Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is an image management program designed to help photographers organise, improve and present their photos. First launched in 2007 it has quickly become a popular tool for professional photographers, and is widely considered the industry standard for camera Raw workflow. Lightroom is not intended to be an image editing program as such, although it can be used to make modifications to images, but rather it is designed to work alongside Adobe Photoshop, with that program handling the serious editing work. Lightroom is used to organise large collections of photos, develop and process JPEG and Raw file images, and to present, print and publish the results.
The latest version, Lightroom 3, was launched earlier this month, and adds a number of new features as well as improving the performance of many key operations. Available for both Mac OS X 10.5/10.6 and Windows 7 or Vista (in both 32-bit and 64-bit) and XP Service Pack 3, Lightroom 3 currently sells for £232 (inc. VAT) for the full version, or £74 for an upgrade version from Lightroom 2. No upgrade from Lightroom 1 is available. There is a student version available for around £64. Lightroom's only real competitors are Apple's Mac-only program Aperture, also currently on version 3.0 and costing around £170, and the highly regarded Bibble 5 Pro, available for Linux, Windows or Mac and costing around £127.
The key improvements in Lightroom 3 are faster library importing, better noise reduction and sharpening algorithms, improved lens correction, perspective correction, more flexible watermarking, easy-to-use drag and drop web gallery publishing, improved multi-image print layouts, and tethered capture for use in the studio. Also improved are some of the filter effects, video file handling and the ability to export video and PDF slideshows with music.