When I shot this image of an abandoned pick-up truck yesterday morning, I made three exposures with the intent of creating an HDR version of the image. However, once I got it into Lightroom I realized I could get it to look just how I wanted using both the basic sliders and the HSL sliders and targeted adjustment button. Having just downloaded the new Lightroom 3, I also played around with the new Grain sliders, which let me create the "grungier" look that's all the rage these days in HDR processing. It's not a "true" HDR image, but I like the way it came out and it's great to be able to experiment in this way from within Lightroom without having to go to en external program like Photomatix or Photoshop. This is just one of the many new features in Lightroom 3 that I feel make it worth the $99.00 upgrade price.
Here's a list of some of the highlights to be found in the upgrade:
1) A new Import interface. The import dialog in Lightroom 3 looks entirely different from previous versions, but it retains all the previous features while adding new ones like being able to sort previews by capture time, filename, or checked state, and the ability to rename files using a shoot name.
2) Lightroom 3 will now import movie files. You can't edit the movie files in Lightroom, but it's great to be able to organize them along with your photos.
3) Publishing Services. This new feature let's you Publish images to hard drive locations or photo sharing sites like Flickr, while keeping track of which images have gone where by storing them in dedicated collections. With Flickr, Lightroom automatically updates your Flickr photostream or indivdual photo sets when you make changes to the photos and it even tracks the comments on your photos. As of the initial release, Flickr is the only photo sharing site supported, but we should start seeing third-party developers like Jeffrey Friedl (http://regex.info/blog/) offering publishing service plug-ins for sites like Facebook and SmugMug any day now.
4) Tethered Shooting
5) Watermarking. You can now use graphical watermarks and apply them to images at export or in the Slideshow, Print, and Web modules.
6) There are tons of changes in the Develop Module. The Collections panel now appears on the left under history, and there is also a new set of develop presets. The big changes are in the new RAW processing engine, that includes everything Lightroom users are accustomed to as well as greatly improved noise reduction, the above-mentioned grain sliders, and a lens calibration tool that automatically corrects lens distortion based on your camera and lens as well as giving you the ability to create your own lens profiles. You can also manually make lens corrections using a set of transform sliders that let you make perspective adjustments similar to the transform tool in Photoshop. Adobe has also further enhanced the Vignetting capabilities of the develop module.
7) The Print module now gives you the ability to more easily create Custom Picture Packages, and includes a nifty drag and drop feature where you can drag a thumbnail from your filmstrip on to the print layout and then re-size the image by just dragging the handles on the image outline.
That's the bulk of the new changes. One thing you should be aware of when you update Lightroom 2 catalogs to Lightroom 3 is that images that were previously developed in Lightroom 2 will retain the settings created in Lightroom 2 which are known as Process 2003. The new develop sliders will not be available on these images unless you update them to the new Lightroom 3 process version, or Process 2010. When you go to develop an image edited in Process 2003, you will see a square with an explanation point in the bottom right of the image (see screen print below.) You can update to the new process version by clicking on that explanation point or by choosing Process 2010 in the Camera Calibration panel. Making this change may or may not change the look of your image. If you click on the explanation point, Lightroom gives you the option of seeing a before/after view of the process version update. You can always go back to Process 2003 if you need to by using your history or the Camera Calibration panel. If you want to update all of your images in one fell swoop, click on All Photographs in the Catalog Panel of the Library Module, select any image and go to Develop. When you click on the explanation point, choose "Update All Filmstrip Photos" and it will convert your entire catalog.
I'll be teaching all the new Lightroom 3 features in my seminar, Lightroom in a Day, scheduled for November 6 in Portsmouth, NH. I'll have the details on my website soon.
If you want to see some great on-line tutorials for Lightroom 3, Julieanne Kost at Adobe has recently posted a great series of videos here: http://tv.adobe.com/show/getting-started-with-adobe-photoshop-lightroom-3/
Have you started using Lightroom 3? Post your impressions here.