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Yet Another OS X Yosemite Issue: Hard-Clipped Blacks in Lightroom (and Safari)

Kirk T writes to say:

Ever since Mavericks, I have noticed crushed blacks in certain applications on the Mac, namely Safari and Preview. I do not really use Lightroom, but it appears that the Develop module in LR also exhibits this issue.

After much searching, I found a few other people who have reported this:

There are some threads on the Adobe LR forum discussing this as well. They all start with "is your display calibrated" - it is not a display calibration or profiling issue.

The problem, in a nutshell, is this:

Photoshop properly displays blacks and very dark tones. Even after one converts to sRGB in PS (for a JPEG destined for the web, for example). Now, save the sRGB file as a JPEG and open it in Preview, or Safari or, apparently, the Develop Module of Lightroom and the shadows appear crushed. Open the same JPEG in PS, the shadows are displayed properly. The implication is that it is a Mac OS problem, introduced in Mavericks and apparently persistent in Yosemite (I have not upgraded to Yosemite, so I cannot personally confirm this).

DIGLLOYD: I have looked into this and I observe the following in OS X Yosemite. The word “crushed” here means that the first 5 levels are forced to black (not distinguishable). Testing on my calibrated NEC PA302W on OS X Yosemite:

  • Blacks are fine in Photoshop.
  • Lightroom 5 is a mix: both sRGB and AdobeRGB display properly in Library mode. In Develop mode, a flickering occurs flipping between images (LUT?) and the first few blacks are crushed.
  • Blacks are fine in Preview (on OS X Yosemite).
  • Blacks are crushed in Safari if the file is sRGB. I had observed some strange-looking product images on my own site, and had wondered about this somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but it never quite came to the fore (nearly all my work is in Photoshop).
  • Blacks are *not* crushed in Safari if the file is in AdobeRGB. Fortunately, I present image examples on this site in AdobeRGB nearly all the time now.
  • Blacks are fine in Google Chrome (not crushed).

This discussion thread at Adobe suggests that a fix is in progress for Lightroom (recent comments by Adobe’s Eric Chan and Kelly Castro).

So let’s summarize the state of Apple color management, noting that Apple was once the leader in it:

  • Persistent bugs in rendering images properly in Safari (similar above, I had noticed this years ago too and documented it, maybe it was just never right?).
  • Still no support for 10-bit color in display drivers (8 bit only).
  • Serious internal problems in the printing architecture (forced conversion to sRGB, a few releases back, but I’m not sure of where things stand these days or it was ever fixed). It forced color pros to start using RIPs a few releases ago.
  • Damaging (for image evaluation) bleed-through in user interface.

As I see it, this is all just one more example of Apple Core Rot.

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