Announcing the release of version 4.0.1
(above: image of the overflow analysis performed by Sagelight during the Auto Balance function)
I didn’t actually intend to release 4.0 and then work for 3 weeks on a new update so intensively. But, it turns out that there were so many great responses to the beta, that there were certain things I felt I wanted to do to really start building version 4.0 up to what I want it to be.
The main improvements here (all of them are listed below) revolve around RAW editing or, more precisely, a lot of the functionality to make RAW work even better which also mandated a number of overall improvements — a win-win! (except for my 3 weeks of extra work, anyway).
It can be found at www.sagelighteditor.com/LatestUpdate.exe (it’s an 18.5 megabyte download)
First, though, I want to say that this version really points out how getting e-mails with questions, suggestions, bug reports, and “how can I do this..” has really helped Sagelight become a much better editor. So, please keep sending e-mails and letting me know what you’re liking or what you think could be better.
Below are listed the changes for this update. Some of them are fairly sizeable, and I will be doing separate blog entries for these.
1. Image Overflow Analysis on the Auto Balance
The Auto Balance now analyzes your image for overflows, and backs off on the clipping to prevent highlights (and black points) from overflowing. It will also present an image that shows these overflow areas that caused Sagelight to back off. In some cases, this will cause your image to look darker. You can compensate with some new controls (listed in the next section). The basic rule is that sometimes you want to overflow the highlights on purpose, but Sagelight doesn’t want to make that decision for you.
It turns out that it is hard to tell that you’re overflowing your highlights until later on down the road when you realize a specular reflection went flat. After using this feature for a while, I’ve found it very helpful in showing me the “watch points” that I can just generally keep an eye on.
2. Auto Balance Revamped
White Point & Black Point Sliders. In addition to the overflow analysis (and graphic display), the Auto Balance now has Black Point and White Point Sliders so that you can control more of that is going on with the image. Since Sagelight will now back off from the clipping, you can use the White Point Slider to compensate for this.
Blend Percent Slider. Also, there is a new “Blend Percent” slider that allows you to blend with the original image. Sometimes it is difficult to tell what looks good: the balanced image or the original image. Sometimes a mix is appropriate. I’m finding that sometimes when I use the Blend Slider and move it to 0%, I prefer the original image. The Blend Slider helps you work that out and to get a nice balance — see this issue with the Auto Balance in the Kayak/PQE mode, because you can use all of the other controls while this window is open to get a real nice balance and color to your image.
Warning Symbol. You can turn off the popup-display that graphically shows you the overflow/watch areas of your image. When the warning symbol (like a yield sign) comes up in the menu area, you can press it to see the graphic. When it is not displaying, then Sagelight has not found any overflow concerns.
3. RAW enhancements
There have been quite a few RAW additions to this release. See the next two sections for more details.
Auto-Sharpening. There was a bug where I left in some test code and it was “double sharpening”. I change the sharpening radius and strength to more of very light sharpen with a larger radius. Let me know how that works. You can turn off the sharpening.
Auto-Color Noise Reduction. I added some color noise reduction. It’s subtle, but it does seem to make a difference. It adds some time to the loading process, but I find it to be worth it (I’m working on some faster code right now). You can also turn this off in the general settings.
Demoasicing. I’ve done quite a bit of work with the demosaicing process. I think I’ve worked something out that works well for just about all images — the maze patterns on some camera models should be gone, and the images should be cleaner now, especially in the shadows. The hard part here is to get an “all-in-one” demosaicing process that works well for everyone.
4. “Raw Defaults” profile for RAW images.
A profile called “RawDefaults” (the long filename is “RawDefaults.ProQuickEdit.slp”) is optionally loaded every time you load a RAW image. This sets controls in the Kayak/PQE (initial RAW mode) that tends to work for most RAW images, by adding some fill light, a little saturation and other controls. The philsophy here is two-fold:
- RAW images start a little plain, as they should. This sets some settings that will generally help the file along. You can press RESET to remove these settings, and you can also turn this off in the general settings.
- You can also save your own “rawdefaults” file (i.e. save it with the same name) that works better for your camera and typical images.
- Sometimes, people note that Sagelight RAW images start off a little darker than other editors — this is done for a very specific reason. Many editors that “auto adjust” images and brighten them for you cut off your highlights and shadows, causing image damage. Doing this is a standard method to make an image look better automatically, but it is simply not healthy for a RAW images (or any images for that matter), because that’s why you’re shooting RAW: to use this information, not have it cutoff as a camera would do with the JPEG. The RawDefaults profile helps brighten up the image in the same visual manner without hurting the shadows or highlights.
5. Overflow Analysis on RAW image load
Sagelight now looks at the RAW image loaded for overflows, when not loaded with Highlight Recovery ON. If it sees enough concentrated areas of overflows it will let you know about it and show you a graphic image with the overflow areas, letting you know that you might fare better with Highlight Recovery turned ON. Highlight Recovery is not the default option because most images don’t need it and it is a little harder to work with than a normal RAW image load.
You can turn off this option, and a ‘!’ symbol appears in the Kayak/PQE panel that you can press to bring up the display with the overflows marked.
6. Auto Balance in the Kayak/PQE mode revamped.
The Auto Balance in the PQE mode really wasn’t working as well with the RAW images as I liked, so I redesigned it into something that works better for all files, RAW or not. It now has an option that you can set to automatically do it Always, Never, or just on RAW images (it defaults to just RAW images). You can also pop up a full-blown control panel now, and it has a graphic display of overflows and underflows as they occur.
As explained in the Info section of the control panel, the Auto Balance is the first of up to 12 layers in the Kayak/PQE mode, and all control movements are based on this, so it’s important to avoid overflows and underflows here — the new control panel helps you do that and shows you exactly what is going on with your image.
Unlike the Quick Edit Mode, you can use all other controls as you use the Auto Balance Control Panel, so with just a few control movements, you can really get a nicely balanced, colorful image.
Now you can press the symbol above to open the entire auto balance control panel, instead of the couple hit-or-miss buttons that were there previously.
7. “Classic Mode” UI fixes.
There were some problems with the “Classic Windows UI” that have been fixed. Primarly, the button and checkbox controls weren’t lighting up when the mouse moved over them. So, some of the graphic changes that have been occurring when you pressed a button will now make more sense.
On a side note, I recently switch to the classic mode permanently — the new Windows UI is so incredibly slow, the speed pickup was very noticeable.
8. Various Bug Fixes.
Various bug fixes, such as a crash that was occurring on grayscale .tif files with embedded ICC profiles; profile loading in the Kayak/PQE mode wasn’t working on some controls, etc.