Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Review

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Review
By Valerie Goettsch

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, one of the most widely used programs for importing, managing and sharing digital photos, maintains its core strengths in version 3—remarkable flexibility and powerful RAW processing capabilities—while providing enhancements that are sure to appeal to pros as well as amateur photo enthusiasts.

The typical Lightroom user is one who regularly shoots hundreds or even thousands of images with a high-pixel D-SLR camera. Lightroom handles the organizing and processing of vast quantities of photos while speeding up the time involved in reviewing, selecting and rejecting images. Pros will welcome the dual monitor support, which will help improve workflow.

New Features

Faster performance—While version 2 was no slouch, performance is even faster in version 3 so you can quickly get through your tasks.

Improved noise reduction and Lens Correction—Two of the best tools are the new noise reduction and lens correction tools. Users will get better noise reduction results for their high ISO images, better that Aperture’s. The one-click tools to automatically correct lens issues such as chromatic aberration and geometric distortion are great new capabilities.

Support for DSLR video files—With the growing popularity of shooting video as well as stills, Lightroom 3 adds support for video files for most D-SLRs, You can now organize photo and video files together.

Image watermarking—The enhanced watermarking tool offers more options and you can adjust the size, position or opacity of your text or graphic watermark.


Lightroom is much more than an enhanced Adobe Bridge. The clean graphite interface consists of 5 modules: Library, Develop, Slide show, Print and Web.


The Library Mode is the core of the program. It offers fast, customized search, robust sorting, selecting, and organizational tools, powerful meta data filters and a keyword suggestion tool that suggests keywords based on earlier searches. Lightroom provides thumbnail and full views of your images and you can rate, selection or color-code them. You can also group photos into Quick Collections based on the thumbnails you’ve selected or in Smart Collections of images based on criteria you set such as rating.

Strangely, there is no face-tagging or geo-tagging which is common in other products. The synchronizer is heavy duty but can be a tad slow when synching a large volume of files. Users may rate or sort images from either Library, Print, or Slide show mode, which is another sign of Lightroom’s flexibility and user-friendliness.


There are probably many users who purchase Lightroom for its remarkable Library mode, but the Develop mode is a huge time-saver. With support for at least 190 raw file formats plus the usual JPG, TIF and PSD files, you can do most of your editing here without ever having to switch over to Photoshop.

One of the best features of Lightroom (as well as Photoshop) is the non-destructive editing. If you make a mistake or change your mind you can revert to the original image, even if you made multiple adjustments. All image adjustments are logged to you can revert to a prior state by clicking on the appropriate state in the history panel.

One tool I particularly like is the local adjustment brush, which enables selectively applied adjustments. For instance you can paint a region that you want to balance for an underexposed sky or a dark foreground. Lightroom conveniently integrates with Photoshop so you can easily switch over if you need to do extensive editing, but in many cases users can make all necessary edits right in Lightroom.


There is a good selection of presets and custom layouts in the Print mode. It is designed for professionals who need to create contact sheets and picture packages as well as print images, and since everything can be customized and saved as templates, it is excellent for presentations.


The Slideshow mode enables users to create dynamic slide video shows with music and a variety of transitions. They can be exported as a series of JPG slides or hi-def video.


Creating flash or html web galleries is pretty painless using the automatic tools, and luckily no coding knowledge is required. Lightroom comes with export plugins for Smugmug Facebook and Flickr, so uploading to them is fast and easy.

Rather than having separate Slideshow and Web modes, it would have been more streamlined to combine them somehow so you don’t have to keep switching modes.


If you take a lot of photos and need an application with robust organizing and processing capabilities, particularly RAW files, Lightroom is an excellent choice.

Guest post by Valerie Goettsch, publisher of featuring reviews of photo editing software and online digital photo services. She loves taking photos and finding creative ways to use them.

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