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Main article: Adobe lightroom

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Adobe is bringing Illustrator to the iPad in 2020

17:33 | 4 November

Adobe will be bringing another of its desktop-class imaging and graphics apps to the iPad: Illustrator, which is set for a launch win 2020, the company announced today at its annual MAX conference. Last year, Adobe announced a similar plan to deliver Photoshop for iPad, and that app launched on the App Store early on Monday.

Illustrator for iPad is still in “early” development, the company said, so we don’t know exactly what it’ll look like relative to the desktop version. But it will focus on making the most of touch and Apple Pencil-based input, which are uniquely available to the iPad. As with Photoshop, documents created on one platform will be available in full fidelity to edit on any others via Creative Cloud storage.

The app will be available in a limited private beta beginning immediately, but the group of those with access will remain very tight until Adobe has managed to get further along in the development process. You can sign up now to register interest, however, and maybe you’ll gain access sometime earlier than official launch to help with the beta and building process.

Adobe says it’s already been in touch with “thousands of designers” to understand how best to build them a version of Illustrator that works best for how they use tablets in their work. If the Photoshop for iPad release process is any measure, at launch next year Illustrator won’t offer feature parity, but it’s a starting point for turning the iPad into a true one-stop shop for creative pros who favor an Adobe working environment.

 


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Adobe Photoshop arrives on the iPad

15:51 | 4 November

Adobe has released Photoshop for the iPad, after announcing that it would be bringing its popular professional photo-editing software to Apple’s tablets officially last October. Adobe said that it would be launching the app in 2019, and it has made good on that schedule with the release today. Photoshop for iPad is a free download, and includes a 30-day free trial – after that it’s $9.99 per month via in-app purchase for use of just the app, or included as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

As Adobe said right from the start, this initial version of Photoshop for the iPad isn’t at feature parity with its desktop editing software. It does, however, support Apple Pencil for iPad Pro and more recent iPad models, and it allows editing of PSD files. Adobe says it has focused on features that will benefit from touch and Apple Pencil input on this first release, including “core compositing and retouching tools,” with other improvements, including added support of brushes and masks, as well as things like smart selection, to come later.

For what it’s worth (I haven’t spent any meaningful amount of time with the software), there are features like spot healing and clone stamp that can be highly useful for refining edits on the go available right now. A workflow that incorporates Lightroom on iPad can probably serve pros looking to maximize portability decently well, even if it can’t match the sheer range of things you can do on the desktop just yet. Plus, PSDs you store in Creative Cloud will be available to edit right where you left off everywhere.

Regardless of its current state, it’s good to see Adobe sticking to their schedule for developing and releasing Photoshop on the iPad, even if there’s still work to be done to ensure that it gets to a place where the iPad doesn’t feel like a backup option for when you’re unable to fire up a desktop or notebook computer.

Adobe is hosting its Adobe MAX 2019 conference this week, and there should be plenty of news coming out of that event, so stay tuned to TechCrunch for more from that show.

 


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Adobe’s Creative Cloud app gets a new look

16:00 | 10 October

As Adobe expanded its product lineup and cloud-based services in recent years, its core Creative Cloud app, the desktop app you use to download the rest of the Creative Cloud apps, started to feel a bit limited. Today, the company is introducing a completely redesigned Creative Cloud app that better integrates your Creative Cloud Libraries and offers deeper search and asset management features. With this, the app becomes less of an installer and more of a central command center for your work across Creative Cloud’s applications.

The rollout for this update is a bit odd. It will start in France and Germany today, followed by Japan tomorrow. Customers in the U.S. and elsewhere will see it on their desktops over the course of the next week.

Like before, the core feature of the app is to help you install the rest of the Creative Cloud tools. That’s not changing. But unlike in previous versions, you can now also more easily see what’s in your libraries thanks to a new full-screen management tool that shows you previews of your assets. Adobe says it also made it easier to share libraries with others.

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The Creative Cloud app also now features a Tutorial Hub for learning more about how to use the various CC apps. That’s something Adobe has put quite a bit of emphasis on recently. The latest CC version of Lightroom, for example, now also features built-in tutorials.

The app also lets you manage the fonts you have installed on your machine. Like before, though, it looks like you’ll have to use the web app to search for and select the fonts you want to install. I’m surprised Adobe didn’t build this relatively basic functionality right into the app.

