Adobe Photoshop Lightroom


Amazing upgraded RAW processing. WHAT'S NOT

Marginal support for video clips. WHO ITS FOR

Prolific RAW shooters who have a Photoshop-heavy workflow.

Interface Basics

If you're coming from version 2, you won't notice much difference in the main interface. Your activities are categorized into five modes: Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, and Web. A film strip of thumbnails runs across the bottom. In most of the modes, settings are adjusted in a panel at the right; presets and templates, on the left. Their content changes according to your activity.

The modal setup is fairly intuitive, particularly if you're less familiar with Photoshop. If you're used to Photoshop, you may find the nondestructive editing and selective masking tools puzzling at first.

In Library mode, the new Publish Services feature has a lot of potential. It's a great tool for syncing up folders across hard drives, to devices, or, eventually to multiple photo-sharing sites. At

Lightroom's interface hasn't changed much with this upgrade, but you'll notice faster processing and superior RAW conversions.

press time, only Flickr was available, but it works as promised: Set it up with your Flickr account, and drag and drop your photos to upload them. If your pictures get comments, they'll sync up and be viewable in Lightroom.

Publish Services is powerful for syncing to mobile devices as well—using it is the best way to get your images from Lightroom to your smartphone or iPad. We just hope lots of photo-sharing sites create Publish Services soon.

Importing Rules

One of the main points of using a tool like Lightroom, which keeps track of its images in a database, is to create an organization system that doesn't require much effort. To that end, our favorite improvement is Lightroom's totally revised import dialogue. We've never seen an importing system as clear and functional.

The dialogue goes from left to right. On the left, you select among folders or any devices hooked up to your machine, then you'll see thumbnail previews of those images in the center. If they're already in the catalogue, they'll be grayed out.

You can convert to DNG on import, copy or move them to a new location and add them to the catalogue, or simply add them where they are. If you're moving or copying, you'll see a preview of exactly where they will go and what your new folder structure will look like. This is useful—in LR2, if you didn't check the destination folder, your pictures could end up in surprising places on your hard drive.

Another important upgrade to the import dialogue: You can see magnified versions of your photos before copying them—a great way to make sure your shots are decent before taking up ever more space on your hard drive.

As always, you can backup your images while you import, rename, and add keywords. Now there's also a compact view of the dialogue—use it if you're confident in your saved import settings.

New Stuff

Much of what's new to conversion is also available in Adobe Camera Raw 6, which comes with Photoshop CS5. There's the new lens correction tool, for which you can create your own profiles or use those shot by Adobe or other users.

We're fans of Micro Four Thirds cameras, so we're disappointed that, for now, the new lens profiler won't work with that format. Still, if you can't use the automatic profile-based version, you have the ability to switch to Manual in order to choose the amount of distortion or perspective correction, vignetting, and chromatic aberration correction to apply.

Just as you can correct to remove a vignette, you can add one, even after a crop. LR2 also let you do this, but now you can choose among three modes and control the way the vignette affects the highlights. You can also add grain and dial in its size and shape. Use it for style or to prep a RAW file to be composited into another, grainier photo.

You also get some marginal support for video. Rather than ignoring your videos, LR3 will import them and play them within the program using your computer's default video player. But video support unfortunately ends there—especially unfortunate given that you can now export video files of the slideshows you create in Iightroom. It's great that you don't have to go elsewhere to create a video slideshow, but it would be even better if you could add your motion clips to the show.

Iightroom adds some real support for tethered shooting, though it's limited to particular Canon and Nikon DSLRs. The print dialogue has a cool new layout feature that lets you do a sort of freehand collage. And watermarking is improved for photographers who like to leave their names imprinted on their images.

Lightroom vs. Aperture

The eternal question for Mac users remains: Which is better, Apple Aperture or Lightroom? (PC users don't face this dilemma, since Aperture is Mac-only.) The answer depends on your priorities.

Aperture isn't divided into modes like Iightroom, and its floating palette design means that most of the time, you get to see more of your image, larger on your screen. And it has a leg up on three counts: face recognition, geotag-ging, and video. Aperture can help you quickly keyword friends and family by name (a feature also in

The import dialogue is one of the best out there—never has it been as clear where your pictures will land once they've been transferred to your computer.

The import dialogue is one of the best out there—never has it been as clear where your pictures will land once they've been transferred to your computer.

Photoshop Elements), and can sort your photos by location or array them on a map. If you shoot a lot of video clips, you can trim and add them to slideshows.

Lightroom, however, has a superior import and a far superior export process—it sharpens on export, a huge timesaver when shrinking and saving JPEGs for the web. Lightroom (like ACR) also has some of the best noise reduction that we've seen.

One of the main reasons to choose Lightroom? Photoshop integration. Because Lightroom and ACR (and thus Photoshop) share a RAW conversion engine, everything new to Lightroom s Develop mode is also available in ACR—the controls just look a little nicer in Lightroom. This connection means that all the RAW converting you do in Lightroom will match what's performed in ACR for seamless flow into Photoshop. Want to open your converted RAW file as a re-editable Smart Object in Photoshop? You can't do that in Aperture.

The Buying Decision

If you use Lightroom 2, we highly recommend upgrading. This new version is faster, the import process is better and, most importantly, the RAW processing is superior. If you use Photoshop, no other workflow software is as tightly integrated. And for photographers who rely heavily on Photoshop for retouching, this fact alone could be a reason for choosing Lightroom 3.

—Debbie Grossman

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