Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Many professional photographers and serious hobbyists have been using Adobe Lightroom 2 as an integral part of their editing workflow. With Adobe Lightroom 3, even more photographers are likely to adopt it as a one-stop photo-editing resource.
Lightroom's core purpose has always been to provide tools for sorting, organizing, developing, and publishing photos, but version 3 upgrades Lightroom's flexibility with its new noise reduction engine and improved RAW processing, as well as the streamlined workflow.
Importing images into Lightroom 3 is simpler, which makes finding and defining your source and destination easier. Lightroom has also added direct support for tethered image capture for Nikon and Canon cameras, so you don't need to use the camera's own software.
Once you've loaded your images into Lightroom, you can begin work in the Develop module. This module's most obvious change is the direct access it gives you to all collections and recent folders. The bigger news, though, lies in how the module processes RAW files. Specifically, Adobe has rewritten the tool's demosaicing, sharpening, noise reduction, and vignetting algorithms; and you can now add filmlike grain to your pictures. The noise reduction enhancement is very welcome, offering more-precise controls for reducing or eliminating noise while retaining more detail. For image files previously processed in Lightroom 2.5, you can choose to apply the new noise algorithms or use your old edits.
The Develop module's Lens Correction reads image metadata and automatically corrects distortions inherent in the specific lens used for the shot. Adobe supplies some lens profiles, and Lightroom works closely with the free Adobe Lens Profile Creator, enabling you to create a profile for any other lens you use.
You can now import, catalog, and preview video without leaving the Lightroom interface. The Slideshow module improves video output, too, by simplifying how it handles music and MP4 export. For example, select your music file, and Lightroom will automatically calculate the appropriate duration of each slide to have the show sync with the length of the loaded music file. Then you can customize your fade times.
The most notable change to Lightroom 3's Web module is that you can now use watermarks. You can save several (such as logo, copyright, and name) to your Web pages, or you can edit right there, when you need to use them. This is a great production advantage when you need to upload a bunch of images.
Lightroom Publishing Manager keeps track of which images you've uploaded to your Website, and which ones you've modified since uploading them (so you can republish them). In addition to managing FTP uploads, Lightroom pemits easy upload to Flickr. Uploads to Smugmug and other sites suitable for more serious photographers are possible but require third-party plug-ins.
Given its deep improvements, Lightroom 3 is a compelling upgrade for photographers who depend on the program for smoothly importing, cataloging, and preparing their images. The superior noise algorithms alone make the upgrade worthwhile, and various tweaks to the workflow will save you time and hassles in any production environment. If you don't yet use Lightroom, now is a great time to jump in with both feet. You may sharply reduce the time you spend doing repetitive but necessary tasks, leaving you free for more-creative imaging.
Note: The "Download Now" button takes you to the vendor's site, where you must register to download the software. For more information about this product, see PCWorld's full review.
--Sally Wiener Grotta & Daniel Grotta