 


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Gnarbox 2.0 backup SSD is a photographer’s best friend in the field and at home

18:06 | 9 October

Working photographers, and enthusiasts who just love taking plenty of pictures, know that even the biggest SD cards can sometimes fill up, especially when you’re working with large file sizes, shooting both JPG and RAW, and shooting 4K video. The solution? A good mobile backup drive. There are a number of options out there that fit the bill, but the newly released Gnarbox 2.0 might be the best of them all, because it works like a miniature independent photo computer in addition to packing speedy SSD storage onboard.

This is the second generation of Gnarbox’s backup solution, and while I used the original, HDD-based version to great effect for a long time, the 2.0 version adds a ton of useful features, including super-fast SSD storage ranging from 256GB to 1TB in capacity, a new OLED display that makes it even easier to use in the field, and a removable battery that means you can pack spares to stay powered up and ready.

Simple, no fuss backup

It’s not the fanciest feature that the Gnarbox 2.0 offers, but it might be the one you use most: Quick and painless backup of SD cards. There’s an SD port on the device itself that can transfer at speeds up of to 75MB/s, and it has USB-C ports that can transfer direct from cameras or from card readers at up to 350MB/s depending on their transfer capabilities. When you plug in an SD card or camera, you get an option on the screen to totally back up the contents of the attached drive with one click, which makes it incredibly easy to dump and delete and clear up space to keep shooting.

Gnarbox 2.0 6

During a 9-day trip that included two events and a vacation to shoot, I made frequent use of this feature. Shooting with the new Sony A7R IV in both RAW and JPG, even my 128GB SD + 64GB SD backup cards filled up pretty quickly, but I would just slide one of the cards into the Gnarbox’s slot and hit the backup button before changing venues and it’d be fully backed up within a few minutes.

In my experience, this process has been rock-solid reliable, and gives me effectively 10x the space for a shoot vs. just relying on my cards alone (I don’t typically have a similar sized backup SD card on the road, let alone 10). By default, the Gnarbox 2.0 stores all your media in backup folders organized by capture date, too, which makes them super easy to sort through once you get back to base.

A mobile review and rating machine

Once all that great capture content is on your Gnarbox 2.0, you can also very easily connect to the drive using Gnarbox’s mobile apps to either review what you’ve got, or go through and rate your photos quickly to make the process of working through them once you’re installed at your workstation easier.

There are two apps from Gnarbox available right now, including Gnarbox Safekeep and Gnarbox Selects. Safekeep gives you access to all your device’s settings and can also act as a file browser for shuttling photos between apps. But Selects is probably what you’re going to be using most – it not only offers fast RAW previews (compatible with every major camera’s RAW formats) but also lets you quickly add ratings, keyboard tags and more to make sure your collection is primed for edit when you get back to your desktop.

With Selects, you can review either files on the Gnarbox SSD itself, or on attached memory cards or storage media (so yes, you can use this with something like a Samsung T5 if you’re already using that as a backup solution). All this info will then show up in applications like Adobe Lightroom to expedite your workflow.

This can shave hours off the process of organizing your photos, since it means you can do the rating and reviewing up front without having to wait for everything to import and then trying to recall what you were going for with the shoot in the field after the fact.

Easy sharing from the field

Speaking of saving time, the Gnarbox 2.0 also helps you move more quickly from capture to sharing, which is incredibly useful if you’re working on a live event or doing photojournalism of something happening in the moment. The device supports Lightroom mobile out of the box, meaning you can navigate to it as a source for a new collection and move files over directly when connected to your phone or tablet. This makes it awesome for adding quick edits to RAW files, exporting finished JPGs and sharing directly to social apps and websites.

With Apple’s new iOS 13 filesystem changes, the Gnarbox 2.0 can also be addressed as a mass storage device, so you should be pretty wide open in terms of options for working with various editing software. This is also great for mobile video workflows, since Gnarbox 2.0 works just as well for storing video capture as well as photos.

Home workstation companion

Gnarbox 2.0 3The Gnarbox 2.0 is great on the go, but it’s also perfect for plugging in as a home work drive once you’re back from the shoot. I’m reviewing the 1TB version, so the amount of available on board storage is a big advantage here, since it can essentially provide all the space you need to give you all of your working files in one place.

