Lightroom 2.0 beta

Abode released a beta of Lightroom 2.0 this morning, which was quite the surprise. The feature list is impressive, but most interesting are:

  • Much better Photoshop integration. Images can now be sent directly into CS3 without requiring an export. It can also send a group of pictures straight through to be merged into a panorama or HDR image. Now they’ve implemented this feature I really don’t see the need for Bridge, Photoshop’s built-in image browser.
  • Localised masking. This is the big, attention-grabbing one – Lightroom can now edit specific areas of images. It’s nicely implemented, although since it links so well into Photoshop I might just use that instead. Well, I say that. In practice it might be quicker to do lots in Lightroom – we’ll see.
  • Smart collections. These are a bit like iTunes’ Smart Playlists. You can configure a bunch of rules, each with individual AND/OR inclusion settings, that give you a very nice way of focussing on specific images. So you can have a dynamically created set of recently-edited images, or anything with the keyword ‘monkeys’ taken last May, with a wide-angle lens. Etc..
  • Dual-monitor support. I’ve got two monitors, so I can have the smaller one displaying an overview of an image as I change particular elements. Or it can show the grid of photos while I edit on the main monitor. My smaller monitor’s colours are a bit dodgy, but it’s still useful as a rough guide.

There’s a fair bit more: export sharpening, better filters, a loupe in the details panel, and the interface has been overhauled and some of the existing features tweaked. A full guide is here.

Scott Kelby etc. have some introductory videos up, and their FAQ has some interesting details. They reckon the full version will be released June-ish, and there won’t be any beta updates between now and then. No word on pricing yet.

I’ve been playing around with it today and they’ve certainly been listening to the feedback. Lots of things work just that bit better, but it’s the Photoshop links that are the most useful for me. There are a couple of bugs, as is to be expected with betas, but nothing show-stopping yet. The program was pretty good already, but v2 adds enough that I can’t see me not buying the upgrade.

Because I own version 1.3 I can invite people to be on the beta program for six months – otherwise you’re limited to a 30-day trial – so let me know if you’d like an invite.