FLEX as a macOS Photos plugin storing it's own adjustment settings

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  • Avatar
    Wopke Postuma

    Hi,

     

    I think this is a very important issue. In fact, the current version of FLEX is useless for me, because it does not remember the adjustments between sessions. FLEX is really an external editor in MacOS Photos, in the sense that it applies adjustments and then sends a JPG back to Photos. Neither FLEX nor Photos keep any history on such a picture. 

    The problem with keeping track of adjustments is: where should they be stored? In Photos as metadata or EXIF data? Or in FLEX in a Luminar DB? I would prefer the first option because then everything (image and external adjustments) are stored in one location, the MacOS photos library.

    A second problem is: what to do when multiple editors make changes to a photo? How to keep track of those changes and which editor 'wins'? 

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    Maryna Skylum

    Hi!

    We need to be able to reproduce the issue on our end in order to understand at which point it occurs.

    Please send us a screen recording: 

    https://support.apple.com/guide/quicktime-player/record-your-screen-qtp97b08e666/mac

    If the issue occurs when you're working on an image, send us the image file. Here's how:

    1. Visit https://wetransfer.com/
    2. If it's your first time visiting this website, it might ask you to purchase a subscription. Simply select to proceed with the free version.
    3. Click Add your files.
    4. Select the file(s) on your computer.
    5. After you see all the files you need to send appear in the list, click the icon to the left of the Transfer button (the icon looks like a circle with three dots in it).
    6. In Send As select Link.
    7. Click Transfer.
    8. After the files have finished uploading, click Copy Link and send it to us at support@skylum.com.
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    Marc Beyrich

    Same issue in Lightroom. Edit a RAW-File with Flex as Plug-In, the result is a TIFF File on the side of the original RAW. But when trying to re-edit, Flex has forgotten all Assignments made to the Image and shows the Original RAW again.

    Would be great to save all work in an XMP or else.

     

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    Colin Grant

    It is the same (and always has been) no matter what external editor you use. Use Lr or Photos or ON1 with Nik, Luminar, Topaz plugins etc and the returned image does not contain the editing history. That is why the majority of the editing should be done in the host editor. If you want edit retention then you need L3,  or run L2018 or Flex in stand-alone mode and save .lmnr files. It is actually worse with Photos as a jpeg is returned, not a tiff, and jpeg compression loses data. That is an Apple requirement.

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    Marc Beyrich

    When I'm using DxO Photolab as Plug-In for Lightroom, DxO saves the editing history in a .dop File and if I open the RAW again for editing from Lightroom to DxO all history is present.

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    Colin Grant

    You are using DxO as a plugin to Lr - if so how do you transfer anything other than a tiff or jpeg to DxO from Lr? What I think you are doing is transferring the image from Lr to DxO via plugin extras and than using DxO as the primary editor. DxO then processes the image and retains the raw and edit history (dop) in its database. That edit history is not available in Lr so you now have a copy of the raw in DxO (which reflects the edits) and in Lr (which does not reflect the edits). You can hand off to Luminar 3 in the same way and to Flex.

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    Marc Beyrich

    Yes, you are right. Lightroom has no history. DxO returns a TIFF and a .dop file in Lighrooms Master Directory. So DxO has the complete History of the original RAW Image. No further edit in Lightroom but in DxO I can re-edit.

     

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    Colin Grant

    Absolutely and you can do the same thing from Lr to L3 etc. Oops no you can't. It seems you can transfer the raw to L3 but when edited L3 just sends back a tiff and the edits are not saved in L3. It appears to just invoke the plugin architecture. 

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    Ben Bloks

    @ Collin Grant (and others)

    "It is actually worse with Photos as a jpeg is returned, not a tiff, and jpeg compression loses data. That is an Apple requirement".

    Well Collin, in my experience that is not quite true.  The RawPower extension, keeps all of it's history when I change the RAW-file settings offered in this extension. They still are available after I re-open the file from Apple Photo's, it will still open the RAW-file with the history. The same goes for the DXO-optics pro extension for Photo's. Both extensions accept the RAW-file as is. 

    Clever programming of those two -;)

    However when you change afterwards another setting in Photo's the history is gone. (makes sense though because some of the edits have nothing to do with RAW-editing, so it will create a jpeg)

    In my experience Luminar is not the best tool do round-tripping with other Photo-editors (it has never been). You'd best edit your RAW first in your RAW-editor of choice and then do the fancy stuf afterwards in Luminar, and sent it back as a duplicate or export it as jpeg to another destination.