As mentioned, it supports high-speed USB-C transfer, which makes working with the files directly from the drive on your main workstation much more pleasant. That also means you don’t necessarily have to move things over local to get to work, which saves you a step and spares your computer’s disk space.

Gnarbox 2.0 switches to USB Mass Storage mode pretty easily, using the onboard OLED menu system. You do need to make this switch manually however, because by default the USB-C port that it uses to make the computer connection is used for charging the Gnarbox’s battery. Once you’re in that mode, however, it’s as easy as connecting Gnarbox 2.0 to your computer and then navigating to it as you would any other connected mass storage device.

Photos on the drive are organized by capture date, as mentioned (you can customize how it creates its folder structure if you want) and you can also select it as an import target in any photo editing software, like Lightroom or Capture One.

Bottom line

Gnarbox 2.0 5Gnarbox has taken their time to create a thoughtful and thorough successor to their original product with the Gnarbox 2.0. It’s a unique blend of field photo server and mini computer, made more versatile with clever touches like the removable battery packs and dust/splash resistance. Ultimately, there really isn’t anything in the market that can compete with the Gnarbox 2.0 on everything it provides, though devices like WD’s My Passport Wireless Pro and the LaCie Rugged Boss SSD can offer some key parts at lower prices depending on your needs.

At $899 for the 1TB version I reviewed, ($499 and $599 for the 256 and 512GB versions, respectively), the Gnarbox 2.0 clearly isn’t for everyone. It’s a professional tool for a professional workflow, and it’s priced as such. That said, the value it provides for busy photographers who need a companion storage solution with utmost flexibility for working both at home and on the road is definitely going to make it worth the cost of admission for some.

 


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Ricoh’s Theta Z1 is the first truly premium consumer 360 camera

23:05 | 19 September

Ricoh has a well-earned good reputation when it comes to building smart, technically excellent photographic equipment – including the almost legendary Ricoh GR series of pocketable APS-C cameras, which are a favorite among street photographers everywhere. Earlier this year, the company released the Ricoh Theta Z1, which builds on its success with its pioneering Theta line of 360-degree cameras and delivers a step-up in terms of image quality and build that will feel at home in the hands of enthusiast and pro photographers.

The Theta Z1 is what happens when you push the limits of what’s possible in a portable form factor 360 camera, both in terms of build materials and what’s going on on the inside. Like its more affordable, older sibling the Theta V, it shoots both stills and video in 360 degrees – but unlike the V, it does so using two 1-inch sensors – unprecedented for a 360 camera in this category. Sony’s celebrated RX100 series was pushing boundaries with its own 1-inch sensor in a traditional compact camera, and the Ricoh is similarly expanding the boundaries of 360 photography by including not just one, but two such sensors in its Z1. That translates to unmatched image quality for 360 photographers – provided you’re willing to pay a premium price to get it.

Design and build

The Ricoh Theta Z1 feels a lot like previous iterations of the Theta line – it’s essentially a handle with two big lenses on top, which is a pretty optimal design overall for a device you’re mostly going to be using to hold up and take 360 photos and video. It’s a bit bulkier than previous generations, and heavier, too, but it’s still a very portable device despite the increased size.

Ricoh Theta Z1 7

With the bulkier build, you also get a magnesium outer case, which is textured and which feels fantastic when held. If you’ve ever held a pro DSLR or mirrorless camera, then the feel will be familiar, and that says a lot about Ricoh’s target audience with this $1,000 device. The magnesium alloy shell isn’t only for making it feel like it’s worth what it costs, however; you also get big durability benefits, which is important on a device that you’re probably going to want to use in remote locales and off the beaten path.

The build quality also feels incredibly solid, and the button layout is simple and easy to understand. There’s a single shutter button on the front of the camera, just above an OLED display that provided basic info about remaining space for images or video, battery life and connection status. A single LED indicates both mode and capture status information, and four buttons on the side control power on/off, Wifi and Bluetooth connections, photo and video mode switching and enabling basic functions like a shutter countdown timer.

[gallery ids="1884065,1884067,1884066"]

Using the hardware buttons to control the Theta Z1 independent of your smartphone, where you can remotely control all aspects of the camera when connected via WiFi and using the app, is intuitive and easy, and probably the way you’ll use the Z1 more often than not when you’re actually out and about. There’s little to worry about when it comes to framing, for instance, because it captures a full 360 image, and since you can handle all of that after the fact with Ricoh’s editing tools prior to sharing.

