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Get Excited About the New Adobe Lightroom CC

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The day is upon us, my friends; Lightroom CC is here. The latest update to Adobe’s excellent photo management tool has arrived, and as cliche as it sounds, it really does offer something for everyone.

While the updates won’t necessarily satisfy hardcore Aperture users (who are still licking their proverbial wounds), Lightroom 4/5 users can easily justify this upgrade as a satisfying mix of under the hood, and hands-on improvements.

lr_splash

First and foremost, you’ll be ecstatic to learn that Adobe has released an independent version of the software in the form of Lightroom 6, available as a physical DVD or as a digital download. Subscribers of Adobe’s Creative Cloud service (that have Lightroom as part of their subscription plan) will automatically receive Lightroom CC, which is identical to Lightroom 6. We all let out a collective sigh when it was verified Adobe would not leave non-Creative Cloud users out in the cold.

The new and improved Lightroom sports several new features, and has included some improvements as well. Let’s go through a few of the highlights and see how they can make your photography workflow a more powerful and efficient process.

Improved Speed

While this is a behind-the-scenes improvement, it’s one of the biggest in this update. Instead of relying on the CPU (central processing unit) for all processing, as with Lightroom 5, Lightroom 6 has added the ability for some computations to be offloaded on the GPU (graphics processor) of your machine, specifically adjustments in the Develop module of the software.

This takes some of the load off of the central processor of your computer, and makes the entire program noticeably quicker. Efficiency through speed!

Photo Merge to Panorama

The new ability to create panoramic photos (multiple photos blended together to create a single super-wide image) directly within Lightroom will probably be one of the most talked about features of the update, along with HDR creation. In Lightroom 5, no “creation” of new pixels was allowed, meaning if you needed to create a panoramic image, you’d have to do it in Photoshop or a third-party piece of software.

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Now, Lightroom allows you to select a set of images, and it will stitch them together with a single click. The detailed controls for this process are sparse, but this is a good thing. You can even have the software automatically crop after the stitch is complete by ticking a checkbox in the creation dialog.

What do you get back after the build is complete? A 16-bit DNG (digital negative) file, a raw format that can be adjusted in the Develop module just like a RAW file. No compressed JPEG’s here.

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The beauty of this process is that unlike the full rendering done in Photoshop, you are giving a very quick low-resolution preview of the image, and it can then be sent to the background, while you work on a different image. The progress of the panorama’s build is viewable in the new Activity Center, which allows you to monitor and control ongoing background processes.

Photo Merge to HDR

The other high profile addition in Lightroom CC is undoubtedly the ability to create HDR (high dynamic range) files. HDR images are created by blending together several shots taken at various exposures, with the intention of pulling the optimal dynamic ranges from each of those images to create a photo that contains a larger dynamic range.

As with creating panoramas, HDR creation was not available in Lightroom 5, and was most often done via a third-party program such as Photomatix, or within Photoshop.

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Just as with panoramic creation, Lightroom allows you to select several files within the software, and merges them together into a DNG file, with no compression. They may be modified with any of the sliders in the Develop module, just as you would do with any RAW file.

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The obvious primary benefit for both the HDR and Panorama creation tools in Lightroom CC is the ability to perform these functions right there in Lightroom, without having to merge the files together in a separate program and then import them back into your Lightroom workflow.

More Precise Adjustment Filters

The graduated and radial filters available in Lightroom are some of its most-used features. They give you the ability to paint on a varying layer of adjustments including color, exposure, and many other options. A common example would be adding a graduated filter in a landscape shot to decrease exposure in a blown-out sky, while maintaining the proper exposure for the foreground.

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Note the red you see here is the new tool overlay which shows you where it is applying on your image. Just like the adjustment brush tool.

One caveat to using these filters before Lightroom CC was that they were all “what you see is what you get” implementations; if there was an object such as a tall building in your landscape image that extended to the top, a graduated filter to darken the sky would also darken the building.

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With Lightroom CC, this is no longer an issue. You can apply a graduated filter as usual, and then use a brush to mask the building so that the effect is only applied to the sky. This adds almost unlimited potential to the filters available in Lightroom.

Facial Recognition

A feature becoming more and more popular in our social-sharing world, facial recognition is well-known in apps such as Facebook, where identifying and tagging friends and family in shared photos is ideal. Lightroom throws its hat in the ring with a new Facial Recognition feature that will allow you to tag people in your photos in a similar manner.

The software will automatically attempt to identify human faces, and allow you to name them for future use. Over time, you’ll build up a database of faces, and Lightroom will begin identifying faces from that database in your newly imported photos.

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The tags that are created from this process can then be converted into searchable keywords in the metadata for the photo, and used as any other keyword could be.

What do you think?

There are several other smaller improvements and enhancements in Lightroom CC, including updates to the Slideshow module, pet eye removal, and tethered shooting, as well as an improved experience in Lightroom Mobile. Just as a reminder, to use Lightroom Mobile you’ll need to have an Adobe Creative Cloud plan that includes Lightroom.

We’ll likely have more in-depth analysis of Lightroom CC’s new features in the coming weeks, but early in the game, what do you think? Are you excited about the upgrade? Did it change your opinion of Adobe’s Creative Cloud direction of thinking? Thanks for reading, sound off in the comments below!

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Tim Gilbreath is a natural light photographer, writer, designer and musician with a love for nature and the outdoors. He's also a retro/pop culture aficionado, and although he was born and raised in Houston, Texas, he has called the Florida west coast his home for the last 12 years.

