First Impressions Of Photoshop Lightroom 3 Beta

I’ve been playing with the latest version of Photoshop Lightroom 3 Beta for a few days now.  The latest Photo Of The Day shots here were created using it.  While the website touts all kinds of stuff that sounds good on paper, I’ve been a bit frustrated with the initial beta.

First, it’s nice that it can coexist along side my old version 2.5.  While I can’t have them both running at the same time, it is nice that I don’t need to kill the old one just to make the beta work.  That’s the way it should work and I thank Adobe for making it so.

But the new version, on my admittedly older computer, is slower.  By slower, I mean the smaller previews in the film strip don’t show up with any regularity.  If I scroll through say, my 1000 images from Ireland shot on a 10D 6 years ago, I get an image here and there, but need to wait longer than is comfortable for the filmstrip to fill in.  The larger previews do come in faster when the smalls are clicked on, so I guess it’s a tradeoff.  I have waited until the entire catalog has had previewed created (overnight).

Importing was a pain.  While the interface is nicer and all on one screen, the programs desire to always preview images sucks.  This is slower, much slower, than the previous version.  If I’m browsing around my images and hit a folder that has 2000 images, I have to wait 30 seconds or more before I can click on anything.  I know it sounds like a whining thing, but it really is out of step with smooth operation.  It it’s going to take a while to index and show previews, please don’t show previews while I browse.  Maybe I can turn this off and have been too blind to find it.

Changes made to the simple things, contrast, exposure, color temp, take a while to appear on the image.  I see the change register on the histogram within a second or two, but sometimes the image itself, in develop mode, will go fuzzy as it reloads and then the changes are applied.  This is after I’ve waited for the photo to fully load in the develop module.  Again, this could be because of my computer (2.8Ghz, 3GB HT RAM and cool flashing lights on the CPU fan) but compared with the old version sitting right next to it, it’s annoying.

I am excited to see what advances they’ve made to reduce noise as I have a 1200 ISO shoot I need to edit.  I will post some examples when I have them worked out, old and new, to see if there is much advantage.  I haven’t dove into any of the other great tutorials online yet as I’m one of those “Get my hands on it and turn it around in my hands” type of guys.  I know it can do more powerful stuff (like evidently some great slideshow exports I’m keen on as well) but so far, for my real world use, it’s nothing great, other than having that new program smell.

As a last note, with doing no actual empirical testing, the export feature does seem faster for both of Jeffrey’s SmugMug and Facebook Plugins.  I’m not sure if it’s his work or what Adobe has done on the backside, but I like it.

But it is in Beta and that’s what this phase is for, to work out the kinks and get last minute feedback.  I still think Lightroom is a great product for a lot of the work I do and am thankful it’s around.