On the bottom, there’s a USB-C port for charging and wired data transfer, and a 1/4″ standard tripod mount for attaching the Z1 to tripods or other accessories. This is useful, because if you use a small handle you’ll get a better overall image, since the Z1’s software automatically edits out the camera, and, to some extent, the thing that’s supporting it. There’s also a small lug for attaching a wrist strap, but what you won’t find is a flap or door for a micro SD card – the Theta Z1 relies entirely on built-in storage, and offers just under 20GB of usable storage.

Ricoh Theta Z1 9

Still images

Ricoh’s Theta Z1 has two 1-inch sensors on board, as mentioned, and those combine to provide an image resolution of 670×3360. The camera caputres two 180-degree fields of view from each lens, and automatically stitches them together in software to produce the final image. The result is the sharpest, most color-accurate still photos I’ve ever seen from a 360-degree camera, short of the kind of content shot by professionals on equipment costing at least 10x more.

The resulting images do incredibly well when viewed through VR headsets, for instance, or when you use Theta’s own 360 viewer for web in full-screen mode on high-resolution displays. They also make it possible to export flat images that still look sharp, which you can crop and edit in the Theta+ app. You can create some truly amazing images with interesting perspective that would be hard to get using a traditional camera.

A769B0EF 55C0 483E 82AE 19EFF4212B2D 3

Indoors in low light situations, the Ricoh Theta Z1 still performs pretty well, especially compared to its competitors, thanks to those big 1-inch sensors. Especially in well-lit indoor environments, like in the restaurant example below, details are sharp and crisp across the frame and colors come out great.

In settings where a lot of the frame is dark or unevenly lit, as in the example at the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo below, the results aren’t nearly as good when operating in full automatic mode. You can see that there is some blur in the parts of the scene with motion, and there’s more grain apparent in parts of the frame, too. Overall though, the audience is pretty well captured and the colors still look accurate and good despite the many different tones from different sources.

The Ricoh Theta Z1 still does its best work in bright outdoor settings, however – which is true for any camera, but especially for cameras with sensors smaller than full-frame or APS-C. It’s still definitely capable enough to capture images you can work with, and that provide a great way to revisit great events or memories in a more immersive way than standard 2D images can accomplish.

You can adjust settings including aperture to optimize your photo capture, including choosing between f/2.1, f/3.5 and f/5.6, with higher apertures offering higher resolution images. The built-in lens has been designed to reduce ghosting, purple fringe artifacts and flare, and it does an outstanding job at this. RAW capture allows you to edit DNG files using Lightroom, and it works amazingly well with Lightroom mobile for advanced tweaks right on the same device.

Video

The Ricoh Theta Z1 does video, too – though the specs for the video it produces are essentially unchanged from the Theta V on paper. It can capture 4K video at 30 fps/56 mbps or 2K video at 30fps/16mbps, and live stream in both 4K and 2K. There’s a four-channel built in microphone for immersive audio recording, and it can record as much as 40 minutes of 4K or 130 minutes of 2K footage, though each individual recording session is capped at 5 minutes and 25 minutes for 4K and 2K respectively.

Ricoh has tougher competition when it comes to video in the 360 camera game – Insta 360’s One X has been a clear winner in this category, and has led to this camera even finding some fans when compared to action cameras like the GoPro Hero 7 and the DJI Osmo Action, thanks in large part to its fantastic built-in image stabilization.

The Ricoh Theta Z1 just frankly doesn’t impress in this regard. The sensors do allow for potentially better image quality overall, but the image stabilization is definitely lacking, as you can see below, and overall quality just isn’t there when measured against the Insta360 One X. For a fixed installation for real-time live-streaming, the Ricoh probably makes more sense, but video isn’t the device’s strength, and it’s a little disappointing given its still shooting prowess.

Features and sharing

The range of editing options available either via Theta+ or using the DNG files in both mobile and desktop phot editing software for the Theta Z1 is outstanding. You can really create and compose images in a wide variety of ways, including applying stickers and text that stick to the frame as a viewer navigates around the image. Sharing from the Theta app directly works with a number of platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and theta360.com, where you can get embeddable 360 images like those found in this post above.

