Adobe recently introduced a new update to Lightroom Classic (v12.3) that features a brand-new denoising tool, new masking features, and several other enhancements. It’s not too often I get excited about these updates but this time there are some significant improvements you should be aware of.
Below we’re going to take a look at what’s new in Lightroom Classic v12.3 and why this is an update that will have an impact on your post-processing workflow.
What’s New in Lightroom v12.3?
- There are four main updates in the latest version of Lightroom:
- AI-powered Denoise
- New masking enhancements (including curves tool in masks)
- Video editing improvements
- Adaptive presets
In addition to the four updates above, you’ll also find that Lightroom v12.3 supports new cameras and lenses, and have some minor performance and layout improvements on both desktop and mobile.
For landscape photographers, it’s the Denoise and Masking features that are particularly exciting. Let’s take a closer look at what they are and how you can implement them into your workflow.
Adobe Lightroom Classic Denoise Tool
One of the most noticeable changes in Lightroom Classic v12.3 is the new Denoise tool. With software such as Topaz DeNoise AI, Nik Dfine, or DxO PureRaw, it was to be expected that Adobe would introduce a new and improved noise reduction tool. While I won’t compare it too much with the others now, I think it’s fair to say that they delivered.
The tool itself has existed for a long time under the Detail -> Noise Reduction section, but it has seen a complete makeover in this latest update. It now takes advantage of AI technology and can improve your image with just a single click. In other words, you don’t need to spend lots of time trying to find the best slider combinations for each and every photo.
Now a new dialogue window opens when clicking Denoise… Here you can adjust the amount of noise reduction or use the Super Resolution tool to double the image size for large prints (similar to Topaz Gigapixel AI). The denoising reduces noise while preserving details. I’ve been pleasantly surprised after some initial testing. It does a really good job.
Clicking the Enhance button applies the noise reduction to a new DNG version of the image. This file is then stacked with the original image.
Note: You can still access the original Luminance and Color sliders by expanding the Manual Noise Reduction panel.
Curves Tool in Masks
Masking in Lightroom saw a significant update some versions back and has in many ways changed how photographers use the software. In v12.3 we see yet another significant update to the masking tool. However, this one has gone a little more under the radar.
While you can now create masks based on Facial Hair or Clothes in the People Mask, I find it way more exciting that you can now use the curves tool within a mask. This is an extremely useful feature for photographers who want to apply targeted tonal range adjustments to specific areas of their images.
To use the curves in masks feature, you’ll first need to create a mask. This can be done by selecting the adjustment brush, radial filter, graduated filter, or any of the AI Masks, and then selecting the area where you want to apply the adjustment. Once you have created the mask, you can find the curves tool in the Curves panel found beneath Tone and Color.
There are many ways you can use this tool, which I’ll explain closer in another article, but with this amount of flexibility, it makes me wonder how much longer Photoshop will be needed for my work.
Overall, Lightroom Classic v12.3 is a significant update that brings some exciting new features to the table. The updated Denoise tool is particularly impressive, as it allows photographers to remove noise from high ISO images without sacrificing too much detail or sharpness.
Denoise tools aren’t new but now that Lightroom has a well-functioning noise reduction tool that’s integrated into the software, what will happen to third-party plugins such as Topaz DeNoise? There’s no doubt that it’s more convenient to have everything in the same place.
The curves in masks feature is another useful addition for photographers who want to apply targeted adjustments to specific areas of their images. This gives us even greater control over the tonal range.
So, if you haven’t upgraded to v12.3 yet, I strongly recommend that you do.
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