Tam Nguyen Photography

New York Beauty and Fashion Photographer

My Initial Thoughts about Lightroom and Its Hot Issues

Posted on March 14, 2012 in Personal, Technology

My Initial Thoughts about Lightroom and Its Hot Issues

Unless you’re working on your retouching in a cave or under a rock, you should know that Adobe recently released their latest version of Lightroom, version 4.0. Being a gear-head that I am, I jumped on the bandwagon right on the day when the product became available. Since then, I’d say that the results have been lower than expectations, to say the least. Lightroom 4 does offer some new and great features, but I’m very frustrated with it at the moment. Here are some of my beefs with Lightroom 4:

Performance: okay, this is my biggest issue with Lightroom 4. The performance is definitely the worst I’ve seen from this software. You fire it up, it immediately takes up at least about 1.5 GB of RAM (I’m talking about commit size, not shared nor working memory, if anyone knows what I’m talking about). If you sit there and adjust a few images in your Catalog, you’ll be in the 3+GB zone in no time. I mean, kudos to all the software engineers at Adobe for cooking up this great software, but I think you people had you heads stuck in your asses this time around. Please do me a favor and take a look at that memory leak issue. This has never happened before with the previous versions of Lightroom. I’ve seen at most at 300 to 400 MB of RAM after start-up, and around 1.5 to 2 GB of RAM at its peak. Once Lightroom gets to hogging up more than 3 GB of memory, it’s practically unusable. I was going through a set of images the other day after a shoot, and I had to restart Lightroom 5-6 times to be able to traverse the photos – talk about workflow at its best. Mind you, I have a 3.6 GHz i7 processor with 12 GB of RAM running at 1200 MHz triple channel, and I have a SSD and a 10K-RPM drive – this type of performance is not acceptable for me.

Point tone curve and presets: second biggest issue. If you happen to have presets (who doesn’t, really?), you can say goodbye to all of them. The migration of presets only works if your presets are linear. More than half of Lightroom adjustments are non-linear, so your images will look discolored and flat once you upgrade your Catalog. The only nice thing I have to say about tone curve is now you have the ability to adjust the curves on each individual channel. Bust out your color wheel if you’re still fuzzy on this.

– Speaking of upgrading your Catalog, the upgrade was non-destructive. Lightroom creates a copy of your old processor and applies the new processor to the copy, this was nice. The problem is if you apply a preset that was created before this point to an image, you’ll have to upgrade the processor again to Lightroom 4. Again, point tone curve and presets will not be migrated correctly.

Basic adjustments: this just got confusing. Before, you used to have Exposure, Fill Light and Brightness, which adjusted the exposure, shadows or dark area, and the overall brightness of the image, respectively. There was a Recovery adjustment to control the blow-out areas. Now, you have still Exposure, but you’ll have Highlights and Whites, and then Shadows and Blacks. WTF just happened? I’m having trouble distinguishing the differences here.

Local adjustment brush and Gradient filter: this area is a very nice update. Finally, you can fix local noise issue and moire pattern. One thing I have problem with is that for some reason, the adjustment brush for clarity has the tendency to darken your painted area. I used to have an “eyes and eyebrows” brush, this stopped working because it’d make the eyes look like the person is being possessed. You can bet that if you have a bunch preset brushes from Lightroom 3, they won’t work as expected.

Email: this feature is nice, but it only works if you have Outlook or a dedicated email software. I only use webmail, so this doesn’t really do much for me.

Soft proof: this sounds nice, but when I turn this on, I really don’t see that much of a difference between the on-screen version vs the proof, regardless of color profiles, so I’m not sure if this is working right.

Video editing: this is nice that Lightroom finally allows you to edit videos. While it only works in the Library module and not Develop module, it should give you the ability to edit your candid videos quickly and easily. I really don’t imagine Adobe giving us too many options – that’d defeat the purpose of After Effect.

Maps and Photo books: don’t know, don’t care.

I’m guessing Adobe does know about some of these issues. Tom Hogarty, Lightroom Product Manager, posted a few of them HERE. My opinion is that if you have been comfortable with Lightroom 3, stay with it for now. Until Adobe releases an update to fix all these issues, you’re better off kicking it old school.

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