Lightroom 3 Review

June 15, 2010 | Jon Canfield | Software Reviews | |

Lens Correction is one of the major enhancements in Lightroom 3 (and ACR in CS5). By default, lens corrections are turned off. If you have one of the supported lenses - many of the Canon and Nikon lenses are included, and Sigma lenses are on the way, you'll see an immediate change in your image when turning the option on. Lens correction will correct for distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting with a profiled lens (Figures 8 and 9). Adobe is also making the Lens Profile Creator available that will let you shoot a chart and build your own profiles. While the automatic adjustments work very well, you can also choose to override these settings with the manual model, making it possible to do things like perspective correction.

Lightroom 3 Figure 8

Lightroom 3 Figure 9

One nice feature in Lightroom 3 is access to your image collection from all modules. Where the previous version let you make selections in the Library module, version 3 now lets you see all your collections from the Develop and output modules.


Along with importing and processing changes, the output modules - Slideshow, Web, and Print have all received improvements. To start with, you can now export video slideshows. Output can be formatted for various destinations, including YouTube, or all the way up to 1080p HD. Videos can include auto as well as opening and closing title screens (Figure 10). If you're using music, you'll like the Fit To Music option to automatically set the duration of your slides.

Lightroom 3 Figure 10

Printing is one of Lightroom's strong points - it's always been easy to create print packages or contact sheets. But, the print packages were limited in options. In version 3, you can now create a custom print layout with multiple images and sizes, as well as locating them where you want on the page (Figure 11).

Lightroom 3 Figure 11

If you're a studio or wedding photographer that has a particular look and feel that you want to maintain, you can save the layout as a template.

One area that Lightroom 2 was lacking in was watermarking. In version 3, this has been greatly enhanced. By selecting Watermarking in the Print, Web, or Slideshow modules (Figure 12), you can create watermark styles that include images or text, setting the location, style, opacity, and more. Your watermarks can be saved as presets for future use.

Lightroom 3 Figure 12

Publishing is a new area for Lightroom 3. The application ships with presets for disk publishing and Flickr. To get started, select the Library module and then scroll down to the Publish Services.  If you already have a Flickr account, you can enter your information and you're ready to post. If not, you can create an account from within Lightroom. Publishing is as easy as dragging and dropping images from the Library to the service you want to use. You'll see a counter update with the number of images added, but they won't actually be exported until you select Publish.

I use Publish to move files to a WD ShareSpace that I can then access from my iPhone. In this case, I simply select the folder I want to publish to, and when Publish is clicked, the image is copied to that location (Figure 13).

Lightroom 3 Figure 13


Lightroom 3 has been in beta for a while with thousands of users downloading and becoming familiar with many of the new features. The final release includes a few goodies that weren't in the public beta releases, and performance took a big jump in the final release. Importing is now much faster and the increased flexibility makes my day-to-day work easier. I'm very impressed with the new processing engine and noise reduction, and lens correction works great.  It's still not the only application I use though. I end up opening images in Photoshop for further editing when needed, but I'd estimate that 85% of my work is now done in Lightroom. If you're on a Mac, Apple's Aperture is well worth a look as an alternative, especially if you do video work with your still photography. Aperture is also stronger with color management and publishing services, including books. At $299, or $99 for upgrades from previous releases, Lightroom 3 is an excellent value.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Value for money 4.5

Entry Tags

review, software, lightroom, adobe, image editing, management, lightroom 3, Lightroom 3 Review

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19 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Mark

It’s better than 2, for sure.
But as a Nikon user, I prefer Capture NX 2.

3:15 pm - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#2 Andriy

I was avid NX user too until LR3 was released. just workflow in LR is so much better

3:24 pm - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#3 R4 SDHC

This is most certainly a good improvement from Lightroom 2 - but the question is if people will throw down their existing software like the NX 2 mentioned above, in favour of Adobe’s new offering. I suspect price will have a lot to do with it.

4:04 pm - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#4 Rob

Just downloaded the trial beta and liking it so far. I think a switch from NX may be in order…

5:15 pm - Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#5 Cyberwlf

I see potential for combining the two.

NX’s control points are not featured in LR3, but LR3 looks like a way more superior workflow system in every way now and for most other aspects of image management/tweaks, but NX will be likely to retain the best abilities for handling NEF files. Plus NX2 really could do with some optimisation, you listening Nikon??

1:18 am - Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#6 Daveed V.

I upgrade from LR2 a few days ago: The new noise reduction capabilities look like they’ll be good enough to make Noise Ninja and the like fairly marginal (I think those tools are still a little better, but not enough so to justify the disruption in workflow for most people).

Lately, Lightroom has been the only Adobe product that I’ve been generally happy with. (Photoshop, Acrobat, and Flash are the other products I use: While new versions have some nice features, the experience has a whole seems significantly worse.  Crashes, weird UI glitches, bothersome installation/update procedures,... A bit of competition would be welcome.)

4:22 pm - Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#7 Glenn Rogers

I love the control Lightroom gives me in processing images, but I find interface very hard to look at.  I’m squinting all the time and get a headache after a while.  Does anyone else find the same thing or is there a way to change those dark colors and small fonts of the interface?

