I’m thrilled to introduce Negative Lab Pro version 2.3.
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.
Version 2.3 brings a number of enhancements, new features and fixes. Here are a few of the biggest improvements.
- Color Fidelity Improvements
- Smoothness Control (and more) with the Advanced Engine Settings.
- Batch Navigation
- Film Fade / Film Glow
- Exposure Control
- Positive Copy Options
- Before/After Toggle
- Bug Fixes
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Nothing too fancy here. Just a nice thing to have!
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.
TIP: All of the settings here are “sticky,” so they will remember whatever you had them last set at!
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
This was another highly requested feature, and I have to say, it is quite useful when you are going back to adjust an edit!
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
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).
- Download and unzip the update. Existing users will receive an email with the download link. New users can request a download here.
- 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!
- WINDOWS USERS. In the download, open up the README.txt file. This will include detailed instructions for upgrading.
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!