How I feel about Lightroom 2

This has been roughly the facial expression I've had ever since I installed Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2, which has been out in release form for about a week now.

I'll try to have a more complete review in the coming days, but some facets I like are:

The Adjustment Brush gives you more control than you had in the Beta version, and given that you had nothing at all to work with in Lightroom 1 it's a Brave New World that has such tools in it. One nice improvement over the Beta is that you can see the mask WHILE you're painting on an area, so it's a lot more like painting in Photoshop's QuickMask mode, and thus much more accurate.

There is MUCH better control for applying vignettes after you crop an image. In the Beta it kinda looked like you had placed a coffee can over your image and then burned the hell out of the corners, but now you can be much more subtle. That's the key to making a vignette look good: subtlety. This was true of good burning when you made a print in the darkroom. Are you listening, Stan Grossfeld?

You can apply "negative Clarity" to images, which can give them a bit of a dreamy look, and for some images that can be kinda cool. You can do this with the Adjustment Brush as well, if you just want it in specific areas.

There is a new Gradient tool that allows you to create a gradient mask over an area, like a sky you might want to darken or saturate. So far I'm kinda struggling with this, but it does have potential.

Adobe also released a new DNG Profiler tool that works with Lightroom 2 and the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw. I've only begun to play with this, but it appears to have potential to be mucho cool.

There are lots of other improvements too, many more than I can mention here.

One concern I had was that the Adjustment Brush data and other tweaks that I had applied in my Beta libraries wouldn't translate to the release version. But it turns out they all came over just fine, and even though Adobe warns you that they may not look the same, in my case they seemed to be identical. It appears that every setting that I applied either in my Lightroom 1 libraries or in the Beta for Lightroom 2 was preserved in the upgrade process.

If you're a NAPP member, you get 15% off the upgrade price, which is only $99 anyway. If you don't own Lightroom 1, it's worth the $299 full price. Lightroom is just about all I use in managing and manipulating my photos, and with this new version it looks like I'll be having to take far fewer trips to Photoshop for those little tweaks and corrections that make a picture picture-perfect.

No comments: