Lightroom Classic CC: Option to revert to older "Auto"

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I have found the machine learning "Auto" introduced in v7.1 to be quite poor, relative to the previous version. In my experience, using the Nikon D750 Standard camera profile, it frequently leads to (1) left-skewed histograms, (2) flat, low contrast images, and (3) under-exposed skin tones. It especially seems to struggle with highlights (recovering too aggressively to the detriment of the overall image).

I commonly used "Auto" for bulk edits (i.e. through a preset) over hundreds of images needing near-immediate production. I now find that these presets that leverage the "Auto" function can no longer be used because of the poor performance. I would like to request that we have an option to disable the machine learning "Auto" and use the version that existed prior to v7.1. More broadly, a version control mechanism to select functionality of a given version, particularly for presets, would be very helpful for those who believe that software changes do not always represent an improvement.
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tjordan90

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Posted 5 months ago

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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Interesting. Most people, including me, think the new Auto Tone is a huge improvement. The old version was utterly useless, and would grossly overexpose each image. The new version is as good as it gets without the option to let the code learn from your personal preferences. I believe further improvement should indeed come in this area: the machine should be able to learn your personal preferences, and so after a while the result should be different on your machine and my machine, even if we use the same image.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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As Johan Elzenga mentions the Auto Tone function in LR Classic has changed significantly. You mention using presets that leverage the "Auto" function. I'm not sure what is included in those presets beyond Auto Tone, but you're most likely are going to need to recreate them for LR 7.x. I suggest starting by trying different camera profiles with the Auto Tone function that get you closer to the desired rendering. From your description it sounds like you're using Adobe Standard, which for the Nikon D750 is lower in contrast and color saturation than earlier camera models produced prior to Q3 2014. Try using Camera Standard or the new Adobe Color camera profile available in LR 7.3.
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tjordan90

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Followup: After further experimentation, the poor performance I experienced with the new "Auto" -- under-exposure and left-skewed histogram -- is related to the Nikon camera profiles (e.g. "Camera Standard" or "Camera Portrait"). "Auto" works much better with the Adobe camera profiles (e.g. "Adobe Standard") but then you're stuck with having to use the Adobe profiles. Strangely, "Auto" also seemed to work fine with my custom camera color profiles (e.g. from X-Rite ColorChecker Passport).

As a workaround, I follow the following 2-step procedure to make "Auto" work while using Nikon color profiles for batch editing. Hopefully this is helpful to others suffering from the same predicament, until Adobe fixes "Auto" for Nikon camera profiles.
  • Step 1: Create a preset that uses the combination of (a) "Auto" and (b) an Adobe camera profile, and apply it to your desired pictures. You can also add in other non-Auto customizations (e.g. clarity, tone curve, vignetting, sharpening, split toning, lens corrections, color tweaks, etc.) to the preset as well.
  • Step 2: Select the desired pictures and bulk change the camera profile to your desired Nikon color profile. This can be accomplished by a preset or by changing on one picture and then batch applying to the rest (copy/paste or sync settings).
I still find that "Auto" is a bit too aggressive with Shadows/Highlights for my personal preference, as I prefer a little bit more contrast. I'll use the Quick Develop menu in the Library module to perform relative adjustments to the Shadow/Highlights. For example, I'll raise the highlights by +20 and lower the shadows by -20 by clicking the "fast forward" button. The "play" button adjusts in a smaller +5 increment if you want to fine tune. 
(Edited)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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I downloaded a few Nikon D750 NEFs and tested Auto Tone with both Adobe Standard and Camera Standard. It appears that some images with a bright central image against a darker background are grossly under-exposed when using the Camera Standard profile. Below is an example NEF that clearly demonstrates what appears to be an Auto Tone AI algorithm failure! There is a -2.33 EV difference between Adobe Standard and Camera Standard Auto Tone with entire Histogram pushed into the Shadows region. Your two-step workaround is the best solution until Adobe fixes the issue.

https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d750/Y_DSC0529.NEF.HTM

(Edited)
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Phillip Pasteris

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I shoot a D750 and the difference between LR 6 Auto and LR 7 is striking.  I have no idea why they decided to include saturation and vibrance in the Auto adjustments.  Maybe LR 6 Auto was a bit bright at times, but the saturation and vibrance adjustments are pretty ghastly and unsatisfactory when compared to LR 6.  I think I will need to reinstall LR 6 to get around this.  HELP!!!
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Try using the 2-step procedure tjordan90 outlined above and in step 2 add Vibrance & Saturation both set to 0. It should only take a few seconds to bulk apply.
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Phillip Pasteris

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I hate band-aids, but will give it a try.  We need this fix ASAP.
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Phillip Pasteris

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Hi All,
I could not wait for the fix and decided to revert back to LR 6.  Life is much simpler.
Thank you all for pointing me in the right direction - backwards
The Auto button is a far lighter touch than LR 7  Wow!
I hope I get a note from Adobe when this is fixed.
Phil
(Edited)
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Phillip, 

The Auto button is an evolving tool. I would expect it will be moving forward, refining and adding new capabilities. I do not think it will be reverting to previous behavior unless it has a lot of backers.  This is submitted as a feature request already. If you haven't hit the [Vote] button at the top, please do so. 
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Phillip Pasteris

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Hi Rikk,

Thank you for the prompt reply.  I am relatively new to LR starting with ~LR 4. I need to investigate the Auto Adobe Standard and Camera Standard settings.  Not sure where those setting reside in LR 7 when I boot it up.

In any event, my suggestion would be to avoid changing saturation and vibrance in LR 7. 
I agree that offering "LR 6 Auto" as an option in a pull down menu or preset is a good idea and has my vote.

When you process several hundred images at a time, predictability is important and I must say that LR 7 Auto provided a surprise with every new image.

All the best,
Phil