So Adobe has released Lightroom 3. A full list of changes is available at Lightroom Journal.
While I did not want to update to any x.0 product from Adobe anymore, I admit that Lightroom 3 has a couple of features that really are worth it.
1) Profile-based lens corrections
This is a cool feature. Lightroom recognizes the lens used for the shot and offers a manual correction to the image to correct geometric problems, chromatic aberrations, and vignette effects. It works like a charm, even with Canon’s beautiful L series. Have a look at this image that came straight out of camera from a recent wedding, imported with just the Lightroom standard settings. It was shot with the EF 24-70/2.8L, so the original already looks very good. However, once the lens correction is applied, the image looks brighter and the tiny distortion (e.g. at the church tower) seems to be corrected. In fact, the image looks much better without having even touched it. Good stuff.
Lightroom 3 lens correction applied to a photo straight out of the camera (before/after).
2) Improved noise reduction
Lightroom has always been a champion in the noise reduction department. With Lightroom 3 it seems that they have further improved. Here are two images of the same photo, cropped to reflect 100% size. It was shot at ISO 800, so some noise is visible in the original. But applying a little noise reduction (Luminance 25, Detail 50) gets rid of the noise easily. It’s hard to say by how much this feature has been improved, but it seems that I do not need to “turn up the cranks” as much as I needed to in LR 2.6.1
100% crop from a ISO 800 shot, no noise reduction applied.
The same image, with Lightroom’s noise reduction applied.
As for the overall performance, I have not yet done any tests but will do so and report back. Since I have upgraded to a faster machine, last autumn, I find that exporting images is not the time-consuming task it used to be. Thus, I do not think that Adobe needs much improvement here (though it would be nice to see).