Lightroom 3 Beta Grain Tool

Adobe added a Grain Tool to the Develop Module of Lightroom 3 for its recent Beta. They describe it thus:

While Lightroom’s improved noise reduction will give you incredibly smooth images, sometimes you want a little texture or grain in your images.  We’ve added a grain tool that can add a natural film-style grain to your images to get that perfect look for your photo.

I don’t know that I am the kind of photographer who wants to add grain to his pictures but I thought I would play (sorry, experiment) with it.

I took a picture of my “standard” test setup – a frugal photographer’s version of the Studio Shot used by Dpreview.com.

I used my Canon EOS-30D with the “best” lens I possess – the Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro. Of course I put the camera on a tripod, used a cable release and even locked the mirror up. I focused on the centre of the picture and took a series of pictures at different apertures.

I imported the pictures to Lightroom 3 Beta and selected one of them for the experiment. It was taken at 1/60 sec at f / 4.0 with an ISO speed rating of 100.

I converted the picture to Black & White (a LR 3 terminology change: it used to say Grayscale) and applied a series of carefully considered Grain adjustments to different virtual copies. I thought the grain would be more appropriate with a B&W picture.

Actually, the settings were not very carefully considered. The tool has three sliders:

  • Amount
  • Size
  • Roughness

If Amount = 0 then the other two sliders are disabled.

I was not fully sure what they meant but I tried these values

  1. 0, 0, 0 (No grain)
  2. 33, 25, 50
  3. 33, 60, 75
  4. 33, 60, 50
  5. 100, 60, 75 (Ridiculous amount of grain)

I made crops of the centre of the picture (a jar of Moccona instant coffee) and present them here as a WordPress Gallery.


You can click on each one to see a larger picture. The only post-processing I did in Photoshop was to add the text labels. The Lightroom “Sync Settings” tool is good for making all the crops identical.

Conclusion

You be the judge.

As I said, I’m not the target photographer for this tool. I can get all the “grain” I want using my Nikon Coolpix P6000 at 400 ASA or above. Yes, I know that digital noise isn’t the same as real film grain but I am not that sensitive to the difference.

I expect somebody will come up with develop presents that emulate the grain characteristics of different classic films using this tool, but I am not sufficiently knowledgable to do that.

Note

Lightroom 3 Beta displayed some annoying little bugs while I was doing this experiment. It refused to go into Crop mode many times when I selected a picture in Grid view and pressed the “R” shortcut. It came up in Develop mode but with the message “No picture loaded”.

I quit and restarted Lightroom and it was okay after that.

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2 Responses to “Lightroom 3 Beta Grain Tool”

  1. Gaeng Says:

    Thank you for trying this. I do not like grain either. What’s the point?

  2. The Difference Between Grain and Noise « Bkkphotographer's Blog Says:

    […] Difference Between Grain and Noise By bkkphotographer After my test of the new Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Beta “Grain Tool” yesterday I thought I’d do a comparison with the digital noise that is the modern equivalent […]

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