With the advent of digital photography, every photographer has a burgeoning library of images. Trouble is, if you don't catalogue them, trying to find that image, be it at important shoot or your daughters first steps is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
In steps Adobe's Lightroom, best described as a professional version of the company's Photoshop Elements applications.
As with Elements, the strong focus here is on cataloguing your library of photographs so you can easily find them, although with the professional there is a bundle of additional tools as well.
Broken down into five sections you get the Library area, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web.
As we've said, the Library helps you catalogue your images. Users can add keywords to images to help you find what you need and this is all self generated. Getting images into the application is also very easy and Lightroom features an auto import feature that can watch a specific folder for new images and then transfer them directly to the application.
Once you've got your images, and catalogued them, chances are they will need improving and Adobe has realised this by swiping a number of auto enhancement tools from its Photoshop package. Here you can manually or automatically change things like Tone, White Balance, Colour treatments you want to apply and a host of other things as well.
Compared to DxO's Optics Pro v4, Adobe makes the user do most of the deciding of what is wanted and gives more choice on the go. Depending on your digital photo editing knowledge this will either appeal or not, however there isn't an obvious "Fix me" button that does everything for you as with Optics Pro.
By now following the options available means you've got your image in, catalogued and fixed looking pretty. It's now time to show it off. Adobe Lightroom presents you with three options for this: Slideshow, Print and Web.
The Slideshow option allows you to arrange you photos in a slideshow without having to rely on Powerpoint skills or any other application. Easy enough to use, the application gives you layout templates, blending options and the ability to test before you export. Files are exported in Adobe's PDF format.
Print, isn't just a glorified button that sends your images to the printer. From here Lightroom gives you the chance to adjust your layout on page, determine margins, print templates and other general settings so your printouts are up to scratch rather than having to rely on a small print box your printer prompts you with.
Finally there is the Web option. Again this is all about making the most of your images for display on the web and the software will automatically build a website for you on a given template you provide. For photographers who don't have any web knowledge this is great simple stuff. However one failing we noticed was the in ability to watermark images effectively.
While you can determine the size and quality of the image, as well as overlay a copyright statement, you cannot determine the location of the copyright statement, Considering it is always placed in the corner of the image chopping it out on some images is very easy to do.
If you are looking for a supped-up Photoshop Elements you've come to the right place. The software was quick and fairly easy to use on our test system unlike Apple's Aperture.
While Adobe Lightroom will allow you to fix your images to get the best out of them (yes it does support, and in fact prefer RAW files) you will still need some knowledge and understanding on what you are doing.
With a strong focus on the Library settings this will tidy up your catalogue effectively.