Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 review

Price when reviewed

We’ve loved Lightroom since it was first released in 2007. Its performance was little short of spectacular, particularly when working with RAW files. That impressive turn of speed was married to a clean interface, and the unerring focus on a simple, step-by-step workflow added up to an incredibly useful piece of software for well-heeled amateurs and professionals alike.

Version 2, released in 2008, added significantly to the editing features of the original, and now version 3 is here, promising more features, better image quality and improved performance.

Moving up from older versions of Lightroom is easy. You qualify for the £64 (£75 inc VAT) upgrade package only if you’re coming from Lightroom 1 or 2, but catalogues from both versions of Lightroom, plus those from Photoshop Elements 6 and later, can be imported.

This makes Lightroom ideal for those with an established collection of images and a simple desire for more organisational and editing power. Converting a huge, 17,000-file catalogue from Lightroom 2 took under five minutes on our test machine.

With your old catalogues upgraded, what changes will you notice in the new version? There’s nothing striking from the main view. The five modules – Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web – are all still present. Likewise, Lightroom’s ability to manage files in bespoke collections is unchanged, but it remains by far the best way of managing your images: you need never worry about precisely where an image is on your hard disk. Smart Collections, which automatically draw in images depending on the criteria you set, also remain.

The import dialog box has had a facelift, making it easier to see what will happen to your images as you add them to your catalogue. New to the Library mode is Publish Services, which synchronises images from your Lightroom catalogue with another location. By default you can synchronise with a location on your hard disk or, more usefully, Flickr, support for which is finally included.

The Develop module houses some more interesting additions. For the first time there’s a dedicated tool for adding grain, which is useful for imbuing images with a film-like quality. There’s also a new Lens Correction feature. Lightroom detects the lens used to take a shot, and, once you enable profile corrections, automatically corrects images. It can account for barrel distortion and chromatic aberration as well as vignetting.


Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes

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