PhotoshopNews.com
Jun 12, 2006

Adobe Lightroom Beta 3 Released


Adobe has released Adobe Lightroom Beta 3 for Mac.
It is available for download at Labs.Adobe.com/Lightroom. Beta 3 brings a variety of new functionality including a new module and refinements of other modules. Also added is a new “Watched Folder” function to automatically import files into Lightroom when new files are added to a specified folder. It should also be noted that the application name has been changed from just ‘Lightroom’ to ‘Adobe Lightroom’. Hopefully, this will be the last name change. Read the rest of this story for an in depth look at Beta 3.

NOTE: All images contained in this story are ©2006 by Jeff Schewe-ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may not use the screenshots without the express written permission of the author, Jeff Schewe.

LIBRARY

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The Library module has not changed a lot from Beta 2 to Beta 3. The UI has been polished but the general appearance and functionality remain the same. The Library is the central repository for the images contained in Lightroom. The Import and Export buttons are gone and now live in a menu.


One added function is the ability to specify the precise filter of ratings. You can select “higher”, “lower” or “only” to get the exact results shown in the Library grid.


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Here, the main grid has been reduced to only those images that have a rating.


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The Library still has the Compare mode but now has additional viewing options.


The options are currently Fit, Fill, 1:1 and a new 4:1 zoom. Fit and Fill are exchangeable as is 1:1 and 4:1, meaning you can choose either Fit or Fill as the base zoom and then choose either 1:1 or 4:1 as the zoomed in view. Space Bar still toggles between the zoom views. Command click to add or delete images from Compare.


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Zoom in this figure above is set to 4:1. Personally, I would prefer a 2:1 zoom to 4:1. Indications are that additional zooms will come in future betas.


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This figure shows the standard 1:1 zoom.


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The new Fill zoom will fill the image in the central panel based upon the vertical height. The exact zoom % is not currently shown.

DEVELOP

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While the Develop adjustment parameters have remained unchanged, viewing options in Develop have changed considerably and new functionality has been added.


The cursor will now offer a direct RGB readout. However, it’s based upon a 0-100% not 0-255. The reason is that specific 0-255 numbers are, at this point, irrelevant. Since there is only one “internal” color space for Lightroom – and currently that color space is unique – the solution to what the RGB numbers refer to has been changed to %’s instead of 0-255 numbers. A little testing shows that if what you are concerned about is neutrality or tonal range the % works well. The current internal color space of Lightroom is Pro Photo chromaticities but with a tone curve (gamma) that matches sRGB. The current thinking is that users will eventually want direct read outs based upon the same color spaces available in Camera Raw but this decision is still pending. If you feel strongly about this issue I would suggest making your opinion known on the Lightroom forums.


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The cool new function now in Develop (that a lot of users have asked for) is the ability to see a Before/After. The new Before/After can either be in portrait mode (as shown above) or landscape (below). Zoom and pan is locked so you can zoom in and move around the image.


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The Before/After example here shows the color image (Before) and a convert to greyscale (After). The After will show all new adjustments accumulatively.


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Selecting the Split Screen option allows seeing the Before and After in the same relative image as opposed to two separate images.

In addition to being able to see a Before/After in two views or in split screen, you can also toggle Before/After either by selecting the buttons or with a command key ‘\’ (back slash). The command key was actually programed by engineer Troy Gaul while sitting in the audience of the Epson Print Academy in Minnesota. George Jardine was doing a demo of Lightroom and encouraged the audience to loudly ask for a toggle command key. Troy had it done by lunch time.


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A major new functionality in Beta 3 Develop is History.


History allows users to move backwards and forwards through adjustments made through an image. History will remain in place until such time as you delete it.


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In the figure above, I’ve stepped back through history while hovering the cursor over another history state (the greyscale conversion) which previews in the navigator thumbnail at the top of the panel.


The figures above show the messaging that displays when you select other history states or go back in time using command ‘Z’ or go forward in time using command/shift ‘Z’.

SLIDESHOW

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Slideshow has not changed considerably except to remove any web functionality (which has been added to the new Web module). You can drag to rearrange the slide order as well as position your Identity Plate or additional text. Presets allow you to customize and save your own custom slideshow.


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You can still preview the slideshow directly in the center panel.


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You can export the slideshow-currently the only export available is PDF slideshow. I would expect both QuickTime and Flash export at some point.

PRINT

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The Print module looks about the same but has some major new breakthrough functionality under the hood.


Clicking on the Paper readout (it acts as a button) allows you to alter the page setup.


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The Page Setup dialog on Mac.


Clicking on the Printer button allows you to pre-select the printer and printer settings.


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Here the printer can be selected as well as -ALL- printing parameters. Note the button says “Save”. This dialog allows you to capture and save the printer settings.


After setting the Page Setup and Printer settings you can actually store those settings directly in a print Template. This is major new functionality that will aid printing from Lightroom by making it easier to print with less user errors than other applications.


The Color Management function of Lightroom has been improved. You can either “Manage by Printer” or manage via custom profiles. Lightroom now uses Adobe Ace CMM and does black point compensation-improving compatibility between Lightroom and Photoshop.


A new function is the ability to choose not only the color printer profiles loaded in your system but also to choose which profiles show up in the Lightroom drop down menu.

Clicking on “Print…” will bring up the printer dialog as expected but holding down the option key changes the button to “Print” which will completely bypass the print dialog. As long as you’ve saved your printer settings, you can then print bypassing any additional dialogs. This will make for a more efficient printing workflow and reduce the chance of user error. There is a “gotcha” when using print driver Presets-choosing a driver preset will override the saved template settings. For now, it’s suggested you keep your print driver setting set to “Standard”as shown below.

WEB

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The new module making its debut in Beta 3 is Web. Web combines the web based HTML and Flash site building that first appeared in Slideshow in previous betas. The figure above shows the HTML page building.


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The figure above shows the Flash page building. Since this is a new module, I would expect further enhancements to be added down the road such as more precise sizing and viewing options.


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A useful addition is the ability to create FTP Presets to allow easy uploading of pages and images to your web sites.


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This is the basic page layout showing rows and columns.


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Clicking on an image brings up a small preview image with the optional EXIF metadata displayed.


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Clicking on the large preview allows viewing a larger preview image.


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This is an example of the Flash based page. As Lightroom progresses, a lot of enhancement might show in the Flash site building tools as more and more Flash functionality is incorporated into Adobe products.

IMPORT

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Import has seen some important added functionality. The Import button has been replaced with a menu in the File menu.


You can still choose to import using either referenced images, copy or move. Copied images can be converted to DNG’s if you choose.


Now when importing you can choose the intial settings applied to the images based upon Develop saved presets.


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You can also choose to imbed metadata templates or create one on the fly. You choose what metadata to embed and enter in the fields you want filled upon import.

EXPORT

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Export has also gained functionality. Export is available from both the Library and Develop modules. Module specific exports are available from Slideshow and Web.


The File Naming has changed to add naming fields by flyout menu.


The choice of export file formats has been expanded to allow PSD as well as TIFF, JPEG and DNG.


Depending on the format chosen, you’ll get the ability to chose bitdepth.


As well as color space.


Export now allows the setting of export file resolution as well as still setting units and size.

PREFERENCES

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Preferences has expanded to include additional application global settings. The General panel remains the same except for the action to take when mounting a flash card has been moved to the Import panel.


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The new Import preferences allow setting what action to take when mounting new cards, as well as an important new addition–Auto-Import. Import also allows users to specify where their Managed Photos are located.


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Auto-Import allows you to select a “watched folder” to auto-import new images as they appear in the folder. This will work not only with images or folders of images dropped into the folder but will also allow users to shoot tethered with their camera software and auto-import images when the tethered shots are copied into the watched folder.


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The Auto Import Settings allow you to choose how to handle image naming, Shoot management as well as Metadata (via templates), Develop settings and Keywords.


