Lightroom: Skin-tones in LR not pleasant or natural

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I'm sure you've seen the review of three main Raw Converters by DPReview.com?
http://www.dpreview.com/articles/8219...

The comparison in skintones stood out for me, as I totally recognize the quite flat results that is produced by LR4 (and 2 and 3). I've hardly ever found LR to be processing skin-tones in a pleasant, natural way. DP Review describes it like this:
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In processing dozens of portraits shot on a variety of cameras, however, I've found that both Capture One Pro 7 and DxO Optics Pro 8 offer consistently more accurate (and pleasing) results than Lightroom 4. Your mileage may vary of course, depending on the camera(s) you shoot with.
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And honestly... I agree with them. Can you please work on improving the skintones of images? It's what stands out to people the most and is most noticeable.

Thanks,
hans
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Hans Vos

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Posted 6 years ago

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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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What are you using for your Camera Profile setting? Adobe Standard? Camera Neutral?
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Hans Vos

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I assume you mean the Camera calibration settings in the Developer module, right? It's set to Adobe Standard. And don't see other profiles listed there.
In the reply, 2 down, Butch is suggesting creating a profile. I'm getting back to that in a reply to him.
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Sean McCormack, Champion

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The comments are filled with talk of profiles, something that does make a big difference to Lightroom's color rendering.
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Butch_M

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When it comes to color of skin tones ... results are purely subjective ... especially when you compare "default" results ... for every user you can find that prefers one rendition ... with little effort, you can also find an equal or greater number who disagree ...

The beauty of Lr/ACR ... is that users don't have to settle for such "default" settings ... with a minimum of effort and expense ... you can fine tune and establish your preferred rendition of color and tone that best reflects your vision ... not what a software engineer thinks you should have ...

You can quickly create a custom Camera Calibration profile using a color checker chart and the free DNG Profile Editor from Adobe Labs (keep in mind you do not need to convert all your images to DNG, only those images used for the creation of the profile) ... using the editor ... you can even take it a step further and match (or nearly match) color output across multiple camera bodies ... even different models or brands ... set the resulting profile as default for that camera ... and it is applied upon import. Couldn't be easier to get what YOU want.

Quite honestly ... this is the only feature that keeps me using Lr ... for if the competition would offer a similar feature to fine-tune color and tone this easily ... I would be tempted to stray from the order ...
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Hans Vos

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I totally agree with you, results are very subjective, but would love to see the 'defaults' better matching my own subjective views :-)
And when seeing the default settings of DXO and Capture One, I'd love to see those default settings in LR.

I like your suggestion for creating profiles, honestly I have seen the option but never seriously tried using it.
My reason for not trying is that I fear that once you start fiddling around with default settings, it might match the pictures you are processing at that moment, but will give a dramatic effect on pictures taken in another setting or situation.

Pictures I take are weddings, portraits, wildlife, landscape, travel etcetera, so.. I'm wondering; should I start creating profiles for all types of situations? or do you work with only one custom profile?
In other words, if I set a profile for portraits, would that also influence landscapes in a noticable - possibly negative - way?

I (we) make use of three bodies, a Canon 60D, 7D and 5dmkII, so what you write about multiple bodies sounds interesting.

All in all, thanks for your reply, still interested in a reply to my question above, but thanks for now!
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Butch_M

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"And when seeing the default settings of DXO and Capture One"

Sure ... then the next ten users will complain they don't like the default results of DXO or Capture One. Which user is Adobe to please? Thankfully, they made a great strides to try and please everyone.

Keep in mind ... Lr/ACR has multiple "default" Camera Calibrations profiles available ... which is what Jeffrey was referring to ... these are created for each individual digital camera supported by Adobe ... it is quite likely if you experiment with them, you'll find at least one of them closely matches your expectations ... again they are all subjective in the end.

