Adobe Giveth, and Adobe Taketh Away…

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Lightroom's new (and temporary) Import dialog released with version Lightroom 6.2

Quite recently, Adobe gave us all Lightroom 6.2, which was an update that was, well, a not so welcome one. It was fraught with issues of crashing and bugs and many users and educators were shocked to see a total overhaul of the Import dialog’s user interface (UI). In fact, there were so many problems, Adobe very quickly issued Lightroom 6.2.1 to fix the crashing and bug issues, along with a public apology issued by Tom Hogarty. Below are Tom’s words:

I’d like to personally apologize for the quality of the Lightroom 6.2 release we shipped on Monday.  The team cares passionately about our product and our customers and we failed on multiple fronts with this release.  In our efforts to simplify the import experience we introduced instability that resulted in a significant crashing bug.  The scope of that bug was unclear and we made the incorrect decision to ship with the bug while we continued to search for a reproducible case (Reproducible cases are essential for allowing an engineer to solve a problem).   The bug has been fixed and today’s update addresses the stability of Lightroom 6.

The simplification of the import experience was also handled poorly.  Our customers, educators and research team have been clear on this topic: The import experience in Lightroom is daunting.  It’s a step that every customer must successfully take in order to use the product and overwhelming customers with every option in a single screen was not a tenable path forward.  We made decisions on sensible defaults and placed many of the controls behind a settings panel.  At the same time we removed some of our very low usage features to further reduce complexity and improve quality.  These changes were not communicated properly or openly before launch.  Lightroom was created in 2006 via a 14 month public beta in a dialog with the photography community.  In making these changes without a broader dialog I’ve failed the original core values of the product and the team.

The team will continue to work hard to earn your trust back in subsequent releases and I look forward to reigniting the type of dialog we started in 2006.

Sincerely,

Tom Hogarty and the Lightroom Management Team

I think it's safe to say that such a backlash, and such a response is unprecedented for Lightroom.  Unfortunately, the apology didn’t quell all the frustrations—including some personal frustrations. But in the spirit of full disclosure, part of my frustration was a tad selfish. I have a book due to come out on Lightroom called Creative Workflow In Lightroom that’s just weeks away, and this UI change makes much of my book outdated and obsolete before the first copy was due to be sold. Not good! I was honestly surprised by the change because such big UI changes almost never happen with dot releases and are typically reserved for full version releases like Lightroom 7. Yes, bugs happen and bugs can be fixed, but the change in the Import dialog was, well, not cool!  Usually, I welcome changes, even drastic ones like the recent one, if they make sense. I believe programs must evolve, and if we photographers are stuck with the idea of don’t mess with my Lightroom, Adobe will lose it’s competitive edge.

It seems as though the goal of the new import dialog was a good one. Adobe wanted to make Lightroom easier to beginners to engage--or for the not so computer savvy user. The trick of course is for Adobe to pull this off while maintaining all the important features that loyal and more savvy users have grown to love.  I suspect it's complicated  to create a tool that's advanced enough for the pros, but easy enough for beginners.

However, I think the answer was hinted to in Tom Hogarty’s apology. Tom referred to the open dialog Adobe had with the photography community when Lightroom was created. He said, “In making these changes without a broader dialog I’ve failed the original core values of the product and the team.”  This sounds like a dude sincerely listening to Lightroom users.

Here’s a thought: A program that’s universally accepted by so many as a tool to handle an entire flow of work, is thus a tool that needs to be understood as part of many photographer's lifestyle.  Lifestyle: that’s a big word to use, I know. But I think it's absolutely appropriate, and people will show their fangs if you mess with their way of life without asking, and certainly will without warning.  I think also rolling back to the time when public beta's were part of Lightroom's production, would be very helpful in creating that "broader dialog."  The more communication the better I say.

So, Thank you Tom for the apology. Thank you more for listening, and thank you even more for rolling back the Import dialog to its old self. Many of us photographers can’t wait to see its return.

IN THE MEANTIME… WHAT SHOULD YOU DO??

Well, there are a few options for how to proceed depending on whether or not you have, or have not upgraded. Please see my tips below for each. But needless to say, none of this is relevant if you have not upgraded to Lightroom 6/CC to begin with.

  • Your first step should be to verify which version of Lightroom you are running, if you’re not already clear. To do so, go to one of the following and then look to the top of the information box that pops up, to find which version you are currnetly running (see Figure 2):
    • Mac: Choose Lightroom Menu > About Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
    • Win: Choose Help Menu > About Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
  • If you are using Lightroom 6.1, you can choose to simply not upgrade until the next version (likely 6.3) will be released. If you do upgrade, you will see the new import dialog.
  • If you are using Lightroom 6.2, and you want to roll back to Lightroom 6.1 and the old Import dialog, please follow this link recently supplied by Tom Hogarty: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/roll-back-to-prior-update.html
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Figure 2. The 'About Adobe Photoshop Lightroom' information box to ID which version of Lightroom you own.