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The File Management panel allows you to choose whether Lightroom uses a small amount of drive space for cache-useful for a laptop-or large cache sizes. Larger will be faster but can increase the cashe size considerably.

You can also choose to write all settings and metadata in XMP sidecar files. Note: at this time, Lightroom settings are still not supported by Camera Raw but that will change with a future update to Camera Raw at least by the time Lightroom V 1.0 ships.


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The final panel shows interface options.

LIGHTROOM MENUS
The menu items available in Beta 3 have been expanded.

LIGHTROOM MODULE SPECIFIC MENUS


Expect these menus to be expanded as additional functionality is added in upcoming Lightroom Betas.

One note: there -STILL- isn’t a general Lightroom Help yet. But there are module specific command key lists available as shown below.


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The “Five Rules” have not changed…Rule Five is still “Enjoy“.

What Lightroom Beta 3 is, and isn’t

By no stretch is Lightroom Beta 3 the end of the Lightroom betas. There is still a lot of work to be done and new features and functionality to be completed. The pause between Beta 2 and 3 was largely due to working on bringing the Windows version of Lightroom up to parity-and as Windows users will find out, the Windows beta is still not done. But it is running on Windows XP-I’ve seen it. There are still usability and UI issues being addressed. The Windows Beta 3 will follow the Mac Beta 3 in relatively short order.

Here is a shot of Lightroom Windows running on a MacBook Pro under Windows XP via a beta of Parallels-you can just make out the Windows Start button and Lightroom as the running app.

You see? The Windows version of Lightroom -DOES- exist. It’s just not quite ready. I’ll let Adobe state their release plans for the Windows version-the timing largely rests on when it achieves what I call agnostic equivilency (meaning both the Mac and Win version are essentially equivilent with regards to functionality, speed and usability). But there will be a Beta 3 version of Lightroom for Windows before another beta for Mac.

The speed of Beta 3 has been optimized over Beta 2, but there is still a long way to go before final optimization is done. That will only happen when features for Lightroom V. 1.0 are done. It makes no sense optimizing features until they reach a final stage. However, the Camera Raw code in Lightroom HAS been speeded up considerably due in large part to Thomas Knoll and Zalman Stern working to optimize the Camera Raw pipeline in Beta 3.

It should still be noted that this is still BETA software. As such, mission critical or job specific use should still be done with caution. Make sure that you have backups of all your images. While Camera Raw settings won’t be interchangable for a while yet, metadata can be exchanged if you use the option to use XMP Sidecar files.

Also note that when installing Beta 3, your Lightroom database will be updated. I’ve not experienced any issues but I would suggest making a backup of Beta 2 components prior to installing Beta 3.

Lightroom Beta 3 has come a long way since the release of Beta 1 last January 9th at MacWorld, but we’re probably only about the mid point through the beta process. Critical functionality such as syncing between a laptop and a workstation is being worked on even as I write. Being able to maintain multiple processing settings per file is also yet to come-but it will. We hope that other cool new functionality will be added.

Features such as spot healing and local tone & color control are still on the table. It really all depends on feature triage and what the engineers can get done by the time 1.0 ships. But, unlike other applications in the Creative Suite that live with an 18-24 month upgrade cycle, don’t be surprised to see Lightroom developed on a faster development cycle with major new features and functionality released when they’re ready as opposed to waiting a year or more to be added. Lightroom is designed to be a sleak new architecture and that begs for a faster release cycle for users.

If you have strong opinions regarding features and functionality, the single best way to express them is in the Adobe Lightroom forums. While the engineers don’t post very often (do you want them posting or writing code?) the discussions -DO- have a considerable impact on feature development.

To download the Beta 3 or to get involved with the forums, be sure to visit the Lightroom home on labs.adobe.com/lightroom

Be sure to check back later in the week when I post a story about a recent visit to the Lightroom engineers at Adobe Minnesota.

