PDN Software Review: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3
Aug 10, 2010
By Dan Havlik
By "not much" I mean that the primary function of this type of software is the most mundane of tasks: to organize your crap. And if you're like most photographers I know—even the very best ones—there's mucho crap to sort through. (C'mon, admit it.)
Along with taking care of your crap, image management software such as Aperture and Lightroom perform another unglamorous but important task: they convert your RAW images so you can view them, sort them, and start editing them. This may seem a simple chore, but with new pro cameras being announced left and right this time of year, there are many new RAW files to decipher and display on your monitor in all their unfiltered glory.
The good news with the latest versions of Aperture and Lightroom is that the RAW engines in these programs are superb. As a jumping off point for further tweaking of your images in Photoshop, both programs give you fast and beautiful renderings of your RAW shots (even the crappy ones.)
Where the two programs most differ is in their design and approach to image management/editing. In Aperture 3—as stated in my June 2010 review—you have a clean, uncluttered interface that whisks you to your images so you can start viewing and sorting them and, if you'd like, editing them and showing them off. Apple hasn't been shy about giving Aperture 3 a more "consumer" look with friendlier tools. I didn't find that to be a bad thing at all. In fact, the program was pretty fun to use.
On the other hand, Lightroom 3 is the much more serious-looking program. It has a dark (by default) interface and a range of tabs and check boxes that open to reveal more tools than a BMW mechanic's garage. Lightroom 3 is fun to use too but the in-your-face granular control seems designed for the obsessive.
But, as I've said before, which image management software you choose is a matter of taste. Though I like Adobe's approach to releasing software better than Apple's—i.e Adobe lets photographers test out beta versions to clean up the bugs so you don't end up with a dud like the initial release of Aperture 3 (since improved with incremental updates)—both programs have their pluses and minuses. This month, let's look at Lightroom 3's attributes.