Ricoh has done a great job making sure you can not only capture the best possible 360 images with this camera, but also share them with others. It’s also leading the pack when it comes to the range of options you have for getting creative with slicing up those 7K spherical images in a variety of ways for traditional flat image output, which is not surprising given the company’s heritage.

Bottom line

Simply put, the Ricoh Theta Z1 is the best 360 camera for still photos that you can buy for under $1000 – even if just squeaks under that line. It’s the best still photo 360 camera you can pick up for considerably more than that, too, given its sensor arrangement and other technical aspects of the device including its selectable aperture settings and RAW output.

The $999.95 asking price is definitely on the high end for this category – the Theta V retails for less than half that, as does the Insta360 One X. But I mentioned the Sony RX100 above, and the pricing is similar: You can get a compact camera for much less money, including very good ones, but the latest RX100 always commands a premium price, which people are willing to pay for the very best in-class device.

If want you want is the best still photography 360 camera on the market, than the Ricoh Theta Z1 is easily it, and if that’s the specific thing you’re looking for, than Ricoh has packed a lot of cutting edge tech into a small package with the Z1.

 


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Adobe Lightroom arrives in the Mac App Store

17:11 | 20 June

The pro-focused photo editing tool Lightroom is now available on the Mac App Store, marking the first major Adobe app to be available through the revamped version of the platform. The title joins the more lightweight Photoshop Elements, but is the sole pro app currently available through the venue. 

Unlike Element’s flat $70 a month upfront charge, Lightroom adopts the company’s shift in recent years toward a subscription-based model, running users $10 a month for continued access. Apple’s clearly excited about the arrival, with Lightroom currently featured atop the App Store home page.

The company’s been making a push for developers to make their wares available through its channels at it pushed toward a more content-focused approach. Of course, the desktop store has been a harder push than its mobile version, given that macOS pre-dated its walled garden by decades in one form or other. Among other methods, Project Catalyst is making it much easier for developers to create apps across platforms.

Lightroom joins other recent big name Mac App Store additions including Microsoft’s Office 365, which utilizes a similar subscription-based approach to monetization.

 


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Adobe Lightroom adds tutorials, shared albums and texture control

16:00 | 14 May

Adobe Lightroom is getting its first new slider in a long time today that helps bring out texture in images. This new feature, which will be available in Lightroom, Lightroom Classic and Camera Raw, is part of today’s May release of Adobe’s photo editing and management tool. In addition, the company is also launching a number of new learning tools inside of Lightroom to help novice and advanced photographers edit their photos, as well as shared albums in the cloud-connected version of Lightroom, as well as a number of other smaller updates.

While Adobe is mostly pushing the new tutorials and other learning features in Lightroom, my guess is that the new texture editing control is what most photographers will be most interested in. The last time, Adobe added a major new tool to Lightroom was the Dehaze feature, and that’s a few years ago now. With Texture Control, which should work quite well in conjunction with Dehaze and the Clarity tool, brings out medium-sized detail in an image, including hair, skin and bark.

Adobe’s work on this actually started out as being all about smoothing, not enhancing texture. Indeed, when you set a negative value on the new texture slider, that will markedly smooth skin texture, for example, and ideally do so without fully destroying all of the finer details in a headshot.

As Adobe notes, the tool isn’t all that dissimilar from the existing Clarity tool. “Clarity is a stronger control than Texture, and that’s a good thing,” explains Adobe’s Max Wendt. “Texture is more subtle, and sometimes you need something stronger. Clarity can bring out changes in larger areas of tonality, and will change the luminance and saturation more than Texture. Texture and Clarity are fundamentally different tools, and they each have their own strengths.”

Another new tool the company is launching today is Defringe, which can be used to reduce Chromatic Aberrations that are still visible after using Lightrooms existing tool for removing these fringes. This feature is only available in Lightroom for Mac and Windows.

Lightroom is also getting shared albums with this release, a feature that was long overdue now that Lightroom, in its non-Classic version, has gone cloud-first.

As for the tutorials and other educational materials, Adobe is adding interactive tutorials, starting with the iOS and Android apps, with Mac and Windows following later). The company partnered with a number of photographers to contribute these, as well as ‘inspirational’ photos. The company also expanded its help section and now offers more built-in tutorials.

