Photoshop Lightroom 3: Smooth Your Workflow

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 received minor updates that fixed small issues and added support for newer camera models. The move to version 3.0 is a big one that brings a slew of new features to the table, but in a very subtle way. The new version looks and feels the same as the older version, but you’ll discover newer features as you keep working. It’s a good thing because you won’t need to hone your skills towards something that’s drastically different. If you’re an avid Lightroom user, you’ll discover and learn to use most of the new features in a day.

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For those who aren’t familiar with Lightroom, this software is a very powerful workflow-based solution that helps you import and organize your photos, enhance them, create slideshows, print photos and create web photo galleries.

Here’s a list of the biggest additions and improvements in the latest version of Lightroom:

Improved preview and image rendering: Rendering/refreshing of thumbnails in a large catalog used to take a few seconds in Lightroom 2. This was prevalent when files were added or while scrolling through a collection. Lightroom 3 is significantly speedier. Even zooming in and out of photos is now faster.

Improved module for importing photos: The module for importing photos has undergone a massive change. You can now import photos from a storage device or a digital camera from a single module, plus you can preview the photos in the specified location. The photos can be added to the catalog directly from the location or they can be moved or copied to another location prior to importing.

Publish your photos to Flickr: Yes, you can now upload photos to Flickr, manage photo sets, tags and comments from Lightroom 3.0.

Tethered capture: Connect a Canon or a Nikon DSLR camera to your PC using a USB cable and you can capture images directly into Lightroom 3.0.

Improved noise correction: The noise reduction function has undergone a massive change and the results are stupendous. It does a great job at eliminating grains and color artefacts while retaining the contrast and detail. This will definitely give standalone noise removal programs a run for their money.

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More templates and presets: You now have a big bunch of new black and white effects and filters and other cool effects to play around with under development presets. Hovering over presets displays a thumbnail preview in the navigator panel and clicking on one applies it to the selected image. Additions have also been made to the list of templates for web photo galleries.

Custom print packages: This new feature allows you to create custom layouts as opposed to choosing from predefined templates. It’s as simple as dragging photos onto the blank layout with grid lines and resizing them. Photos automatically snap into place, which ensures they are aligned and don’t overlap.

Watermark your photos: This one will bring smiles to many photographers’ faces. Lightroom now has a built-in watermark editor in which you can set text or images as logos. The editor allows setting the font, shadow, opacity, angle and position of the watermark along with preview. Watermarking is available in the export, slideshow and print modules.

Export slide shows to videos: Previously, you could export slide shows as a single PDF file or individual JPG slides. Now, you can export them to MP4 video format with the option to set the resolution from 320 x 240 pixels right up to 1080p. With options to add shadows, set background music, and customize slide duration and fading, you can create great-looking slide shows to flaunt your photos.

Film grain effect and better vignettes: The ‘Vignettes’ section under the ‘Develop’ module is now a subsection of the ‘Effects’ section, which also has an addition called ‘Grain’. You can now control the highlights in vignettes and also prioritize attention to highlights or colors. The Grain effect has three sliders – amount, size and roughness. The effect looks good depending on the photos you use.

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Perspective correction and lens profiles: The ‘Lens Correction’ section in the ‘Develop’ module is one of the major additions. The controls under the ‘Transform’ section let you correct distortions caused to the properties of the optics. You can either apply a lens profile or correct the perspective manually. Profiles for the Apple iPhone camera and a variety of lenses by Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Sony and Tamron are built-in.

Final words
Professional photographers and hobbyists will benefit largely from the new features that improve speed and enhance productivity. Even if you’re new to enhancing and managing photos, we suggest you start with Lightroom. You can get astounding results with just a few clicks and managing photos is a breeze. If you’re already using Lightroom 2, then this upgrade is a must-have.