Archive for the ‘Lightroom’ Category

Lightroom 2.2 available

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Adobe continues it’s upgrade (bug-fix) bonanza for its popular Lightroom software. On Monday, version 2.2 was released. It now supports the Canon EOS 5D mark II.

In addition, Adobe claims that several bugs have been fixed, including this nasty one:

Lightroom could become unresponsive when using the graduated filter under certain conditions

No mentioning of improved performance, so folks with high-end computers may continue to see mediocre performance from Lightroom. I have not even made the step towards 2.1 (mostly due to the mixed user feedback), and before I go for 2.2 I will closely monitor the reports of others.

Anyway, if Adobe keeps this pace, we will see Lightroom 4 around summer 2009. ;-)

### UPDATE 05-JAN-09 ###

Looks like this minor release has gone wrong big time, and it looks like you should NOT upgrade to version 2.2. Gordon McKinney was one of the first to report a serious memory leak in LR 2.2 for Windows that seems to be linked to the use of the (improved) Adjustment Brush and Gradient Filters. Adobe has confirmed the existence of this bug. Ouch. Lightroom’s stability has taken a big hit this time, and it seems to affect the system stability as well. Rolling back to version 2.1 or earlier seems to be also a challenge for a lot of users. I will definitely skip the 2.2 release.

As a consequence, emotions are peaking at the Adobe Forums over this mediocre minor release. Adobe had the same problem with version 1.4 which had to be rolled back and was quickly replaced by 1.4.1 which has always been reliable. I agree with the folks who find it bizarre that Adobe is unable to get solid software out 18+ months after the launch of a product. One can’t help thinking that they just throw beta software at paying customers who then do the testing for Adobe.

Meanwhile Adobe reported solid results for Q4/2008, but they will still fire 600 employees. I just hope that they don’t cut too much into the Lightroom team. If they do, they may not be able to fix the revenue problem they are facing (growth was less than 1%). Lightroom is certainly one of the key products that will help Adobe with this.

### UPDATE 03-MAR-09 ###

Adobe has released version 2.3 of Lightroom. If you have been working with the buggy version 2.2, I strongly recommend to update to version 2.3 which seems to be much more solid than version 2.2!

Lightroom 2.1 available

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Just a quick notice – the update to Lightroom 2.0 is now available for download (Adobe registration required). It will update the existing version to version 2.1. I have not done any testing of this version, and based on the mixed feedback in Adobe’s user-to-user forums, I will wait for some time before doing the upgrade.

While Lightroom 2.0 is quite slow lately and sometimes crashes on my system, it still works OK most of the time, thus I do not feel the immediate need for the upgrade. Better wait and see what others are reporting on this new minor release. :-)

BTW, Adobe’s readme file for version 2.1 confirms that they were having issues with memory leaks both in the Library and the Develop module, leading to “decreased Lightroom performance”. I had always suspected this. A bunch of minor bugs have apparently been fixed as well, e.g. (one aspect of) the undo bug, and the crop aspect ratio bug.

Lightroom 2.0 is 20% slower, still buggy

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Summer is a busy time for photographers like me, especially when it comes to weddings. Since the Lightroom update arrived in the mail, I have been using it to process several thousand photos. My verdict: Lightroom 2 is worth it. If you have not experienced this software, it is about time now.

But I came across a couple of “issues” that I would like to share with you. Just so that you are not surprised when you encounter any of these on your computer after the install.

1) Export is about 20% slower than Lightroom 1.4.1

Yep. Lightroom 2 is slower. Definitely. Same system, same workstyle, same disk space, yet the export takes about 20% longer than in Lightroom 1.4.1. On Saturday I had a wedding with 498 shots to be exported (70% from the 1ds II, 30% from the 1d II N), a total of 6,343,441,920 Pixel to be processed. This took 88 minutes on my Intel Core Duo T2300E system with 1 GB of memory on a clean Windows XP SP2 machine only used for image processing. This laptop is certainly not a beast any more, but still a well performing machine. 6.3 billion pixels in 88 minutes – that’s about 1.20 Megapixels per second. Lightroom 1.4.1 did a similar job (764 photos, 75% from the 1ds II, 25% from the 1d II N) at a speed of 1.51 Megapixel per second.

Interestingly, LR 1.3 was exporting at 1.29 Megapixel per second which is pretty close to the 1.20 Megapixel that I see with LR 2.0. Coincidence?

I read somewhere that Lightroom export performance is “largely disk bound”. I think this is partly true, but why should the application be seriously slower on the same system? I imagine that this may be related to the new correction brush and gradient filters simply requiring more computing power. Or the code base of LR 2 is an older, less performant version of LR 1.x.

2) Crop rotate bug

A nasty one. I go to “Develop” mode and click the cropping tool. Then unlock the aspect ratio, crop and rotate the image to whatever I have in mind. Then I go to the next image, never touched before. I notice that the aspect ratio appears to be unlocked from the previous image. I lock it – it says now “original” aspect ratio. But when I try to crop/rotate the image, the aspect ratio of the previous image is used despite clearly being not the original aspect ratio. Only by selecting first “Custom” from the drop down list and then “Original” again will give you the correct original aspect ratio. Bah.

