain with increasing print sizes. When I take 20-40 megapixel images to the extreme with say Grain 100,1,100 settings - small 5x7 inch prints don't show much grain at all while 16x20 prints have fantastic, gorgeous grain and huge 54x86 foot prints have grotesquely large and ugly grain (IMO, no offense!). I am temped to conclude that the grain is absolutely fantastic for common 6x9 to 16x20 print sizes but it's not quite as versatile particularly for a larger print sizes. For my 60+ inch prints I have to increase the resolution of the image so as to avoid huge ugly grain blobs.

If the grain effect were tied to the print resolution (ppi) not only could we get more desirable, smaller grain on really huge prints but we could have consistently sized grain across all our print sizes. So perhaps you like 85,1,72 for your grain settings - you could get this look on all of your print sizes! Or perhaps you like 100,10,100 for your small 5x7 prints and 85,1,100 on your large prints - either way you'd want to specify this when making those prints.

Thanks for listening!
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Scott Martin

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Posted 7 years ago

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Rob Cole

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I'd like to see this for screen exports as well, i.e. grain-size proportional to crop-size/export-size.
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Scott Martin

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I'm in Mexico teaching a workshop this week at this fantastic printmaking facility - Izote Editions, where they do (among other things) copperplate gravure and letterpress work. They do a bunch of editions for famous photographers all over the world. I'm looking at a bunch of their copperplate gravure prints and am in awe of the texture/grain of the prints. They are using very old and fine Aquatint and Mezzotint screens. In one of the editions a famous photographer sent in an iPhone image to be printed and it came out great - far better than any other inkjet or other prints made from his image.

Long story short - print grain is the key! I think it's the "next big thing"! I show people the grain algorithm in LR and people love it. But to be able to have it in LR's Print module, or even PS's Print dialog would be the bomb. Feeling this more than ever.
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Housik

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I absolutely degree - This is MUST HAVE OPTION - There must be possibility to make grain settings relative to output resolution. Otherwise everybody must manually adjust grain settings for every cropped photos in exported serie, what sucks!
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Housik

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Any news? Scale grain proportionally to the crop/export size is highly required!
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Mike Manzano

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Just a question, if you shoot film, the grain size is a physical constant. Blowing it up will enlarge the grain too, no? So is this feature really a way to get a more filmic look, or is it really a digital aesthetic process?
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Scott Martin

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Blowing up film means bigger grain, yes, and at some point it usually looks too big. High accutance developers and point light source enlargers helped us get nicer looking grain that would could go larger with. 

With the current grain tool the grain is tied to the camera's resolution so the larger we print the larger grain we get. And again at some point the grain becomes too big and ugly.

With print grain, we would have independent control over the size, intensity look and feel of the grain, regardless of the print size. So all of our prints large and small could have nice and sharp grain. Of course, the way the grain interacts with the image content is another matter that might dictate what size looks best, and independent control is again desirable.

I really like and appreciate your last question! I don't think this is about getting a 'filmic look' at all. I have found that adding grain can enhance the aesthetic to digitally captured images. I wish I could show you some prints that looked a little lacking before but came alive once some grain as applied to them! I am a printmaker living in an age where people don't print as much, and reducing bad noise is obsessed over while adding good noise is overlooked. Both have their place.
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Mike Manzano

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Thank's for the response! I did a workshop with Alex Webb and he showed us some of his large prints and talked a bit about grain, so I think I know what you mean. And BTW, fellow Greener here, class of '96. Nice to know we're not all unemployed hippy stoners ;)
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Scott Martin

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Fellow Greener!! '95 here. Perhaps unemployed hippy stoners just grow up to be self employed geeks with kids and mortgages. Still standing for what I believe to be right, especially when it's unconventional. Cheers.