Negative Lab Pro v2.3 - Color Fidelity, Tonal Control, Batch Navigation and much more


Hi friends,

I’m thrilled to introduce Negative Lab Pro version 2.3. :tada::tada::tada:

Don’t let the minor version number fool you…

This is a MAJOR update, and one I’ve been working on for many many months!

This is a FREE UPDATE for existing users (look out for an email link!)

And if you’re just trying out Negative Lab Pro for the first time, no worries! This new version will give you 12 fresh conversions to try it out. First time users can request a download here.


What’s New

Version 2.3 brings a number of enhancements, new features and fixes. Here are a few of the biggest improvements.

  1. Color Fidelity Improvements
  2. Smoothness Control (and more) with the Advanced Engine Settings.
  3. Batch Navigation
  4. Film Fade / Film Glow
  5. Exposure Control
  6. Positive Copy Options
  7. Before/After Toggle
  8. Bug Fixes


1. Color Fidelity Improvements

The new RAW profiles (for camera scanning and RAW Vuescan & Silverfast DNGs) offer major improvements to overall color fidelity in conversions. Everyone will benefit from this, but some setups may see more dramatic improvements than others.

RAW Profile 2.3

The new profiles contain a number of enhancements vs the prior version:

  • RAW Color Gamut Protection - The new profiles include better gamut control at the RAW profile level. This enables full, even saturation without the colors going out of gamut.
  • Improved Calibration Consistency Across Camera Manufactures - a new method for building and calibrating the profiles produces more consistent results. Specifically, Canon and Sony users should notice better color reproduction particularly in yellow and green hues.
  • More Precise RAW Highlight Reproduction - The new profiles are internally “overriding” Lightroom’s RAW highlight roll-off, which in some circumstances could throw off the depth and color of shadows in digitizations that were exposed very close the right edges of the histogram.

For most users, these color improvements will be subtle, but if you’ve experienced color fidelity issues with your scanning setup in the past, you may see a dramatic improvement.

For example, the colors from this Nikon D3400 digitization were way off based on the previous RAW profile. But with all the enhancements above, the colors now look much better!

(Left: v2.2 profile. Right: v2.3 profile)

This version also adds support for newer camera models which were not available at the release of the previous version. If your camera is supported by Lightroom up to Lightroom Classic v11, then it will be supported by Negative Lab Pro.

:white_check_mark:TIP: To take advantage of these new RAW profiles on previously converted images, you will need to open up Negative Lab Pro and “unconvert” the previous conversion. Make sure the “color model” is set to “Basic, Frontier or Noritsu” and then reconvert. Do NOT try to change the profile directly on an already converted negative. Doing so will throw off the image. This is because the profile is necessary to be set before the image analysis that happens during conversion.


2. Smoothness Control (and more) with the Advanced Engine Settings.

The new “Advanced Engine Settings” allows you to fine-tune the way the internal engine is working. This makes it easier to match previous versions of Negative Lab Pro, or find the engine settings that work best for your setup. It also gives me more freedom in the future to add improvements to the engine without the risk of throwing off previous versions. Think of this like “Process Versions” in Lightroom, but with ability to fine-tune each of the components that go into making a process version.

(Note: you can change the engine settings at any time - there is no need to reconvert.)

engine-options

Curve Points [Auto // Smooth // Precise // Manual]
One of the things NLP v2.1 and earlier did really well was creating smooth tones and colors, even on very thin negatives. V2.2 added a lot of precision, but that precision could also lead to “banding” when it was trying to extract data that basically isn’t there… the new default in v2.3 will automatically adjust the precision based on the available data, but you can also adjust the number of curve points yourself. I would generally recommend using the “Auto” setting here.

Order [Color First // Tones First]
In general, you will want your color adjustments to be calculated before tonal adjustments are made, as this will keep colors fixed while you adjust tonality. But here, you can replicate earlier versions where this was not the case.

WB Density [Add Density // Neutral Density // Subtract Density]
This controls the effect of White Balance adjustments on the tonality of your image. By default, NLP will “add density” similar to how prints and lab scans add density, but you can also make it “neutral”, so that the overall tonality is not impacted by White Balance changes.

WB Type [Linear Fixed // Linear Dynamic // Midtone Weighted // Highlight Weighted // Shadow Weighted]
One of the things I’ve played around with internally are different algorithms for how the white balance control is actually working on the tone curve. You may find that some methodologies work better on certain types of films or for certain scenes. You may not notice much of a difference here if you do not have a high color balance correction.

:white_check_mark:TIP: When you use the “save” button to create default settings, your engine settings will be included. So for instance, if you prefer a certain combination of settings, just use the “save” feature to make it a default.