     

     

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    Colin Grant

    Raw Power is not very good in my experience mainly because it uses the Apple Raw Editor but it might play with Photos better. Either way Apple tell me there is no way to send a raw back to Photos it will be a jpeg. In fact even if you edit in Photos it  creates a jpeg. I have RP on my machine so I'll have a play before I delete it . Thanks for the info:-)

    But you are right - the idea of a plugin is to give extra functionality to your core raw editor. All my base editing is done in Lr and I only use Luminar when I want something that I cannot get in Lr. That said use Flex in Ps and you gain access to smart objects and they do preserve the Flex editing history so round tripping on that basis (Lr/Ps/Flex and back) will/should work. Luminar is no worse for round tripping than Topaz, Nik etc.

    Don't know OPtics Pro but it is now PhotoLab and yes you can pass a raw across and the edit is saved via sidecar back to the Lr folder. Lr cannot read the edits though so the thumbnail remains the same. Cannot see the point really - and in any event I shoot Fuji so DxO is a no go for me. You can access the Lr folder from DxO of course and then the edit will be visible. All seems a bit convoluted to me but each to their own.

    Should add, if you open a raw file that is in Photos but has not been edited it will open in the extension as a raw (try it with Luminar). You can edit that and send it back to Photos but it then becomes a jpeg and you will not be able to revisit the edits. You can revert to the base raw though. Photos is a bit of a missed opportunity really, which is a shame as it is a lightning fast and well featured dam. I suspect some of the thought behind it is centred on cloud storage space.

     

     

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    Ben Bloks

    Thanks for the info Collin.

    Yes RawPower and DXO use sidecars as well. So that’s why I guess. The latest version of RawPower has some interesting improvements as well !

    Using different toolsets and camera’s make a difference of course.

    I don’t use Photoshop, The Apple RAW-engine is the only one available that opens my RAW-files without any distortion, as does Affinity when I set it to use the Apple RAW-engine.  I discovered that Flex distorts my RAW’s really worse (Luminar was better) I am using a Panasonic G85. I contacted support already for this problem.

    I had hoped some of the RAW-engine problems and roundtripping would heve been improved with Flex, but I’ll wait and see. (again).

     

     

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    Colin Grant

    Its all good stuff, Ben. Trouble with Apple Raw it does  not play with Fuji compressed raw files. So I can shoot non-compressed and get 50mb raw files and they can be read. Change the default to compressed, which gives very high quality but at only 25mb, and Apple Raw cannot read them. No one knows what games Apple is playing! Luminar can read compressed and non-compressed just fine as does Lr and C1 of course. DxO is refusing to support Fuji so that software is on its way to the trash can.

    As an aside, I read somewhere that Pictorial embeds the edits in the metadata of the file it sends back to Photos. Regrettably it is still jpeg that arrives should you wish to re-edit.

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    Ben Bloks

    That is weird behaviour from Apple RAW-engine indeed. 

    Also strange that DXO doesn't support Fuji at all.
    By the way I don't use Photo-lab or it's predecessor but just their Pro extension for Apple Photos from the App-Store.

    I have used Pictorial for a while but stopped using it when they went to a subscription model. Their free-version is too limited.

    P.S.: nice camera's the Fuji !

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    Colin Grant

    Seems very odd of DxO. No idea why and the company is not really forthcoming. Still, having played with DxOPL for a while when I had my Nikon I am not overly impressed (some do really love it though) and I much prefer Lr or C1. Yes Pictorial has become a bit of a joke and that advert of their's saying it's free is really misleading - the free version is so cut down it is basically useless.

    I love the Fuji. Had it for a couple of months now and it is a great system. To be honest all this Skylum stuff is probably a waste of time for me to a large extent as it does not process Fuji as well as Lr or C1 - it does not have the profiles for a start. Maybe it's time to stop bothering and go take some pics :-)

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    Ben Bloks

    Ha , to be honest I am really thinking of stopping using Skylum software totally. On the other hand, digging into the software and the issues, brings me to deepen my knowledge and understand even better then before what is going on in the different software packages and how the different software suppliers handle especially RAW- decoding and editing in combination with other software.

    So to me that is at least a benefit.

