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Software Review – Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 From Adobe Systems

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is the much anticipated newest version of Adobe's highly praised photo management and editing system. With version 3, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom adds a number of new, and highly anticipated, features while at the same time continues to make itself the premier software product directed at the professional photographer.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a complete software based digital darkroom for managing your photographic library, developing and processing your images, and creating great presentations whether for printing or for the web. For a complete list of requirements to run Lightroom, check out the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom system requirements page









For those who are new to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, I find that there is still some confusion between what the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom. The fundamental difference is that Photoshop is an image editing program that has big guns to do just about anything to an image – for some people, too many things.

With Lightroom you have everything that is needed to perform traditional photographic processing as well as image management of your images that is far easier and, at least to me, more superior than is available with the Adobe Bridge product that comes with Photoshop.

Does that mean that you no longer need Photoshop? For some that answer would be yes. In fact Lightroom 3 is the better choice especially for those who do not do a lot of advanced processing. For others, Lightroom is a better way to get to that point where they send their file to Photoshop for more enhancements. It is really up to what you do with your images.

So what is new with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3?

• Accelerated work flow – now makes working with larger libraries much faster and easier whether you are importing, developing images, creating slideshows, or printing. The import time is much quicker and with the full resolution display in Loupe view, you get much more responsive performance when scrolling through the grid or working in develop mode.

• Image Processing – is more than just faster processing, it is about efficiency in your processing. One of the biggest goals with this release was to save time by making the entire import process more intuitive and the same regardless of if you are coming from a camera, card reader, or the hard drive. While it took a bit of relearning, this is truly a more intuitive method of importing images.









• Lower noise – and better sharpening through better algorithms in Lightroom 3. Now with the next-generation in in high ISO and low light processing, you can eliminate noise while still keeping what means the most within your image. You can now greatly eliminate color and luminance noise in photographs without affecting edge detail, and image sharpening results are much more natural than ever before. In fact they are impressive

• Flexible watermarks – gives you more freedom when branding your images. You want to watermark photographs without affecting their visual impact and this can be a challenge. Now in Lightroom 3 you have new, more flexible watermarks that will let you embed identity or other information in the images themselves. Watermarks can now use graphics or simple text; you can easily adjust the size, position, and opacity of the watermark; and watermarking is easily available in the Print, Web, and Slideshow modules, as well as in the Export dialog.

• Lens correction – can now clean up problems when working with different lenses. No matter how good the lens, each one will create image distortion of various kinds, whether that means the stretching and bowing caused by ultrawide lenses, chromatic aberration, or varying amounts of vignetting. Also, in Lightroom 3, new profile-based automatic lens correction lets you correct these lens-based distortions with a single click, or to choose the amount and type of correction yourself, with easy-to-use manual slider controls.

• Perspective correction – gives you the ability to easily correct keystone distortion, which occurs when you shoot at sharp angles, such as looking up at a tall building, or shooting from way off to the side of your subject. Found in the Manual tab of the Lens Correction panel, the Vertical, Horizontal, and Rotate Transform controls allow you to make fast, simple adjustments, easily correcting perspective distortion. In addition, the new Constrain Crop feature automatically crops away any warped border areas created as you make perspective adjustments.









• Smarter imports – gives you more control on where your images are being placed and how they’re being organized. Even for those who have never used Lightroom before, the new, much more natural-flow Import window, is more intuitive, faster to set up, and gives you a single process regardless of whether images are being imported from camera or hard drive. Processing settings, metadata, and keywords can be added on the fly, and import presets can then be created for reuse in a few clicks.

• Drag and drop online publishing services – supports the popularity of external image sharing and social networking websites, as well as mobile devices, with the introduction of Publish Services. Using the same process as you would to create new Collections in the Library, you can now set up direct access to websites and facilitate mobile device syncing from directly within the Library module. The included plugin integrates your Flickr account with Lightroom 3, letting you easily manage uploads, and check comments and Favorites counts.

• Multi-images Print Layouts – using new custom print layouts that let you simply drag, resize and orient photos in the layout grid. It’s a fast, simple process, and you can save any layout you create as a custom preset to reuse even more quickly next time. As a result, you can now print any combination of multiple images, in different sizes, on single or multiple pages.









• Control natural grain – in the film era provided one of the tradeoffs in shooting higher ISO film stock was that the increase in light sensitivity went hand in hand with increase in graininess of the image captured on the film. Now you can turn what was once a problem into asset. Back in the day many photographers deliberately combined high ISO film stock with subject and composition choices to create artistic effects. Grain has not been a problem in the digital age, but the ability to use it as an asset has been missing as well. Lightroom 3 gives you the ability to add and control the appearance of film grain to any image.

• Video slideshows –give you the ability, along with being able to create and present slideshows of your images, in Lightroom 3, you can now turn those slideshows into high quality video files you can share anywhere. Video slideshows give you a more polished cinematic presence. And Lightroom 3 can automatically create them for you in a wide variety of preset sizes and resolutions, from files suitable for web sites and YouTube, all the way up to full-quality, 1080p HD resolution. Lightroom 3 also features one-click soundtrack sync, and simple opening and closing title-screen creation.

• Vignetting – that comes from natural lens effects can be a desirable effect in your photography, but cropping an image for the perfect composition could erase that style from the frame. The use of post-crop vignetting was introduced to allow photographers to recreate lens-based vignetting for a cropped image. Now in Lightroom 3, this feature is expanded and improved, with new styles that utilize an exposure or brightness effect, rather than simply painting black and white on the edges of images. The result is even more natural vignettes.

• Tethered capture – is one of the most demanded feature additions by photographers who use Lightroom, Tethered Capture lets you connect your camera directly to your computer, so shots are instantly imported and available in Lightroom 3. A set of 26 popular Canon and Nikon camera models have already been tested and approved as compatible for the launch of Lightroom 3, and further models from different manufacturers are expected to be added to the approved list as testing is completed.











• Organize video files – as you would with standard images. Now, many of the latest DSLR cameras now capture compelling HD video as well as still images, providing the photographer with new creative opportunities. Lightroom 3 adds the capability to import and manage video files from your cameras and devices as easily as photographs.

Usually, the third release of a product tends to be a bit of a re-tooling version where there are some new features, but more is focused into behind the scenes updates to deal with performance and efficiency. Well, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 certainly has that, but it also comes with some very welcome new front-side features as well.

Certainly the faster speed and improved workflow are incredible. I could see an immediate improvement from version 2. But I really like the new features like the importing, the lower noise is absolutely great. In some shots at a night time concert where the light was light was very low and I was pulling a high ISO, the shot was grainy. The noise reduction and sharpening cleaned it all up nicely.

When you add this to the new print layouts, the natural grain, the vignetting, the lens correction, video organization, tethered shoot capability, the watermarking, image processing, and all of the other additions, there is something for everyone. Because of this I think that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is a must have upgrade for anyone who shoots, and for those photographers who don't have Lightroom, now is the time to get on the bandwagon. I very highly recommend Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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