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Opening up the Lightroom

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


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2006 08:37 pm (UTC)
I've always liked that expression "the bee's knees!"

Of course, another favorite expression is "the cat's meow."
Jan. 9th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
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!
Jan. 10th, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)
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.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 11th, 2006 01:22 am (UTC)
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
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 11th, 2006 12:23 pm (UTC)
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.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 11th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC)
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.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 12th, 2006 11:36 am (UTC)
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.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )