Adobe has once again made the public beta of their latest Lightroom release available for free. This means that you get to use the product, for free until it expires April 2010. You don’t even need to be an existing user.
Don’t forget that this is a beta version of the product – it does not have all the features planned for the final release and there are probably bugs still to be resolved…as well as bugs still to be found.
Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta (Lr3B) can be installed ‘alongside’ your existing Lightroom 1 or 2 and does not try to open or upgrade any of your existing catalogs (which is a good thing, this is beta software and I am keeping it away from my real photos and catalogs!).
Click through to find out more about the Library module changes in the beta release.
Changes to Library
At first glance, the Library interface looks unchanged except for the inclusion of a new panel on the right-hand side “Publish Services”.
At first look, this seems like a new way of exporting images…but it can work in two directions. For example, connect it to your Flickr account and you will be able to see comments on your photos inside Lightroom. Tom Hogarty has said on the Lightroom Journal that they are working to support developers who can create connections to other services (perfect for services like drop.io – expect updates to Photo-drop Lr to support this).
It also allows you to publish to a location on your hard-drive…perfect for synchronising to cloud storage like dropbox or Jungle Disk. I’ll be writing more on this in a future post.
Upgrade from older catalogs?
I wanted to see if it would open a catalog from Lightroom 2, so I created a copy of a catalog and tried to open it in Lr3B. I was pleased that it gracefully failed and allowed me to choose a different catalog. I assume that a future release of Lr3 will provide a mechanism to convert and open an old catalog, just like Lr2 has when opening Lr1 catalogs.
New improved importing
Import has changed significantly. There is now only one menu option for importing photos from disk or device (there are two in Lr2) and the dialog is completely reworked. Firstly, it uses the whole Lightroom window, giving much more usable space.
The options are now sensibly laid out with the import source (where the photos you want to import are) on the left, thumbnails in the middle and destination (where you want to put the photos) on the right. The top section allows you to chose if you want to copy, move, add or copy as DNG. Changing this, changes the options available on the right.
You can also save the import settings as presets – very nice if you have different settings for different types of photos.
Import loaded adjustments made in Lr2, saved into DNG files, without any obvious problems and seemed to render 1:1 previews very quickly.
You can also now select a location in the folder panel and use the ‘Import into this folder’ option – it opens the import dialog with the selected folder as the destination.
There is a new icon on the thumbnails in grid view that indicates the photo is in a collection (the one on the left above) – click it and it lists the containing collections. Click on a collection name and it opens that collection – a nice shortcut.
The other welcome change in the Library module for me is that the filters are not automatically remembered on a per folder basis – this has caused me countless headaches when preparing exports for clients.
There are a few other minor changes to Library and maybe we will see some more in future releases.
My quick look at the develop module is coming soon…