Update: Apparently this is by design and can't be avoided due to the changes between the processing versions. Wow, Lightroom 4 is really off to a less than stellar start if you ask me.
Doesn't anybody at Adobe work with custom tone curves? That's hard to believe. I have just found a second issue with them.
Adobe released Lightroom 4 and they pretty much messed up the migration of tone curves when converting the catalog from Lightroom 3 to Lightroom 4. You can read all about it here, the story is still ongoing as of writing this.
I use custom tone curves a lot, so I filed the original bug report right after finding out about this issue.
This is why I'm now part of a group of people alpha testing a fix that should recover the lost tone curves after an upgrade and that will hopefully make it into the full version of Lightroom and into an update for those who already upgraded.
As far as I can tell, Adobe hasn't issued a warning about this to their existing user base and we can only hope that power users with tens of thousands of pictures (and potentially with as many tone curve adjustments) won't get too many nasty surprises due to the bug.
Here comes issue #2:
During testing of the alpha script, I noticed something else, that I find quite disconcerting: I know changing to the new process will change the appearance of pictures, which is why Adobe suggests an A/B preview, but when I had the tone curve open when switching a picture from process version 2010 to 2012, I noticed this:
The curve does keep its overall shape, but the quite elegant few points of the curve get replaced by a ton of individual points.
WHAT .. ON .. EARTH .. IS .. THIS?!
Doing a quick change to the mid tones, or to how the shadows are rendered is a simple fix with the original curve. The replacement curve is 100% useless for that.
The only way to make the curve usable again is to start over and re-create it from scratch.
If this is by design, then it means that those of us who use custom tone curves extensively (I'm one of them) won't be able to benefit from the 2012 process for any of their existing images unless they are ready to start from scratch on them. In that case I'd really like a word with the person who made that decision.
Today I tried to pay for a train ticket online using my credit card. It was rejected. Of course I went online immediately to check my balance and the transactions, but nothing looked weird. So I called my bank to check what was wrong.
Twitter does have a sense of humor!
Long story short, I ended up on the phone with the credit card company's fraud department. Turns out their system found that me ordering several tons of concrete from a US company was implausible enough to not even let the transaction go through.
Instead they blocked the card and sent a new one my way.
On asking how my card number got into the wrong hands, they said it's pretty much futile to try to find out, likely cause would be a merchant being hacked and even then it's impossible to connect as these things can lie years in the past.
Oh well, let's hope those plausiblity detection systems do their job. And let's also hope that I'll never have to order concrete from a US company.
tl;dr: the LR3 to LR4 update ate my tone curve adjustments for breakfast.
Update 05/02/2012: It's been almost two months and Adobe still hasn't officially updated Lightroom 4.0. Here are some of my thoughts on it.
Update 03/06/2012: Here is the bug report that I filed with Adobe. Please consider to +1 it on their site to help raise awareness of the issue.
Update 03/07/2012: Tom Hogarty, Lightroom Product Manager has posted the following update as a response to the bug report: "Thanks Chris. We've been investigating this issue throughout the day and hope to have an update soon. Thanks for your patience and all of the detail you've provided."
Update 03/11/2012: It's 4 days later and the bug report now has 55 +1's. Some of the commenters are starting to get really impatient.
Update 03/12/2012: I received a mail with a script and test instructions from Tom Hogarty. The script recovers lost tone curves and it mostly worked. It's just an alpha test version, so it still has a few side effects though. Adobe is on the right track with this, but they're not there yet. This still has to be tested more and then needs to make it into an update. I posted my findings in the bug report. 62 +1s now by the way.
Update 03/14/2012: Since Adobe provided the test script to some of those who had the issue (this includes me), there have been mixed messages on the bug report thread. It works for some, some have found other issues. It generally worked for me, even though I ran into another potential problem during testing the fix. This bug is also on the top of the list of Adobe's Lightroom 4 Hot Issues, so even though it's been eight days, there's still hope they will eventually fix it. Until then I'm staying on LR3 and I'm just a little annoyed that I paid for an update that so far is unusable to me.
I just updated from Lightroom 3.6 to Lightroom 4. The new features and the 50% price drop made it look like a no-brainer. I loved the product from the first beta of version 1. I even recorded two video workshops for Lightroom (in German).
If you've listened to Tips from the Top Floor or Happy Shooting, you know that Lightroom is the hub for my photography and you'd have to dangle quite a juicy carrot in front of me to make me give it up. Very juicy.
Unfortunately I have to report that after the update, Lightroom 4 seems to have eaten up all my tone curve adjustments and replaced them with some defaults.
Here's a picture in Lightroom 3, note its histogram:
Now here's the same picture in Lightroom 4. The picture looks the same, the histogram doesn't:
At first I was confused: the LR4 histogram implies a much brighter black point and a much lower overall contrast. Then I realized that the picture shown in LR4 and the histogram must be disconnected in some way.
Next I went back to LR3 and went into the develop module. Opening up the tone curve adjustment tool, it shows the tone curve that I gave the picture.
I use tone curves a lot. I use them more than the other contrast management tools. I probably use tone curves on over 60% of my images.
Next I went to LR4 and opened the same picture in develop mode. This is not the tone curve that I originally gave my picture.
After a few seconds, the preview was updated to reflect the "new" tone curve. At least now the picture matches the histogram again…
NOTE: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 took the liberty to swap out the tone curve that I spent time creating to some sort of default tone curve.
NOTE 2: I did not enable the new 2012 processing, the picture is still on the 2010 process version.
For now I'll revert to LR3 and wait until they ironed out the issues. I'm filing a bug with Adobe as we speak.
Wait. Should you use LR4? "I never used tone curves, I shouldn't have a problem then" I hear you say. Well, if Adobe borked something as essential as the tone curves, that has an effect on my personal trust in the overall product.
I love the new features in Lightroom 4, I think the new processing is awesome and the map feature is the first one in a product that looks like I might actually use it. Books is a great addition too.
But I just don't think Lightroom 4 is quite ready with an issue this big under the hood.