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Adobe Lightroom 3 - Adobe Lightroom 3

By Cliff Smith


  • Editors choice
Adobe Lightroom 3


Our Score


Review Price £201.10

A major problem facing most professional and keen amateur photographers is how to manage and organise the vast collection of image files that can build up over the course of a few years. Professional photography isn't even my main job, and yet I've got over 40,000 photographs on my hard drive, many of them large Raw files from professional quality DSLRs; professional working photographers could easily have two or three times as many. Other image management programs such as Google Picasa, or the browser sections of Adobe Photoshop Elements or Corel Paint Shop Pro can have real problems with such large collections, taking many hours to sift through and catalogue images, or simply failing altogether and crashing. Adobe Lightroom 3 took about 30 minutes to import and catalogue my entire collection, presenting the results as a database searchable under a wide range of criteria including camera EXIF data. As you can imagine, being able to search for pictures taken on a particular make and model camera or with a particular type of lens comes in very handy in my line of work.

Also useful is the built-in support for dual monitors, with the second monitor display being configurable to show the currently selected image, the library grid, a survey comparison or a slideshow of images in a folder. It is this adaptability that is one of Lightroom's great strengths and one of the reasons that it is so popular with professionals; you can set it up to suit the way you want to work, adapting it to your preferred workflow rather than having to adapt your methods to suit the program. The interface is surprisingly simple for such a complex and powerful program, with everything organised into logical sections called Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web. The grey-on-black colour scheme looks a bit Spartan but it is efficient and functional, although it definitely benefits from using a big monitor, and preferably two of them.

The algorithms, modules and engines that power the program have been completely rewritten for Lightroom 3, leading to improved performance for a wide range of operations. Corrections for lens distortion and chromatic aberration are faster and more effective, and can be saved as profiles for particular lens and camera combinations to be applied with a single click to one or a selected batch of images. Camera lenses can be detected and recognised automatically thanks to inbuilt metadata, and corrections for recurring distortions can be applied automatically. A variety of distortion-correcting transformations can be applied, including horizontal and vertical perspective, keystone and rotation.

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Chris Hamer

June 22, 2010, 8:29 pm

Thanks for the nice review, i look the look of this but for my photos i use my macbook pro. I know there is a version for the Mac but i was wondering could you do a review on Aperture 3? As i dont know which one would be best to use, has the best features etc.



June 22, 2010, 8:30 pm

What i really need is a program which can analyze images based on what they look like and find duplicates, group similar images together etc etc. Can Lightroom do anything like that or is there any other software out there which can?

Hans Gruber

June 22, 2010, 9:04 pm

Sorry, no time to read the review just yet but in your experience how does Lightroom 3 compare to Capture One?

I use Capture One LE (last 4.8.3) and trialed Lightroom 2, it seemed very similar, was quite easy to use and much the same as Capture One hence I don't know if the price difference is justifiable to anyone in my position, wishing for a more pro photoshop experience who doesn't wish to spend £600+ or whatever on CS5.



June 23, 2010, 12:56 am

The raw engine in LR & Photoshop CS5 are the same - ver 6.1 to be precise. ACR does the lens correction, noise reduction etc. It is common code so LR can't be better than CS5. ACR 6.x will be included in a future version of Photoshop Elements as well. Cheers


June 23, 2010, 1:26 am

Just a quick point. You say there is no upgrade from version 1 but Adobe states on their web shop that the upgrade is for version 1.x and 2.x. Any reason for the discrepancy?



June 23, 2010, 2:55 am

I'd like to point out that there is another more than capable alternative to Lightroom in the form of ACDsee Pro3.


June 24, 2010, 1:11 am

In reply to Jonathan and to correct the review, the upgrade license covers both 1.x and 2.x as stated on the Adobe website - I purchased the upgrade edition and have used it to upgrade my my 1.x serial number with no issues.

Joseph Britvch

June 27, 2010, 7:44 am

I downloaded a trial version of LtRm 3 and it kept disabeling my browser, so I had to constantly restart my PC. Don't know this happened. Had to remove the program.

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