Three Reasons to Upgrade to Lightroom 3


After a months-long public beta, which featured two releases, Adobe has released the final version of their Lightroom 3 software application. Thanks to the long beta, developers were able to make refinements to the application based on user feedback, resulting in an extremely functional, polished, and stable software application. Lightroom 3 boasts numerous compelling reasons for users to upgrade; here are three.

1: Improved RAW Processing & Noise reduction

Thanks to improvements in digital CMOS sensor design, it’s now possible to take photos in very low-light situations. High-end DSLR sensors are capable of ISO speeds up to 102,400.  That's faster than even the fastest push-process black-and-white film stocks, and  it dwarfs the 1600 and 3200 speeds that were the mark of high-end cameras a few scant years ago. Still, with high-ISO shooting, comes noise. Lightroom 3’s improved RAW processing engine does a much better job at noise reduction than Lightroom 2, allowing you to capture cleaner images in lower light conditions, even if you don’t have the cash for a Nikon D3S with an f/1.4 lens.

ISO 1250 Image Processed with Lightroom 2ISO 1250 Image Processed in Lightroom 3
  ISO 1250 image processed in Lightroom 2 (Left) and Lightroom 3 (Right); Click for 100% crops

2: Lens & Perspective Correction

Shoot with an extreme wide angle or fisheye lens? Like to take architectural photos, but find yourself wanting to adjust the perspective of the photos for better results? In the past, to remove distortions in these scenarios you’d have to edit your photos in Photoshop – which was not only a hassle, but also a cost-prohibitive exercise if you didn’t own a copy of Photoshop already. Now these adjustments can be done within Lightroom, without having to leave the program, and without having to make permanent changes to your original photo.

Uncorrected PerspectiveCorrected Perspective
  Unadjusted image (left) and image with a corrected perspective (right)

3: DSLR Video Support

If the DSLR you currently own doesn’t already shoot HD video, chances are that the next one you purchase will. DSLR video is good enough for television production (just ask the producers of House or SNL), and chances are you’ll find yourself shooting some moving pictures with your camera at some point. Now you can view your videos side-by-side with your photos in Lightroom. You’ll even be able to add keywords, ratings, and metadata to videos.

There are plenty of other new features in Lightroom 3 – enhanced performance, faster catalog backups, Flickr export, film grain simulation, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about the new features, or are unfamiliar with Lightroom’s capabilities, please check out the B&H Product Description.

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In CS5 I soft-proof my files before inkjet printing. I start with Camera Raw, and do a lot of the adjusting there, but can't soft-proof in CR, so have to make further adjustments in Photoshop before printing.

In LR3, is soft-proofing available before direct printing? That would be a big advantage over working in CR and Photoshop. If LR3 doesn't have that feature, CR and PS are more convenient than LR since I don't need a catalog to organize my images. As far as I know I can do anything in CR that I could in LR except for the catalog. Why use both?

So what happens to these messages after 6/15?  I posted on 6/20 but whatever I said stayed invisible.  Is this it? 

I've been lightly using it for a week now and it seems to be a slight improvement over LR2... Better NR will be very useful to me, although that's not worth a $99 upgrade.  I still use Noise Ninja anytime I really want to deal with noise, so LR's noise module will only really be used to preview or post to web galleries etc.

So I guess we have to wait for LR4 to get decent sharpening?  Still have to use PS for that.

I guess that's my least favorite feature of Lightroom in general - you still need a copy of Photoshop, even though I use it less often than before.

Evrybody is boo-hah-hahing about Lightroom, amazed at how amazingly good it is.  In the version 3 I looked into you could not email images from the catalog, you could not tell which PSE tags were in metadata and which ones were not, ditto for the reverse.  After studying Photoshop for years, who (besides the Adobe mkting dept) needs sliders and a different correction system, based on more boo-hah-hahing about how GREAT Raw is ?? 

Where are these "amazing fedatures"? 

Signed -  "Unamazed"

I'm upgrading because I want the capability to produce slick presentations of images on DVD backed by a commentary.  I see all the comments about add this and add that but it then becomes more complicated.  For photographers like me who are interested in genuine photographic output Lightroom keeps me honest.  Its like having a darkroom capability which means limited manipulation. Its simple and I really like it and I can spend time on my picture taking and not on software skills. 

I wonder why you are just picking on Adobe.  I guess everyone is just fine paying that MAC incremental everytime they what more money say from like Leopard to Snow Leopard.  Its a little base color change to the animal but the spot for the most part the same.  Their little number changes come out a lot faster than Adobes.  All of Adobes upgrades between full versions numbers are free, they only charge like from 1 to 2 to 3 etc.  If you can't afford this there are freeware items out on the net you can use such as GIMP. Oh, but then you'll complain it doesn't have everything in Lightroom or Aperture or PhotoShop etc.....  Stop WHINING, and pick your tools you like and either buy them or get use the trail or freeware, but stop WHINING.......  It merely shows how infantile you truly are. 

My big beef with LR (other than the sharpness corrections which I can't get to work very well) is how easy it can be to lose all of  your images. Man that was a painful learning curve.

How hard is it to migrate my 20,000 images to LR3?

