The answer for these digital photographers is likely to be Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, as it includes all the capabilities that most amateur photographers will ever need and is priced at less than $200. What Lightroom users will appreciate the most is that it makes it easy and fast to perform three common functions: organize groups of pictures, modify them and provide a finished image. Users will also like how easy it is to work with RAW files and arrange and edit JPEGs and TIFFs, although with fewer manipulation options.
When Lightroom was first released during January 2006, it provided the same three primary functions of version 3: a comprehensive file organizer, image editor and RAW conversion process. Lightroom 3 has raised the bar, however, and is packed with many more photo editing capabilities than certainly Lightroom 1, and also substantially improves on those in Lightroom 2. The most recognizable of which is its totally reconfigured import dialogue, but that is only the beginning.
RAW processing system
Lightroom 3 contains the newest iteration of Adobe’s RAW processing system, which is also found in Adobe Photoshop CS5. Although this would not typically be that important, it is, considering the degree to which Lightroom 3’s RAW processing has been improved compared to the “2003” version. Image quality is markedly better, especially when higher ISO settings are used.
Lightroom 3 also shares the same lens corrections capabilities as Photoshop CS5, although they are initially only compatible with certain Canon, Nikon and Sigma lens/camera combinations plus a few compact and camera phones. You can create and upload your custom profiles, however, with your gear.
With tethered shooting, photos can be imported into Lightroom as soon as they are captured. Files are then edited with the customary ACR adjustments, and, as files are imported, develop settings can be totally applied. The shutter release or a computer screen control will trip the shutter from the tethered shooting mode. Although the shutter can be released from the tethering window of Lightroom 3, it won’t display a live view image. The tethered shooting mode in Lightroom 3 is only compatible with a limited number of Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
Lightroom 3 users will experience greater performance since the software is meant to work with 64-bit operating systems. Performance is also enhanced when Lightroom 3 is installed on computers with more than 4GB of RAM.
Many of the new plug-ins in Lightroom 3 is the result of an open and democratic process, as some are user-created and others are for commercial purposes. Upload photos directly to e-mails or personal or professional Web sites or sharing sites, such as PhotographyTalk.com. Other plug-ins expand Lightroom 3’s functionality with development presets and a geotagging feature.
There will be some period of adjustment for Photoshop and other users of various editing software products before Lightroom 3’s benefits are easily controlled and clearly evident. What many digital photographers will discover is that Lightroom 3 can handle virtually all the editing tasks they require. An investment in Photoshop may never be necessary, but if you already have, then Lightroom 3 will seamlessly partner with it (and many other editors). Use Lightroom 3 to organize and manipulate quickly and easily; use the more complex software for additional adjustments that are beyond Lightroom 3.
For some photographers, upgrading from Lightroom 2 to 3 may be unnecessary. It all depends on whether they need Lightroom 3’s enhancements. For others photographers that don’t want to spend the money on Photoshop, are new to image manipulation or want to find an easier system to use, then Lightroom 3 is a very good choice.