Thoughts & Ideas

Some Thoughts on the New Lightroom

First of all, I'm in love with Adobe Lightroom. I purchased it when it was around version 2.3 or so, and have kept it up-to-date when Adobe released a new version. I've added plugins that assist my workflow, and I've got a lot of presets and settings tweaked just the way I like them.

When Adobe released the beta of Lr3, I downloaded it just about immediately and played with it. And then I couldn't wait until the final version was released, knowing that it was going to have all sorts of great features, fixes, and improvements. So, naturally, the day it was released, I bought the upgrade and downloaded the software and proceeded to install. And then, once installed, I had to play around.

Since that first night with Lr3, I've done some more work with the new version, and let me say this: hands-down, it's the best version of Lr there's ever been. Does it deal with everything I'd hoped would be dealt with in the new version? No, but it gets really close. So, all that said, here's some thoughts on the new version, and some tips and tricks that might help you get the most out of your new version of Lightroom.


Ok, so some of this should be common sense. Some of it isn't:
  • Back up your Lr2 catalog first. Lr3 has to upgrade it when you open it in Lr3, and while it should work, you don't want to take risks with your data.
  • If you use any plugins, check to see if there are new updates for them in Lr2. If there are, update them. (I didn't. And Lr3 went a little berserk when I tried to use those old plugins.)
  • If you haven't optimized your catalog in a while, it won't hurt to do it now. Lr3 has to process your catalog upon first open, and optimizing can only help it process it that tiny bit faster.


  • Have your Lr3 product key handy!
  • If you're installing the new version on a new computer, you'll also need your Lr3 product key.
  • Installation went without a hitch on my Windows 7 64-bit machine. Lr3 asked for my product key, and then went merrily along its way, just like previous updates did.


  • Okay, so the first time you open up your Lr2 catalog, Lr3 will complain and tell you it needs to upgrade it. Hopefully you don't have anything pressing, because if you have a lot of imagery in your catalog, this is going to take awhile. As in, go take a nap or mow the lawn or something that takes some time.
    • Sidenote: the upgrade process took the longest on the image previews, it seems. So if you don't have many or don't render at 1:1, your upgrade might not take as long.
  • Once you've got the new catalog, I suggest you check all the settings in the catalog, verify that the images look good, and then back it up again.
  • Next, check your plugins. They should be functioning if they are compatible with Lr3; if they aren't, you'll either want to disable or delete them. (Keeping in mind that they may complain by throwing odd error messages when you try to do so.)
  • Remember the five rules!

Things Worth Mentioning

  • There are some notable improvements under-the-hood when it comes to RAW processing. Some of these are only applied to new images by default, leaving your old images looking pretty close to the way they looked in Lr2. If you want an old image to use the new settings, you can do so by changing its "process" to 2010 in the calibration panel in the develop mode.
  • To me, anyway, it does seem much faster at rendering RAW files. (At least from Canon.) That is, until you start doing other funky things, like adding lens correction. That's not a simple task, and since Lr3 is non-destructive, those things must be processed at each render and edit, so if you start doing lots of things in your images, be prepared to sit a little.
  • The clone tool seems noticeably slower than Lr2. Something to watch for so that you don't think things have crashed.
  • The new noise reduction process is absolutely fantastic. I love, love, love, love it. While I'm sure the more expensive tools can still beat Lr3 (perhaps only because they have more settings), Lr3 beats Lr2 hands-down, and is no longer a fish-out-of-water when it comes to noise-reduction.
  • Lens Distortion Correction is new, and Adobe has included some useful presets for many different lenses from different manufacturers. If you've used Canon's DPP (or your camera's RAW processing tool), and then moved to Lr, you probably wondered why things looked a little different. The answer was that Lr2 didn't do any lens distortion correction, where your camera's software probably did. The difference isn't huge, but it's enough. Keep in mind, though, that this kind of processing slows things down, which is why it isn't enabled on every image by default.
  • Manual Correction is also new, and can do wonders with correcting the perspective on tall buildings shot wide-angle, and more. There's just one option missing: skew. Oh well. That's what Photoshop is for, I guess.
  • The new import dialog is really cool, and much renders image previews much faster as well.
  • Publish Services is the new "export", though that option isn't going away. Essentially Lr3 as recognized that we are publishing images to services, and we want those images and services to maintain that connection, even after edits. Publish Services lets you do just that. Now I can upload an image to Flickr, edit it, and have Lr3 replace the image at flickr, instead of deleting the old one and uploading a new one. It's not perfect, but it's a good start.
  • Performance is hit-and-miss.
    • Interactivity in the library view is quite nice. No longer do I get the feeling that I'm waiting on things to finish working before I can go to the next page, enter that next keyword, etc.
    • Interactivity in the develop view is a little better than Lr3 in some ways, worse in others. For example -- the clone tool performs far worse in Lr3 than in Lr2. But image rendering (until you've piled on a thousand adjustments) is faster.

Is It Worth It?

Yes. A million times yes. The new features (many of which I haven't even got to yet) are fantastic. For that matter, the only feature could have been noise reduction, and I'd have upgraded. But Adobe's managed to improve a lot of other things as well, and it shows. There are bugs, and there will be bugfixes, as always, but Lr3 is definitely a worthy successor to Lr2.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! I will remember all this....or check back when I upgrade!