Lightroom Review

Recently, I was asked by the editor of one of the campus newsletter to recommend a photo-editing software in their latest issue. I decided to write a piece on Lightroom as it’s simply the best software out there, there is not a single photo of mine that you would have seen which wouldn’t have gone through Lightroom first. Its my technical piece of writing wherein I am writing about a product, I tried keeping things simple as the readers are not expert photographers. Let me know, what you feel about it…
Here is what I had written –
Hey, which is the best software for organising and editing all my batchsnap photos? Lightroom is the answer. Here’s why –
Adobe Photoshop is now so firmly entrenched in our collective consciousness that it has become a verb – the expression ‘to Photoshop’ an image is now commonly accepted to mean digital manipulation of any kind, using any software. Photoshop Lightroom was released in 2006 as a separate package of Photoshop. In essence, Lightroom allows photographers to do three things, very quickly: organize batches of images, adjust them, and output them. Let me put this in more simple words, take the all the essential features of Photoshop required for editing photos and put them in an interface as easy as Picasa, you will get Lightroom.
Lightroom has divided the workflow in modules – Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and now in the recently launched version #4 (beta) there has been an addition to these modules, with Maps and Books being added to take the total number of modules to 7. These modules basically cover the entire journey of your photos after they are clicked in the order they are placed. This is the most exhaustive and yet the simplest set of features you will find in any photo editing software. You might not need all of them, just first two (Library and Develop) are good enough for general purpose edits (read facebook uploads).

Here are the modules explained in the order they appear and are supposed to function –
  1. Library – this is the main feature for organising photos by importing them into the lightroom. It’s really a boon for those who are handling thousands of photos on their laptops as it’s much faster than the actual arrangement in your hardrive. Then, for those obsessed with better organisation, there is an option of adding labels and tags to photos. One can also publish photos directly to facebook and flickr from here.
  2. Develop – This is the main area where one can edit the photos and it’s pretty simple, just follow the order in which the adjustment bars are given, from top to bottom. You just have to slide bars from 0 to 100 in their effect and you can instantly see the result on the photo, thus you can stop at whatever number you feel like on the bar. It has the best algorithm in the industry for noise reduction and sharpening, also, I love its ability to remove the distortions that may have come due to the lens (for DSLRs). For pixel-based edit work (which is rarely used by noobs like us), Lightroom allows access to Photoshop (provided you already have the program of course) and it’s tools as well. As always, Lightroom 3 developing utilizes non-destructive editing so that your original image is preserved during the developing process. Also, there is option of adding overlay filters to the photos and these filters can also be added from outside, there are thousands to choose from in the 3rd party market of internet, be it a lomo or a grunge filter, you can do anything to your photo with just one click, you can even create your own filters.
  3. Map* – Now, one can geotag all the photos in the set on a giant map and the location gets embedded in the metadata of the photo. It will be really useful as now all the sites on which users upload their photos ask for the locations, thus its reducing the effort of adding the same location again n again.
  4. Book* – One can add text and photos to prepare books (as pdfs), this can really be useful for preparing slides and other professional photo presentations.
  5. Slideshow – this feature basically prepares a slideshow of the selected photos and you can even add music in background and save the resulting video (or make a pdf of the same.
  6. Print- The print feature offers nice presets and customizable layout features. Single images and packages can quickly be created and printed. Draft and regular printing is supported as well as the easiest contact sheet creation I have seen. 
  7. Web – useful for directly uploading a set of photos, this module even generates the HTML code for the same, not very useful for non-professional people.
* – modules introduced in the version #4 (beta)
Its efficient functionality is reflected in its relatively high cost, $99 to upgrade from an earlier version, or $299 full price. I am currently using version 3.6 but recently version 4 was released for open Beta testing and I am still waiting to get a decent internet connection to download it. Till you are on campus, you still can get an old version from those who have downloaded a copy on the campus (if you know what I mean 😉

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