Lightroom Enhance Details and Fuji – a winner!

    Introduction

    Almost all my Fuji image-gurus believe Lightroom’s new Enhance Details feature yields better rendering of Fuji RAW images than any other solution, and I’ve come to the same conclusion myself.

    There are two minor drawbacks to using it: processing time, and drive space. In this post, I’ll examine both and explain why I think they become small matters.

    Time

    Let’s discuss the first drawback — time. On my older computer it takes about a minute to create an enhanced image.

    That sounds terrible, but wait.

    Newer computers with dedicated graphic cards are taking under 10 seconds per image, often under five seconds!

    If you’re not using one of these cards now, there is probably one in your near future; Adobe is now solidly leveraging their capabilities in the development module. But even with a slow dinosaur, a few key points are in order:

    Enhance Details can wait until after you cull and do post processing, and it’s not for all, or even most images, but only a small minority of them. As real as the improvement can be, it will matter little on images that aren’t blown-up large for printing.

    And bear in mind that as image size increases, our viewing distance increases somewhat proportionately; we usually view large pictures at a distance of several feet.

    Pixel-peeping mamas

    All this is to address the OCD malady called pixel-peeping. It has been discussed enough that I won’t say more than this: only a small percentage of your images are likely to deserve and benefit from this enhancement.

    For social media? Just don’t bother, it’s not really worth it at that size.

    But one special area where Enhance Details can become important is for those shots – we all have ’em – where the discovered “real” picture is a substantial crop of the original image.

    Imagine that your discovered picture occupies only a quarter of your frame. This is where the boost from an enhanced image is going to give you the improvement that turns “didn’t quite make it” into a win.

    Disk space 

    Let’s move to the second drawback, disk space.

    Check my math: my normal XE-3 RAW filesize is 25mb. Enhance Details creates a DNG file of 75mb. So that’s my added space cost. Let’s multiply by two because we’ll want another copy for a backup.

    (Side note: Yes, you might want more than one backup. But bear this in mind: an enhanced image can be recreated at will, any time from your original or backed-up RAW file. If space is a premium for you, skip backing up your enhanced DNG – as long as you retain your original RAW – and why wouldn’t you? – you’re covered.)

    We’re at 150mb per image. That comes to 6.66 images per gig of drive space. So a terabyte -extra- of hard drive space is needed for 6,666 images.

    A four terabyte drive costs less than $100.  That means (6,666 x 4 = ) 26,664 enhanced images for a hundred bucks. That comes to .375 –  less than a half-cent per image!

    Yes, if you’re using a newer higher megapixel Fuji camera, you might be multiplying these figures by about 1.5 but even that difference remains pretty negligible.

    Unless you’re a super-pro who turns every image to magic, I think it’s unlikely you’d want more than a tiny fraction of your images processed this way.

    And if you’re that super-pro, the added cost of disk space will be a trifling.

    Conclusion

    Once I started working with Enhance Details and figuring out the actual costs in both time and money things became startingly clear to me.

    Yes it’s a pain to have larger files, and to have to wait for Adobe’s AI to do its magic, But it’s on a tiny fraction of images, and you make it all back on workflow.

    You don’t need to go outside of Lightroom, you don’t need to be thinking about two systems. That’s worth a lot. 

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