If I read the tea-leaves correctly, this is increasingly the tool of choice among serious photogs, although Aperture isn’t going away any time soon. The new release has been well-covered elsewhere; I don’t have too much more to add, but I do have a major gripe and a couple of pictures to illustrate the much-ballyhooed noise-reduction filters.
Odds & Sods · The new Import module is quite a bit better than what came before; better-matched to my photo workflow, which involves building up a month’s worth of photos in a directory; these days, the import screen by default just shows you what’s there but hasn’t already been imported. Obvious once you think of it.
Hooray · The big news that’s been making waves is the improved noise-reduction. In recent times I’ve been obsessing quite a lot about low-light photography, to the point of doing most of my winter photography through the extremely-challenging (to one of my limited skills) Sigma 30mm f/1.4 prime.
Well, there’s another way to deal with low light: turn up the ISO. Unfortunately the extra sensitivity brings extra noise. Well, not on the big flagship SLRs from Canon and Sony and (especially) Nikon, but those weigh too much and cost too much. On an ordinary sensibly-sized camera like my Pentax K20D, turn the ISO up to 1600 or beyond and you’re into some pretty serious noise and grain. Some people praise the “film-like” textures but I just don’t like the look.
So on July first, we went to a baseball game, and I took some pictures at ISO3200, something I’d never even tried before, and turned that noise-reduction loose.
Here’s what turned out to be the winning run being scored.
And here’s another shot of the scene at the plate. Neither of these pictures are that great — foreground/background focus problems in particular — but they capture a pleasant memory, because it was a fine ball game. At this crop level, I might even have got away with the high ISO pre-Lightroom 3.
But here’s a close crop, not quite one-for-one but less than two-for one.
Me, I’m impressed. I think that the Sigma’s going to get less and less work.
Now, the other big win in Lightroom 3 is supposed to be the auto-lens-correction module, which ships equipped with plenty of lens profiles. Oh, wait...
Where’s Pentax? · Pentax may not lead the pack right now in terms of price or sensitivity or glamor, but they make very solid cameras, and the line-up of lenses is second to none if only because you can take a 2010 camera and stick any Pentax lens ever made on it, going back a half-century or more. But not one of those lenses has a profile shipping with Lightroom 3. Shame, shame. There’s a tool so you can make your own profiles and maybe I will but I’d prefer to use one crafted by an actual professional.
Now, since I’ve switched into gripe mode...
Speed Is A Feature · Here’s the thing: Lightroom 1 was insanely ridiculously astoundingly fast; qualitatively quicker than any photo-processing tool I’d ever been near. Along with the well-designed feature set, it was addictive.
Then two things happened: First, starting with Lightroom 2, Adobe deliberately sacrificed quite a bit of that speed in exchange for some admittedly pretty attractive features. Secondly, photographers liked it enough to start pouring bazillions of pictures into it; I suspect my ten thousand or so puts me toward the low end of serious Lightroom users. And all those masses of pictures don’t exactly help with the performance.
What I’d like Adobe to do is to slap a total feature freeze on Lightroom and focus on exactly nothing but making Lightroom 4 approximately as fast as Lightroom 1.