News – Lightroom 3 Beta (Part 2)

Hey Lightroom Peeps! (that’s hip slang for Lightroom people) :)
Today is pre-conference workshop day here at Photoshop World in Orlando. I’ve got an HDR pre-con that starts at 1pm so I’m pretty psyched. However there’s some big news in the Lightroom world today. Adobe has released an update to the Lightroom 3 beta. Full details can be found over at Tom Hogarty’s (Lightroom product manager) blog but I’ll give you my take on some of the big features that are new in the beta.

1. Built-in Tethered Capture – Tethered is a must have and now Lightroom has it (for most of the newer model cameras).

2. Video support – Video is big these days. While you can’t directly edit the video in LR3 Beta, you can now manage it in the catalog just like any other photo which helps out a lot. That includes sorting, rating and ranking video. You can also see info about your video and if you double click, it’ll open the video in your video player.

3. Luminance Noise Reduction Improvements – This is big for me. Personally, I always had pretty good luck with the color noise reduction aspects of Lightroom. But now that they’ve added some sizable improvements in the Luminance Noise reduction you’ll see some pretty major changes in the usability of your high ISO photos.

4. Watermarking – Watermarking was one of the big improvements in the first beta. The placement, size and type of watermarking has been further improved and helps take this feature up a notch.

5. Import – I know this sounds like it’s mostly for newcomers to Lightroom. Veterans pretty much have the import process handled right? But I’ve gotta tell ya. One of the big issues I had with the first beta was that it took FOREVER to render the thumbnails and show me the import dialog because it seemed to be reading all of my attached drives and folders. That’s changed and import is a lot faster now. That said, there’s some overall improvements that make import easier which will help out the newcomers to LR as well.

6. A Full Point Curve – If you’re used to curves in Photoshop (you know, the kind where you can add a point anywhere on the curve) then you’ll appreciate this one. Curves in LR now act more Photoshop-ish. For me, this means some pretty cool possibilities for special effects, and (you guessed it!) presets :)

If you want to download the beta just click here. Our pal, Terry White, also did a video that you can find here. Also, remember this is just my take on what I consider to be the larger improvements in the 2nd beta release. Tom’s got a full list along with some links at his blog. If you’ve downloaded the beta, let us know what you think here. I’m definitely interested to hear your initial thoughts. Thanks!

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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50 Comments

  1. Doesn’t seem to work through the “Check for Updates” link in help. :( Otherwise, I’m loving the first release of the beta. Video import is a great addition. Looking forward to the test-drive.

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  2. Whoa, big bullets on the feature list! The only things I can think of that Apple has one up on now is face recognition and geotagging. Tethered capture is a huge one for me, definitely need to try this out with my TS lens. :D

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  3. Hey Matt – thanks for this update. Sounds like a great step forward. Especially Tethered-Shooting “inside” (all the other Sony-”peeps” will love it, too) and the noise reduction improvements.

    I have one question you could probably answer:
    Last weekend I took a ISO100 test shot and imported it into LR2 and LR3b.
    I did all my “default” changes to the picture in LR2 and copied the same settings into LR3b (using development v2). In LR2 the shot looked just as I know it, but the picture in LR3b was really grainy. It nearly looked like ISO1600 or above after noise reduction.

    Do you have any idea why that could have happened?

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    • Dominik-

      This is quite possibly due to the view zoom setting you are on. LR tries to make some guesses at how things should be displayed at various zoom levels – you may be experiencing some varyiing degress of quality associated with the Beta (it is, after all, still in “test” stages).

      What happens if you zoom in or out? Does it get better? Do you have any issues when you export the image to something like a .jpg?

      Just a thought,
      Brian

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      • Thanks for that hint, Brian!
        I have just checked the pictures after exporting and there was not that much difference.

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    • I’ve seen these same issues when looking at some images last night. At the base ISO for the D700, I’d like to think there wouldn’t be as much noise as I see now. I shouldn’t have to apply noise reduction at base ISO with the D700. Additionally, I shouldn’t have to export every file as a JPEG just to get an accurate depiction of the quality.

      Don’t get me wrong, the new luminance slider is amazing and really cleans things up, but i shouldn’t have to use it that much at base ISO.

      I’d really be interested to know what you think about this Matt.

      Thanks!
      Josh

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  4. Hey,
    Great to hear something again from Adobe about LR3.
    If LR3 just had Places like A3. Faces isn’t that important to me, but geotagging is.

    As of now I’ve switched to A3 because I don’t know what the features of the LR3 final will be. If Adobe would just come out with it :(

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  5. Well, I couldn’t import my photos at all in the first beta, but it looks like they’ve fixed that (importing as I type). So that’s a step forward :)

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  6. One Question. I am still working with Lightroom 1 and I’m planning to upgrade to Version 3. Will this be possible? Or do I have to upgrade to Version 2 before I can use my catalog with Version 3?

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  7. Photoshop style Point Curve is a big one for me :) Just like sharpening and noise obviously.

    I wonder if the final version of LR3 will contain the final camera profiles. Last beta dates from october 2008..

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  8. Tethered shooting for Canon and Nikon cameras. Listen, these are not the only cameras out there. What the Canon/Nikon fetish, Adobe? Another reason that LR will never be a strong player in my workflow.

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  9. Well, nobody seems to notice it (probably ’cause everyone is english-speaking) but LR has localisation yet. At least my LR shows up in italian.

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  10. Still no sign of network support, which I think is is pretty disappointing. Are there any indications that it could be added to the final version?

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  11. Just downloaded the beta, and I have to say, the 2010 process with the new noise reduction is simply awesome, high ISO images just look soooo much better.

    The point curve, however, is way too small to be really useful for precise adjustments, not just because of usability (which is a problem), but because of pure pixel resolution, which is nowhere near enough for 16 bit. I hope they are going to add some way to pop it out into a HUD-style window or something.

    Performance is much better in LR 3 Beta 2 than LR2, and the software is generally more interactive.

    One thing they still didn’t fix is changing the language. I’m on a non-English OS X, and every time I install an update, I have to log in as an Admin and delete all additional languages except English via the Finder to switch it to English. On Windows, there is a drop down in the preferences, no idea why they did it differently on the Mac.

    The import dialog is amazing, but it, too, has room for improvement. Now that it is that big, there is no reason to put the metadata stuff into a preset dialog box any more, adding input fields in a panel to the right like in the library module would make things quicker, for instance assigning the same IPTC location to all images from a shoot. There is still no option to import from the current location while converting to DNG and deleting the originals.

    I’d suggest they make Import into a module instead of a dialog box, that way it could serve double duty as a file browser, sort of as a cross between to the library and Bridge, with the option to directly go to Develop without importing. That would even open up the possibility of working without a catalog file.

    I couldn’t try tethering and video (my Nikon doesn’t have video and is not supported for tethering), so I can’t share any experiences with that.

    But to anyone who is considering it, I’d suggest you download the Beta and give it a try. It even seems stable enough for productive work, even though Adobe doesn’t recommend it, and the improved image quality makes it hard to resist the temptation.

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  12. So no trimming of video clips? or bringing them into a slideshow? rats! – Lets hope that makes it to the final release.

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  13. One word – lame! Full of features? This is a crude and blatant attempt to try and play catchup to Aperture. Be honest the Video effort is absolutely useless! Aperture`s local adjustments are still way ahead, by a long way but at least LR can now tether, albeit for a very small number of cameras. However credit where it`s due, the noise reduction is very good, should please the Canon boys!

    The good news is the release of Aperture 3 has forced Adobe to at least make an effort to keep up and that is good for everyone. I use both LR and Ap. The latter is streets ahead at the moment. Who knows for how long …….

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    • Really??? “Streets” ahead?? The interface is clunky and toy-ish. The features don’t feel polished. I feel like I’m using iPhoto “Pro.” I love Apple stuff, but I think Aperture just played Catchup with Lightroom, and threw in geotagging and face recognition for fun.

      I think, if anything, this is helping distinguish who the two tools are designed for:

      Aperture is designed for hobbyists looking for more control of their vacation shots and videos, while Lightroom is for photogs that are serious about their still shots.

      Because honestly… what video professional isn’t going to edit their videos in Final Cut, and instead in Lightroom or Aperture? Cheapskates and hobbyists, is who.

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  14. What are the expectations regarding the rollout of the final retail product? Is this moving along in a predictable timetable?

    Thanks for thoughts on this, as I personally plan to wait until the final version before installing an updating from LR2. Looking forward to seeing how LR3 handles my Olympus ISO1600 shots! They need help and exporting from LR2 to other software is always a pain.

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  15. I love the new tethered shooting. My 20D is not on the list but it works. You do have to have the EOS Utility open to the Remote Camera screen, but it works!.
    ***Start Lr3b2, start File->tethered, attach camera, turn on camera, EOS Utility starts automatically for me, click on Remote Camera – in mine the control window is blank, hit the shutter button!

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  16. About tethering… It was with great interest I tested the tethering functionality in Lightroom 3 Beta 2, but what I wished for wasn’t there.

    On a couple of occasions I have used tethering at social gatherings for displaying images quickly onto a big screen. I tethered my camera to a laptop with a 10 m USB cable (not ideal but cheaper than a wireless Nikon transmitter). Immediately after snapping a few pictures I made my picks and had some magic to transfer images to an Apple TV box on the same wireless network as my laptop, synchronized via iPhoto.

    I used Aperture 2 then, but have started using Lightroom now. Aperture’s tethering support had a major flaw: if I removed the USB cable from the camera and then reattached it, Aperture started dumping the entire card, creating tons of duplicates in the library.

    In my scenario I’d like to be able to shoot tethered, but once in a while detach my USB cable to move around more freely and then have Lightroom pick up where I left off. In other words: I’d really like to see Lightroom transferring the pictures I shot in between the tethering sessions.

    I can always import my images in another way after reattaching the camera, but it would be nice to be able to keep the same workflow during the entire shoot even if I have to remove the cable during the tethering session.

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    • A possible workaround: whenever you disconnect your camera from LR, delete the previously recorded images from your memory card.

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      • Question. If you are shooting tethered why are you using the card? I shoot with Oly Studio 2 and the images go directly to the hard drive. That is the beauty of shooting tethered, almost unlimited capacity.

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  17. As a sports photographer, I’d like to see the ability to import only “locked” photos from a card rather than importing the whole lot. Photomechanic already does this and I’d love Lightroom to do it too.

    Normal workflow is to take a sequence of shots, chimp to find the best, then hit the “lock” button on that shot. With Photomechanic, you can set it to only import those selected shots, making the import process a lot faster as there are far fewer shots to process.

    Any idea if this feature will be available?

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  18. Well… Lot of great improvements, especially in the performances department. But, hey, still no soft proofing in sight…

    And, boy, that is a big problem.

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    • If you are serious about digital photography you must understand color management system and apply it to your workflow. It’s essential need. That means creating profiles for your camera (at specific settings would be good), calibrating your monitor and profiling it as well, and in the end create profiles for your printer and papers. It’s the only way to do this right. Then there’s no need to softproof. Your proof is your printed photograph.

      Also, there is Photoshop for softproofing. You can hit Ctrl+E (win) / Command+E (mac) )in Lightroom to open your image in PS and then hit Ctrl+Y (win) / Command+Y (mac) to softproof your colors. It’s only 2 key shortcuts away and takes a split of a second. Is this too much? How simplier and fast could it be?

      I personally think this is just fine and see no need to fit too many options in Lightroom when there is Photoshop which works so flawlessly in combination with LR.

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  19. Videos should be playable in the slideshow.

    At least Lightroom will now import them.

    Looking forward to better video support.

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  20. A nice feature in teathered shooting would be Live View.

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  21. Hi Matt,

    Now that we have all the IQ sliders in the Detail Panel, how about a tutorial that looks at how they interact and how to best use them?

    I would like to actually understand what exactly the new detail and contrast sliders do. (The best I’ve found on that so far is http://www.computer-darkroom.com/lr3_beta_2_preview/lr3-beta2-2.htm, but I’d like something more detailed and workflow-oriented. What is the best workflow for the Detail Panel now? First color noise, then luminance noise, then sharpening? (I know that the order is irrelevant to the result of the parametric editing, but I’m interested in the workflow most likely to get us to the best combination in the shortest time.) What kind of NR settings are likely to work as a starting point for for what kind of images?

    And what about the interaction between NR and sharpening? For earlier versions Jeff Schewe advised that the NR settings actually impact on the effect of the sharpening detail slider and that even pictures at base ISO in good light still benefit from some slight luminance NR as part of the sharpening process – is this still true for the new panel and process version? And if so, how to do it?

    I doubt it’s just me; since it’s obviously going to be a while until Scott, Martin Evening and Jeff Schewe will update their Lightroom/ACR/sharpening books, I think a tutorial along those lines would be popular and certainly tremendously useful – I for one would certainly be grateful!

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  22. Does anyone know how to convert to DNG on import when shooting tethered ?

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    • John,
      Unfortunately, you can’t convert on import like you can from your cards. However, once you’ve gotten all your images in LR you can select all and convert to DNG anytime. If you have a big job with hundreds of files, though doubtful since I don’t think you’ll be shooting weddings with a laptop hanging on your hip, you can do it while you eat lunch, or overnight. In the library module, go to the ‘library tab’ and way down in the menu choose convert to DNG. Don’t forget to select all first.
      jt

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  23. I have noted that Matt’s sharpening presets really seem to over do it with LR3 B2. Is that to be expected?

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  24. My BIG improvement – Import finally works perfectly and doesn’t stall any longer on some files … and … importing is much faster than previously – it took only some minutes for 30’000 entries to import.

    And the publish now works at the first try …

    Wow – can’t wait for the final.

    Best & Thanks
    Lutz

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  25. and forgot one thing which isn’t mentioned obviously – Beta 2 comes with “Camera Raw 6″ – on sending an edit to PS4 it claims to need at least 5.7 to open properly

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  26. I long for the day when the modules get re-organized into “Import”, “Develop” and “Export”.

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  27. It’s getting better… and some people will complain about the updates not being huge enough, but in general I like all the updates.

