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Adobe Camera Raw “Enhance Details” Feature: How it Works and How to Use It

Adobe has a new Enhance Details feature for raw files (only). I give kudos to Adobe for being absolutely on the right track—use computing power to improve image quality—it’s about time. See Enhance Details in raw images and Enhance Details for how it works technically.

Great idea, frustrating execution (more on that below—a 5X space penalty).

Compatibility: macOS 10.13 or later or Windows 10 October 2018 update or later.

Does it work?

Yes, particularly with lesser lenses.

But with a world-class lens like the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, I just about go blind trying to see the difference, which amounts to a very subtle increase in micro contrast—not even worth the trouble. However, there are images where it is very much worth the trouble—the foregoing statement is a general one about image detail with world-class lenses.

Moiré in particular is hugely improved—in the crop below, the building at left and right are hugely improved—toggle to compare. There are subtle and not so subtle improvements all over this image.

Toggle to compare enhanced vs as-shot (actual pixels crop)

A very nice benefit is pushing the pixel quality towards the style of a true color camera, that is, removing most of the color aliasing. See for example “PaceStar Triple Compound...” at right: the text is cleaner and easier to read and less polluted by color aliasing.

This crop is at 200% of actual pixels—the effects are subtle and harder to see at actual pixels.

Toggle to compare enhanced vs as-shot (actual pixels crop)
Relative file sizes for Adobe “Enhance Details”—
5X larger in total for original + enhance DNG

Huge problem (literally)

There is (literally) a huge “catch”: you must first save a monstrously large raw file derived from the original. This is NOT what I want to do in my workflow—I want to check a box and have it do its thing on the original as part of the raw conversion—please Adobe, don’t quintuple the space requirements saving a huge DNG file—I don’t want to turn 10TB of images into 50TB of images—this is workflow insanity. Yes I know that the enhance step will add a few seconds... so what?

I’m all for this sort of technology, but not with the huge hassle of a 5X size penalty. What is Adobe thinking here? Crazy—I’m supposed to turn my 10TB of images into 50TB?

Adobe, give me an option to just incorporate it into my workflow, not force me to save an absurdly large DNG file.

How-to

In Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop, right-click (control-click) for a contextual menu that will process the raw file and save a new DNG file. In Lightroom, something similar as shown below.

Save a DNG with Adobe’s Enhance Image feature, Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop
Save a DNG with Adobe’s Enhance Image feature, Adobe Lightroom
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