Design Visualization

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (First Look Review)

21 May, 2007 By: Ron LaFon

Manage your many digital photographs using this highly recommended tool for DCC professionals, architects and landscape designers.


Adobe recently expanded its Photoshop line of products to include Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, a photograph-centric workflow tool for managing and working with digital images. Although aimed at professional photographers, Lightroom is a valuable tool for design professionals who routinely work with large numbers of digital photographs, such as DCC (digital-content creation) professionals, architects and landscape designers.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Photography Management Software
Pros: Familiar metaphors; good batch operations; nondestructive editing.
Cons: None significant.
Price: $299

Adobe Systems
800.833.6687

Adobe Lightroom isn't intended to replace Photoshop, and it differs from that program in many ways, including purpose. Lightroom doesn't offer the detailed image-editing and -compositing features for which Photoshop is known -- it doesn't allow extensive pixel-level editing or compositing, nor does it support layers and masking.

What Lightroom offers are workflow tools that go beyond image editing. Lightroom is composed of several modules that are dedicated to essential photographic tasks. The Library module is designed for importing and managing photos, even in large quantities, in a fairly speedy fashion.

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The Library module of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom lets users browse large groups of photographs and choose the ones they need while adding as much information as they see fit.

The Develop module can be thought of as the darkroom. Using this tool, you can process hundreds of photos at a time, making nondestructive adjustments to color, temperature, tone curves and exposure for single images or groups of images. Your original digital image files remain unaltered once edited, and you can always go back to the original files.

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In Lightroom's Develop module, you can make nondestructive adjustments to things such as color temperature, tone curves and exposure. Think of this module as the darkroom.

Slideshow, Web and Print modules provide the means to present photographs on a screen, online or in a physical print. The Print module allows you to prepare a contact sheet with multiple images or to adjust for a single-print photograph.

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In the Print module, you can elect to print contact sheets or full size images. Templates allow you to quickly organize the print to your specific needs.

Lightroom excels at handling the high-quality raw images produced by leading digital camera vendors, even if they are offline, and it can automatically import these images from a folder on a computer that's used for tethered shooting when the camera is attached to the computer.

Adobe Lightroom is well designed and well considered, providing support for more than 150 camera raw formats, including Adobe DNG (Digital NeGative), as well as JPEG and TIFF formats. As with the camera raw file formats, adjustments you make to images in Lightroom won't alter the original data.

The system requirements for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for Windows are a system based on an Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor, running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 installed. You'll need at least 768MB of system RAM and 1GB of available hard disk space for the installation, as well as a display with a resolution of at least 1024x768. You also will need a CD-ROM drive for installing the software. Adobe notes that Lightroom isn't yet certified on Windows Vista, but it will run under the new operating system -- although the CD/DVD burning technology won't be functional.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom also runs on the Macintosh OS, requiring either a PowerPC G4 or G5 processor or an Intel Core Duo processor. Mac OS X 10.4 or higher is required, as is 768MB of system RAM. You'll need 1GB of available hard disk space for the installation. As with the Windows version, you'll need a display with a resolution of at least 1024x768 and a CD-ROM drive for installing the software.

Pricing for the English-language version of Photoshop Lightroom is currently $299. A French-language version is also available (and a German-language version is forthcoming) at a special introductory price of €174; after June 28, 2007, the regular retail price of €249 will take effect. A Japanese-language version will debut at the special introductory price of ¥22,000; after July 23, 2007, the regular price will be ¥32,000.

Although designed for the professional photographer, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom can make handling a large quantity of digital images a breeze, and it provides benefits for visual content-creation professionals, architects, landscape designers and anyone else who needs to manage photographs. It is a well-designed and useful tool. Highly Recommended


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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