New and Improved
As I hinted in my introduction there are few if any
obvious visual changes in in this new release. Lightroom 1.3 is
primarily about fixing as many bugs as was possible within a fairly
short timeframe whilst also putting in place infrastructure
improvements for the future. The following is a summary of the main
issues that Adobe have addressed in 1.3:-
An issue with the preference to automatically write
metadata to XMP has been corrected, so the performance degradation
that some users experienced should be reduced.
Printing with the native resolution option enabled no
longer sets the wrong dimension for portrait oriented photos.
Prior to Camera Raw 4.3 there was the possibility
that artefacts in edge transitions could be introduced through the
Bayer demosaic and luminance noise reduction algorithms. This has
The Canon sRAW format and the Fuji compressed RAF
formats are now supported.
Apple Max OSX 10.5 (aka Leopard) is now supported.
Note that some print drivers still need to be updated before full
functionality is available in Lightroom.
Lightroom 1.3 also includes the following enhancements:
The import dialog now offers the option to render 1:1
preview as part of the import process (Figure 4 below)
New context menu options in Library panel for imports
from disk and catalogs.
Inline database/catalog repair.
The export dialog layout has been enhanced.
A Lightroom Preview Export SDK is available for
developers to create and distribute Export Plug-ins.
Figure 1 - click image for larger view
Overall little has changed within the main window, but
a clicking around the UI will expose a few new context menus (see
figure 2 below). Whether these menus actually turn out to be useful
really depends on how you use Lightroom screen modes (e.g. full-screen
Figure 2 - New Library Context Menus
Performance Improvements for
I think it goes without saying that the single biggest
pain point of Lightroom has been the performance degradation that comes
with the use of the "Automatically write changes into XMP"
functionality (figure 3). In fact, many users found Lightroom was
almost unusable when this preference was on. The good news is that 1.3
includes fixes for the underlying problem, so most users should see
significantly better performance than before. Even so, it's probably
best that you leave this preference unchecked, that is unless you a
have a specific requirement for all of your Lightroom applied
adjustments and metadata to be written into the XMP header of your
Figure 3 - Catalog Settings
The Import dialog (figure 4) has been enhanced slightly
with the introduction of the 1:1 preview option. Had this option been
available in earlier versions of Lightroom, the actual time required
for the "import" process to complete would have been
excruciatingly long. Fortunately, the engineers have reworked the
import logic in 1.3 so that standard-sized and 1:1 preview rendering is
delayed until all of the photos have been imported, although those
thumbnails that are visible within the grid area will be rendered up
front. Likewise, if you begin to browse through photos before the
import is complete some amount of preview building must take place,
otherwise you will end up with grey thumbnails. Overall, preview
rendering speed hasn't been improved, but the new changes at least give
the user greater flexibility in terms of when 1:1 previews are
Figure 4 - New Preview Options in Import Dialog - click image for
Inline Database Repair
Some readers may recall that many of the complaints
after the release of Lightroom V1.1 were related to catalog or database
corruption. Fortunately, Adobe was quick to help out users who sought
assistance on the
Lightroom User-to-User forum. In the vast majority of case
the corruption was easily and quickly fixed. Nevertheless, it's
probably fair to say that some Lightroom users didn't realise that help
was available and very likely lost their existing catalogs. Obviously,
Adobe did not wish a repeat of the problem, so they extended the
catalog integrity checking facilities to include repair functionality.
From a user perspective the actual process of repairing the catalog
is fairly straightforward. The following series of screenshots shows
the dialogs that a user will see if Lightroom detects a catalog problem
that needs to be repaired.
Figure 5 - Lightroom notifies user that a problem has been found
within the Catalog
Figure 6 - Lightroom will recheck the Catalog to establish the
nature of the problem
Figure 7 - Lightroom confirms that the Catalog is corrupt and needs
to be repaired
Figure 8 - In this example, Lightroom advises user that existing
previews, etc will be lost during the repair process
It's worth noting that unless Lightroom actually
encounters a corrupt catalog it highly unlikely that users will see
Existing users will quickly notice a new look to the
Export dialog (figure 9). Apart from the new look, the most obvious
addition is the much requested "Don't Enlarge" checkbox and
"Resize to Fit" in lieu of the previous "Constrain Maximum Size"
option. Overall, I think the resizing options should be easier to
understand and use.
Figure 9 - click image for larger view
A less obvious but nevertheless important change to the
export dialog is the ability to import, export and update export
presets. This is achieved via context menus that appear when you
Ctrl+click (Mac) or right-click (Windows) the existing presets.
Probably the most significant and long awaited feature
addition in Lightroom V1.3 is the Export Software Develop Kit or SDK
for short. I should point out that I have not had the opportunity
to work with the SDK, but that doesn't prevent me from being excited by
the possibilities it offers.
Adobe will be providing a dedicated area on their Adobe
Labs forum. The following is a snippet from the labs page, I will post
a link to the actual page when it forum goes live.
Welcome to the Adobe® Lightroom™ Export SDK preview
Adobe Labs. This public prerelease provides a Software
Development Kit that will allow developers to enable communication
from the Lightroom 1.3 Export Dialog to third party tools, web sites
or devices. Using the SDK and an IDE of your choice will allow you to
create Export plug-ins that further streamline the photographic
workflow. This SDK, based on the open source Lua language, includes
plug-in sample code for a Flickr and FTP plug-in that demonstrate how
to extend the Export dialog interface for specific tasks.
The Lightroom Export SDK preview is the Lightroom product team's
first opportunity to engage the developer community. While this
preview SDK functionality is limited to the Export dialog, the
discussion on the
lab forum should be expanded to include any functional area
that a developer would like to build upon.
Included in the SDK:
* API Reference Documentation
* SDK Guide
* Sample Code for Flickr and FTP uploading
The following screenshot shows the new Export dialog
when the sample SDK code for the "Flickr" photo sharing service has
Figure 10 - Sample "Flickr" Export Dialog
Develop Module - Improvements to
Raw Processing Engine and Previews
Readers who recall the debates surrounding the
luminance noise reduction enhancements introduced with Lightroom 1.1
will be pleased to note that the Camera Raw team have continued to
refine these. The net result of their work is that most obvious
artefacts that remained after the 1.2 update have now been eliminated.
Whether these changes are sufficient to satisfy the most vociferous
critics of Lightroom and Camera Raw luminance noise reduction is
Still on the subject of raw processing, Lightroom now
includes support for the following cameras:
Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon PowerShot G9
Olympus SP-560 UZ
Last but not least is the much requested preference to
disable the overlay messages that appear when raw photos are being
rendered in the Develop module. There are also a few new metadata
options available from the Loupe Info popup menus.
Figure 11 - Enhanced View Options