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Why does Camera RAW act differently compared to Shadows/Lights filter?

Explorer ,
Jan 19, 2024 Jan 19, 2024

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Hi everyone. I have a little question for you. I was making a quick comparison between the Shadows/Lights filter and Camera RAW and I noticed something that looked strange to me. If I use the Lights cursor of the Shadows/Lights filter I can accurately darken the lights without affecting the shadows, but if I do the same with Camera RAW the overall image is darkened. Can someone explain me why? Thanks.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 19, 2024 Jan 19, 2024

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To clarify, are you referring to:

 

Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights... (not a filter)

 

vs.

 

Filter > Camera Raw Filter... (a filter, or do you mean the Adobe Camera Raw plugin which is outside of Photoshop)?

 

If so, are you referring to the Highlights or Whites slider?

 

Annotated screenshots highlighting the controls would help to clarify.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 20, 2024 Jan 20, 2024

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quote

Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights... (not a filter)

Most of the Adjustments can be applied as Smart Filters, I suppose that might confuse the terminology a bit. 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 20, 2024 Jan 20, 2024

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Yes, you need to be specific and post screenshots. There are so many variables in this.

 

Shadows/Highlights vs Camera Raw filter are completely different algorithms. They were never intended to work the same way.

 

Also, there is a big difference between doing it with the Camera Raw filter on an RGB file in Photoshop, and doing it with the Camera Raw processor on a raw file.

 

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 20, 2024 Jan 20, 2024

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Yeah sorry I meant the adjustment. 

 

Here's the original image.

 

jl-merilles-XUB2LrFP9wI-unsplash.jpg

 

Here you can see the image with the Shadows/Lights adjstment applied.

 

after shadows lights.jpg

 

Here you can see the image with the Camera RAW filter applied.

after camera raw.jpg

 

I only used the "Lights" cursor and I made an extreme edit just to make it more evident.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 20, 2024 Jan 20, 2024

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Well, the answer is the same: these are very different algorithms, working in completely different ways.

 

The most fundamental difference is that the Camera Raw engine is image adaptive. This means the entire image is taken into the calculation and the result depends on the whole image. This is mostly evident when working with raw files, but even with rendered RGB files in the ACR filter you can see it.

 

Shadows/highlights is a purely "mechanic" process, where any given pixel is treated according to fixed rules.

 

The biggest advantage of ACR's adaptive algorithm is that it produces a more natural-looking result. You can see the obvious halo in Shadows/highlights. This can be somewhat controlled by the Radius setting, but it's still very unattractive and immediately gives the game away.

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Explorer ,
Jan 20, 2024 Jan 20, 2024

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Got it... Basically you told me that with Camera RAW I can achieve a more natural look. Anyway I find it strange I can't be as precise as I do with the adjustment, but if this is the explanation ok, thank you very much for answering.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 20, 2024 Jan 20, 2024

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I can't recall when Shadows/Highlights was introduced in Photoshop, but it's considerably older than the Camera Raw filter (again, not to be confused with the Camera Raw processor).

 

So back in the day, Shadows/Highlights was what we had. Today, I think everyone would agree that the ACR filter is vastly superior for the same situations.

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Explorer ,
Jan 20, 2024 Jan 20, 2024

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Do you think I'd get a different result if I worked on a RAW file instead
of an RGB file?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

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Yes, because there's much more highlight data to work with in a raw file. The general recommendation is always to do this at the raw stage. Once rendered into RGB, a lot of data have been discarded.

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Explorer ,
Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

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So it would be more precise. I'll try with some RAW files then. Thank you.

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