Tech & Work

The latest updates to Lightroom and Photoshop pack a punch

The recent updates from Adobe aren't about AI enhancements--instead, they focus on performance and workflow improvements. Here's a look at the highlights.

There's no question that Adobe thinks AI is the future for creative artists and their workflow. So when the latest update to its photography-focused apps were launched, one could assume there was yet another action that the Adobe Sensei AI was set to to handle for photographers. Not this time. The April release for Lightroom and Photoshop focused on performance and user experience. So what can you expect from the latest version of these apps?

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I'll focus more on the updates for Lightroom, as there's more to it in release 7.3 than what Adobe offered for Photoshop.

SEE: Getting started with drone photography (free TechRepublic PDF)

Lightroom performance boost

I've recently updated my editing rig to a more robust CPU and graphics card. I desperately needed this hardware upgrade to speed up my performance in Lightroom and other apps, but I noticed Lightroom still had its moments of sluggish performance. With release 7.3, I'm experiencing faster performance on my computer, especially when I'm using tools such as the Healing/Cloning brush. no stuttering and waiting on the image to render my edits. I can't say the speed boost is night and day in comparison to the previous release, but it's definitely better.

SEE: How to use histograms to improve your photography (TechRepublic)

Dehaze is where it should be

Finally! The Dehaze tool has been moved from the bottom of the Develop module in Lightroom to the top within the Basic panel. THANK YOU, Adobe! When I previously wrote about getting started with Lightroom, I discussed the ease of use when it came to Lightroom's user interface. It was easy to follow the flow of the interface simply by scrolling down. Sadly, the Dehaze option was in the wrong spot. I personally use that option at the beginning of my editing process. I found it annoying to scroll to the bottom of the panel to start my edit flow. Apparently, I wasn't the only photographer complaining about this.

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Camera raw profiles

The Camera Raw Profile option is massively updated. The updates were applied to Lightroom as well as Photoshop to offer better performance when editing raw files and to widen the camera and lens compatibility list.

This setting didn't get a lot of use previously. At least in my own experience, I didn't find it helpful to change the options, because the default was pretty flat in calibration and worked well for most of my jobs. Also, I would forget about it at times because it was at the BOTTOM of the screen, out of sight. Adobe moved this option up and it's easier to access. Not only is it more accessible, you get more profiles to choose from.

The Standard profile is pretty flat and allows a little more freedom in your color grading. With the new release you can choose from more profiles to better fit your needs related to portrait photography, landscape, or monochrome, as well as more creative profiles, such as Modern and Vintage. You can even select a profile that's specifically designed for your camera and its unique processing.

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The beauty of profiles is that they perform the way a Lookup Table (LUT) would perform in Photoshop. As you hover your mouse over the profile options, you'll see a preview of how the image would look. The types of profiles range to fit the needs of the shot captured. For example, the Portrait profile is ideal for headshots, as it's geared more toward softening the skin of the model and softening the background. The Vivid profile really punches up the saturation of your raw images.

Once you select a profile, you can continue your edit process with exposure, saturation, and so forth. This is not to be confused with Lightroom Presets. Presets are available, but when you apply one, the software adjusts the editing settings, such as exposure and contrast, for you.

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Profiles are also available on desktop Lightroom CC, mobile, and the web version. The performance on mobile is impressive. The unified interface between the web, desktop Lightroom CC, and the mobile app can be quite useful. Granted, I'm still not the biggest fan of Lightroom CC. For now, I'll continue to stick with Lightroom Classic, since it continues to look as if Adobe intends to keep it around.

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With all that said, it's important to note that the camera-specific profile features are only for raw images—not the JPG files your camera captured. Fortunately, the other profiles will work with images from your JPG camera, smartphone, and drone. My drone's DNG images were not recognized for the camera-specific option, but the other profiles were available. I'm pretty sure your device and lenses will fit in quite nicely with this release, as it also includes an expanded supported list of lenses and cameras. These camera raw profiles are also available in Photoshop via the Camera Raw filter. Access it via the filter menu or by pressing Shift+Ctrl+A on your keyboard.

SEE: How to create time lapse video from still images on your camera (TechRepublic)

Conclusion

At this time I'm pretty happy with release 7.3. It's an improvement in performance, one that keeps photographers in mind regarding user interface and user experience. I thought Adobe might have a subliminal message of pushing photographers to cloud computing, but this release still gives me hope for a workflow that isn't cloud dependent.

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Your take

Are you seeing any performance difference with the update? Let me know in the comments below or tag me on Twitter and Instagram with your thoughts.

About Ant Pruitt

Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.

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