3. Batch Navigation

Introducing Batch Navigation! Now, when you open up Negative Lab Pro with multiple images selected, you can navigate between the images to make adjustments without the need to close or reopen Negative Lab Pro.

batch nav

This can considerably speed up your workflow. Just select all the images you want to include in your editing “session”, and then use the arrow buttons at the bottom left of the Negative Lab Pro window to navigate through your images and edit as you go!

batch-nav-480

:white_check_mark:TIP: This will work in both the Library module and the Develop module, but I would strongly recommend using this in the Develop module if you can, as this editing experience works significantly faster while in the Develop module.


4. Film Fade / Film Glow

This is something I’ve been wanting to add for a while and is really useful if your goal is emulating historic lab scanners. Just a little bit can go a long way, especially if you are working with thin negatives, or just want to add a little bit of lab magic to your scans!

For instance, in the actual NORITSU scan on the left, the scan has compressed the shadows in a really pleasing way. I’ve emulated that by increasing the “Lab Fade” setting in my conversion on the right.

What do these settings do?

Lab Glow is compressing tonality in the highlights (or if you use a negative value, it is expanding tonality in the highlights). Increasing Lab Glow will result in smoother highlights with less visible detail.

Lab Fade is compressing the tonality of the shadows - so you will see smoother shadows with less visible detail and no pure black. And again, using a negative value for Lab Fade will do the opposite - expanding the tonality in the shadows.

:white_check_mark:TIP: All of these controls also work in reverse. For instance, setting a negative value on “Lab Glow” creates a starker look, with more detail in the highlights. Play around!


5. Exposure Control

One of the most common reasons I see users making “positive copies” into Lightroom is to be able to use Lightroom’s exposure setting. Well, now, you can just adjust the exposure inside Negative Lab Pro, working against the original RAW negative.

exposure

Nothing too fancy here. Just a nice thing to have!


6. Positive Copy Options

Positive copies are a useful tool when you want to use Lightroom’s regular controls on your converted negative. Now, in the “Advanced” tab, you have more options on exactly how you want those positive copies made.

positive-copy-settings

:white_check_mark:TIP: All of the settings here are “sticky,” so they will remember whatever you had them last set at!


7. Before/After Toggle

While you are re-editing an image in Negative Lab Pro, you can now quickly see what your image looked like prior to the current editing session

before

This was another highly requested feature, and I have to say, it is quite useful when you are going back to adjust an edit!


8. Bug Fixes

This update also squashes a number of bugs. Thanks to all the users have helped identify these bugs!

  • Progress Bar is more accurate during conversion
  • Fixed "Nan” Error during batch conversion, caused by blank frames in selection
  • Fixed “Crypt Unprotect Error” that affected a small number of users
  • Fixed metadata selection for 645 Format
  • Fixed autocolor issue on Windows when using border buffer
  • Fixed Sync Scene on Black and White Photos
  • Shortened Initial Loading Sequence
  • Fixed Mac Installation Issues that made it hard to find the plugin to add in the Plugin Manager
  • Fixed German language Windows hotkey issue. German users should now use “ctrl + shift + P” with the new hotkey script running to initiate Negative Lab Pro

How to Update

This is a FREE UPGRADE for existing users. If you don’t have a license yet, you’ll get 12 Free conversions to try (even if you’ve used up your previous conversions).

  1. Download and unzip the update. Existing users will receive an email with the download link. New users can request a download here.
  2. MAC USERS: Close Lightroom Classic, and run the included installer named “Install Negative Lab Pro 2.3.0.app”. From there, just reopen Lightroom Classic, and it should be all set!
  3. WINDOWS USERS. In the download, open up the README.txt file. This will include detailed instructions for upgrading.

Questions / Comments?

First, I really hope you all enjoy these improvements in Negative Lab Pro v2.3!

I know it was a long time coming, and much later than promised. But judging by the feedback from the beta, I think you are going to love the improvements.

And if you’re on the fence about upgrading, here are what users are saying from beta testing…

So with that, I’d love to hear what you think, especially if you’ve had a chance to try out v2.3! Let me know below!

Cheers :v:
-Nate

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Thanks Nate. Can’t wait to upgrade and try it!

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Just Great! Thank you Nate.

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The info provided in the thread looks great. I am a registered user and requested a download link. I receive a message that an email would be sent with the link. I did that a couple hours ago.
When should I expect to receive the e-mail?

Oh man, I’m in the middle of digitizing 57 rolls of film for someone, batch processing is going to be killer.

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Brilliant Nate, just converted 500 plus negatives I “scanned” using my Olympus EM1 mark 2 that I’ve been saving up until this version was released.

Superb results, and no issues

Les

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What version of Lightroom Classic is v2.3 compatible with? This would be helpful info prior to updating. I am running windows 10, LrC 10.4 as I usually give it a few weeks or sometimes months before installing the latest LrC. Thanks in advance.

Compared to what I had found earlier, NLP 2.3 does not seem to do much when I test scanner types vs pre-saturation (and I’ve not formed an opinion about it):

Other than that, version 2.3 handles my difficult image much better:


It’s still a difficult image, but while i was unable to improve the skin and get rid of the greenish tint without Nik filters or Photoshop, version 2.3 gets much closer without fussing.

