Lightroom: Why not CMYK values?

  • 3
  • Question
  • Updated 2 years ago
  • (Edited)
Maybe LR is for digital cameras, as Victoria Bampton wrote on the LR forum, but the photos that we make are very often used for print in offset (cmyk), for magazines, catalogs, etc.
So LR is just an intermediate instrument between the camera and the print in cmyk.
An advertising photographer, like me, "thinks" in cmyk because he thinks according to the final use >> print in cmyk.
In my modest opinion, for this reason, it is simply absurd to not have the possibility to read the color values in cmyk (that some of us asked for years). I speak about to be able to read the color values in cmyk, not to open cmyk files, I hope that is clear.
Beside this I don't think that it is so complex to add this possibility to LR - it should be a simple algorithm, Photoshop does it (Apple Aperture does it too!), so I don't see a valid reason to don't give what could be a plus for a lot of users that really need it.
Photo of Pippo Baudo

Pippo Baudo

  • 18 Posts
  • 8 Reply Likes

Posted 8 years ago

  • 3
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1124 Posts
  • 268 Reply Likes
Because not enough photographers ever need it? And those who do have Photoshop?
Photo of Mark Gilvey

Mark Gilvey

  • 23 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
Correct but photographers do need RGB values and we don't get those either. I never understood why Adobe chose to us percentage values to begin with unless they are after a "Zone System" model which even fewer photographers use than photographers who need CMYK readings. I would like to see them add the ability that they have employed in the Info palette in Photoshop where you can choose what color space the read outs display. 
Photo of Andrew Rodney

Andrew Rodney

  • 652 Posts
  • 122 Reply Likes
Yes, photographers need and can get any RGB values in LR as I outlined earlier. Or Lab. 
Photo of Mark Gilvey

Mark Gilvey

  • 23 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
I still don't see the RGB values. What LR gives is 1-100% not 0-255. Even if they can't give CMYK they should at least be able to do 0-255 shouldn't they. In ACR they do have 0-255 so why not LR. I downloaded the skin tone values image, thanks. 
Photo of Andrew Rodney

Andrew Rodney

  • 652 Posts
  • 122 Reply Likes
Go into Develop
Type S key (Soft proof)
Pick RGB profile you want numbers for. 
Done. 0-255% (not that this makes any difference and not that this scale is at all intuitive to new users). 
Skintones:
Here's a video on correcting skin tones without having to resort to CMYK:
Low Rez (YouTube) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWaFDKrNrwc

High Rez
http://digitaldog.net/files/SkinToneVideo.mov
Photo of Mark Gilvey

Mark Gilvey

  • 23 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
EXCELENT VIDEO Andrew!! Makes me want to move to LAB. I used to work in a prepress shop were we only used one or two profiles for output devices so I never really understood (till now) how CMYK was tied to that. We mostly used AdobeRGB and got expected results. Ok, so I should change my complaint to why doesn't LR have LAB values as well? Thanks for the info on finding the 0-255 readout.
Photo of Andrew Rodney

Andrew Rodney

  • 652 Posts
  • 122 Reply Likes
LR does have Lab read outs!
Photo of Rikk Flohr

Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

  • 4482 Posts
  • 890 Reply Likes
Right Click on the Histogram and choose "Show LAB Color Values"
Photo of Mark Gilvey

Mark Gilvey

  • 23 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
For those who are new, specifically when the word Histogram is displayed above the Histogram, then you can right click to get the LAB numbers. If you are in Soft Proofing, the LAB will not be available. THANKS RIKK!
Photo of Scott Mahn

Scott Mahn

  • 178 Posts
  • 46 Reply Likes
I don't know what's up with LR that you can't even export to CMYK.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1111 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
Can't you set up a Photoshop action to apply the exact CMYK profile you require? Save that action as a droplet, and plonk that it the Export Actions folder (post processing steps in the export dialog).
Photo of Pippo Baudo

Pippo Baudo

  • 18 Posts
  • 8 Reply Likes
Scott, I don't want to export in cmyk*, I just want to have the possibility to readout the color values in cmyk when I pass the pointer (mouse) over the image.
At the moment the color values are in RGB or in %.
RGB values are not very useful when for example you have to correct skin tones, or to keep some colors in the limits of the quality that can allow cmyk print.
Yes of course I could export the image in Photoshop and finish the job there (what I actually do). But it has not a lot of sense for me to export in Photoshop an image that is not as close as possible to the result that I want to obtain and to finish the work there.

* In a modern workflow for typography you use the rgb images, but you use the cmyk numbers and a cmyk profile. Only when exporting the file in pdf for print you convert the rgb images in cmyk one taking care to create the pdf with the right cmyk profile and "preserving cmyk numbers"
(They explain this very well on the InDesign forum)
Photo of Andrew Rodney

Andrew Rodney

  • 620 Posts
  • 111 Reply Likes
>RGB values are not very useful when for example you have to correct skin tones...

Actually they are (can be), you just need to learn a new scale. Plus its not based on an output specific color space like CMYK. Check out these ratio’s from well known (reference) skin tones of differing source color spaces (which isn’t an issue in LR which is nice). I think you’ll see a pattern you can use in LR with the percentages:

http://digitaldog.net/files/LR_Skinto...
Photo of Pippo Baudo

Pippo Baudo

  • 18 Posts
  • 8 Reply Likes
John
I don't know if not enough photographers don't need it.
Maybe a lot of photographer do not think that it could be useful? (and really it is)
I know some that need.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1111 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
I'm sure some need it. But I've also no doubt that Adobe have researched the level of demand and have balanced it against the cost of doing it properly. Maybe it will come as part of a soft-proofing feature?
Photo of Pippo Baudo

Pippo Baudo

  • 18 Posts
  • 8 Reply Likes
I hope...
It is not fundamental of course, but you know these little things that can simplify a lot you work or your life... :)
And beside this it should not be so complex to realize, and as it already exists in Photoshop why not to use the already existing algorithm? Or there is no communication through the various departments of Adobe?

