Tuesday, March 23rd 2010

Lightroom 3 beta 2 Review

Adobe released their second beta of Lightroom 3 today. I’ve downloaded it and played around with it a bit – here are my thoughts and observations so far.

(If you want to read about the big changes since Lightroom 2, have a look at my previous posts.)

The slow scrolling has been fixed! Hallelujah! In the first beta each notch on the mouse wheel equaled one pixel of scrolling, which made it pretty much unusable.

Custom tone curve

Now Adobe have made it possible to use the tone curve in the normal Photoshop fashion. Here’s how to:

Screenshot of the tone curve panel in Lightroom 3 beta 2.

In the bottom of the Tone Curve panel, there is now a button to the right. If you click it you get into Custom mode, where you can drag the points on the curve any way you like.

Screenshot of a custom tone curve in Lightroom 3 beta 2.

This allows more extreme treatments, but most of the time the default mode is both easier to use and more photographically useful.

Luminance noise reduction

The developers have now switched luminance noise reduction back on. (In the first beta it wasn’t ready for testing.)

Here’s what it does to an ISO 1600 shot of mine, at 100%:

100% view with luminance noise reduction switched off.

Above at the 0 setting, and below at the 25 strength. It seems fairly good at keeping the detail in the photo while smoothing the luminance noise, or grain if you wish.

100% view with luminance noise reduction switched on.

Even so, software still can’t do magic and I prefer to keep all the detail, and grain, in my photos. I only use colour noise reduction to get rid of the ugly colour blotches. I have the colour noise setting at 10 as default and almost never change it.

Highlight tone priority

In beta 2, the highlight priority method has been made default for post-crop vignetting. It was available for evaluation in the first beta as well. This vignetting effect is a much better simulation of real, physical lens vignetting, and looks much better in my opinion.

Below is an image with the old paint overlay method of vignetting. Hover it to see the new highlight priority method.

Demo of vignetting in Lightroom 3 beta 2.

Have a look at the bright snow on the right when you hover in and out. The old method makes these highlights grey in a very unnatural way. Highlight priority lets highlights burn through the vignetting darkening in the same way they would do with real lens vignetting.

I want slide-show sharpening!

The slide-show module now has an option to render the images before starting, to avoid waiting time between the slides.

Screenshot of Lightroom 3 beta 2 prepare previews in advance option.

This is great, but they still haven’t fixed the one reason I don’t use Lightroom for slide-shows: sharpening. I would like to be able to choose between low, medium and high sharpening for screen – just as I can do in the export dialog.

This should be a pretty simple fix for the developers – especially now that they allow pre-rendering. They already have the algorithms to do the sharpening, they basically just need to add a drop down box in the panel.

Until that is fixed, slide-shows will always look better if I export the photos with sharpening and use FastStone to create the slide-show.

Other fixes

Adobe have also had the good sense to fix the folder view in the Import dialog. In the first beta it was really weird. Now it works like a normal folder tree structure – i.e. as you would expect. (The first beta was automatically uninstalled when I installed beta 2 so I can’t check to see exactly how the folders were weird. I just remember they were weird.)

There are a few other things that have been added that are of limited interest to me. I’m sure many others will like these though:

Automatic lens correction

Sadly, Adobe still haven’t added automatic lens correction in Lightroom 3. I’ll have to keep dreaming for Lightroom 4. 🙁

4 Responses to this post:

  1. Brent says:

    Is there enough in LR 3 to stop me from paying $100 less for Aperture 3? That is the real question in my books.

  2. David Naylor says:

    Good question. I’m not familiar with Aperture, so I can’t help answer that question though. 🙂

  3. […] Adobe released Lightroom 3 beta 2 without this feature, I was convinced we wouldn’t see it until version 4, at the earliest. So, three cheers for the Adobe Lightroom […]