Lightroom has three places in the UI where it shows information about highlight and shadow clipping:

  1. The histogram in the Loupe mode.
  2. The histogram in the Develop mode.
  3. On the image itself, by using red for clipped highlights and blue for clipped shadows, as in the following example:

enter image description here

Do all three accurately show whether there's highlight or shadow clipping in the RAW file? (I shoot RAW.)

I thought so, but I was told here that that's not the case.

This on the Sony NEX-5R and LR 5, in case that matters.


It does not show clipping in the raw file, it shows clipping on what you have generated from it. You will see that if you decrease the exposure or the highlights slider, the red area will change its size.

One way to see clipping in raw files (and dozens of other things) is to get a copy of RawDigger. Highly recommended, btw.


Just to be clear: the clipping warnings and histogram in lightroom are tools for development of photos. Not for analysis of the RAW-files itself. The warnings does (in the best case) warn you if you're clipping in the output format such as JPEG.

The histogram works the same regardless of which module you're reviewing it in. In Lightroom the histogram reflects a "gamma corrected ProPhoto RGB matching the Tone Responce Curve of sRGB" (as explained in this paper) and therefore not reliable as a sole indicator of clipping. A gamma corrected histogram has a lot of other uses though as our eyes has not a linear response to light while digital sensors largely have and the gamma correction acts as a transfer function between them. This paper from Adobe explains this very well.

The accuracy clipping warning shown as blue for shadows and red for highlights depends on what space you're exporting the final image to. As Lightroom uses MelissaRGB (that is ProPhoto RGB with sRGB Tone Response Curve) it's highlight warnings are based on that. If you're exporting in sRGB there may be areas that are clipping in sRGB but not in MelissaRGB. Look at this article for examples of the problem.

The camera that you're using does not matter for the simple reason that you're working with raw files. Lightroom therefore handles all processing and the clipping indicator tools work the same,


The clipping highlights show the current state of your picture, ie. with all the development settings applied. as such, they can not really tell you accurately whether there is clipping in the RAW data.

For this, you'll have to inspect the ends of the histogram to see any suspicious bars at the ends, and watch what happens when you manipulate the sliders. An inaccurate method, though.

If you are using certain Canon cameras, the alternative firmware Magic Lantern provides a RAW histogram in live view!


The only way to examine the RAW histogram (pre WB, pre demosaic) is to use a program that has this capability. The only one that I can think of offhand is RawTherapee, but I'm sure that others will chip in with more choices. Edit: there's RawDigger as well.


FastRawViewer http://www.fastrawviewer.com/ displays clipping based on raw data.

Best regards, Iliah Borg

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