Here are some of the features I have enjoyed recently in using Adobe's Lightroom picture browsing software. From top left are screen shots of the Library, Develop, and Print functions.
Adobe is working out the bugs on a new image management system called Lightroom. Now in the Beta 2 stages of development, users can become involved in having a bit of input on what works best for the product prior to commercial release. Lightroom is one of the more innovative and interesting projects at Adobe since the giant software company bought up Macromedia more than a year ago.
According to a Lightroom PR blurb, the software is an "efficient new way for photographers to import, select, develop, and showcase large volumes of digital images."
There are already a bunch of software programs out there on the market that will do essentially the same thing as Lightroom. Programs such as, Cumulus, Photo Mechanic, and Apple's soon-to-be-released Aperture, are all image browsers that help photographers manage digital files. So, why do we need another system?
I have been experimenting with Lightroom for a few weeks now and there are actually a couple of nice easy-to-use features, such as the print and development functions. More importantly, is that Lightroom, like most Adobe products, is very intuitively designed. If you are comfortable with PhotoShop, Illustrator or other Adobe products, then you will probably find Lightroom easy to use. Adobe's stock-in-trade has always been focused on usability. Putting Lightroom up in a Beta version gives developers some critical feedback they otherwise may overlook. As case in point can be found in the many discussion threads attached to Lightroom's labs. Folks already weighing in about some major issues, such as power drag, that will have to be addressed later on.
Lightroom will not always be available for free, and it is currently only for Macs, but watching the product develop through the Beta stages is fascinating.
The tricky issue for Adobe and other companies wanting to grab a share of the image management market will be pulling people away from systems they are already familiar with. I have been using Photo Mechanic since it first came out and feel very comfortable with the workflow I get out of it. Lightroom, or any other product, will have to compete not only in terms of producing a technically superior product, but always dealing with users like me that creatures of habit.
Read a few reviews of Lightroom by other bloggers