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Old 16-11-2007, 10:34   #1 (permalink)
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Question Why Adobe Lightroom?

hi , i remember a while ago i tried the trial version of Adobe lightroom, and failed to see the advantage of it compared to photoshop itself so uninstalled it. But i've heard quite a few of you lot talking about using it and on other sites. So what's the attraction about it? I did find it a bit annoying as it wanted to create lots of strange ghost files and various things i didnt really understand...
Do you guys use it as your main image editor or just for a library? Or to process lots of images really quickly? and how would you compare it to something such as google's picassa as a basic image library?

Cheers, Josh
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Old 16-11-2007, 11:18   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Why Adobe Lightroom?

A main feature of Lightroom is Digital Asset Management - the Library. Instead of relying on the folder structure as an index, you can tag the files with keywords etc and search on any combination. In theory you could dump all your files in a single folder and use the LR database to sort them.

This is either incredibly useful or a PITA, depending on your point of view.

Of course the LR database is not compatible with any other DAM software, so if you do commit to it you're obliged to upgrade LR at least whenever you buy a new camera which the older version does not support. In fairness the same applies to all third-party RAW converters, although most of these are less expensive than LR.

LR lacks features found in most image editors, so is not an all-in-one solution for most people.
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Old 16-11-2007, 11:50   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Why Adobe Lightroom?

Lightroom offers a fairly basic (in terms of Digital Assest Management) but pretty useful catalogue and a pretty good RAW converter.

To prevent cataloging being a PITA you need to understand whether you have a need for it and how much of it is going to be helpful. I use a fairly normal date based folder structure which is catalogued (but not altered) by Lightroom. Then, when I import a day's images I quickly select batches from each unique general location, often only one or two for a day's images and enter the details in the IPTC Location fields, this information is available to any IPTC aware application (most DAM Software, Photoshop, many Galleries, Stock Libraries etc.). Keywords, Titles, Copyright, Descriptions etc. can all be written to the file (TIF, DNG, JPG) or to a sidecar file (Manufacturer RAW Files) and are generally available to IPTC aware applications.

I can now search for my images by any of the EXIF Data (most importantly the Date Taken), or the location. Mostly when I want to find a picture I've got an idea when or where it was taken.

I then use Lightroom to quickly delete the total dross, and mark any images I think are particularly good. I may add further categorisation to those, I will certainly try to "develop them", to get the tone, colour and crop right. This is then how they will be displayed in Lightroom. The develop setting are not compatible with other RAW Converters (except Photoshop's Camera RAW which uses the same engine) but then I don't know of any RAW Converter's which offer cross compatibility.

Lightroom's not designed to replace the image editing functionality offered by tools like Photoshop but does allow you to get all your "image wide" tone, colour correction and cropping done (including B&W & Duotone conversions), it also offers basic spot removal, defringing and a fix for vignetting. Its noise reduction is still poor as is the output sharpening, although input sharpening is much improved over previous versions. I now rarely use PS for anything other than noise reduction and sharpening.

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Old 16-11-2007, 16:22   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Why Adobe Lightroom?

thanks, though when i used it i felt a bit scared that whenever i was changing a file that i was changing the original or losing it...which then makes me think whether i am basically creating double/triple versions of everything and generally makes me confused as to what i am actually editing etc. when i change something in lightroom.

e.g. say you got back from a shoot and you dumped all your files onto the computer and lightroom saved them all somewhere, do you just do one big raw conversion on all of them and save as jpegs somewhere else? or are you just changing individual raws to jpegs when you want and just using lightroom to view them?

i may be being dumb but all this confuses me, whereas just using windows folders i can easily see what is there, but i suppose the image searching is easier.
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Old 16-11-2007, 16:35   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Why Adobe Lightroom?

Actually one of the benefits of Lightroom is that you can keep multiple versions of how you're going to develop the files without keeping multiple files and wasting diskspace. Lightroom just applies the settings to the image when you're viewing it.

Lightroom views the RAW images, with the changes, so no need to do a "conversion" unless you need to edit in another app or export for Web use. I rarely keep any derivative files these days, just create from Lightroom as required.

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Old 16-11-2007, 17:45   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Why Adobe Lightroom?

Most decent RAW converters (including LR) are non-destructive. The original RAW file is not changed in any way. The edits you do in the converter - colour balance, tonal corrections, etc - are stored in the database and/or in separate sidecar files alongside the RAW file. So for each image you'll have the (unchanged) RAW file plus an extra file (.XMP in the case of LR, .bib with Bibble, etc) which contains details of all the editing you've done.

That means you can move the lot to another computer simply by copying the RAW files together with the corresponding sidecar files, and the same software on the second machine will recognise all the changes you've already made.

With LR you can let it do its own thing with regard to file locations, or you can upload your RAW files to a directory of your choice and set LR to 'Reference files in original location'. That way there will be no duplicate RAW files created, although LR will still create a fairly large database containing all the keyword, tag and editing data, whether or not you tell it to create the .XMP sidecars as well (which you should, IMO).

The editing you do on LR or any RAW converter can be as little or as much as you want, within the limitations of the software. It's a good idea to do tonal and colour corrections in the RAW converter before you create the TIFF or JPEG files, because the quality should be maximised that way. For the very best quality you then convert to 16-bit TIFF and carry out any further editing in your favourite software (Photoshop, PSP or whatever). The drawback here is that 16-bit TIFF files are huge (10 MP image gives 60 MB file ).

One day we may see LR develop into a genuine all-in-one application, which I believe was the original paradigm and is why 'Export' is (or was on earlier versions) almost an afterthought. Adobe seriously believed that you would be able to do everything non-destructively within LR and would never need to convert to TIFF or JPEG. They've a long way to go yet before LR replicates all the functions of PS/PSP, and the nearest there is to an all-in-one RAW convert + editor right now is probably Bibble.
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