3) Display bug

I edit a couple of hundred images in Develop mode and all of a sudden I am unable to zoom into the image 1:1. I can still see the small preview, but the program won’t load the high resolution image. It just shows a large grey rectangle where the image should be. Work around: Shut down Lightroom and re-start it. (This workaround points to some kind of memory leak in the software. We have seen this in the early versions of version 1, and it got fixed, I think in the 1.1 or 1.2 release.) I’m not a programmer, but I can tell you that 1.4.1 was behaving better in this regard.

4) Lightroom is slooooooow and sometimes even hangs

Not only export is slower (see above), but also using the various tools. The new correction brush reacts too slow; same goes for the gradient filter tool. Not good. Sometimes it takes ages to move from one image to the next; then the hard disk indicator flashes like mad, but nothing happens. This is definitely worse than Lightroom 1.4.1!

In rare cases, the software even “hangs” completely, i.e. it does not respond to user actions at all. Just the sandclock shows. (This happened to me after innocently clicking into the “Exposure” field in Develop mode to make an entry.) You can shoot down the software with Ctrl-Alt-Del, then re-start the system and launch Lightroom again. The software has forgotten where you were when you terminated it, but all the changes are there! At least, that’s not too bad.

I’ve also noticed that sometimes the application won’t start at all. Well, it does start and shows the last image you have been working on, but then the harddisk LED will flash and flash and flash forever. The application is so performance greedy by then that you even have a hard time shooting it down manually. Geez, never seen such behaviour before.

5) Some exported JPEG can not be displayed in Windows file viewer

Huh? The other day I did a quick export of five images to JPEG, all from the same camera, all from the same day, all from the same batch export, yet one of those five JPEGs would not display in Windows File Viewer? I did the export again with the same silly result. Only opening the image in Photoshop and then saving as JPEG solved the issue. Weird. Do I now have to check all JPEGs whether they can be opened by File Viewer?

6) Installed Lightroom Versions Clash

After you have successfully upgraded to LR2, I strongly suggest to remove Lightroom 1.4.1 from your system. I had some weird clashes between the different versions, e.g. inserting a USB card reader with a memory card opened 1.4.1 instead of 2.0! As the interfaces really look similar, I used the import dialogue only to find after a while that it was importing to the wrong software version. Yep, I know – the top left corner mentions the version number, yet I did not really pay attention to it because it was clear to me that it would launch the newest version. Go figure. (Un-installing is also said to increase performance. Need to double-check this myth.)

7) The re-appearance of the TAB problem

Occasionally, using the TAB key in Develop mode will hide the side panels instead of jumping to the next entry field. It happens to me frequently after the Saturation field, when trying to navigate to the HSL/Color/Grayscale section. This was an issue (though much worse) until version 1.2. Could it be that Adobe started to use parts of 1.2 code as base for Lightroom 2?

8) Color temperature setting is still not read correctly

I run all my cameras at a fixed color temperature of 5800 K. I shoot RAW, so I do not really care about this setting. But when I import the photos into Lightroom, the software can not detect the color temperature of the cameras correctly. This is not a new bug. I experienced it with Lightroom 1.4.1 as well. (And yes, I do agree that it is just a minor flaw. With Lightroom, it’s easy to apply the same color temperature to all the images. Yet it gives you something to think about, especially when you are using “auto white balance” on your camera.)

9) Fills your disk faster than you can say “F…”

Not really a bug, but probably not exactly a feature either. After only three weeks of using Lightroom 2.0, I was baffled to see that the folder Lightroom 2 Catalog Previews.lrcat is practically stuffed with files. Right now, Windows tells me: 25,384 files in 21,902 folders, taking up 10.1 GB on the disk. And in most of these countless folder I see exactly one single file? 10 GB is waay too much IMO. Adobe should provide automated tools to reduce that junk to a suitable size. Tell you what: I’m not going to buy a new machine just because Lightroom is too dumb to use the existing space efficiently.

* * *

The members of the Adobe Lightroom user-to-user forum mention tons of other issues, ranging from install problems (install was almost flawless on my system) to weird crashes (I have not experienced any bad crashes, e.g. blue screens, so far). So I guess your mileage may vary.

P.S.: A very good review of all the new features can be found at ArsTechnica.

Lightroom 2 – seriously improved

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

I admit it: I love the new Lightroom 2. Despite its bizarre international pricing, the software is good. Very good.

Install was flawless, well almost flawless. The only flaw was that the software forgot that I wanted an English installation and installed in German (I had selected “English” during the install.) I could change this setting in the program options later. Other than that, I do see improvements across the board.

One of the key improvements is certainly the new adjustment brush that can be applied to the image. Especially the Soften Skin function is worth gold (and the price for the upgrade). It does exactly what the name implies – it softens the skin of the person on the image. Tiny blemishes and skin problems will be reduced significantly without giving the person that dreaded doll-like look. The skin structure remains visible, just softened. You can adjust the size of the brush and its location, even after it has been applied, as well as a couple of other parameters. Then let the brush do its magic.

Here is an example from a wedding I photographed on negative film in 2005 (as per the wish of the couple). The negatives were OK, but the standard scans that came with the film were simply awful. Wrong colors, dirt, dust – in a word: unusable. But look what Lightroom can do with such an image.

Lightroom Soften Skin
Screenshot of Lightroom’s “Soften Skin” function applied to two areas of the face. If the user points to one of the applied brush marks, Lightroom will show the area that will be affected by the tool.
Photo: Mark Zanzig

Christine right before her wedding
Mark Zanzig