 


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Adobe updates Lightroom CC and Classic with improved profile support

16:00 | 3 April

Adobe is launching an update to its Lightroom photo management and editing apps today. We’re not talking about any revolutionary new features but there are a few updates here that’ll make life for photographers a bit easier.

Since the end of last year, there isn’t just one canonical “Lightroom” anymore, of course. With Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC, the desktop version has undergone a split that is taking the software into two distinct directions, with the Lightroom CC version putting its focus on the cloud and next-gen technologies. It’s no surprise then that Lightroom CC is seeing most of today’s updates, but the company is also updating Classic, Camera Raw (the Lightroom equivalent in Photoshop) and the various Lightroom mobile apps.

With this update, Lightroom CC is making it easier to find  ‘profiles,’ which are presets that, at first glance, look similar to filters. That’s partly true, but at its core, they are all about rendering the raw camera data that was captured by the camera’s sensor. Many photographers, though, also use them for creative purposes.

In Lightroom Classic and Camera Raw, these are now part of the Basic panel (and not hidden in the Camera Calibration panel anymore). In Lightroom CC on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and ChromeOS, they are now in the edit panel.

What’s maybe more interesting, though, is that Adobe is introducing six new Adobe Raw profiles and 40 new creative profiles. Among these is Adobe Color, a preset that is now the new default and that is meant to provide editors with a good starting point for their photos. “Since Adobe Color is the new default (but only for newly imported photos), it was designed to work on the widest range of photos and ensures that regardless of the subject, your photo will look great,” the company explains today. Also new are Adobe Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral and Vivid. They all do what their names imply. In addition, there are also four new creative profiles (artistic, black and white, modern and vintage).

Other updates include Lightroom CC for Macintosh and Windows support for network attached storage and Lightroom Classic moving the surprisingly useful dehaze control from its previously hidden position somewhere at the bottom of the menu into the Basic panel. Lightroom for iOS is getting a geometry tab for straightening horizontal and vertical lines and a left-hand editing mode on the iPad. On the Android and ChromeOS side, Lightroom CC is getting a new details tab for sharpening and noise reduction, as well the option to bring that old-school film grain look to your photos and support for a few new cameras.

 

 


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Adobe Lightroom’s auto setting is now powered by AI

20:25 | 12 December

Adobe launched an update to its suite of Lightroom photo management apps today that, among other things, brings a new machine learning-powered auto setting to the service. The new auto setting uses Adobe’s Sensei AI platform to analyze your photo and compare it to the thousands of professionally edited images in its catalog (including, I assume, those in Adobe Stock). Then it uses this information to make your own photos look better.

This update is now live in the latest versions of Lightroom CC, Lightroom CC for iOS, Lightroom CC for Android, Lightroom CC on the web, Lightroom Classic and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).

The addition of this AI-powered tool is very much in line with Adobe’s overall plans for bringing more intelligence to its services. At the company’s MAX conference earlier this year, Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis noted that the company isn’t interested in building a general-purpose AI platform. “We have a very deep understanding of how creative professionals work in imagining, in photography, in video, in design and illustration,” he said back then. “So we have taken decades’ worth of learning of those very specific domains — and that’s where a large part of this comes in. When one of the very best artists in Photoshop spends hours in creation, what are the other things they do and maybe more importantly, what are the things they don’t do? We are trying to harness that and marry that with the latest advances in deep learning so that the algorithms can actually become partners for that creative professional.”

This is obviously the first major Lightroom update since the company split the product into the cloud-centric Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. When it did so, the new Lightroom CC was still missing a few features, but today’s update does bring some of the most-requested tools back to the revamped Lightroom CC. These include the return of the Tone Curve tool, for example, as well as Split Toning (for those of you who just need to have that sepia look). Also new in Lightroom CC is the ability to change the capture time of a photo (in case you once again forgot to change the time in your camera while you traveled across time zones) and a new full-screen view.

 


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Adobe launches a cloud-centric redesign of Lightroom CC

16:00 | 18 October

While Photoshop is Adobe’s flagship product for photographers, its photo management and editing tool Lightroom is probably even more popular among photographers as it allows them to easily manipulate the color and other aspects of their photos. Today, Adobe is launching a completely new version of Lightroom CC that will come as a shock to current Lightroom users. The new Lightroom puts an emphasis on ease of use and cloud connectivity while the old version focused on hard drive-based storage and spawned a cottage industry of YouTube explainers.

