DPP Home Software Asset Management Lightroom Lights Up

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lightroom Lights Up

After a lengthy public beta and considerable time and thought in development, Adobe Lightroom arrives. Will the application become your ultimate workflow tool?

Lightroom File Management Panel. In the File Management preference, you can choose how to have Lightroom handle imports from memory cards, how to handle Preview Cache and how to handle XMP Metadata, as well as more esoteric illegal name handling and number sequences. Two important areas to consider that will impact overall performance are how to handle previews and whether or not to automatically write changes to XMP.

With regard to the previews, you can quickly import into Lightroom if at the time of import you don't render Lightroom previews. In that case, Lightroom will use whatever preview it can find. It may not be accurate, but it's fast. But when you want to zoom in to images or load images into Develop, Lightroom must generate higher-quality previews. The Standard Preview is basically a computer display-sized rendering, while the 1:1 Previews are needed to zoom in to images at 1:1 or above.

Generally, I import using the default previews in an image and then choose when I want to generate either Standard or 1:1 previews after doing preliminary work on a series of images. You'll find that regardless of how fast your computer is or isn't, trying to work while Lightroom is generating 1:1 Previews is a drag.

Also, automatically writing XMP metadata in sidecar files can slow down Lightroom's performance. I'll generally only explicitly write XMP metadata after doing substantial amounts of Lightroom settings to a folder of images. Often, after editing a shoot, I'll choose to generate Standard or 1:1 previews and to export XMP files to the images in a folder.

Interface Panel. The most notable portion of the Interface panel is for those of you who really hate the Panel End Mark glyph. Here, you can choose to have it show a box, or none, which I think is boring.


While Adobe Lightroom is only a version 1.0 application, it looks like an elegant and well-executed application designed for photographers. The public beta phase of the development definitely yielded good features that are particularly beneficial to professionals. In the next issue of Digital Photo Pro, we'll cover the Develop, Print and Web modules. If the Library is the foundation of the application, Develop is the skyscraper that towers above the ground. The Print module provides output options, and the Web module gives you the ability to post images to the Web whether for client review or for any other Web usage.

Is Lightroom the be-all and end-all of image management? No, it's not perfect yet, but there's reason for hope that such an application may evolve into what digital photographers everywhere are beginning to develop a critical need for. As for me? I'm already using it.

Jeff Schewe has been an advertising photographer in Chicago for more than 20 years. His photographic specialty has always been problem-solving, and today he's renowned as an expert in both photography and digital imaging. Visit his website at www.schewephoto.com.




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