(Note: reposted due to some WordPress scheduling weirdness)
Adobe has today released a second beta of Lightroom 3 for users to download and test out. Whereas the first beta was considered ‘late alpha’ quality, this one is much more of ‘beta quality’. It is not the final release, but we are certainly further down the road than Beta 1. It is available from Adobe Labs.
LR3 B2 will upgrade your B1 Catalogs but won’t upgrade Lightroom 1 or 2 Catalogs. Generally the safest course of action is to test B2 with copies of files, so you don’t interfere with your general workflow in earlier versions.
Many sites will look at all the changes in detail, so I want to highlight the features which to me add most value.
New camera support
Preliminary support for the following cameras has been added to Beta 2
- Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i / Kiss X4 Digital)
- Olympus E-PL1
- Panasonic G2
- Panasonic G10
- Sony Alpha 450 (A450)
Video File support
Well it had to come and obviously with the move into Video from most DSLR manufacturers and rival software supporting video this was always going to come.
So you can now Import, Tag, rate, filter, add to collections and smart collections Video files. Most video files are supported from DSLRs and P&S cameras.
In the Library module you can click a video icon in the interface to launch the movie in your Movie Player of choice (for example QuickTime).
More refinements have taken place to the Import module since Beta 1, and it is certainly a bigger step forward. You can now ‘dock’ favourite folders, to speed workflow. Browsing and Import is now much faster. Full-sized previews can be viewed on a card in the Import Loupe mode. Compact view is now more powerful and, as mentioned above, camera video files are now recognised.
Studio and field photographers will certainly appreciate the new Tethered Capture abilities of Lightroom 3. Whereas before the process needed the photographer to use the camera manufacturer’s software and then set up a watched folder, this is a simple process of connecting your camera via USB or Firewire and selecting File > Tethered Capture.
You will then see an organisational dialog box, allowing you to enter the shoot name, the file naming, the location and related metadata. After that you will see the Capture console.
For Beta 2, the following cameras have Tethered Capture support.
For the above cameras, support is not available on 64bit Windows systems.
- EOS 1D Mark III
- EOS 1Ds Mark III
- EOS 1D Mark IV
- EOS 5D Mark II
- EOS 40D
- EOS 450D (Digital Rebel XSi/EOS Kiss X2)
- EOS 500D (Digital Rebel T1i/EOS Kiss X3 Digital)
- EOS 7D
- EOS 1000D (Digital Rebel XS/EOS Kiss F)
This is probably the area which has had the most work in the Lightroom 3 beta process. As mentioned in the Beta 1 release post, the core engine of Lightroom has been stripped down and rebuilt and the benefits in speed and image quality have already been seen.
But now with Beta 2 a stellar quality Luminance/Colour Noise Reduction feature has been added to the mix, and I think you will find that the quality of NR is now class leading. Images should have more bite partly because there is less noise suppression in the demosaicing of images.
Grain will look different too, but the interaction of the new sliders should minimise the grain (should you want to) without making the image look mushy.
Using Fill Light and Recover will result in less haloing than in previous versions when you update to the new Process Version (see below).
Post-crop vignetting is now offered in 3 styles, Highlight Priority, Color Priority and Paint Overlay. The latter is similar to Lightroom 2, Color Priority will avoid Hue Shifts.
Point Curve (Hooooray)
Long have I, and others, campaigned for Point Curve editing in the Tone Curve and now Beta 2 introduces it. Point curves have existed in Adobe Camera Raw for many versions and it always seemed a bit obtuse that they weren’t in Lightroom. This lead to many hacks to edit the curves within Presets to produce negative and solarised effects.
Because of the huge amount of work that has gone into revamping the Develop module to get the best out of your images, it has been necessary to create tiers in the settings that can be applied. These are called Process Versions.
Process Versions can affect Raw, DNG, TIFF, JPEG and PSD files and will be incremented when major changes occur to the processing engine.
In the first beta, the Process Version changed to reflect the demosaicing, noise reduction, sharpening and post crop vignette. For this beta post crop vignette has been removed from the Process Version.
There are two Process Versions 2003 and 2010. The first is the default for all files up to this release. The 2010 PV will be applied to all new files in Lightroom 3 Beta 2.
There are several ways to see which Process Version your file is and then to upgrade it.
In the Develop Module an image will show an Exclamation Mark badge. Click this to be asked how you wish to apply the Process Version. You have several options:
- You can view a Before and After to see the differences
- You can update just the selected file
- Update all of the files in the Flimstrip, or
- Choose not to use the new Process Version
Other ways include selecting Settings > Update to Current Process in the Develop module, Selecting the Process Version in the Camera Calibration panel, or applying this simple Preset, which updates any files to the latest Process Version.
There have been several improvements to watermarking in this release:
- Additional text options have been added including shadow controls for opacity, angle, offset and radius. (Not currently available in the Windows version)
- The location of the watermark can now be set by relative anchor positions within the image or specific insets.
- The size of the watermark can be set proportionally or to fit or fill the image dimensions
- Watermarking is now available in the Slideshow module