After bringing Lightroom to Android devices back in January, Adobe’s next update to its Creative Cloud Photography plan is a new version of Lightroom – Lightroom CC for Creative Cloud subscribers and Lightroom 6 for standalone desktop users. Both the iOS and Android versions of the app are being updated as well.
Adobe has noticed that photographer workflows have been changing lately due to the proliferation of mobile devices and increase in mobile photography, due in part to the increasing quality of the cameras within smartphones. The company’s strategy is focused on leading customers down a path for success on any device they may use, anywhere they may be. As part of this strategy, a major update for Creative Cloud, Lightroom CC, will be going live today as well as Lightroom for iOS v1.4 and Lightroom for Android v1.1.
The biggest updates will be coming to Lightroom CC and include HDR Merge, Panorama Merge, Facial Recognition, and GPU performance enhancements. On the GPU performance side of things, the performance differences between Lightroom 5 and Lightroom CC will affect any device that uses OpenGL 3.3 or higher. On an older machine, for example a four year old Macbook Pro, users should see a 725% performance increase when making exposure adjustments, and on a newer iMac with 5k display up to a 3025% performance increase. Other rendering activities will see varied, and most often substantial, performance improvement.
HDR Merge isn’t something new, but it is new to Lightroom. With this feature, users will be able to create natural-looking images by combining multiple shots taken at different exposure settings of the same scene into a single HDR image. Lightroom creates a preview of the merged file, and the merged HDR file is saved in Adobe’s 16-bit DNG format and not a JPG format like many other HDR programs. This allows photographers to be able to apply further edits to the merged file while accessing over 30 stops of dynamic light range. Also included is a deghost overlay function to remove ghosting due to moving objects in the images, and because the merge is being done using the DNG/RAW format as few as 2 images are needed which results in faster and higher quality merges due to limited ghosting.
The second new feature coming to Lightroom CC is Panorama Merge. Again, something that can be done with other programs but bringing it inside of Lightroom will delight many photographers. Like HDR Merge, the Panorama Merge merges multiple images into a single image, provides a fast preview, and saves the result as a 16-bit DNG. Because Lightroom CC normalizes the exposures before the merge, common issues like color banding and seams are greatly reduced. Photographers can then perform the same non-destructive Lightroom edits on the resulting DNG file as they would be able to on each individual frame of the panorama.
Panorama Merge uses one of three projection modes – Spherical, Cylindrical, and Perspective – and can auto-select the best projection to use based on the source images to create a natural looking image. Alternatively, the projection can be manually chosen by the user. Perspective projection is best used for architecture and interiors to straighten lines and building edges, while Spherical and Cylindrical projection are best for landscapes. Again, because rendering is done utilizing the GPU, real time editing is quick and virtually without lag.
If you’ve been photographing for years, you’ve no doubt amassed a huge collection of photos including quite likely hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Another new feature of Lightroom CC is the addition of Facial Recognition. Simply select the new people button on the toolbar and Lightroom will scan your library and stack images based on how familiar the faces look. You can then verify the images in each group and add a name to the group which then applies that name to each image for grouping. You can also manually draw a “Face Region” around slightly obscured faces and add names to those to group with existing stacks.
Other updates to Lightroom CC include a filter brush, which allows you to reshape gradients created with the Graduated Filter and Radial Filter, and enhancements to the Slideshow feature including the ability to Sync Slides to Music, as well as Pan and Zoom controls for more subtle or faster motion panning and zooming.
Lightroom for iOS
As the Lightroom for iOS app has been available longer than the Lightroom for Android app, only a couple changes are due in v1.4. The first allows you to select segmented or flat view for you collection. Segmented will group your images and display by date, while flat will simply show all your photos in one large group. The iOS version will also see improved crop features and the addition of an auto straighten tool.
Lightroom for Android
While Lightroom for Android v1.1 won’t be getting anything in the way of editing feature updates, the three updates it is getting are definitely big ones. First off, Adobe announced that the Android app will now have DNG RAW file support for Lollipop-enabled devices like the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6. The update will also allow users to access microSD storage to edit and save photos, and also includes support for Android tablets.
The new additions to Lightroom CC, Lightroom for iOS, and Lightroom for Android and over 70 presets available for all versions coupled with the ability to sync your Lightroom collections between desktop and mobile devices really makes Lightroom a must have digital tool for hobby and professional photographers alike.
Let us know what you think of the new features, and which one you are looking forward to using the most in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.