Developer of DBGallery: Photo DATAbase System

7:27 pm - Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#8 Birdie Mason

I purchased LR3 within days of its release. 

Now, I’m in the market for a laptop that will support the software along with other programs.  There seems to be several thoughts on how much memory one should get along with type and size of processor.  Along with this, I’m reading other programs/software may not work properly if go with x instead of y. 

No secret here I have little understanding of what to purchase, why, pro’s and con’s.  If anyone has a moment, I would really appreciate your input. 

Additional note: No offense to Mac users as I’m typing on a MacBook Pro but I’m not looking at another Mac at this time.  I’ve been looking at HP’s but am open to others. 

Thanks a lot.


4:37 pm - Saturday, July 10, 2010

#9 David Mac

I recently bought a Nikon D700 and have been testing several types of photo software as I really couldn’t decide which one to use.

I have a Macbook Pro and had Aperture 3 already.  It’s OK but memory hungry and slow.  Also it way of rendering versions of files is just inefficient and I don’t like it.

NX2 I find to be unbelievably bad.  It’s like a piece of software from the 1980s with a clunky old interface that feels like its running under LINUX or something.
Once you do get around it you find that the actual photo rendering is not especially goo.  I’m really surprised at that.
Nikon have a long way to go in the software department (and bear in mind I’m a Nikon fan - I’ve just spent over £4000 on their hardware after all!

I have just ditched Aperture and bought Lightroom after a 4 week trial.  It really is the best of all software suites out there for ease of use, quality of final production and work flow.
The most important thing to me is the ability of the software to present my pictures at their best and to allow me the ability to bring that out. 

One other thing though, Lightroom just “feels” really good to use I actually enjoy learning with it and I know that the people who designed it were photographers - unlike Apple.

6:41 pm - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

#10 Karl V

I’m very happy with the raw processing capabilities of Lightroom 2.  Under the hood it’s really good but it’s interface is profoundly annoying and as a way of organizing images it is a joke. (I use the elegant and inexpensive Breeze Browser for that. I just organize my photos in folders and the program shows thumbnails of whatever folder you point it to.  There’s no need to “import” anything.  You can just process whichever images you need right away.  And it has a really good and highly customizable way of making web galleries that has been way ahead of Adobe’s functionality for years.) I makes me crazy that Lightroom doesn’t take full advantage of, or effectively navigate, the simple, logical, and universally understood folder system common to Mac and Windows.  Their catalog system reminds me of the utterly brain-dead iPhoto on the Mac. 

The main thing I HATE about Lightroom is that I haven’t been able to figure out a way to import images in such a way that the program applies to each image the same processing parameters that the camera used when I shot the photos.  I know how to get very good results with my cameras using their many settings. Lightroom throws all the controls you have of images with the camera out the window and makes you start from scratch - and apply the SAME settings to every photo in a group upon import.  Again, I’m probably missing something-if you can enlighten me I’d be very very grateful! The previews in Breeze reflect the camera settings.
I also agree with Glenn Rogers that the interface is not geared toward usability but rather toward looking cool, which seems to be the worst part of the Apple orientation.  I’m not interested in getting high and staring at an awesome-looking screen, I just want to work with my photos in an efficient way and be able to take advantage of the capabilites of my cameras, which can usually give me exactly the results I want.

It’s too bad somebody at Adobe didn’t understand how much more work they were making for photographers by making the interface so needlessly different from Photoshop’s.

7:34 am - Tuesday, February 8, 2011

#11 Southampton Event Photography

Lightroom changed my life! Well, almost… It certainly saves me a LOT of time, and it’s one of those things you wonder how you lived without. Highly recommended. I have even started to use it for event photography, and it stands up well under that sort of pressure.

9:15 am - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#12 paul

i love this software, it would be nice to see a few more photoshop features in future edition. LR3 covers 95% of things i need to do in editing a photo. it’s a very handy bit of software to have in your bag of tricks as a photographer.

3:41 am - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#13 Wedding Photographer West Yorkshire

I really couldn’t imagine life without LR3 now.  Apart from occasionally popping into CS5 it’s all I need to get through 1600 wedding pics.

8:54 am - Thursday, September 15, 2011

#14 David Preston

I have Literoom 3 and am using it on a MacBook Pro 2.53 GHz INtel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3.  This program has bogged down so badly that it is effectively useless for editing images due to the drag in times to execute directions.  Has anyone else had this problem and could the history that is kept have anything to do with it?  thanks for your help

6:36 am - Monday, October 17, 2011


No Upoint is a deal breaker for me but fortunately I can use with NX2, (still the best nikon raw programme editor by miles).

3:22 pm - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#16 Philip Aucott

Light room is one of the best ways to speed up production and editing time, I use it for my web gallery, event photography presentation, wedding cataloguing.

11:53 am - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

#17 Nick & Billie

Lightroom is the one key tool for any photographer looking to streamline their processing. We use it for 90% of our editing (only occasionally exporting to Ps CS6) and would be absolutely lost without it!

10:23 am - Sunday, September 9, 2012

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8:36 am - Sunday, September 25, 2016