    But you're absolutely right. Taking pictures and edit them is much more fun :-)

    Cheers

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    Richard Harrington

    So, let me tackle the original questions

    Photos for macOS

    • Does not support a resumable edit format like a Smart Object
    • Does preserve an unedited copy
    • Save a user preset if needed.
    • Can right-click on an image in Edit mode and choose Revert to Original if needed
    • This limitation is set by Apple and the Photos for macOS architecture.  All editing extensions work this way.

     

    Lightroom

    • Does not support a resumable edit format like a Smart Object
    • Can choose to create a TIFF or PSD under export dialog and color space
    • This limitation is set by Adobe and all plugins work this way.
    • For better results use the File>Plugin Extras menu to transfer Raw file to Flex
    • For resumable format, use the Photo > Edit In > Open as Smart Object in Photoshop command.  This DOES make a file that stores the edits and can be resumed or tweaked (just edit the original in PS going forward)
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    Colin Grant

    Smart Objects are only an option if one has Ps. It could also be that someone is using Flex with some other DAM, like NeoFinder. So you are really saying that Flex is only intended for Adobe users and that you are going to cripple it with that in mind. It would be so easy to leave the standalone and .lmnr element in situ.

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    Adam Frank

    Richard, Thanks very much for the answer, I’ll figure out how to log an RFE over at Apple to get this capability.

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    Richard Harrington

    Colin Grant

    Please understand this fact.  Flex is ONLY meant to be used as a plugin.

    You can use it with Apple Apps, Adobe apps, or any app that supports PSD plugins (though we haven't validated all of them fully yet).

     

    if you want an app, use Luminar 3 or Luminar 2018.

    Luminar 3 supports

    • Libraries
    • Quick Edit
    • Batch Processing

    The Luminar format is read-only under Luminar 3 right now.  If using the QuickEdit option or the Library option, edits are already saved with full history.  The need for a standalone Luminar file format was deprecated.

    There will be other options in the future for exporting smaller libraries or backing them up to move between machines.

     

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    Colin Grant

    Don't SHOUT, Richard Harrington, it's rude and your attitude to paying customers is pathetic. Can you not get it into your head that we do not believe most of the stuff we are told, it is all spin at best! You have done it again - clearly .lmnr is to be dumped yet a little while ago there was talk of bringing it back. So no .lmnr and no sidecar and a DAM that  crashes - what great software. Oh yes and we can use Flex as a plugin with anything  - although you do not know what exactly it works with. So I repeat the question in the hope that this time someone over at Skylum will understand it - why can you not leave .lmnr in situ with Flex and do something that actually helps and supports your customers?

    Incidentally where ( in the now defunct roadmap) did you mention the death of .lmnr? Still I expect the roadmap is deprecated now - it is certainly not up to date.

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    Jerry Hall

    This blog entry clearly explains Skylum’s attitude: https:.//skylum.com/blog/why-embracing-constant-change-in-my-company-is-crucial-to-its-success

    Disruption, lack of stable roadmap, and willingness to lose customers in favor of perceived innovation.  It all starts at the top. Love it or leave it.

    Alex Tsepko Says:

    Why embracing constant change in my company is crucial to its success”

    “Attempts at semi-radical innovation or at adopting unproven internal strategies increase your risk for creating negative outcomes, losing customers, or purging profit. It’s natural to opt for the tried and true”

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    Colin Grant

    I agree Jerry, even his wording is self opinionated and inward looking. It is his company -“Why embracing constant change in my company is crucial to its success” - most customer facing organisations would call it "our company" as a company is nothing without its customers. Mr Tsepko sees it all as a game and it matters not what he does provided something gets sold - even if not fit for purpose. So for "constant change is crucial to its success" read - I'll keep inventing stuff so I can sell it irrespective of its quality, longevity or impact on the customers.

     

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    Jerry Hall

    Colin, Yes.  Also there must be an internal effect, perhaps leading to fired, departing and disheartened software engineers, loss of knowledge of software internals.  All leads inevitably to the architecture and quality problems and lack of direction we see.

    Revealing also is his acceptance of “purging profit”.  Wonder how long that can last.  He may have invented a new model of software engineering (call it “Khos”) where we are part of the team as long as we put our photography on the back burner.

    Fascinating continuing  story.  Adult supervision needed. 

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    Colin Grant

    They'll end up like a cut price seconds outlet selling lots of things cheap with none of them having any quality or future. The customer base will react to that and serious photographers will start to disappear. And yes there must be an internal impact on staff and the quality of those who will actually work for such an organisation. There is evidence of the downsides already.

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