I have little doubt that this move will create tremors in the photography community, but let’s get this right out of the way: the Lightroom you currently love (or hate) isn’t going away. It’ll be rebranded as Lightroom CC Classic and Adobe promises that it’ll keep investing in it. Indeed, to underline this point, the company is launching a new version today that, among other things, promises significantly improved performance with faster preview generation, for example.

Adobe director of product management Tom Hogarty tells me that the general idea behind this move is to allow Lightroom to adapt to the new reality of photography, where users tend to take a lot of their photos on their phones — and take a lot more images in general. “We’ve seen a big shift where everybody has a high-quality camera in their pocket,” he told me and noted that what users want today is a powerful tool that allows them to communicate but doesn’t require them to spend a lot of time to learn.

The result of this is the new Lightroom, which — depending on the plan you choose (more about that later) — allows you to save up to a terabyte of your images in the cloud. This library in the cloud then allows you to access all of your images on all of your devices. The company made some steps in this direction in previous years, but it’s now going all out. And because these images now live in the cloud, Adobe can also use its Sensei AI platform to automatically scan and index these photos to make them easily searchable, for example.

If you’re a current Lightroom CC user, then moving to the new Lightroom (which can automatically import your existing libraries when you install it) will feel a bit disorienting. The team pared down the interface to its bare minimum, for example. In the old version, you’d switch between your libraries and the “develop” module to edit your images. That transition is now gone. Indeed, gone are the links to the “library” and “develop” modules (as well as those to the “map,” “book,” “slideshow,” “print” and “web” modules that nobody ever used anyway). In the new Lightroom CC, you simply move between different views (grid, square grid and detail) and whenever you select one of the edit tools in the right sidebar, you’re automatically taken to the detail view with your full-screen image.

Gone are the arduous import procedures that asked you where you wanted to save your images, how you wanted to tag them and similar questions. That import dialog alone spawned hundreds of how-to articles and YouTube videos. Now, you simply select your images, hit “add photo” and you’re done — because it doesn’t really matter where you store your photos. And you can still organize your photos into albums, too, of course — and those albums are now easily sharable, as well.

In your preferences, you can still change the default location of where you want to save your images, but the focus here is actually on how much of your local space you want to dedicate to Lightroom.

Adobe, of course, knows that you’ll likely want to keep certain images local — and you can always do that, too, but the focus here is clearly on the cloud.

As for its user interface, the new Lightroom CC takes its cues from Adobe’s mobile apps. “We’ve spent over three years maturing these solutions,” Hogarty noted, and added that one of the most exciting new features the company added this time was the ability to take raw images with your phone — which is the foundation of Lightroom’s power.

New pricing plans

As noted above, all of this is backed by cloud storage. Current Adobe CC Photography plan users (who pay $9.99/month for a bundle of Lightroom, Photoshop, Spark and Portfolio) will get 20GB of online storage. For an additional $9.99/month, they can get the full terabyte of cloud storage (though for the first year, current users only pay $14.99 for the full bundle).

What’s interesting, though, is that Adobe is also recognizing that a lot of its users only want access to Lightroom. For them, the company is launching a new dedicated Lightroom CC plan for $9.99 a month, with 1TB of storage and access to Portfolio and Spark.

Oh — and if you were hoping for an updated non-subscription version of Lightroom, abandon all hope. Lightroom 6 will be the last stand-alone version of Lightroom that you can purchase outside of the Creative Cloud membership. It’ll be available for the foreseeable future, but there will be no Lightroom 7, and Lightroom 6 won’t see any updates or bug fixes after the end of 2017.

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  2. Adobe_LightroomCC_Intuitive

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Why?

Looking at all of these updates, it’s clear that Adobe is trying to react to the changing landscape of photography. There is still a sizable number of enthusiasts who carry their mirrorless Sonys and Canon DSLRs with them at all times, but that market is shrinking and the future is in mobile photography. There, however, it’s up against the likes of Google, which offers a set of pretty compelling tools to store, search and manipulate images.

By keeping Lightroom Classic around, it’s not forcing anybody to change their ways, but the new version will open up the service to a whole range of users who would’ve liked its capabilities to take their photography to new levels but were previously intimidated by the complexity of Lightroom.

 


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