Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 review
With some useful improvements on an already excellent piece of software, Lightroom 3 is well worth the asking price
Review Date: 11 Jun 2010
Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson
Price when reviewed: £198 (£233 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
We’ve loved Lightroom since it was first released in 2007. Its performance was little short of spectacular, particularly when working with RAW files. That impressive turn of speed was married to a clean interface, and the unerring focus on a simple, step-by-step workflow added up to an incredibly useful piece of software for well-heeled amateurs and professionals alike.
Version 2, released in 2008, added significantly to the editing features of the original, and now version 3 is here, promising more features, better image quality and improved performance.
Moving up from older versions of Lightroom is easy. You qualify for the £64 (£75 inc VAT) upgrade package only if you’re coming from Lightroom 1 or 2, but catalogues from both versions of Lightroom, plus those from Photoshop Elements 6 and later, can be imported.
This makes Lightroom ideal for those with an established collection of images and a simple desire for more organisational and editing power. Converting a huge, 17,000-file catalogue from Lightroom 2 took under five minutes on our test machine.
With your old catalogues upgraded, what changes will you notice in the new version? There’s nothing striking from the main view. The five modules – Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web – are all still present. Likewise, Lightroom’s ability to manage files in bespoke collections is unchanged, but it remains by far the best way of managing your images: you need never worry about precisely where an image is on your hard disk. Smart Collections, which automatically draw in images depending on the criteria you set, also remain.
The import dialog box has had a facelift, making it easier to see what will happen to your images as you add them to your catalogue. New to the Library mode is Publish Services, which synchronises images from your Lightroom catalogue with another location. By default you can synchronise with a location on your hard disk or, more usefully, Flickr, support for which is finally included.
The Develop module houses some more interesting additions. For the first time there’s a dedicated tool for adding grain, which is useful for imbuing images with a film-like quality. There’s also a new Lens Correction feature. Lightroom detects the lens used to take a shot, and, once you enable profile corrections, automatically corrects images. It can account for barrel distortion and chromatic aberration as well as vignetting.
I think a lot of users would disagree about LR1 and LR2 being fast, there are numerous forum threads on this major grievance. However, LR3 IS noticeably faster and is now a real pleasure to use.
I think you also missed out on one of this edition's greatest strengths - it's new noise removal algorithms. I've gone back to some rock band shoots taken in low light (well, actually near darkness) at high ISO and run them through the new version and the results are staggering! Photos are not only cleaner with noise appearing finer and much less blocky, but the detail I can now see in these shots is a lot better too.
Add these two features on to the tethered shooting we've been crying out for, the ability to manage video files, better output options to slideshow and online galleries and the improved printing packages available (left out of review) and the £76 I just paid is a bargain.
Now, if only they would add soft-proofing in LR4...
By mviracca on 14 Jun 2010
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