Sunday, August 10, 2014

Further quantification of the Mavericks color management problem

EDIT: Adobe fixed this bug for most types of display profiles in LR 5.7

I spent some time further quantifying the display problem that Mavericks introduced and that affects Lightroom, Aperture, and every other application that uses Apple color management libraries. (EDIT 10/19/14 - Apple fixed this bug in Aperture, right now it only affects Lightroom and Safari - all other color managed apps are fine - in Yosemite the problem persists). In short, the problem is that shadows get crushed upon display. This is a serious bug that is remaining unfixed since OS X 10.9 and is apparently present even in the Yosemite beta. I am trying to raise awareness of this bug since I am getting no reply from Apple not from a bug report and not from directly emailing folks there. This should get fixed as it makes it tough to do serious work on Mavericks. You can work around it by using Photoshop which uses its own color management library or by using the soft proof feature in Lightroom. Mac OS X 10.8 and below do not have this problem and correctly show the shadows. This is independent of what color calibration you use and even shows up when you use Apple's supplied profile for your display.

I generated a simple photoshop file that has swatches of grey ranging from 1 to 100 in 8-bit scale and then used the system color taste dropper that you can get to if you open textedit and click the text color box. Then use "Show colors" and you can then "taste" any color on your screen and get the display values. These values are what is actually sent to the monitor and so are very useful for this purpose. Below I plot the values seen in Photoshop (correct), those in Lightroom Library and Lightroom Develop. I am not showing Aperture as those are the same as Lightroom Develop and also very wrong. I am using a double log scale to really show you the problem areas in the darker regions below r,g,b=25.

I did this using the nice plotly plotting service. The images sometimes take a short time to show up. You can find the data in the link on the bottom of the plot. Photoshop's light bump in the shadows is correct as sRGB has a little knee in the shadows. Lightroom Develop due to the Mavericks bug displays way lower intensity than it should leading to the crushed shadows that people are observing.

I also created the same swatch file in the color space of my monitor profile. The display of those swatches should happen at exactly the same display value as the input file. This really illustrates the problem I think.

Photoshop clearly does this correctly. The relation is almost exactly linear and any deviations are a single bit difference which is just a rounding error. Lightroom Develop shows way below. Lightroom Library is close but with a larger error than Photoshop. Below is the same data bit plotted as display error.

Mavericks causes Lightroom Library to be off by a full 8 points in the shadows! I hope this data is useful to somebody and helps some folks that have puzzled over dark shadows in Mavericks applications.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Old Man and the mountain

Old man of the mountain flowers blooming at the shores of Andrews Tarn below Andrews Glacier in Rocky Mountain National Park. I visited this place after my visit to Sky Pond and Lake of Glass for sunrise. The mosquitoes were amazingly thick this morning and they were not impressed by the bug spray I was using ;-).

Old Man. Bigger. Flickr. Facebook. G+
Nikon D600, Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 at 16mm, f/22, 1/60s, ISO 100, handheld.