Adobe announced at 9 pm PDT tonight that Lightroom 3 is now officially for sale at http://www.adobe.com. You can see Adobe’s official list of feature additions and enhancements from product manager Tom Hogarty HERE.
Adobe continues to show that they are committed to continuing to make our post-processing workflow as efficient and painless as possible and to building in powerful new functionality, even when it reduces our dependence on their flagship Photoshop product. Frankly I wasn’t excited when the first Beta release of LR3 came out. Since then Adobe has built in much more, making the upgrade well worthwhile for most of us, in my opinion.
I will have posts going forward explaining in detail new features. For now, here’s a list of the most exciting additions for me:
1. Very much improved color and luminance noise reduction. You may think twice about continuing to use your third-party plug-ins. Here is a quick comparison (click on the image to see it bigger; no sharpening applied after NR):
2. Custom Print Package. This third layout engine in the Print Module allows you to place and size images on a page with complete flexibility. Click HERE for my video on this. Here is a sample layout I created:
3. Much improved watermarking functionality. If watermarks are important to you and you are tired of using a third-party plugin or going to Photoshop to apply them, this will be well worth the upgrade price. Watermarking is now available in Export, Print, Web and Slideshow. You can add a graphic watermark (such as a logo created in Photoshop) or a text watermark. You control size, font, placement, color, drop shadow, opacity, and more. Watermarks created in one module are available in all others. Example:
4. Automatic and Manual Lens Corrections. Adobe has measured chromatic aberration, geometric distortion (e.g. barrel and pin cushion distortion) and vignetting produced by many common lenses and built profiles that fix the issues. You choose in the Lens Corrections tab whether to enable the profile (the lens is read from your image metadata), and whether to go with each recommended correction full-strength or reduce or turn it off completely. I don’t find the profiles to be perfect for my lenses (they are not made for each camera), but they are a good start and I can then use the sliders to finish the fix. In the Manual corrections section, you can distort your image to fix perspective lines (e.g. lines in a building that bow inward because you photographed it looking upward.) This is huge to me — a major reason I would still use Photoshop with Lightroom 2.
These four changes make the upgrade well worth the money to me.
Other additions and changes of particular note:
- Newly Designed Import Dialog. There isn’t much new functionality here, but Adobe has tried to make the dialog more intuitive. (Opinions vary on whether they have accomplished this.) What is new and of note is that you can now browse files and folders on your hard drive before you get deep into the import process. You can also look at images full-frame in Loupe view and zoom in on them 1:1 before importing. Finally, you can save your import settings as presets to make future imports more efficent.
- Improved image quality: improved raw demosaicing, noise reduction and sharpening. The changes are so significant here that Adobe has had to introduce what they call Process Version. If you have worked your images in LR2, once your catalog is upgraded to LR3, these images remain in the old Process Version (2003) so that the images look exactly as you worked them. You can choose to update the images to the higher quality Process Version 2010, but this may change their appearance (primarily they will appear sharper). See my coming blog post on this.
- Video File Support: if I had a camera that shot video, perhaps this would be up above in my top features. You can now import video files into LR, and manage them with the Library module (rate, flag, keyword, sort, etc.). You can’t edit the video, but if you double-click on one it will play in your default video player.
- Tethered capture: For a limited number of cameras you can now control your camera from Lightroom, and have the images automatically import.
- Publish Services in the Library module. These are essentially managed exports. Right now Flickr is available. LR will manage the upload to Flickr, show you comments people have made on your images, show you images that you have worked on since you uploaded them in case you want to reupload them, etc. For sure third-party plugins will be coming for other services. You can also publish to your hard drive, which has this last advantage of keeping track of what you exported and whether it has changed.
- The ability to change your page background color in the Print module (as in my example above)
- The ability to export slideshows with music to mp4 videos. This is very cool.
- The ability to add very realistic looking grain in Develop. (No more jumping to Photoshop for this!)
- Two additional choices for vignette styles.
In addition, there are all kinds of little new tricks that I’ll be writing about in the days ahead. I’ll give you one now though: in the adjustment brush and graduated filter, double-click on the word Effects to reset all the sliders! Hooray for the little things.
If you do buy LR3, when you launch it, you will be asked if you want to upgrade your LR2 catalog. Say yes. LR will not overwrite your LR2 catalog, it will simply create a LR3 version next to it in your catalog folder.