What happened to Fill Light and Recovery?

Recovery and Fill Light are popular and powerful tools. However, they also have some limitations. For example, Recovery can result in muddy highlights, and Fill Light can lead to visible halos at high-contrast boundaries. Furthermore, it is difficult to transfer the technology behind these controls to local adjustments.

With Process Version 2012 in Lightroom 4, we have introduced a new set of Basic tone controls that overcomes these limitations and results in much higher image quality. For example, the Highlights and Shadows tools are optimized for very high contrast images, produce much smoother highlight and shadow gradations, are available as local adjustments, and minimize halo artifacts.

We recommend starting at the top of the Basic panel and working down through the controls. Start with the Exposure and Contrast controls to set the overall desired image brightness and contrast. Proceed to the Highlight and Shadow controls, using them to establish the relationship of the highlights and shadows in your image to the midtones. If needed, fine-tune your image’s tonal end points using the Blacks and Whites sliders.  Note that Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, and Shadows are also available as local adjustments.

There is a bit of a relearning process, but once you have become used to the new controls we think that you’ll love them.  Of course,  you still have access to Fill Light and Recovery if you so choose by changing the Process Version to PV2010 in the Camera Calibration panel on the bottom right hand side.

37 Responses to What happened to Fill Light and Recovery?

  1. Pingback: Lightroom 4 is out! « conradchavez.com | blog

  2. aleksarus says:

    With new highlights slider it is now possible to overbright photo with nice realistic effect. Its good for photos with lens flares or shining sun. For old process its impossible, may be possible with curves but not too fast like a slider highlights.

  3. I couldn’t agree more Tom. It is a bit of a change at first, but it’s totally worth it. Give it a couple of hours and you’ll never want to go back to the old controls. Thanks 🙂

  4. Same story here: I was ‘disoriented’ by the new sliders for about a day, now I would not dream of going back: I’ve been able to process single, bigh contrast files in Lightroom for which I would have needed HDR or other techniques before Lightroom 4 came out. Brilliant!

  5. The new sliders are a little bit tricky in the beginning. But if you get used to them you don’t want to be without them anymore.
    I really like the new process version (2012).

    That’s the most important feature in Lightroom 4 for photographers because this will make your images look better.

    Thanks for that!

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  8. Melody Migas says:

    Thanks for the explanation. I just got 3 recently but I’m loving 4. It’s makes more sense and seems easier so far. I love the local adjustments.
    It is a bit sluggish sometimes but worth the wait.

  9. Will Howard says:

    1 hour with the new software and loving the results of the new adjustment sliders. Thanks!!

  10. Steve Paxton says:

    I love the changes, but I have noticed that the controls sometimes flip back and forth between the old (recovery/fill) and new (highlights/shadows) in some of my pre-existing catalogs. One moment the new controls are there and the next, they are replaced with the old ones – and then back again. It seems like this happens when I am using presets (made before LR4) . Most of the time it doesn’t happen, but I am seeing it often enough that I am noticing. It’s kind of odd. I am on 64 bit Windows. Has anyone else noticed this?

    • Steve Marshall says:

      Your old catalogs (and old presets) will be using the 2010 process. If you go down to Camera Calibration in the right panel and select the 2012 process for a given image, the new sliders should appear.

  11. Just in my short time of working with the new features, I have totally become excited about the possibilities of processing within Lightroom only. In the past, I would color balance, camera calibrate, do a bit of fill and recovery to get the image close and then take it into Photoshop for final tweaking. I am finding that I do not need to move into Photoshop nearly as much as before.

    Of course, I still have my favorite presets in PhotoTools that I can’t live without in some images, or Silver Efex Pro for black and white, but the quality of the image after being only processed in Lightroom in phenomenal.

  12. Ken Prater says:

    I agree that it can be a bit disorienting but after a few hours I have gotten used to it. I wholeheartedly accept the new sliders. The image quality will be so much better from now on with this change. Thanks for the explanation Adobe.

  13. Rahul Kadari says:

    I feel this got more control over pictures which works brilliantly good.

  14. nate parker says:

    I concur with the rest of you guys in saying that I couldn’t imagine going back, after learning the new nomenclature regarding the develop sliders I find that the perceived luminosity you can achieve feels truly radiant and very much lightboxy-like. Love it!!!

  15. Steve Davey says:

    So when are you going to fix the bug that junks tone curves on upgrade from LR3 to LR4?

    This is a serious issue that has affected a lot of people, and although Tom Hogarty acknowledged this 4 days ago there has been absolute silence since.


  16. I like the new controls…….. I think they are more intuitive.

  17. Pingback: From Adobe – Shadow/Highlights in LR4 vs. Fill/Recovery in LR3 | Jim Messer Photography

  18. Steve Hale says:

    What is confusing is when LR4 shows the old controls for images that were previously adjusted in LR3. Thats shouldnt be a problem for long as new stuff goes on but blew my mind for a while!

    • Gordon says:

      yes, I found that a bit confusing at first. Honestly its still confusing since I have a lot of LR3 presets avaible. But I have begun to adjust the presets to the new process version, so the sliders wont change so often in the near future.