  • Shawn Conrad

    Unless you are using a retina display or 4k+ monitor turn off the GPU acceleration option otherwise Lightroom will actually be slower and quite frustrating to use. If you actually look into it they only added GPU acceleration to a few sliders and for most people even with a fast GPU it will cause quite a few other issues.

    Even with SLI Titan’s with the option turned on even simple processes in LR were terribly slow and glitchy. For instance trying to show the before version of a photo would at first show the previous image you edited and eventually show the current. Besides general sluggishness things like importing would take FOREVER.

    Lightroom CC was pathetic to use until I turned off the GPU option, now it just runs as slow as the LR5 for better or worse. Trying to compare images for sharpness at 1:1 is still a painfully slow process.

  • marinsd

    I like the features, but the 1.0 program is a little buggy. I did two shoots last week, each with two SD cards. After importing the first card in each shoot, Lightroom refused to import the second card – it just hung until I quit and restarted the program. The same thing happened when i selected only a group of files on a card to import, then tried to do a second, separate import to get the rest of the images. The importer wouldn’t launch and I had to restart the program to get it to run. I will report to Adobe and hopefully they’ll include the fix with the next patch.

  • Phil Shaw

    One of the worst implementations of Lightroom I’ve encountered, and I started with LR 1.0. If you haven’t already installed the LR6, don’t. That’s assuming you got over all the installation hurdles. It is buggy. It crashes, it runs slow. It often can’t be closed out. I have to “force quit” on my Mac. I’ve yet to find anything about it to justify all the hassle. I will probably have to now replace my three year old iMac just to get the damned program to run at all.

  • JKO

    I’ve been using LR for a few weeks now. I have no issues with GPU acceleration that others have mentioned.

  • A2_tha_MFK

    Not my experience Phil and I’m running a 17inch Mac book Mid 09.

    I did have the GPU issue, but since turning it off I can’t fault it. The Pano & HDR features are brilliant. I still also use PTGui & Photomatix Pro, but for straight forward stitching & quick HDR’s it’s a welcome update. Still also prefer to blend in photoshop. But only when I’m thinking of a final print. For all other work it’s all in Lightroom now.

  • Thanks for posting your findings guys, it’s always good to get this information out there, bad or good.

    I don’t have a Retina/4K display, and GPU acceleration has worked perfectly fine for me, I definitely see a marked improvement.

    While I’m not happy with the HDR implementation in this update, overall I felt it was a good upgrade, especially for us Creative Cloud users. Being a CC user, I didn’t deal with any installation issues as mentioned.

  • Day Tooley

    The panorama function is excellent! HDR not so much.

  • Sodrul

    I’m not too sure about the processing speed. Although I have recommended amount of RAM on my laptop I feel LR 5 was running better than LR 6, especially when it’s generating previews. Also LR 6 is requiring 1 gb of VRAM, which I’m not even sure if I have. I also noticed lags around the slider using LR 6 which was supposed to be better than LR 5. Besides the technical issues I feel the new fine tune filter is an awesome edition to LR.

  • Nick Sinnott

    Phil…
    I thought the same…was about to throw my ’13 MBP w/ retina in the garbage, because every time I would open my catalog, Lr would run slow and my computer would literally get too hot to touch within fifteen minutes.

    Finally, found the problem…the facial recognition was running in the background through my whole catalog of 60,000 photos. After I disabled facial recognition, no problems since.

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  • Phil Shaw

    Thanks, I will give that a try.

  • Phil Shaw

    I checked and facial recognition is turned off. The program just runs very slowly and buggy on my iMac. Turning off the GPU processing helps.

  • Try the new function before you diss it! Even people who do not like the overdone “usual” HDR images find it useful. It’s about tone control.

  • I haven’t had any issues. What OS?

  • joe m

    I have the same problems, LR6 is the worst they have make. I have to use it because my new camera raw works with LR6.

  • Geoff Chalcraft

    Does this mean that LR5 will no longer be updated, and therefore not be able to handle raw files from future new cameras as they come along? Not that I’m too bothered, it’s just something to be able to pass on to photographic friends – I use a Pentax, which makes (optionally) DNG files – I don’t need upgrades.

  • I’ve been using the new version of LR CC for about three weeks now and have not encountered any problems. I do have a new PC with 16gig Ram however I do not have the Retina display. So far so good – and I’m really liking the Panorama feature.

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  • Graeme

    I had a problem with the installation, but that has now been fixed. Otherwise no problems and the GPU option has made a good difference, even though I only have a HD monitor. I do have a good GPU card – not one of the standard ones used.

    One annoyance is that Adobe Creative suite keep on starting even though the don’t run at startup option was ticked. Fixed with a change to the startup settings to stop it running. This was also the source of the installation issue.

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  • Adobe’s CC crap really pisses me off. Once you buy into it you’re basically held hostage to Adobe. Pay for life or lose access to all your files the moment you stop paying. It’s pure evil!

    No other software works that way. You’d buy once and were free to use it for eternity at one price.

    On top of that if you didn’t always want the latest features and were happy to upgrade every 2 or 3 versions the price has effective gone up 2x to 8x.

    I’m glad they offer a stand alone version 6 but given that they no longer offer stand alone versions of their other software it’s only a matter of time before they twist the knife and stab you.

  • Todd Walker

    Yes, you are correct. Or you can use Adobe RAW Converter to create .DNG raw files (free also)

  • Geoff Chalcraft

    Thanks Todd!

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