X-Equals – XeL 2.0 – Product Details

Wed, May 22, 2013

Lightroom, Presets

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XeL 2.0 is ready!

And … all XeL Products have been updated!

Get your copy today!

Now … onto the details!

We made some structural changes to the configuration of XeL, corrected some outstanding issues from the prior releases, added in new Tone presets for all film emulations and prepared the XeL system for future needs. We are going to briefly run you through each of these changes and then help you migrate from the previous XeL installation to the new XeL.

First, the structural changes to XeL consist primarily of a new preset naming structure. Before, all the film emulations had an X-code of XBW for Black and White films, XCP for color print films and so forth. Then, each preset was simply assigned a number. This made further expansion of available emulations troublesome, as we were rapidly running out of available Ids to keep film brands together.

Now each film emulation has a new X-code. BK is black and white Kodak, NF is print Fuji, IP is Instant Polaroid. This is followed by a 3-digit number that completes each emulation’s X-code. While functionally, this makes little difference to you the user, it allows for organization of presets as Lightroom still lacks nested folders for Develop Presets. If Adobe ever sees fit to give us that accommodation, we will eliminate X-codes entirely.

This change allows us for future expansion via free presets and paid booster packs, without each release having its own folder structure. Everything will just integrate.

Next, XeL 2.0 corrects some lingering issues from the last XeL release. First, every emulation was recompiled to ensure that it calls on the Adobe Standard profile, to ensure color fidelity from camera to camera. While Adobe Standard is not the most accurate method of color control, it is much more accurate than any other option available without custom profiles.

Also, we addressed some issues with Tone Curves not applying correctly in Lightroom 4 and up. The Black and White emulations in particular had a habit of not showing the proper Tone Curve, even though the adjustments were applied. This is an effect of the PV 2010 to PV 2012 change in Lightroom 4. We issued a work around before, but now each preset has been recompiled to eliminate the issue entirely.

Only the Film Emulations were corrected. Based on customer feedback, the additional curves provided in XeL are less used, so instead of wasting time further developing them, we left them the way they are. They still work just fine, but render some insane Tone Curve plots with many control points.

While correcting the prior issues, we also introduced new Tone presets for each film emulation. To bring the presets in line with the first booster pack and to meet customer request, we have replace the old Tone preset with both a Tone HC and Tone LC preset for each emulation. The Tone HC preset is a High Contrast tone curve and the Tone LC is a Low Contrast tone curve. Both curves have the same basic shape for similar response, but the LC is less aggressive than the HC and also features a lower Clarity setting as well.

Finally, we ensured each preset only adjusted exactly what is required to make the desired effect. Unlike other film emulation presets on the market, we do not try to take over all your processing to accommodate the film look. We treat our presets like film. The Mix applies the color rendition, the Tone also you to choose a high or low contrast rendition and the Grain approximated the amount of grain for a film stock. These are all choice a film photographer makes when choosing a film; they consider its palette and grain and choose their exposure for contrast needs.

XeL film emulations offer you just that, the primary attributes of a film stock based on our testing of said stock. We don’t make adjustments to your Basic Tone sliders. We don’t mess with noise reduction or sharpening or anything else. We simply adjust the Color Mix, Tone Curve, Clarity and Grain. We provide the palette, tonality and graininess; we leave the rest up to you. It would be presumptuous for us to assume we best know how to process you image, we just provide options.

So hopefully we have explained the need for this revision to XeL. Now, we need to address how to get it set up and ready for you.

First, we recommend that you remove all prior XeL presets from Lightroom. As these presets have different names they can sit side by side in Lightroom, which can lead to confusion. To eliminate that issue we feel its best to remove the legacy presets.

To do so, we need to get to your preset folder. To do this easily, start from within Lightroom.

  • Open Preferences; File -> Preferences (Windows) Lightroom -> Preferences (Mac).
  • Once in the Preferences dialog, select the Presets tab.
  • Look for theLocation box and click the Show Lightroom Presets Folder… button.
  • This will open up the presets folder in Explorer of Finder.

This will navigate you to the Lightroom folder.

Open it up and look for the Develop Presets folder. Open it.

Now, using Ctrl/Cmd + Click, select each of the existing folders marked XeL. Once they are all selected, delete or trash them. You may want to back them up in case you prefer the legacy presets, but they function mostly identical, so that is optional. Once you have deleted all the XeL folders, keep this Explorer/Finder window open.

Now, open your XeL 2.0 download archive file. Once it is unzipped, open the root folder and select all the X folders in the folder. Now copy those files over to the Lightroom Develop Presets Folder. Once they are all copied, close Lightroom. Open it back up and navigate to the Develop Module and ensure that the new presets are present. If they show up, then your upgrade is complete.

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Hopefully you can use the new Tone presets we have added to increase your creativity and productivity. We hope that all the updates also ensure consistent and quick application of the new XeL presets.

If you have any issues feel free to drop a line in the comments.

Michael W. Gray – XeL Technical Architect & Product Manager – X-Equals.com

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