20 Responses to “Adobe Lightroom Beta 3 Released”

  1. Lou Reynolds Says:

    Thanks for the info on B3 Jeff. We also appreciate the glimpse of the future that you have provided as well.

  2. Levi Says:

    Thanks a bunch for the information, I can’t wait for the first Windows release!

  3. Andy Crawford Says:

    WOW!!!

  4. Trevor Morris Says:

    As always, thanks so much for the thorough and detailed article, Jeff. I can’t wait for the Windows release!

  5. Duane Pandorf Says:

    Do you ever sleep Jeff? Thanks for the hard work and now that I have a new MacBook Pro Lightroom is even more better!

    Thanks,

  6. Thomas Says:

    Lightroom is definitely moving in the right direction. One thing that stops me dead from using it in place of Photoshop is the lack of plug-ins. Will we eventually see this? If I can’t use PhotoKIT Sharpener then I can’t use Lightroom – it’s really that important to me.

  7. Adam Chandler Says:

    Looks like some great additions, Jeff. I’ve gotta say, though, that I was really hoping for versioning capability. Just think how much space we could all save by not having to duplicate an entire file for each variation we’d like to save. It seems that Aperture is still more sophisticated in many ways but I know that LIghtroom isn’t offficially released yet.

    Here’s hoping…

  8. Sean McCormack Says:

    Thanks Jeff for your continued work prodding and cajoling Adobe into improving this fantastic and useful piece of software. Cheers also for the runthrough. My Library is almost updated and I’m gagging to get going with it!

  9. Jouko Ruuskanen Says:

    Still no levels adjustment? I tried LR beta 2 but dumped it because the only way to adjust the white point is the exposure control. That won’t do in case of underexposed photos, the looks are very different when compared to the standard “levels” adjustment. Please add the necessary control to the curves window

  10. carlos Harman ferreira Bejarano Says:

    Es el mejor programa grafico que he podido analizarme gustaria descargarlo

  11. Volkhard Rühs Says:

    Already had some very good experience with beta 2; although switching between LR and CS2, I noticed considerable differences in contrast and tonal values.
    And I had the same experience as Jouko Ruuskanen, especially with BW conversions.
    But – the love at first sight continues.

  12. Sean Naghibi Says:

    Wow!! Nice one Jeff, very nicely detailed and lovely screenshots as well as the photos you have used to make this demo. Now I really cannot wait for the Windows version! Now where did I leave that time machine?

  13. Kim Martin Says:

    Many thanks for the intro to B3. Interested to hear your comments on speed as it really doesn’t run fast enough yet with 16MB RAW files. Perhaps I need more RAM (762MB on Powerbook G4 1.67GH).

  14. Bill Caulfeild-Browne Says:

    I am already addicted to Lightroom – Beta 3 simply means there is no hope of recovery. The only “gotta have” for me is a Healing tool. The rest is pure luxury…
    Thanks for a great update review, Jeff.
    Bill

  15. Reg Says:

    Grr, this software just looks so good.

    Wish they’d hurry up with the Windows release. Knowing my luck they’ll charge a left testicle for it

  16. Mickey Says:

    Thanks for the nice review! I’m looking forward to the Windows version as well.

    I’m actually thinking of getting a Macbook (non-pro) for my pics… will Lightroom run fast enough, assuming I max out the RAM? Using a 350D btw.

  17. rogerzamak Says:

    It’s amazing!!!!!!!

    Thanks

  18. Maria Cabanyes Says:

    Please put me on the beta list for windows. Thank you, your program looks wonderful.

    Does it support DNG?

    Thank you,

    Maria

  19. G Pacioli Says:

    This is great for us Apple’s. I must get going on the learning curve — uhmmm, not so bad. Are there any7 101 tutorials out there yet? Why did the Beta prefer to begin with the Mac?

  20. Swisspainter Says:

    The programm is wonderfully intuitive, fast and powerful.

    When will camera profiles become available? I am using the Olympus E-500.
    A red-eye reduction module would also be appreciated.

    Thank you for all the great work.

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