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 3Figure 8

Lightroom 3Figure 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 3Figure 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 3Figure 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 3Figure 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 3Figure 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

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