New Lightroom 8 Feature: Depth Range Mask

By |2018-10-17T17:34:46+00:00Oct 17th, 2018|

Every year, Adobe announces a bunch of updates to their suite of Creative Clouds applications at their annual Adobe Max conference. At this year’s show, we saw some nice updates to both Lightroom Classic CC and its younger sibling, Lightroom CC. However, amongst all of the changes and features announced, the one that has me most excited is a new addition to the Range Mask tools in Lightroom Classic. Now, in addition to Color and Luminance range masks, you can create a Depth mask to limit adjustments to the background of any compatible photo. This is a very exciting feature and it reinforces my belief that computation photography is the direction we’re headed.

Currently, the Depth Range Mask is available for only those photos that have embedded depth map data. As of now, this is limited to HEIC files captured on Apple iPhone 7+, 8+ and X, XS, XS MAX, XR (see the list of supported Apple iPhones) using the Portrait mode in the built-in iOS camera app. You can read more about it on this Adobe blog post. In the meantime, I recorded this video that walks you through how the Depth Range Mask works. It’s very cool!

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9 Comments

  1. f64academy October 22, 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

    This is pretty slick! I was one of those people who LOVED the Lytro concept. I got my hands on one of their cameras and swore it would be the future of photography. Sadly for Lytro, it seems like it is more of an advancement in a file format (like we see here) than a new camera build. Either way, I am with you on this one. I have a feeling we will start to see this sneaking into the RAW file format, or seeing the RAW files morph into something new altogether.

    Either way, no matter what it looks like for the future, it does look pretty promising. Very exciting stuff and thank you for the detailed video with helpful background information!

    • Brian Matiash October 22, 2018 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you got the Lytro reference. I was also a Lytro user and immediately marveled at the forward-thinking mentality that the company had. I never deluded myself into thinking that they’d find success at any sort of critical mass but they were one of the few paving the way for companies like Apple and Google to fuse computational photography with consumer products and, voila, Portrait Mode! It’s only a matter of time before we see this creep into our mirrorless and dSLR cameras.

  2. Tod Grubbs October 22, 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

    What useless feature for those of us that use real cameras for our work…

    • Luc Poirier October 22, 2018 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Agree 100% with you………….

      • f64academy October 22, 2018 at 10:59 am - Reply

        I am just going to give you some perspective here. You are thinking about the hear and now and not the evolution of what this could bring. Kinda like walking through life with blinders on and only looking at what you believe is important.

        Instead, think about the perspective and future this could have for photography down the road.

        All of the biggest advancements in photography have come from the smallest pieces of technology in the beginning. The first ever camera to incorporate live view was the Olympus E-510. Yeah, a little low rate consumer camera that started a trend for all future cameras.

        Then the mirrorless, the Olympus PEN camera, the first to really incorporate the technology. It wasn’t looked at with much sincerity by the industry, but look at how that changed the way we shoot, Canon, Nikon, and Sony are all leading the way with that technology.

        Sure this feature is useless for you NOW, but can you try to at least be hopeful for what this could be for the future? It is all a matter of perspective. I agree too, right now, this is trivial and only helpful to those who shoot a lot with an iPhone, but look at the possibilities for the future.

        I think that is what Brian is getting at here and for that, I am with him on this one.

        • Brian Matiash October 22, 2018 at 12:25 pm - Reply

          Thanks for chiming in, Blake. FWIW, you hit the nail on the head. It’s not about how we use our cameras today. It’s all about the opportunities for how technology can help us in the future. How many times has a photographer unwittingly missed critical focus because they took a shot with a lens wide open at, say, f/1.8? Once the shot is taken with today’s cameras, that’s it. No do-overs. No second chances. That’s not the best result for, say, a wedding photographer.

          Now, imagine a camera that is able to capture a depth map and embed that information in your RAW file. Seriously, imagine it. You import your photos into Lightroom and realize that your plane of focus is off. If that happened today, you’d have to scrap it. No other way around it. But now, because you have rich data for the Z-axis, aka a depth map, not only can you restrict edits to a particular plane of focus, you can actually manipulate that plane of focus after the fact!

          Listen, there will always be segments of purist photographers who will never want to use these new technologies because it somehow taints the spirit of the medium. I get that. But, I’m not one of those types of photographers. I will always embrace the new creative avenues that technology will open up.

  3. Brian Pex October 22, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Pretty cool!! And I don’t think this “a bit of a stumble” by Adobe. lol. (Stern show ref – I know you’re a fan – had to wedge that in). Ha ha

  4. Jeff B. October 22, 2018 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Brian: Thanks for the post. This looks like it could be real sweet as they refine the tool, etc. Can this be used in ACR as well if we don’t use lightroom?

  5. Susan Scharenberg October 22, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Cool, thanks for the demo, Brian. Going to be fun to see how this develops. I hope Sony is already working on leveraging it.

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