Personally, I’ve been able to adapt quickly to the new import dialog, and now that I’m left with the good news of the old one returning, which helps my book release, I don’t feel a ton of urgency to roll back. Not to mention, there is something that got lost in all of the this craziness of the new release. Lightroom CC users did get the addition of the Dehaze slider added to localized corrections. But, more on that later.

Good luck with your workflow, in putting this aside to get your camera outdoors, and let me/us know if you have any comments or questions.

—Jason Bradley

BradleyPhotographic.com

17 Comments

    I’m still running Lightroom 5.7 and have been reluctant to upgrade to the CC version. I still prefer to purchase a licensed version and have the upgrades, the same as my current version. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I don’t like to rent something, I would rather purchase it outright (the licence copy) and be done with it until it becomes obsolete and I have to purchase the newer release.

    There are some interesting features in the 6.0 CC release but nothing that I can live without so I’m going to stick it out with 5.7 (which I dearly love) until I’m either forced to go with CC or I’m able to find another photo editing program that has the features I can work with.

    I have been a great fan and devotee of Lightroom. When it comes to technology, “I am so last century”. That is why I have used Lightroom all these years. I too have experienced sudden crashes with the latest version of Lightroom. However, one error on your part does not define or change what a valuable tool Adobe Lightroom has been all these years. I, a loyal consumer, am confident that all will be fixed in a timely manner.

    Actually, it’s not so difficult to create a user interface that is simple & does what pros need. Look at ACDSee Pro8 or9. I like it much better than LR as the interface is simple & it doesn’t hog all your resources or not update your folders & files because it wasn’t done in LR…..

    I have Lightroom 6.0 and it started crashing as soon as I downloaded Windows 10. The fix that Adobe had did not work. It crashes while moving between photos in Develop Mode or when going from Develop to Library modes. I have been trying for weeks to get Adobe to respond but can’t get them to do it. It’s like they have washed their hands of the entire issue and I’m stuck with it. Can’t find a fix in Forums either

    Actually, I like the new interface. Also, I like the added functions of LR CC that are released during the year. Keep the added functions coming and perhaps install a better qa process. Please Adobe don’t kill the baby (added functions) because of one incident. As a side note, if someone only uses LR, why would they buy the cc version if you didn’t add additional capabilities during the year? Further, I expect that LR will continue to be an easy PS with most off the photography features that photographers use in PS. So add away Adobe. Please make it so I never ever have to use PS or Elements again.

    Thanks Jason for the timely article. I’ve been an LR user since LR2 and have kept up with all the wonderful upgrades. I really liked LR6 when they introduced the capability to stitch photos together for panoramas. It’s been a great standalone piece of digital software. I have not subscribed to the CC version because of the monthly fees associated with it and I’ve been able to do everything I wanted using the standalone version. That said, I was not happy when I tried the revised Import function in LR6.2.1. So…your article was timely on how to convert back and glad I have the LR6.1.1 version with the import function I’ve grown to love. I do hope Adobe does not go down the path like Photoshop and having to have a paid subscription. If that happens, I will be looking to find another standalone version. Maybe Google will come out with something since they purchased NIK software.

    Mr. Hogarty made the following statement: “Our customers, educators and research team have been clear on this topic: The import experience in Lightroom is daunting.” Daunting how? A strong word in this case. When I first started using Lightroom in 2007, I learned it for what it is and moved forward with it. When I went to college for photography and took my Lightroom class in 2012, none of my classmates had a problem navigating the import UI and dialogue. I believe that if the import function was that daunting, it would have been addressed years ago. Why now?

    I realize some will redirect me to the first sentence of the quote, however, being of average intelligence and among the throngs of users that have successfully navigated the import function, I maintain it is not rocket science. Rather, paying attention to the details. Underestimating the intelligence of the customer base and dumbing it down is a mistake. Bring back the old import functionality and UI and provide more involved help topics if needed. I see no reason whatsoever to change an import UI and dialogue that has worked for many years and longtime users are accustomed to and depend on for the sake of those that haven’t paid close attention to what they are doing in the first place.

    If one really wants a challenge in a RAW converter, try Capture One Pro 8. That’ll wake you up.

    I will stick with the stand alone version also, I think Adobe is showing their corporate greed by forcing CC on people, just give me a license Adobe, you can keep it if you want to reach in to my bank account every month.

    I have been using LR since it first arrived but Others are catching up and if I can’t get a license, I will go elsewhere.

    Great article. Thank you for outlining the the process to go back a revision. Unfortunately I can’t get into 6.2 crashing. I was a senior executive at an entertainment software publisher. This happens from time to time. But if you know about it you have a patch ready for the end users. Fortunately I did not upgrade my PC’s LR. ANXIOUS for the new release.

    The news here is a bit dated! Adobe has recently (late last week) indicated it will in fact be bringing back the removed import functionality in the next dot release.

    To have a CC version of Lightroom seems to indicate that Adobe is becoming just as greedy as Microsoft. I hope that future version will still be available as upgrades to those of us that don’t use Lightroom every once in a while and not daily.

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