Adobe Lightroom 2.0 - First Look review

Adobe introduced journalists to its revamped version of Lightroom with a photo session and hands-on of the new tools. It wasn't the final retail version of Lightroom 2.0, Adobe's photo editing and organising tool, but as close as we could get to try out, as the company still had some tweeking to do. Nevertheless here is a quick rundown of what to expect.

Changes have been made to the workflow focus on speed. If you are professional photographer and have returned from a shoot with literally thousands of images, you need to be able to sort these as quickly as possible to get an edit to present to your client.

Alternatively, you may just be a recreational photographer, returning from holidays with hundreds of photos and need help whittling your selection down so you don't bore the family.

When you first open up LR2, you notice the new interface - this now includes task orientated modules - which basically means quicker access to the tools you need for certain jobs.

Another key improvement you'll notice at this stage is dual monitor support, which, again, is a great thing for whe nyou have lots of images to sort.

What will also make for faster working are the new naming and searching tools for images' metadata. With Lightroom 1.0, you could set up naming rules and apply them to individual photos or groups, as well as apply custom keywords to organize your images in a way that makes sense to you.

The software also allows you to store related photos in named collections, recall your collections with a single click, and modify them at any time.

Lightroom 2 adds the Smart Collections tool, which allows photographers to set certain parameters, or search criteria from their images' metadata, and then the software will automatically create collections.

You also now get keyword suggestions, to save you time when typing in metadata, and an improved keyword list. There is also now a Metadata SDK for custom metadata.

Lightroom 2 also allows you to keep tabs in where the image originals are - whether on your internal hard drive, external drives, or on removable discs. You can also now create virtual copies of an image without taking up more than a few kilobytes of hard-drive space.

The Library Filter Bar lets you seach through images using the filename, title, captions, or keywords or you can alter your grid view by attributes such as flags, star ratings, colour labels, or type of file.

You can also, as with the original Lightroom, sort by detailed criteria such as date, lens or camera used, country
where the photo was captured, and copyright. With Lightroom 2, Adobe has essentially made all the searches faster.

Like the first version of the editing package, Lightroom 2 lets you edit images non-destructively. But new tools have been added, including tools that let you apply corrections only to the portions of an image that need adjustment, instead of the whole image. This means you can fine-tune your photos by selectively pinpointing the areas of an image you want to adjust.

This improved local adjustment brush and the new gradient tool allow you to alter exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity, sharpening and toning.

Other new features include Lightroom Web, Export and the previously mentioned Metadata SDKs, as well as the new camera profiles that are accessible through Adobe Labs.

Before final printing, Adobe has also added tools to make sure you get the best output possible.

A good one for social photographers - there is now an automatic cell layout facility in Lightroom's Print Package - which means that you can make quick duplicates of one image on one page, or indeed create quick contact sheets. Also, you can now export your image slideshows to JPEG.

Finally, if you are someone who likes feedback on your pics, Lightroom 2 includes access to the Lightroom Exchange for community interaction.

Verdict

Although we didn't have a final version for test we did get to see some of the new features for a quick review. Users of the original Lightroom will appreciate the changes to make workflows easier and more intuitive whilst improving organisational tools.

Lightroom 2 will be available as an upgrade or full retail option and we will be bringing you a full review very soon.