Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is a photo workflow manager that takes care of cataloging, editing, and producing images for both professional and amateur photographers.
In fact, I'll go a step further and say Lightroom 3 can be the heart of any photographer's digital workflow. It addresses the needs of amateurs and professionals alike. Because of its reasonable price, it’s also a good choice for advanced hobbyists who have outgrown the basic capabilities of Apple iPhoto.
Lightroom 3 - What's New
On the surface, Adobe Lightroom 3 appears to be an evolutionary update to Lightroom 2, but digging deeper, Lightroom 3 is a dramatic improvement. Built around a whole new engine, Lightroom 3 is faster, from start to finish.
The new features list for Lightroom 3 is long; here are a few key features I especially liked.
Importing images, whether from your existing photo collection or your camera, has become both a faster process and an easier one, with all the options right in front of you.
Noise reduction has been dramatically improved. If you ever shoot low light or nighttime images, or use your camera's high ISO settings, then you no doubt have seen the noise such images always seem to process. Lightroom 3's noise reduction technology can clean up the noise in an image without blooming or softening the image.
Perspective correction allows you to correct keystone distortion caused by shooting off angle. Lightroom 3 can also make lens corrections, removing most of the distortion from an extreme wide angle lens or vignetting; it even corrects chromatic aberrations.
Publishing, part of Lightroom 3's new workflow feature, is a simplified system that allows you to use drag-and-drop to publish your images to your Mac's file system or the Web.
Tethered capture is probably one of the most asked for features by photographic professionals. Tethered capture allows you to connect your camera directly to your Mac and use Lightroom 3 to control your camer
Lightroom 3 is a 64-bit application that can take advantage of all of the RAM installed in your Mac. Lightroom 2 also supported 64-bit, but required you to set the operating mode using the Finder. Lightroom 3 is 64-bit by default, and requires a Mac with an Intel processor.
If needed, you can also run Lightroom 3 as a 32-bit application. This won't let you run Lightroom 3 on your older PowerMac G5, but it will let you use Lightroom 3 on a first-generation Intel Mac, which has a 32-bit Intel processor.
To set 32-bit operation mode, go to the Applications folder and right-click the Lightroom 3 application. Select 'Get Info' from the pop-up menu, and place a check mark in the 'Open in 32-bit mode' box.
Lightroom 3 - First Impressions
Like most Adobe applications, Lightroom 3 likes to take over all of a monitor's available screen space. Luckily, Lightroom 3 also allows you to resize and reposition it as you wish.
Lightroom 3 uses a generally dark interface that you can easily adjust to suit your taste from within the program's preferences. The interface is divided into specific display areas.
Module Picker. Located along the top right of the display, the Module Picker lets you quickly select the tools you want to have available in the panels, so you can easily step through the photographer's workflow. The available modules are Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, and Web.
Panels. Located on the left- and right-hand side of the interface. The left-hand panel contains content and presets for the selected module; the right-hand panel contains the individual tools.
Work Pane. Located in the center, this is the largest pane. It displays the image(s) you're currently working on.
Filmstrip. Located along the bottom, the Filmstrip shows thumbnails of each image from your library or images from selected collections you can work with for the task you're currently performing.
Menu Bar. This is the standard menu bar used in all Mac applications.
Lightroom 3's interface will seem very familiar to Lightroom 2 users, with just a few tweaks and changes scattered here and there. Overall, the user interface is well thought out and a pleasure to use.
Lightroom 3 - Library
The Library is the Lightroom 3 module you will probably use the most. It allows you to view, catalog, and organize your image library. Lightroom uses four basic organization structures.
Catalog. Keeps track of photos and their information, including titles, keywords, metadata, and EXIF data. The catalog doesn't contain the actual images; that's the job of folders.
Folders. Contain the actual images. Folders correspond to the image storage location(s) on your Mac. The catalog can use multiple folders, so you can continue to organize your images on your Mac as you see fit.
Collections. These pseudo folders can contain any images you wish, from any of the folders in your catalog. You can drag-and-drop photos from your current library to any collection you create. Collections are made up of any criteria you wish, for example, a collection of sports images. You can also have Lightroom 3 create a Smart Collection based on criteria you assign, such as all images that were shot with flash or that have the keyword 'baseball.'
Publish Services. When you're ready to save images, Publish Services lets you easily set up and publish to a Flickr online account, or to any folder on your Mac. If you publish to a folder, you can store your completed images anywhere you wish, including a folder you use for syncing to your MobileMe account, your iPad or iPhone, or any place you want to serve as an image archive location.
