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As a long term Adobe user, I eagerly anticipated the introduction of another photo editing software from them, as Photoshop has been a fantastic tool in my academic career and at my general leisure, helping me to achieve A* at GCSE Art Graphics and A* in Photography.
Adobe have listened to their customers, and created a more photographic orientated system with less gimmicky items and more professional developing options. Used by photographers such as David Molnar, it has many advantages over rival systems such as Gimp and Aperture on Mac. For starters, the attention to detail is brilliant. There is a spot and red eye removal which is essential if you are using a poor quality digital camera, a crop overlay which allow you edit certain parts of the picture without compromising other parts.
It is extremely easy to use, with many tutorials on the internet to help you if you need them and just a general ease of use, even for the most amateur of computer users.
There is also a graduated filter which, with the addition of the vignette tool allows you to create super vignettes, to give a more authentic feel. However, here there is one downfall with Lightroom's vignette system - it is done only on exposure, whereas other systems, such as Aperture use gamma vignette.
There is then the basic features, which allow you to edit Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light and other such things. There is the Tone Curve, allowing you to edit the shadows and highlights of the photo. The different colour editing tools also help in balancing colours, and the detail tool is fairly self explanatory.
The one thing I feel Lightroom is missing is the ability to photostitch to create panoramas, for people who don't want to constantly switch between the two, as i would much rather use just Lightroom from a photo editing perspective. Also, as with all Adobe products, it is £££ and pushes many people to torrenting to save the £200. However, it is a very good buy for the avid photographer who needs that extra something to complete his photographs and make them 'ready for sale'.
As photography and digital images become more complex (RAW and high dynamic range for example), software will have to be developed to assist in the work flow, and to provide tools that will allow users to exploit the full benefits on offer. In a perfect world this could be done in as little time as possible without having to slave over images, and allowing photographers to spend more time behind the lens instead of in front of the computer screen.
And so Lightroom 2 is born, software from Adobe that claims to be essential for today's digital photography work flow, allowing you to import, process, manage and show your images. The first edition of Lightroom was popular, and rivaled Apple's Aperture software. So this second version is a welcome addition to the Adobe family.
New editing features have been added, so you can now make adjustments and touch ups in Lightroom itself, without having to switch between programs. These include an adjustment brush, and a graduated filter tool, that's excellent for compensating under or overexposed parts of a photograph. Improved printing facilities that let you print out on to templates or custom sheets. Images can be sharpened automatically, and to an exacting standard, saving time especially if you have a lot of photos to work on. Also included are improved dodging and burning tools, as well as comparison options for different settings. 64-bit support for both Windows and Mac has also been included. A welcome improvement, is the introduction of 'smart' metatags, providing you with a means for organising all of your photographs with keywords and category's that actual work, that even let you organize data over several physical drives. Adobe Lightroom 2 even gives you the ability to show off your images online in web galleries.
Dual monitor support has been added, it allows you to have what you are working on split between the two. Useful if you are discuss various shots with a client. The software interface isn't too different from from the previous versions, so existing user's will have have little trouble upgrading to this version, while at the same time new users will appreciate the uncluttered and easy to learn interface.
The organizational facilities are excellent. Prior to using this software I had hundreds of images in dozens of folders, that were then themselves in folders, then backed up, however now after spending some time in Lightroom, all of my images are now easy to find and easy to both use and update.
A very useful feature is the ability to Merge to HDR and Merge to Panorama, allowing you to work with and process multiple images faster and easily than Photoshop itself.
Adobe Lightroom does not change your original photo, it will leave it untouched (meaning you no longer have to make copies of your originals and keep them separate,) applying any changes you make to data file. This also means that you can step backwards undoing multiple changes that you've made, with out having to start over again.
The software does have a few minor problems. I would say that the documentation is hopeless, but I can't even say that - simply because there was none at all. But there are plenty of free online video tutorials just a mouse click away. The software is resource hungry, you will not be able to run Lightroom 2 very well on a low end computer, without having to wait for seconds at a time between changes. It's also noticeably slower than Adobe Photoshop at opening very large files.
But apart from that, Lightroom makes processing photos faster and easier. Anybody who has tried to work with a large batch of RAW files, will know it can quickly become repetitive, but Lightroom does 'lighten' the load. No one photo package of any nature nature can do absolutely everything and this package is no exception. While it does offer some good and genuinely useful tools, as a standalone product it can't do everything. It would therefore be better when backed up by a more comprehensive package such as Adobe Photoshop, which would provide you with additional tools and facilities, in case you do need them.
(I'm a reviewer on Amazon, and some my reviews are copied from there to dooyoo. Please feel free to check out my Amazon profile under my real name of Mr Andrew M Kerr.)