Adobe Lightroom Review

Adobe Lightroom. Praised and Used by Many Professional Photographers

Adobe Lightroom ReviewI have used Adobe Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, CS5, CS6 and CC for over a decade now. I spent most of that time on a learning curve...a steep one. I found having to learn RAW processing using Canon's DPP even more of a challenge.

Adobe Lightroom Review

As soon as I got to a point where I felt comfortable and at ease with my workflow, Adobe went and introduced Adobe Lightroom a few years back now! As I was right in the middle of the wedding season when Lightroom was released (excuses, excuses) I had no time to investigate further. Even with some photographer friends urging me to try it, I kept putting it off.

It wasn't until the nice people at Kubota Image Tools asked me to review their Lightroom Tutorials that I actually tried it out using the free trial of Adobe Lightroom.

Note: If you don't yet have Lightroom as part of your workflow, I can guarantee that if you buy the Kubota Lightroom Tutorials first, it will have you reaching for your credit card to get Adobe Lightroom for sure. Great stuff.

Once I started reading and watching Kevin Kubota's Lightroom Tutorials, I found I couldn’t stop. This program was amazing and the way Kevin explained it made perfect sense for all areas of my hectic workflow!

So if you are like me and set in your processing ways, how would purchasing Adobe Lightroom make your photographic life easier or better? This is a quick introduction to Lightroom for beginners.

Adobe Lightroom Review: Features

Firstly the thing I noticed was how quickly the program loaded and how little processing power it needed. Whereas Photoshop tends to use up a lot of your PC’s resources, Adobe Lightroom uses thumbnails from which to work. Thereby seriously reducing the power needed and speeding up my workflow, much like "proxy editing" in video editing programs. Nice one!

It is also fast and easy to learn compared to other professional editing suites, Lightroom processes RAW files better than any other program I have used (in my opinion of course). So, the main features are;

1. Shortcuts

Adobe Lightroom has a wide array of keyboard shortcuts to make your life easier and your workflow faster. As you will need to flick between "Library Mode 2 and "Develop Mode 2 often, as well as other processes, these can save you a lot of time.

2. Step by Step

Lightroom is designed to be part of your workflow. Certain procedures require action earlier on and once you understand the system it works incredibly well.

3. Non-Destructive

I like this part! Because Lightroom isn't a browser as such, it is quicker and doesn't need to use the original files. It works on thumbnails stored in its own data files even when the originals are offline. Brilliant for organising!

4. Organisation

Just like having your dear old Mum tidy your room for you! This is a great feature of Adobe Lightroom. For me, I found I can organise my stock images with complete ease knowing where everything is as I upload them to various libraries at differing times.

Normally, tracking what has been uploaded where and at what point when using images from the same library is a nightmare. However, with Lightroom it's a breeze for me. I just use different tags for each batch uploaded to the web and then load those thumbnails into their own agency file.

Another feature is the ability to use all of your cameras metadata stored in the images to search through your libraries. For example, if you need to find all images taken with a certain camera, click on that model in the menu and they will all appear. The same goes for types of lenses, aperture settings, shutter speed settings and even keywords that you have store in the image itself.

So for example, if I need to grab all my images with beaches in them to upload to a new library, I just go to the Keyword Tags, click on the word beach and it picks out 304 of my images with the word beach embedded in the metadata (I added these keywords myself when uploading to stock libraries).

Adobe Lightroom Review Image 1

Adobe Lightroom Review - Fig.1

Even if your images are offline and you are on your laptop somewhere, you can still see all the thumbnails from your library. I love it!

You can organise your files by;

  • Collections
  • Quick Collections
  • Keywords
  • Filters
  • Metadata

5. Capture

When you load a batch of wedding images into Lightroom for the first time, you are able to make your favourite adjustments to a batch of images during import which saves even more time. Then you can add your own individual style to each image before exporting to Photoshop. One massive benefit I have recently noticed since using Adobe Lightroom, is the fact that on many occasions I don't even need Photoshop. Lightroom can do just about anything!

6. Sort and Rename

A major problem for me as a wedding photographer is synchronising both cameras that I use. With Lightroom it is easy. You take an image from each camera that was taken at approximately the same time and Lightroom will sync the lot almost immediately. All you need to do then is rename the batch and save them! I recommend that just before the wedding, you take two simultaneous shots of anything to get this right.

7. Presets

Presets work in much the same way as Photoshop Actions. They are preset adjustments that create and give your images a unique look. Anything from a simple black and white conversion up to some elaborate and trendy effects. You can use a few ready to go presets that come with Lightroom, make your own as you go or for a mere 20 bucks, you can buy a whole bunch of great presets from Kubota Image Tools.

One final point to do with Adobe Lightroom Presets is probably one of the best features of Lightroom. Once again, the presets are non-destructive in a unique way. Whereas with Photoshop Actions you have to actually use the action to see the effect, with Lightroom, you just hover your cursor over the preset you fancy. It will show you the effect immediately in a small image window before you actually choose it...brilliant! This also applies to other adjustments such as adjusting the white balance. You see the effect before you alter the original image.

8. Presets When Exporting

If you want to batch process all of your images with a preset of your choice, you can do this during the export stage.

9. Viewing Options

A great feature of Lightroom is the ability to quickly and easily change your view of an image. Using either the shortcuts or menus around the screen you can view at 300%, 100%, fill the screen or fit the screen.

Adobe Lightroom Review Image 2

Adobe Lightroom Review - Fig.2

10. Tagging

This is a feature I use in a similar program but I find Lightroom version a whole lot better. You are able to tag your images by rating, coloured flags or status, or even a combination of all three. This is especially useful when importing a large batch of images and you want to immediately tag images as "undecided" or "cr*p" like I do much of the time and work on just the good ones.

11. Two Modes

You have two main modes in Lightroom, Library and Develop. Library mode is great for keywording, organising and making quick corrections or adjustments and develop mode is where you do most of your processing, cropping, presets etc.

12. Processing

As mentioned above, most of this is done in develop mode and includes;

  • Some excellent White Balance control
  • Exposure, recovery, fill light and black adjustments etc.

Intuitive Target Adjusting or Hot Keys. Now this is "uber cool". You are able to target a specific problem area or part of the image you wish to enhance leaving the rest alone. This is available for adjusting;

  • Tone Curve
  • Hue, Saturation and Luminance
  • Colour
  • Greyscale

13. Spot Removal/Cloning

Far from being your bulk standard RAW processing application, Adobe Lightroom has many of Photoshop's features. These include spot removal and cloning, two functions I use quite a bit.

14. Cropping

Of course, most photographic software these days has cropping features but once again, Lightroom is a little different. You add the crop overlay and then are able to use preset printing size templates (6×4, 9×6 etc) to crop your images perfectly and ready for sending off to the lab. A great feature I know I will use regularly.

15. Batch Processing

Too many features to go into here but you can batch process and export your images to include;

  • Low resolution copies for proofs
  • Slideshows
  • Prints
  • Enlargements
  • Contact Sheets including watermarks

So in a nutshell, if you regularly or are about to start shooting RAW and need software that is affordable, easy to learn and use and will help your workflow, Adobe Lightroom is a must for any aspiring professional photographer.

Check out my review of Kubota Image Tools Adobe Lightroom Tutorials here. I could almost guarantee (but I won't) that if you bought these tutorials before buying Adobe Lightroom, you would almost certainly buy Lightroom afterwards.

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