The single Flickr export option is very limiting.
Lightroom 3 - Develop Module
Editing images is the job of Lightroom's Develop module. Offering extremely precise control over image adjustments, the Develop module lets you manipulate colour temperature, tonal curves, exposure, white balance, and much more.
Lightroom 3 uses a new image processing engine that works with your camera's raw image data or with TIFF, JPEG, and PSD files. The new engine produces much clearer details in images. You may be surprised at just how good your camera's raw image details look.
Because the image processing engine is new, older images you have from previous versions of Lightroom may end up looking different when processed in Lightroom 3. To prevent this, Lightroom 3 offers Process Versions, the ability to either use the new engine or retain the processing from previous versions of Lightroom. You can see a before and after side-by-side comparison of the two processing versions before you commit to one or the other. You're going to love the new processing engine, but having a choice is always a good idea.
Lightroom uses non-destructive editing; it never alters a single pixel of the original image. Instead, it creates files that contain sets of instructions on how to process the original image. You can track all of the changes you've ever made to an image, step back through the changes, or return to the original or any snapshot point along the way.
Lightroom 3 - Develop Advanced Tools
The basic Lightroom 3 Develop tools haven't changed much from previous versions of Lightroom. They're still grouped in panels that can be expanded or collapsed, and their operation is straightforward and well labeled. Lightroom 3 does, however, add some new capabilities in the Develop module that are worth a look.
Along with the new engine come improved noise reduction capabilities. If you work with low light images, the new noise reduction system is a big step forward. I was able to clean up sensor, color, and luminance noise from my camera without degrading image detail, just by using the adjustments in the noise reduction panel. I also noticed that edge details remained sharp as noise was reduced.
High-speed film had a noticeable grain structure in developed images. Some photographers took advantage of grain to give images a hard, cold look.
With digital cameras grain is no longer an issue, but the lack of grain removes one of the key effects photographers often liked to use. Now you can use the Effects panel to add grain back to your images, giving them the hard, coarse look of bygone times.
Lens and Perspective Correction
Adobe has been creating lens profiles that map the geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting of popular lenses. You can use these profiles to correct the distortions a lens introduces. Seeing the distortion removed from an image shot by a wide angle fisheye lens is amazing.
You can also corr
Lightroom 3 - Tethered Capture
One of the most requested features is Tethered Capture. This feature allows you to connect your camera directly to your Mac and control it from within Lightroom.
Adobe currently supports 26 different cameras for Tethered Capture; most of these are recent Canon and Nikon models. Adobe will add more cameras to the list of supported cameras as time goes on.
When you start a Tethered Capture session, you can create the session name and decide if you will Segment Photos by Shot, which will let you create shot folders during the tethered session as you take your images.
Lightroom displays the camera's current settings, the Develop presets that will be applied, and, if applicable, the shots folder that will store the images. Tethered Capture is somewhat basic. It lets you easily capture an image from your Mac, but there doesn't seem to be a way to set up shot sequences to shoot an array of images at predefined intervals, or use a camera's burst mode.
Nevertheless, Tethered Capture will be a hit because of the ability to have an image available on your Mac for immediate review.
Lightroom 3 - Wrap Up
Lightroom 3 is a winner. Its new image processing engine alone is a reason to upgrade. Adobe's attention to detail in the photographer's workflow makes Lightroom 3 one of the best applications for both professional and amateur photographers to have on their Macs. Its reasonable price also makes it a good choice for individuals who have a large collection of images, and who have outgrown more basic applications, such as iPhoto.
Lightroom 3 does have a few quirks; what self-respecting application doesn't? One of the quirks that most bugs me is the inability to have more than a single Library catalog open at any one time. In fact, if you open or create a new catalog, Lightroom in effect quits and relaunches, something that's a bit disconcerting the first time it happens.
The other quirk that bugs me is how Lightroom uses panels to display the available tools for a module. Even if you hide tools that aren't in use, you must still scroll through the panels to get to all of the options. I'd like to be able to reorder the tools in the panel so the ones I use most often are near the top.
Even with its quirks, Lightroom 3 is a well-designed application that provides tremendous capabilities that any photographer, professional or otherwise, is going to enjoy using. If you're serious about your images, you should seriously consider Lightroom 3 as your go to application.