      Otherwise you all are right. I first was a bit angry about the new sliders and the loss of the old ones, but after playing around with the new, I realized how much more you can do with them.

  19. Will says:

    I processed a photo which is a hug crop of a hawk flying in a blue sky. There is a visible white halo around it due to the use of both the Shadow slider and the clarity slider.

    Surely the Adobe engineers have improved the limiting of halo effects – but I have a glaring example in front of me that its far from perfected.

    I would be happy to submit a tiff and my catalog for Adobe’s inspection

  20. Cant wait to get my hands on the new cs4 🙂 I like intuitive software and I think that the build in workflow is going to work.

  21. Tormod says:

    I’m quickly getting used to the new controls too.

    What I really love about Lightroom is that every time there is a new version, I can go back to some of my older RAW-files and either bring out more quality of them or simply rescue a shot that earlier versions did not handle as elegantly. Localized white balance really works for those un-geled flash shots in weird light 🙂

    Thanks for making my images look great, Adobe!

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  23. Kim Klassen says:

    the strangest thing….. it seems as though any shadow/highlight adjustments I make in lightroom 4 are not appearing when I move into cs5? has anyone else noticed this?

    thanks so much, Kim

  24. I find these new controls absolutely perfect…you can control better higlights, shadows and blowed-up areas like if you are doing it with the curve edges, but in this way is definitely faster..applyng the new layout to some old shots is a wonderful surprise! Kim, I don’t know…rendering the raws by lightroom brings the exact results in cs5 for me…

  25. weddingone says:

    New controls are good, but i much more prefer old ones. Forcing new, unintuitive ones was idiotic move. I strongly consider recomending my friends to download and use pirated key than buying upgrade of lightroom.

  26. Denis Mortell says:

    I think that for the first time ever I can get a digital file to look like a transparency, with the same dynamic range and richness of tone.

    A huge improvement!


  27. Count me in the minority who prefer the LR3 slider set to the new LR4 controls, even after more than 10 hours of trying the latter. My primary issues are that I can not get control of off-scale highlights as effectively, and I cannot replicate the Brightness / Exposure partnership I use very often in LR3. The LR3 controls make sense to me in that they tie more straightforwardly to the physics of digital imaging. I hope Adobe will continue to let those like me operate in the “obsolete” world of PV2010 while keeping up with other improvements in Lightroom.

  28. Cezar Mart says:

    OK, that’s enough of this marketing nonsense. How to restore the default settings to use the 2010 process? I hate everything about 2012 process, I had much more control using the 2010 process and I don’t like when software is trying to outsmart me.
    I spent last hour going through all the menus trying to find a way to make all new photos use 2010 process by default and there is not such option. Is there a way to go back to 2010 permanently without having to do it photo by photo?
    Thank you
    Cezar M.

  29. uv says:

    This is shit!
    I have my own tone which i have been using to give a special effect!
    Now that fill light is gone,i cant adjust with others

  30. Adobe Guru says:

    Adobe done it again, they changed the names of the function, the Highlights is the old Recovery, the Shadows is the old Fill, we always had a Blacks Slider but they added a Whites slider to help smooth out the use of these new features which are like the old but they say its better, I have played with both and the new is a smoother look if you do what the artical says, start at the top and work your way down the sliders, I just click auto to get a head start and then just tweak the sliders in order to fine tune…. its more work than the old way with just recovery, fill and blacks but the new slider Whites does its function but then you might need to go back and adjust the upper 3 again and again till you get it right, after some practice its okay, just barely tweak as you go and you will get the hang of it, leave it to Adobe to change the names of the functions AGAIN….

  31. Mark Forte says:

    The 2012 process has presented problems which I have been battling since its release. I appreciate that the new process offers improvements, but it wreaks havoc with the develop presets I created under earlier versions. If I convert a photo that has these older presets applied, the image is completely changed. In broad terms, the dark areas are darker and the light areas are lighter, but the contrast in textures – a big part of my work – is completely lost. The images have a completely different and usually uninteresting “feel”.

    This would not be so terrible, if I could create new presets with the new process that reproduce the effects of my older presets. I have read various interpretations of what is “going on” with the new controls in the hopes of creating new presets that are satisfactory. Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful so far. For now, I am stuck with the old process for most everything I have already edited.

    I do apply the new process to all newly imported photos, but I am not a happy camper when trying to get them to look right. At least the old processes are nearby, and I hope Adobe never does away with them.

  32. john says:

    I hate the new controls. I want the old ones back. They were fast, intuitive, and produced for me exactly what I want. I can find no way to get the same effect in LR4, having spent days trying. The problem is when you have invested the time to processed/pefect 10,000+ images in LR3, to then force people to change costs them money as now they cant work any where near the same speed or produce the desired results. A big step backwards. I dont really care that the new controls could produce some better results in certain situations for new users.

  33. I am certain that you’ve filtered out all of the complaints from these comments. Well I am pissed! LR4 is slow as molasses on my iMac. I was FORCED into buying it because my new Canon 6D required it, and now I am editing on LR4 but processing in LR3 just so I can speed things up (about 300%) and use the same tool sets I’m accustomed to.

    How DARE YOU change the tool sets we’re accustomed to. Idiots! Do you think I have all week to sit here and re-learn this program???