adobe released lightroom 2 a couple of days ago and being the photography software geek that i am, i was quick to download the trial version from their website.
my initial concern of backward compatibility with the first version proved to be unfounded as i was able to smoothly transfer my catalogue of photos (all 6000+ of them) into the new version, along with all the edits i had made on them, as well as ALL of the develop presets that i use.
for the uninitiated, lightroom is basically a photo-management software that allows photographers to download their photos and organise them before adjustments to white balance, exposure, contrast, etc. can be made. these adjustments can then be synchronised among an unlimited number of photos, saving time and effort. it is in essence a dressed-up variant of adobe camera raw, with the ability to create web galleries as well as prepare photos for print.
[warning: if you have no prior experience with lightroom, the next part is going to sound like mumbo-jumbo crazyspeak]
the interface remains pretty much the same, with the 5 modules – ‘library’, ‘develop’, ‘slideshow’, ‘print’ and ‘web’ arranged in a linear workflow fashion. what has changed looks-wise is perhaps only the addition of fancier looking icons. users retain the ability to customise the display area to their liking.
the most striking addition to this version really is the ability to make local adjustments on photos, instead of just global adjustments. for instance, it used to be that once the exposure on a photo was tweaked, every single pixel undergoes that same amount of increase or decrease. with lightroom 2, users can apply changes to a selected area by using the ‘brush’ or the ‘gradient’ tool. sounds familiar? yeah, it’s pretty much being able to do ‘masking’ in lightroom without having to take a photo into photoshop.
the other new feature that impressed me is the ability to add a vignette to a photo AFTER it has been cropped. in the first version, the position of the vignette is relative to the edges of the original image, meaning that if i were to crop a picture substantially, the vignette would either be off-centered or hardly visible at all.
kudos to adobe for doing a great job of listening to the feedback of photographers and designing a platform that is increasingly looking like a viable replacement for photoshop. while that might not be the case for those who rely extensively on photoshop to realise their aesthetic vision, lightroom 2 might just prove to be all that the working photographer needs on the post-processing end of things.
lightroom 2 can be purchased off adobe’s website for US$299 or if you already have the first version, the upgrade starts from US$99.
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