Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a free, powerful, yet intuitive photo editor. Lightroom empowers you to create beautiful photos while helping you become a better photographer.
- More streamlined interface
- Automatic synchronization across platforms
- Clever Sensei search tools
- Missing some features in Lightroom Classic
- No plug-in support
- Potentially expensive storage
- Presets: Make dramatic changes to your photos with our single touch photo editor
- Profiles: Use these one-tap miracles to create visually striking changes to the look-and-feel of your photo edits
- Curves: Make advanced photo edits to change color, exposure, tone, and contrast
- Color Mixer: Refine and tweak colors on your photo to make them pop
- Clarity, Texture, and Dehaze: Breath life into your photo edits with these industry-leading tools
- Interactive Tutorials: Get inspired and learn how to make the photo edits you want by completing step-by-step lessons curated by fellow photographers
- Pro-level Camera: Unlock your phone’s potential with unique controls. Choose from exposure, timer, instant presets and more
- Cutting-edge Camera Modes: Get more detailed shots with advanced capture modes such as raw, professional, and HDR*
- Organize and Manage: Use folders, albums, star ratings, and flags to highlight your best photos
Lightroom sports a refreshing, clean interface. On the first run, you see the Lightroom splash screen, and then the window starts filling with a tile view of all the photos on your system. You can switch that to a contact-sheet view and sort by import date, capture date, or modified date.
Aside from the rows of your synced photos, the interface is notably sparse: Organization and adjustment tools are hidden behind box and control slider icons, at the left and right edges, respectively.
Double-clicking on a thumbnail in the tile view opens a photo in full view, and double-tapping again takes you back to the gallery view. Tapping the full photo view (the cursor appears as a plus sign) enlarges the image to 100 percent. After this, the cursor changes to a hand, letting you drag the image around. At bottom right, there are also Fit, Fill, and 1:1 choice. There’s a Show Original button, but no side-by-side before-and-after view such as you get in Lightroom Classic. You can use the mouse wheel while holding down Ctrl to zoom in and out, but this only stops at major points like the fit, fill, and 1:1; you don’t get a zoom slider showing you the percent.
I like to have a big Import button always handy, but with the new Lightroom, you have to press the + button and then choose the source folder or card. When you import pictures from a camera card, you see a grid of all the card’s images; unlike previous versions of Lightroom, this iteration doesn’t let you view a photo at full size before importing it.
When you import, all the images are automatically and immediately backed up to Adobe’s servers. Hands-off people will probably appreciate this, but I’d prefer more control over what’s uploaded. You can pause uploading, but you can’t specify folders and files you don’t want to be uploaded. For the ability to exclude images from uploading to the cloud, look to Lightroom Classic. Also, look there (or even to the Windows Photos app) for automatic importing from folders you specify.
The import process has long been one of the pain points of Lightroom: Many have complained about how slow it is on photo forums and blogs. I personally also hate wasting upload time and storage space with images I may not want to save. Professionals with loads of RAID storage probably want everything imported, but they want it to happen fast. To be fair, importing is now faster in Lightroom (and even in the recently updated Classic).
Nobody likes to admit that they use the Auto button to see if the program can improve their photos automatically, but everyone uses it if only to see what the program recommends. I like that the button in Lightroom is easier to find and that it shows you exactly which sliders it’s adjusted (Lightroom Classic does that, too). In my testing, it was good at fixing underexposed photos, but often applied too much of an HDR look or overly brightened a photo that was already bright—even when I searched using the term “bright” it would further brighten the photo that another part of the app had deemed bright. To be fair, a snowfield test shot with hazy mountains was nicely dehazed and not brightened.
You get all the expected lighting adjustment sliders: Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks. Lifesavers Clarity and Vibrance are also present in Lightroom. Dehaze is also available and mostly works well, though DxO PhotoLab’s ClearView does a better job without adding color casts in some test photos. The Point Curve adjustment is a nice twist on the standard Curves control (which the program includes). You can adjust the curve targeted to a point in your image by dragging the mouse up and down.
New for both Lightroom flavors is the Texture slider. This lets you add or removed medium detail, as opposed to the fine detail that the Sharpen adjuster affects. You can use Texture as either a global or local adjustment. You can also use it to smooth faces without giving them an artificial, doll-like look. In the image below, increasing the Texture slider adds detail but doesn’t affect noise in the sky the way Sharpen does.
For some reason, you can’t use the mouse wheel to increase and decrease the adjustment slider positions as you can in Classic, which is something I liked to do, and there’s no history panel showing all your changes. I do like that double-clicking a slider returns it to its original position. The Revert to the original button is hidden under the … menu; I’d rather have it always accessible.
As with nearly all photo apps these days, Lightroom lets you apply filter effects, via the Presets link at the bottom of the window. You get a good selection of color, black and white, grain, and vignette preset adjustments, and you can see the effects applied to your image as you hover the mouse cursor over them. But Photoshop Elements offers more options and control with its filters.
Cropping is well implemented, with a good choice of preset aspect ratios, and there’s even an Auto-leveling option. A Healing Brush, an Adjustment Brush, and Linear and Radial Gradients tools are happily available, in pretty much the same form as those in Lightroom Classic.
|How to uninstall|