Lightroom 2 – seriously improved

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

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