With Adobe Lightroom being the most popular post-processing tool on the market, one might wonder how good the software really is in processing RAW images. After-all, that’s what we use Lightroom primarily for – to post-process our images and get the best out of them. Having been using Lightroom since the early release versions (dating back to Lightroom 1), I have seen the software grow from a simple RAW editor to a pretty complex piece of software for both image management and powerful RAW processing. While there have been many great additions to Lightroom over time, Adobe certainly has had its share of rather disappointing problems, from typical bugs and stability issues to poor handling of RAW files. True, the software has gotten much more complex and with that complexity, it is surely expected to see potential bugs and issues. But one would hope that things would get better with each new release and bugs would eventually get taken care of. Sadly, the direction where Adobe is heading with Lightroom has just not been looking good. It appears that with every update, instead of getting proper fixes, all we are getting is additional bugs and new features that are not ready for prime time.
For a number of years I have been recommending our readers to convert RAW files from their cameras to Adobe’s DNG format. In my DNG vs RAW article from 2010, I pointed out the reasons why using DNG over RAW made sense – it simplified file management, resulted in smaller files (when compressed or when embedded JPEG image size was reduced) and seemed like a good way to future-proof RAW files. But as time passed, higher resolution cameras were introduced and I started exploring other post-processing options, I realized that DNG had a few major disadvantages that made me abandon it. In this article, I will revisit the DNG format and bring up some of my concerns on why it might not be the ideal choice that I once thought it was.
Today Adobe unveiled a number of pretty major updates to its Creative Cloud suite, with new “2015” versions of software, such as Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. Along with these updates, Adobe has also released two updates to Lightroom – one for the Creative Cloud version (Lightroom CC 2015.1) and one for the standalong version (Lightroom 6.1). The interesting part about this particular release, is that for the first time, Adobe is making a distinction between the two versions of Lightroom. The Creative Cloud version gained a new “Dehaze” feature, along with two more “White” and “Black” sliders for the adjustment tools (such as Gradient Filter, Radial Filter and Adjustment Brush), while the standalone version of Lightroom did not get these new features and instead only gained the typical bugfixes, along with new camera and lens support.
Today adobe rolled out the much anticipated update to its Lightroom photo management and editing software. Two new versions of Lightroom are immediately available for both standalone and Creative Cloud subscribers. Lightroom 6 will be offered as an update to Lightroom 5 for perpetual users (both regular and upgrade licenses are already available) and those who subscribe to the Creative Cloud will get a cloud-specific version called Lightroom CC (which in its core is the same as Lightroom 6). This update is a rather significant one, because it brings very important and much-needed performance improvements, new camera / lens support and a few new notable features. Let’s discuss those in more detail now.
With almost all of our cameras featuring video capabilities (I’m looking at you, Nikon Df), most of you have probably considered going beyond the occasional family video. However, like photography, video requires post-processing for best results, and the prospect of buying After Effects, Premiere Pro, and SpeedGrade just to get your toes wet is daunting for many photographers. What you may not know is that you already have a powerful video-editing program in Adobe Photoshop CC, or CS6 Extended. This is an easy way for photographers to play around with film without purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of software, and is surprisingly effective. I’m certainly not a professional videographer as my example video will show, but I have enjoyed editing a few shorts, just for fun. The two most critical aspects of editing for video (not including cuts/sequencing) are color-grading and sharpening, both of which can be done relatively painlessly in Photoshop using tools you’re already experienced with.
Adobe has been enjoying their place in the software industry for a very long time now. It’s a monopoly, isn’t it? Despite the effort made by Corel, DxO, PhaseOne and others, the benchmark is still Photoshop and Lightroom (even if the latter does not actually lead in every area). In fact, Photoshop has actually become a synonym to the word “post-process” or “edit”. “To photoshop something”, how many times have you heard someone say it? Exactly. And all of this is well deserved, because there simply isn’t any better alternatives. But for us, the users, monopoly is not such a good thing. Lack of proper competition puts the developer in a rather lazy state. Fortunately, an alternative might be in the works, called Affinity Photo (currently in Beta stage). Unfortunately, it is only available for Mac at this time.
Adobe Photoshop is really not about speed. I can’t say it’s ever been – even back when I was using the then-current version 5 (and the more capable 5.5), it was packed full of features and required not only lots of time to even begin to master, but to use for the simple things, too. Not to say it’s slow to work with, exactly, but if you want to accomplish your task quickly without any excuses, Lightroom is perhaps more suitable. It certainly ought to be. Yet if you work slowly and methodically, if you spend not minutes, but hours and even days post-processing a single image or a series, that is what Adobe’s heavyweight is most suitable for. Not for the sort of work where you click a few buttons and move on, but for the patient sort, where every detail matters, where there can be no sloppiness. Simply because of its vast, enormous capability. To own Photoshop just for one or two features is, more often than not, a bit of an overkill.
Just a few years ago, if you wanted more saturated colours in your landscapes or any other sort of photography, there was one basic adjustment to apply – saturation. Especially for beginner photographers, the Saturation slider in Photoshop was one of the most useful tricks to learn and seemed to change everything. You start with a boring, flat looking sundown, and you end up with this magnificent landscape to behold.
I did the first Lightroom Q&A session over a year ago and I think it is about time I do one again. As before, you are welcome to ask any question you like about Lightroom. I very much hope to answer all of them by updating this article. I will run this session for up to a week and update the article regularly with answers. If there are any questions very specific to a certain case, I may answer them in the comments section. Specific, to-the-point questions will be answered in this article, while questions requiring more extensive explanation may be covered in separate articles in the near future. As always, our readers are very much welcome to pitch in and participate actively in this Q&A session by helping with the inquiries (I doubt I will know all the answers!). If you are new to Adobe’s Lightroom and find it difficult learning what’s what, this is the time and place to ask for help!
It reminds me of Goldoni’s “Servant of Two Masters“; only masters are now more than two and quite often they are not only capricious but they do not know what they want. First, any comparison is open to critics because even in a well-equipped lab it is impossible to repeat the shooting conditions from a year ago, or even from a day before while shooting to compare a newer model to an older one; the criteria for necessary accuracy is not set, or not made public, or not recognized by the community. Second, one single body in the testing opens the door for sample variation questions; and once again tolerances are not brought to the light. Third, using different lenses for different mounts does not help leveling the field. Using lens adapters to shoot with the same lens is often suggested, but it opens another can of worms: adapter alignment problems and different amounts of internal flare added by different adapters skew the results.