For my own purposes ... I created my custom profiles using the color checker by photographing it outdoors on a clear day with full on sunlight and just let the editor software do it's thing and apply that as my default profile. Then I created four other custom profiles under specific lighting conditions ... 1) My strobes in the studio with the softboxes I use most often, 2) My SB800 on-camera flash units, 3) The indoor sports venue I shoot the most, 4) The outdoor night time venue I shoot most.

If for some reason, after adjusting the WB of an image in the Develop module I am not satisfied with the color rendition using my custom default profile, I simply test the other profiles ... then sink all similar images to those adjustments as needed ... That way I easily and quickly get what I want ...
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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That's correct. Where to start is a subjective thing. Camera Profiles are the secret sauce for allowing users the flexibility to match either the in-camera processing recipe, or another starting point all together.
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Dorin Nicolaescu-Musteață, Champion

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Regarding the profiles and ability to adjust color...

When it comes to getting "pleasing color" in Lightroom/ACR, there are two aspects of the pipeline that the user cannot control and they are critical:
1. Luminosity-dependent hue shifts built into canned profiles. The are the key to pleasing color and the user cannot edit them when creating CC passport profiles.
2. The hue-locked nature of tonal adjustments (Basic panel sliders or Curves). Unlike Photoshop, ACR's "protects" the hues from shifting when manipulating the curve. This is generally considered a good thing by most people, but for me, is one of the reason to still not like Adobe color. So, even if the profile has good color at defaults, a strong tonal adjustment may ruin it for me.
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Rob Cole

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Camera Profiles allow HSL (Hue, Saturation, & Luminance) to be tweaked based on H&S (not L). To tweak H&S based on L, you need RGB curves, or split toner.
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ERIC BURLET

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The problem for me with skintones is clarity. Previous clarity (2010 develop process) was working well with skin tones, a kind of "smooth punch", the new is perfect for landscape but for portrait, it gives an ugly "hdr" look, it is not subtle at all. Maybe we need a specific tool for skin tones.
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Rob Cole

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|> "The differences are not that pronounced"

That opinion is not shared by all users. There was plenty of kicking and screaming during beta - strong reactions persisted even after strength difference was taken into consideration. Granted, new clarity was improved between beta and initial release, but even then there was a lot of discussion about the differences after Lr4.0 was released - and even now, threads pop up from time to time when people notice the marked difference. I dunno whether Eric had not figured out to go easier on amount yet, or had noticed the significant differences in effect like some of the rest of us - hopefully he will tell...

Don't get me wrong - I like the new "improved" clarity, but it's difference from legacy clarity is very notable in some contexts, usually favorable, but sometimes: not so much - thus the reason I sometimes export back to Lightroom to apply old clarity to photos already processed with the new pv.

PS - Nobody should take my word for it (nor Sean's) - make up your own minds... - consider the checkerboard test which reveals substantially different clarity effect depending on PV:

Checkerboard for clarity testing - consider trying old clarity of 100 vs. new clarity at 50 as an initial test - then halfen... - look at the histogram as well as the image.

Yeah, I know it's not a photograph... - as I said: whether differences are significant or positive vs. negative depends on photo.

R
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ERIC BURLET

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OK, sorry, it was not about color but much about texture. I'm not that good with english to explain precisely what I mean, but Rob hit the point. This is not a problem of amount of clarity applied, this is the effect.

I agree, it does a better job with landscape, but IMHO not with portrait. Old clarity was giving a nice crisp effect to skins and faces, new one is much more like contrast
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ERIC BURLET

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OK, I've just made some test with portraits and maybe I'm wrong... It is hard to see a real difference actually between old and new clarity ... Maybe I was wishing it was better!

So maybe we really need a specific tool for skin and skin tones!
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Sean McCormack, Champion

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I don't know if you ever saw a product called iCorrect, it was kinda like a White Balance for skin tones plugin for Lightroom. I've asked for something like that numerous time.
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ERIC BURLET

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Never heard about it. I've just been on the website, this is from Pictoclolor software? looks nice but the lightroom plugin is expensive...

Capture One also as a dedicated white balance for skin but I'm not expert enough with CO to have good results.