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Thanks, Nate! Love the new additions, esp. exposure and … well, all of them. Just tried one from a really messed up old Kodak 5247 negative and got a much better (and more usable) result than the one that had just been sitting in that folder for some time. :slight_smile:

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Hi Nate! Thanks again for this wonderful instrument.
I’ve just updated to the last version 2.3.0b and now the plugin doesn’t work anymore. Every time I recall the plugin in Lightroom by pressing ‘ctrl+N’ (or from the Lr menu) nothing happens, only appers the spinng rainbow for about 1-2 seconds. So I’ve deactived, unistalled, and then reinstalled your plugin…nothing to do.
Here LR 11, macOS 12.0.1 on MacBook Pro M1.

Update:
Also tried to reinstall the old LR 10.4. Nope, the plugin window doesn’t appears anymore.

Update2:
I did some test to find a solution for my issue.
On my old MacBook Pro 13 2013 (with macOS 11.6 and Lr 10.4 on board) I’ve installed the new NLP 2.3.0B and everything works great, no issues. And wonderful result with the new conversion!
So I decided to try to install the new version of Lightroom 11.0 there … Boom! The plugin doesn’t work.

Excellent update. Thank you. The batch navigation is a great addition. Saw some color improvements in some files that looked a little off. Basically all great improvement across the board. I do think though that the option for selecting the JPG and TIFF positive copy should of stayed on the edit tab and then the advanced tab should have the option to define separate save sub-folders between JPG and TIFF.

One last thing was why did the zip file get so much larger compared to v2.2? It looks like the file sizes for the camera profiles increased significantly.

Thanks again for the great update.
Mathys

Can’t wait to try this! Thanks a lot for your work Nate.
Does this upgrade work with the new Apple Silicone?

Wonderful, Les! :raised_hands: Thank you for letting me know!

This is working with all versions of LrC, including LrC 11.0.

It just depends. The new raw profiles (with better gamut protection) means that adjusting the pre-sat is not as necessary as it would have been in the past to deal with over-saturated (or under-saturated) colors. I also made a change (starting in v2.2) in terms of what the color model impacts pre-conversion vs post-conversion… my goal has always been to give users the flexibility to change emulations after conversion (rather than be tied to the pre-conversion settings), so this (and the LUTs) are a step towards that, and by v3.0 my goal is to have all the emulations available to change after conversion.

Awesome, really great improvement!

Awesome, @DanM, great to hear, thank you so much!

Hmmm… that’s very odd. It should work very well on Lightroom 11. I need to check in on macOS 12… I’m not aware of any issues, but haven’t had a change to test it yet… I’ll PM you with some follow up questions.

Awesome! :raised_hands:

How often do you change between TIFF and JPEG for positive copies? The settings in the advanced tab are “sticky” now, so for instance, if you always wanted it to be a TIFF copy, you would only need to set that once and it would remember in future uses. (btw, the reason I move it was to save vertical space, as some users with smaller screens were having issues with it fitting.

Yes… camera profiles increased in size significantly, as they add very precise instructions on gamut protection.

Yes, so far all reports at that it work great with Apple Silicone. But of course, both Apple and Adobe are in the habit of changing things all the time, so please let me know if you run into any issues!

Can you give us a few hints about when to change pre-saturation and/or scanner type?

…that’s interesting. Having an immediate conversion (or an automated first tab) would be a giant step imo. I suppose that the first tab is used with the same settings by most users anyway.

I would see the “pre-saturation” as being more related to scanning setup and personal preference, and I wouldn’t see it as something you would want to change on each shot… for instance, if in your setup, you generally find that colors in conversions are not vivid enough, you can adjust the pre-saturation higher and just keep it there (or vice-versa). Personally, I leave my pre-sat at the default (3) 100% of the time.

The “source” should automatically set the correct source based on metadata (for instance, a tiff should automatically come up as “TIFF scan” - I’d generally recommend just leaving this at whatever the source file actually is.

I change between JPG and TIFF depending on what film I scanned and how much touching up some need. So I either go right to JPG or to TIFF to touch up. I just sometimes forget to switch back and forth and then I have to move/sort files around in Lightroom and run them through NLP again. It would just be a nice to have. But I do run a 4K monitor so I do have plenty of screen space… Thanks for responding.

Mathys

This may have already been posted but it appears LUT feature is not longer taking any effect with v2.3? Natural frontier crystal pakon etc. Clicking these features does nothing to the image? Has anyone else had this issue?

Otherwise the new setup is looking great! much punchier colours.

regarding presat, I frequently find myself unconverting and reconverting with a higher/lower presat, just to change the saturation for aesthetic purposes rather than fix any technical issue.

is changing saturation after conversion at all possible? could this roundtrip be condensed into “shortcut” if not?

No, the emulations work, but the effect is more subtle than before.
Check if the settings are located in Lightroom’s settings folder.
On Mac: Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/Settings/NLP Enhanced Settings/