And yes, Adobe have researched the level of demand of such a feature, but I think that Apple did the same, and Apple offers this features... (btw I am not a fan of Aperture).
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1111 Posts
  • 258 Reply Likes
I imagine a lot depends on how accurate you want it to be, and whether a "good enough" solution would work. Is a default CMYK conversion really all you would need to provide useful numbers. Wouldn't you really the numbers after applying the actual printer profile?

There's plenty of communication, though remember Photoshop's code is fundamentally different from Lightroom's. In this case I think it's more an Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom issue - so one small team.
Photo of Pippo Baudo

Pippo Baudo

  • 18 Posts
  • 8 Reply Likes
Cmyk numbers and cmyk conversion (profile) are two completely different things.

The first are used to correct and balance the colors and the luminosity of the image, the second is used to keep the image as close as possible to the desired result when printing.

Well, the argument is a little too much complex for me to explain it with my bad english :)
So I let to speak the InDesign specialist David Blatner
http://indesignsecrets.com/getting-ac...

As a lot of photo-correctors I have always worked with cmyk value.
And this for 35 years. So you can imagine how hard it could be to change my habits...
As a lot of photo-correctors I can set you the right skin color even using a grayscale monitor, just using the cmyk mumbers.
I will be curious to see somebody do the same using RGB numbers...
Photo of Andrew Rodney

Andrew Rodney

  • 620 Posts
  • 111 Reply Likes
>As a lot of photo-correctors I have always worked with cmyk value.
And this for 35 years.

Keep in mind, in the ‘old days’, one would produce the CMYK numbers, from a scanner that only output CMYK for a single output device need. Scan once, use once. RGB workflows are different and vastly more flexible (scan once, print many). I understand its difficult to change your habits. But think of the ramifications. For one, the only correct CMYK values are those produced for a single output device where you have a CMYK descriptor (today that’s an ICC output profile). Even if the GCR/UCR or other black gen is differing from the same device, the values are different. If you only have one, maybe two devices to memorize the correct values or ratio’s, not difficult. But if you have to deal with dozens, its more difficult than counting cards at a Vegas blackjack table!

With RGB, its very easy to learn values that are output agnostic. When R=G=B, you have a neutral anywhere in the tone scale. Many differing CMYK values produce a known neutral. With the skin tone ratio’s, you can see that its pretty easy too. R is about 10% higher than G, which is about 10% higher than B. That along with a calibrated display, which is key provides tools to produce skin tones that until conversion to CMYK (which is now solely dependent on the ICC CMYK profile) is set.

>I will be curious to see somebody do the same using RGB numbers...

The URL illustrates what I and many other users produce everyday. Again, its not rocket science, its simply a newer scale you are not yet familiar with. If you look at the source of the values from RGB versus where the CMYK values have come from, I think you’ll see RGB makes much more sense. Its totally output agnostic. Nail the RGB values and you can then output to any device whereby you have the proper CMYK ICC profile.
Photo of Pippo Baudo

Pippo Baudo

  • 18 Posts
  • 8 Reply Likes
Thank you for the link and specially for this your last answer Andrew!
Photo of Andrew Rodney

Andrew Rodney

  • 652 Posts
  • 122 Reply Likes
LR is fully an RGB processing pipeline from start to finish. CMYK is an output specific print color space. Every CMYK device will have a differing mix of CMYK values from the same RGB source data. So the issues are: 1. LR is built on an RGB pipeline. 2. If you wanted CMYK values, you’d have to load some CMYK profile for the print conditions just to get a read-out, values that LR can’t produce. 3. Photoshop is a product that exists that does not have this limitation, a limitation that I suspect few would use in LR. Implementing this parity would be huge engineering.

Editing via CMYK values that don’t exactly represent the printing conditions are of questionable value. Many are familiar with CMYK ratio’s but don’t fully grasp that by simply introducing a different CMYK profile (target for conversions), the values can change tremendously.
Photo of Pippo Baudo

Pippo Baudo

  • 18 Posts
  • 8 Reply Likes
The values can change tremendously after they have printed your work too......
;)
Photo of Peter Steeper

Peter Steeper

  • 17 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
I'm fine with RGB editing but printers are often CMYK and you need to be able to use a CMYK profile for printing.
Photo of Andrew Rodney

Andrew Rodney

  • 652 Posts
  • 122 Reply Likes
Printers are indeed “CMYK” (more often today CcMmYKkOG etc). You send them RGB which is what’s important here. For nearly all desktop printers, the drives simply don’t understand CMYK which is an output ready color space. They expect RGB and conduct their own proprietary conversions for the inkset.
Photo of Peter Steeper

Peter Steeper

  • 17 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Andrew, you are right for most inkjet printers that do not have a RIP. Our line of Phaser printers require CMYK profiles and custom CMYK profiles cannot be used in Lightroom. The printer can accept RGB but when you create a custom ICC profile using Xrite I1 Publish Pro the profile is CMYK. This profile cannot be used in Lightroom and it can't be installed on the printer.
The profiles work fine with Photoshop although I get some colour shift when I try to Colorsync as a work around with Lightroom.
Photo of Barton Taylor

Barton Taylor

  • 13 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
I agree with the original poster: it would be handy to see TAC etc. for a profile that we may need to export to. Of course it can be done in photoshop but I don't want to open a file in photoshop every time I just need to check the ink density or check the gamut warning of a destination profile (how it will fare when converted to FOGRA 39 for example). Inkjet printers have RGB profiles but a lot of people still do work that is going on to CMYK press.