Earlier this evening Adobe released it much waited for update to its picture organisation and RAW processing software now onto its 6th major upgrade.
After doing battle with the Creative Cloud app to allow me to get the update (after waiting a couple of hours nothing was showing up, but talk on Twitter was to sign out and back into the app and it will then allow you to update) I was ready to go.
Lightroom CC upgraded my last Catalog (2015 – I have yearly catalogs) from the Lightroom 5 version without hitch and I was ready to investigate.
Being a typical man I considered the videos and live webinars that were prevalent today to be akin to “the instruction manual” and so I would ignore these and wing it as I consider myself quite proficient around these programs.
Firstly I jumped into the new “Merge to Pano” option as a few days before I’d snapped some files to stitch together. Previously you’d need to export these files to Photoshop, choose from a few confusing options, cross your fingers, put the kettle on and return 5 mins later with a cup of tea to see how badly the pano had been put together. Rinse and repeat until you got something near or just give up. Now however, LRCC handles most of this automatically and quickly even on my 5 year old PC. What is the best thing though? Once the pano is fully rendered (done in the background in something called “Headless mode”) it is not a jpeg or tiff file, but is a fully functional RAW file (a .dng file). This means you can non-destructively change white balance, move the usual sliders etc as if it were a single RAW file straight from the camera. This could be a game changer for many shooters especially those that do wide vistas of spectacular landscapes. For me this could be very handy for the Scotland road trip coming up!
With the sun setting I hoofed it up the road behind me to shoot some more images with pano’s in mind of the landscape behind my house.
One of these next pano’s the small speed boost I’d noticed had disappeared when I’d deployed another new feature “Filter Brushes”. You know that issue with Gradient filters that interfered with your foreground by darkening it too (just like a physical ND grad would) well filter brushes can get around that problem. It lets you mask out (or in) that gradient filter (also applies to the radial filter). My old PC probably isn’t cut out to use this feature too much when used on a 6 image stitched pano!
I usually use NIK Colour Efex for achieving ND Grad effects as the masking is top notch there and judging by what I found in LRCC I will continue to use the NIK plugin for the time being.
Next the “Merge to HDR” option was calling. Without going very far back in my 2015 LR catalog I found a fairly nondescript scene I’d bracketed at sunset at the beginning of the month and ran the process on these 3 files. You are presented with some simple options to do with auto toning and ghosting. I just clicked ok. With Auto toning on LRCC spat out a nice naturally coloured and detailed image, no horrid tone mapping look even if auto toning had basically knocked the highlights down 100% and lightened the shadows by 80%. A small tweak of these and we had something more respectable.
At this time I saw an image from a photographer, whose work I enjoy, where he had tested the same thing but his image was horribly blighted by the tone mapped look. While some people like that style I don’t and this obviously shows that even within just LRCC you can still make an image look like it came straight out of Photomatix. Be careful out there people, step away from the saturation slider and clarity slider when dealing with these HDR powers that Adobe have just made easier to use! Used responsibly, it looks like LRCC will happily produce a nice base file from some bracketed shots which we can then work on for high contrast scenes that require it.
Other random initial 1st hour thoughts about Lightroom CC…
When it comes down to it, after the anticipation, this is a ho-hum update. Some nice speed increases aside, the simplification of HDR and Panos were possible before they have just been repackaged from older Photosop functionality and simplified to the user by keeping them in LR, the killer for these is the RAW file production. The rest of the updates either don’t affect my workflow or are not yet noticeable, or just underwhelming.
Is it worth updating? Well if you subscribe to the Creative Cloud then its a no brainer, as just the speed increases are worth the effort of clicking “Download”. If you still like to buy your software outright then its a more tricky decision, if you shoot brackets for HDR work and like making panoramics then there is enough there to make it worthwhile.