After many months and several public betas, Adobe finally released Photoshop Lightroom 1.0, its professional photographer’s “toolbox” for importing, processing and managing digital images.
Designed from the ground up, Lightroom incorporates the latest digital imaging concepts and technologies, such as automated workflow processing, nondestructive editing and support for multiple file formats, including JPG, TIFF, DMG, PSD and more than 150 raw file formats. Lightroom 1.0 has five task-oriented modules: Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web. Each module presents the user with a complete set of functions and dialogs related to each task.
To get started with Lightroom, users can load images with the Import dialog in the Library module. This is one of my favorite features in Lightroom for three reasons:
1) you can import images to two different locations; 2) you can preview and select which images to import and learn how to import them; and 3) you can create and use templates to name files, adjust images and store metadata.
By importing files to two different locations, Import provides an automatic backup, fulfilling one of my cardinal tenets of good workflow: always have two copies of everything. Import also lets you decide whether images are to be moved, copied or simply cataloged. The cataloging feature provides you with a way to backup previews and metadata for offline media such as CDs, DVDs, offsite hard drives or online storage via the web. There are even preference settings for the size and quality of the previews. If you are tethered to a computer while shooting, you can tell Lightroom to watch a particular folder and automatically import images as they are taken.
But the best part of Import is the templates. The file-naming templates support custom text, various numbering schemes and date formats, as well as other variables, such as EXIF information. Basic IPTC data fields, along with captions, are available in the metadata templates. Because this metadata can be stored optionally in XMP files – as can be done with Adobe Bridge, Photoshop and Camera Raw – they also can be shared with any program that understands XMP files.
You can also view your images in the Library singly or in groups, using various filtering methods. Compare mode lets you sync and link focus, so you can place two images side by side at the same size. I like to bring up two or three images and view them together to see which one I prefer.
One of the coolest features of Lightroom is its ability to make virtual copies. You can make copies of an image, apply different settings and then compare it to the original. Lightroom does not make a second copy of the original image file; it simply stores the settings for each copy under a different name, thereby speeding up processing and saving disk space.
The Develop module provides an entire suite of controls to adjust color, tonality and exposure, primarily at an image level. If you need to work on an image at the pixel level, then you can open the image in Photoshop directly from Lightroom, with or without the changes made in Lightroom.
All adjustments made to an image in Lightroom are nondestructive; that is, the original image is never altered, regardless of the file format. Lightroom stores the changes you make as metadata and applies them on the fly when you view or edit an image. One database can act as a repository of all the metadata, editing instructions, history and previews for the images that have been imported, but Lightroom allows you to have multiple databases.
The list of adjustment tools is too long to enumerate here, but one of my favorites is the Crop and Straighten tool. I really like the cute mini-level icon for straightening, but I love the fact that I can enter numbers to fine-tune it.
The real power of the Develop module lies in its adjustment panels. From there, you can work with histograms, white balance, hue, saturation and noise reduction. This isn’t simply Camera Raw on steroids, this is more like a time-warping experience. I love doing a “before-and-after” split-screen using the Compare feature to view my latest adjustments.
The three output modules – Slideshow, Print and Web – provide sophisticated capabilities showing your images. Whether you want to create slideshows with music, print contact sheets, drafts or full-size professional-quality images, or create interactive web galleries, it’s all there to use and enjoy.
Lightroom is available for the introductory retail price of $199, and can be purchased through retailers or directly from . After April 30, the retail price will be $299. Adobe