On Wednesday, Adobe Labs revealed the public beta of Lightroom 3. It’s a nice piece of software, albeit rough around the edges. It’s clearly not ready for every day production work, but it is nice to play with and give the new image engine a try. Adobe’s completely overhauled the RAW conversion for demosaic, noise reduction, and sharpening. The result are images that can be starkly different from previous versions of Lightroom.
Sony users have long criticized Adobe for their handling of noise reduction, and it looks like Adobe has taken these claims seriously. Their competition, which is CaptureOne, DxO Optics, Bibble, etc may have had better image quality at one point or another, but the big deal about Lightroom is the overall workflow. I used to use Bibble in the past, but I switched to Lightroom around version 1.0 because the organizational features were superior. I’ve stuck with it since.
I’m pleased with the results I’ve been getting by running some of my old a700 files (and new ones) through LR 3. Even without luminance noise reduction the image quality is a lot better. I can use another tool to reduce luma noise in the interim.
I’m still on the lookout for distortion correction, which I hope will arrive in lightroom some day, but doesn’t appear to be in the 3.0 release. Still, for what they aimed to do in the 3.0 release, it looks like they’ve hit a solid double so far. Now they just need the luminance reduction to drive in the runner and I think they’ll get a lot of people back into their camp (or keep potential switchers).