    Support for bringing in video is cool. I’m primarily a video motion graphics guy with an new 5d MkII. It’s cool to have the video support for family stuff, but for anything serious (paying), Lightroom really isn’t in my video workflow (unless, obviously, i’m pulling images for my video) anyway.

    Tethered support (for those supported cameras) is very cool.

    The minor adjustments in the develop module can be seen as pretty huge if you rely on them a lot.

    Noise reduction is great.

    Only problem i’m having is playing a Slideshow. I can export one no problem, but if i try to preview or play one, the image is there for a second then it cuts to black… and this continues with random photos (not the ones i’ve selected).

    Overall i’m happy with the updates and looking forward to the full blown final. It’ll ease my annoyance from having to deal with the CS5 suite upgrade.

    A.J.

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  28. I gave LR3 beta a try after reading this. I’m missing some controll over video import… i it there, or am I overlooking something? I would love to specify different folders for Video and Photo when importing but I don’t see how I could do this. Also I would love te be able to tell LR just to import the images or just the video’s without manually selecting.

    Has anyone found a way to do this?

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  29. The NOISE REDUCTION is AMAZING!!! Thanks for the POST , the CROP TOOL ain´t working properly , …anyway looking forward to the FIANAL RELEASE SOON!!

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  30. The noise reduction is amazing ….very very accurate and effective “”":-))Loving the 3rd Version already.. greetings from MUNICH:-)
    Javier

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  31. I gave LR3 a test drive yesterday. After some conversions, I walked away very disappointed.

    My huge disappointment with LR2 was it renders RAW files way too red, especially in low light situation, and tungsten lighting. Guess what, that’s how majority of wedding reception lights are…

    I seriously thought LR3, with it’s new version of Camera Profiles, would address this, but after testing it out, the files looks the same. Skin tons are way too red, in fact, the whole image has a magenta/red tint to it.

    My cameras were 5d mark ii and 40d. Both have the same issues.

    Adobe, FIX THE CAMERA PROFILES!!!!!!!!

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    • Chung: great to hear someone else on the subject of red colour translation in LR 2 and I am sorry to say 3. I shoot interiors with a Gretag Colour checker and files are consistently almost electric pink / reds really too punchy on a calibrated monitor : my Canon 5D files look accurate in DPP (Canon’s raw converter) but Lightroom is horrible! Have had to create a profile with reduced red saturation and increased hue towards orange end. But this can’t be right. Not least shots look poor when showing a client images straight off in LR prior to post-production. Anyone else seen a red bias in their files?

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  32. I have been with LR for a long while. I am sure I will finally get used to it bit I fing the inport and export dialogue boxes infuriating. The import may look neet but I find it confusing in the extreme. The export is weird, select a destination and somehow it loads the images onto the desktop. I have been through this a few times and afte selecting the correct destination I find I have to go back and manually select the destination again. Now this never happened in LR2. The import procedure is also far less intuitive.
    In export I thought I had renamed files only to discover that they were reverting to the original import file name… I can’t remember this ever happening in LR2???
    I will keep practicing but I am not happy.

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  33. I think the new features will be very useful! But where is the distortion correction
    If Canon can do this in DPP so can Adobe. This is the feature that would make me certain to purchase the upgrade. As a landscape photographer I don’t do much high ISO stuff no studio work so all the nice new features don’t sway me much. But distortion is a problem that has me going back a forth between lightroom and Photoshop. Please Adobe ..

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  34. I’m very pleased that Adobe is doing all of these built in advancements in the code so that performance is going to be better and some of the prexisting tools are being fixed. That being said though, I’m still pretty put off that they continue to avoid other highly requested features such as:

    1. Native HDR support
    2. Lasso tool – Local Adjustment brush (or something similar)

    This release seems to be worth the money currently, but only because LR2 was a bit on the clunky side with some of the tools that came along with it not functioning as they should. Everyone is hooping and hollaring over improved noise reduction, but in my mind, with a company as outstanding as Adobe, it should have functioned correctly in the first place. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, I’m simply a bit upset that there hasn’t been any big “WOW” features built in yet.

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  35. Would really like to be able to use the adjustment brush for ALL of the Basic sliders (specifically Vibrance!) One extremely irritating issue I have is that I can’t figure out why Lightroom 3 Beta 2 WILL NOT give me the option to ADD images to the catalog from the import screen! Copy as DNG and Copy are the only two selectable options from my import and the Move and Add options are greyed out and therefore non-selectable. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t figure out why this is!

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  36. I have and use LR 2.7, it is very easy to import files into LR 2.7 and almost impossible in LR 3.2, I just spent 15 mins trying to upload a file into LR 3.2 , Could NOT get the file to import.

    I went to LR 2.7 and instantly the same file was improted.

    It is very difficult to test the beta if I can’t import my files into the program!!

    I’m on a late 2009 iMac, and have been using LR since V1.0

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