Simon’s Backup Weblog


Opening up the Lightroom

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 9, 2006

Adobe’s new Lightroom is, as they say, the bee’s knees.

Fast, responsive and ideal for working with RAW images, it takes the best of CameraRAW and Adobe Bridge and turns them into a one stop shop for basic image manipulation and comparison. Best thought of as a digital lightbox, its adaptive UI makes it easy to hide the elements you don’t need and just concentrate on the images. An image workflow tool, it helps you manage how you work with images – and how you capture them.

Lightroom Beta lets you view, zoom in, and compare photographs quickly and easily. Precise, photography-specific adjustments allow you to fine tune your images while maintaining the highest level of image quality from capture through output. And best of all, it runs on most commonly used computers, even notebook computers used on location. Initially available as a beta for Macintosh, Lightroom will later support both the Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Which means it runs quite happily on my aging G4 PowerBook (unlike the G5 optimised Aperture)…

That’s not say that Lightroom is competition for Aperture.

This is more a first look at how Adobe is rethinking what people are doing with the Photoshop toolset, and putting together the beginnings of a script-controlled service framework for its next generation of imaging applications. It’s a model that fits in nicely with a conversation I had recently with Adobe’s CEO Bruce Chizen (which should be in the next issue of PC Plus), where we talked about Adobe’s strategic direction after the Macromedia acquisition. I’ll leave the conversation to the article – but one thing, I think Adobe are one of the companies that bear watching over the next 3 to 5 years.

(I’m glad I can talk about it now – I saw it in December, and was very impressed at the time – unfortunately I’d had to sign an NDA.)

BetaNews notes that there won’t be a Windows version until Vista hits the market. I’m not surprised. I strongly suspect that Microsoft is working with Adobe to make Lightroom one of the apps that will be demoed at the Vista launch. The UI of the version that Adobe demoed back in December would work very well on WinFX – it’s ideal for XAML. Microsoft has had Adobe on stage showing proof-of-concept XAML applications in the past, so having it showing shipping code at the launch would make a lot of sense…

Cross posted to A New IT World

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11 Responses to 'Opening up the Lightroom'

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  1. davesslave said,

    I’ve always liked that expression “the bee’s knees!”

    Of course, another favorite expression is “the cat’s meow.”

  2. purplecthulhu said,

    Yes, it does seem quite slick. Only had a very brief play, but it did quite well for viewing some big HST images and some things from my camera. I suspect I’m not expert enough to get the most out of it though!

  3. jonhoneyball said,

    It has some good stuff — but is missing lots of stuff that aperture does.

    And neither of them understand the needs of a studio photographer at all.

  4. tanais said,

    It would be nice if MacOS and iPhoto which I use to collate my images had native RAW handling for my Pentax *istDS images. No matter how good Aperture and Lightroom are/will be, I still want MacOS to let me see what IMG767.PEF-IMG892.PEF actually contain without resorting to TIFF/JPEG or an appication.

  5. marypcb said,

    camera makers don’t seem to like RAW – it bypasses all the clever software filtering they do to images; if they’re using the same ccd as another camera that means it’s only the optics differentiating them. As long as there are umptytum RAW formats OS preview will be hard to keep up to date

  6. tanais said,

    If Apple can give me previews on every other conceivable fie format from PNG to JPG to GIF to TIFF to EPS and so on, its not asking too much for them to incorporate RAW as well… there must be a finite number of RAW formats if the CCDs are the same then that narrows the number even more…

    Anyway JPG on the *IstDS is pants… no… its shite! Far better to stick to RAW and boil it down in Photoshop CS — which is what I now tend to do.

    A horrific waste of software I think you’d agree.

  7. marypcb said,

    all those are fixed standard formats. RAW formats vary by manufacturer and they often create a new version of RAW for a new camera. The friendly ones are starting to use Adobe’s DNG ‘universal RAW’ format. The unfriendly ones don’t document their RAW format to try and force you to use their software.

  8. tanais said,

    You overlooked something: If Apple can support all these various RAW formats in their new software, then they know what the formats are therefore they can at least supply it as a preview in a future edition of their OS.

    Like I said, its not asking too much — they have shown they have the ability to preview RAW and close integration with the OS is all a part of what a modern GUI experience is about.

  9. sbisson said,

    It’s down to RAW format licensing.

    Nikon, for example, won’t even license their RAW format to Adobe for CameraRAW, as they are using it to sell their own toolset (I’ve got a piece on this on the Guardian web site)

    Manufacturers are using RAW support to differentiate their hardware. They’ll license it to high end tools (after all, it’s surely only the high end photographer that wants RAW 🙂 ), but not to general purpose toolsets.

    There’s limited upside for them having public RAW support (cynically it’s down to having to compete on the optics, not their image processing hardware). Microsoft’s RAW viewer plugin for Windows XP only supports a limited number of publically documented RAW formats.

  10. laheringer said,

    I saw a Lightroom demo today at MacWorld and it looked very nice. Surprised to see Adobe releasing software on a Mac, but then it was part of the Macromedia purchase. Surprised to see Adobe releasing software that’s not enterprise / IT focused. I guess that’s what you mean by a script-controlled services, making it more enterprise friendly.

    If only I didn’t have reasons to dislike Bruce and his habit of laying off 3-4 thousand people every time he needs to impress the analysts. Bruce purges the company every Halloween, like a girl with an eating disorder, and I don’t see how that’s good business, but the pundits love it.

  11. sbisson said,

    No, Lightroom was skunkworks from the Photoshop team. Mainly guys from the CameraRAW group…

    It’s made up of a series of seperate components linked together by the Brazilian open source scripting language Lua.


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