Moiré and Lightroom 4 (beta)

I saw mention of the addition of a moiré removal option for the adjustment brush in the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta that is currently available on the Adobe Labs site. Moiré has long been an obsession of mine since I started shooting with a medium format digital back in 1999. I was hoping that the Adobe engineers had come up with a tool that matched this technique. This link documents a technique that as far as I can determine, was invented in late 2002 at an Advanced Applied Color Theory class taught by Dan Margulis. Seems hard to believe nearly a decade has drifted by since then.

Most of the moiré “removal” tutorials I’ve read focus on blurring away the color moiré. Easy enough done in Lab color mode. However this is where things usually end. Or, where there is a lot of painting or cloning as the next step. Either way, the detail in the fabric is usually destroyed or the luminance moiré is left behind.

So, how does the moiré removal brush in the Lightroom 4 beta stack up? I have a library of images with moiré that I keep on hand that I use in a couple of my courses at Langara College. Some are shot with DSLR cameras and others are from medium format digital backs. Generally, the blurring effects of the low pass filter present on nearly all DSLR cameras means moiré is seldom a problem. The downside is an image that has lost some of its fine detail.

The example image below was shot with a Pentax 645D with a 45-85mm lens. After shooting thousands of images with this combination, I can confidently say it can produce a spectacular level of detail. The first image shows the overall image (with excess background cropped away). The subsequent images are 100% crops of the same area of the image. Being as they are presented on this blog, they are JPEG format, however are saved at the highest quality setting.

My conclusion? A couple images showed very promising results with the moiré removal brush in Lightroom 4 (beta). However, it’s images like the next one that truly test the feature. I’ll still be using the 10 year old technique on the stubborn images. Maybe Lightroom 5 will nail it completely. In the meantime, cameras like the just announced Nikon D800E and medium format backs will deliver the fine detail some photographers demand, but with the chance that moiré will add to their post-production time.

Full Image - Crops are from lower left corner


100% Crop showing moiré in original image

Moiré removal using Lightroom 4 (beta)

Moiré removal using LAB blending technique