Adobe Lightroom - part 3 of 1 2 3 4

by Mike McNamee Published 01/02/2007


Photoshop releases are always much anticipated and generate lots of interest. The preserve of journalists and beta testers has been opened to a more general public as Adobe have followed their Lightroom model and released a beta version of CS3, many months ahead of the actual launch. As such we are not testing the final version here, but changes are likely to be fixes and refinements, rather than whole-scale modifications.


The coding has had to be significantly amended to accommodate the new Macintosh Intel machines. This is of great benefit to the Mac community as the startup times and running times have been reduced to around a third of their original values (start-up from 30s down to 12s). The improvement on XP platforms is claimed by some reviewers to be from 9s down to 6s. Our own results were a little more modest than this. CS2 takes 15.2s and CS3 took 14.9 (both from a cold start, rebooted workstation). Restarting the application took 2s for CS3 and 5.3s for CS2. Performing a Radial Spin Blur on a 28MB file took 114s on CS3 and 119s on CS2. Opening the same RAW file took 5.3s and 5.4s respectively. Our overall impression is that there is little to choose between the speeds of operation of the two versions, the benefits seem to be derived by Mac users on the Intel systems.

The Interface

The Photoshop interface has received a makeover, from a single column Toolbar through to the slightly more interesting palette fly outs (robbed from InDesign?) and onward to the new Print dialogue pane - Print with Preview has gone!


The Bridge interface has been harmonised to look a bit like Lightroom (Windows Vista- ready!). The magnifying loupe comes into action when you click drag the magnifier. The strength of the loupe may be varied using the scroll wheel of the mouse.


The Mac users seem enthused over their new coding, PC users will notice less difference. The issue is whether to stay with Bridge or shift to Lightroom, or even a combination of both. Here at Professional Imagemaker, we will stay with Bridge because of the ability to preview a wide variety of file formats and drag them directly into InDesign, photographers will almost certainly gravitate towards Lightroom to handle large numbers of images quickly.

These cosmetic changes can be disorienting to the power user who is subconsciously locked into an interface, although there is a legacy workspace (which actually changes the palette layout, but little else). However docking palettes which have replaced the 'palettes well' are easy enough to get used to and they will be of most benefit to lap-top and single-screen users - those of us on multi-screens will probably still prefer to have all palettes 'always open' on the satellite screen.

Camera RAW

This is where the radical changes have been made, as the adjustment features of Lightroom have been migrated to Camera RAW (ACR). All comments on this are identical therefore to the previous (Lightroom) review and the facilities are equally welcome. The main decision now will be whether to process your images in ACR or Lightroom or (we suspect!) a mixture of both. Of particular interest to Professional Imagemaker readers is the 'vibrance adjustment' for boosting saturation, with reduced risk of clipping and built-in skin-tone masking.

Colour Adjustments

There are many changes to the colour adjustment methods. The simplest is the Image>Adjust>Brightness and Contrast, which has been cured of its tendency to create clipping - a sin that has kept it off the menu of serious users from the outset. However, if you wish to carry on smashing up pixels there is a legacy button in the dialogue box.

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1st Published 01/02/2007
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