I was reading Reed Hoffmann’s recent article Lightroom and Aperature on Blue Pixel Musings and was a bit surprised that the true beauty of Adobe’s Lightroom wasn’t discussed. Reed was comparing Adobe and Lightroom as some of the tools in the photographer’s digital darkroom toolbox. I will admit that I have only played with Aperture at the Apple Store while I have been using Lightroom since the first beta release available for Windows.
The beauty of both of these tools lie in their ability to address the problems that photographers have started to face in the new world of digital photography: how do I quickly process the photos I just took…all 600, 800, 1400 of them?
As digital photography has taken off in the past 2-3 years, the sheer volume of photos that the average photographer takes has increased logarithmically. Add into that factor the whole digital negative aspect and you had a situation that was demanding new tools to allow the digital photographer to remain productive. This is exactly what Lightroom (and Aperture) are: digital photography bulk processing tools.
I can load my couple hundred photos into either tool and quickly do bulk processing on these photos that cover the majority of my fine tuning of the images. Adjust the white balance, tone, color, apply some general filtering and noise reduction…essentially do the bulk of the work that I need to do to every photo I take. There is still the more advanced photo editing that might need to be done in Photoshop, but not every photo needs to go through that…especially if you expect to do more shooting, get the photos out to the client and still sleep.
Before I started using Lightroom, it would have taken me about 12+ hours to work through 400 photos in Bridge and Photoshop just to do what I described above. Now, in Lightroom, I can load the 600 photos that I shot last weekend at a birthday party and have them all poppin’ to my personal standard within 2 hours (I bet it would be even faster on a dual core machine instead of my 3 year old Thinkpad…something I wouldn’t try with Aperture). The speed boost that Lightroom delivers comes from the ability to adjust photos that were taken in the same conditions to the same settings. If I took 30 shots of the Birthday Girl during her speech in the same lighting conditions, then I can bulk adjust all 30 at once and get the same result 99% of the time.
I feel the real beauty of lightroom lies in how Adobe developed it. They realized the need for this new product by listening to their customer base. They then got beta versions of the product into those same customer’s hands for real world testing and feedback. There are a number of great small time saving features that I just love about lightroom and I know a good number of them came from users. This is how a product is supposed to be developed and what leads to a loyal and enthusiastic customer base. Why else would I take my precious time to share these thoughts about Lightroom if I wasn’t in love with it (we all know love makes you do crazy things…like spend 30 minutes blogging instead of getting caught up on sleep…).
Not only is digital photography changing quickly, but the nature of how technology is developed is also making substantial changes to be more aligned with and driven by the customers. The social aspects of the internet and electronic communities demand this. Those technology companies that realize this will succeed, the rest will not. Thanks for listening to us Adobe and the Ligthroom team!