And the bundle with PS5 is a joke.  I still need to go to PS once in a while, but I am paying for features I'll never use.  

I'd love to hear comments on sharpening in the camera vs LR or PS.  I know everyone says use PS/LR but i'm skeptical, shooting a d-300 with fast glass.

Does anyone know the pros and cons betwen LR3 & Aperture 3? I have not used either program and I'm looking to purchase a photo editing program. 

Thanks for any feedback! 

I have not had LR before, but have been working with NX2, which I have all but given up on because it is so slow.  I have been watching two sets of instruction on LR.  Matt Kloskowski, "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Basic Training," and Seth Resnick on a Luminous Landscape video.  One shows you how to use LR for working on you photographs, and the other shows you how to keep up with your *^%$ Pictures.  I needed a DAM system, and it looks like LR3 is going to be it. I have been working with the Beta for about one month and play on a purchase of the software very soon.

Does not support for my 4 year old and still speedy Apple PPC G5 mutiprocessor tower! :-(

Since LR3 requires Mac users to upgrade to an Intel Mac, this become way more than a $99 outlay of cash - more like a $2099 upgrade.  I think I'll have to wait until other more critical issues tell me it's time to move up.  My Power Mac is doing just fine, and so I'll just have to muddle thru with LR2 for the present.

How long do we have to wait before resellers can offer it for the discounted price at or about $250? 

I have to agree with the nay sayers. These upgrades seem too minimal to justify the charge for this upgrade that Adobe is asking.  The video feature means nothing to me.  If they would have included a photo stiching-panorama function and an HDR function, those additions might get be to upgrade. 


I am a software engineer myself. I own Adobe CS4 and I have been using Macromedia and Adobe products for many years and they all have the same problems: performance is bad, they are not reliable products and they are not intuitive.

I have been suffering from these 3 issues that were never resolved from version to version and Photoshop is well known for getting stuck or freeze. Flash is, I believe, one of the worst eating resources, freezing and do not even try to debug a Flash movie because it will take you forever if you ever get there.

Lightroom, unfortunately, is not an exception. They user interface is questionable for a product that does not have so much functionality if you think about it and It also freezes once in awhile.

It is sad that a product with such a big market share keeps releasing software with such as a lack of quality and good software engineering.

 I do wish they added HDR though.  Photomatix is a bit of a chore.

 Jim, thanks for posting the second perspective correction example.  It's quite helpful - I can now see that if you shoot architectural, that the upgrade is quite worth it.  I'll be trying out the 30 day trial soon enough.

Jim, sorry this is off-topic but I have two film-shooting questions... the first one is where do you find a processing lab that doesn't scratch the film? Everywhere I've sent film, including Kodak, the strips come back with many longitudinal scratches. These don't show up in prints, but my Coolscan picks them up.

Second question is why do you shoot film (I know why I want to)? I've been in theatres where all the lights are above the stage and little or none from the front. I have to expose for faces and tolerate the way-overexposed tops of heads and arms. This was never a problem with film but it's a big problem with DSLR.

Thanks for insight.


I am an aperture user, considering converting...this is not convincing dialogue.  I know this isn't an :aperture vs. LR" post, but anyone have an opinion?

So far Adobe has given me no compelling reason to buy an Intel-based Mac to replace my Power Mac G5 so I can run Photoshop C5 and/or Lightroom 3. I haven't even bothered to upgrade to CS4 from CS3 because I haven't run up against any professional photographic task or graphic design problem that I haven't been able to solve rather quickly with the older software. I use Lightroom 2.7 frequently, but it works for me only on relatively simple shoots where the environment for all of the images varies very little from shot-to-shot. For critical work I just download the files to my desktop, edit them as necessary, and then re-file them in the proper places on my hard drive and backup drives.     

OK, so I'm totally going off only the two examples posted here, I have not yet had opportunity to try it out for myself, nor much less see the final results in print, but from the pixel-peeping I am able to do here, it seems to me like the noise reduction is a bit over-aggressive - does anybody else think so, too?

In the posted samples, the noise in the dark areas certainly is much less and is a nice, desirable result. However, it appears to me that the paint on the chicken and the rope lose some detail - more than I'd really be comfortable with, I think. Again, having only this one example to go against, this is hard to judge, so I'd love to hear from someone who has a little more experience with this...


On my Mac, I hope that this is a better upgrade experience than my upgrade to CS5.  

The command from LR2 to "Open in CS5" failed to launch CS5 (as it had with CS4) and gave me a message that parts of CS5 are mission and to reinstall CS5.

I spent over 6 hours total with Adobe on this issue.  No resolution.

I did a work-around and launched CS5 from my dock.

Apple just upgraded its OS to correct among other things, its connection with CS5. I installed it but the problem still exists.  Anybody else had this problem? 

I totally depend on LR for my post photoshoot workflow. There's nothing out there like it. I started with LR1, upgraded to 2 , used the beta3 and bought LR3 the day it was released. The improvements have been gradual but well worth the $99.00 upgrade each time, in my opinion. I'm surprised at some of the complaints I'm reading here...tell me one program that's as good or does what LR does... Thank you so much Adobe...I'm always excited to see what your going to do next!


Artistic Photography, Inc.

Will LR3 recognize GIF and PNG files?

Is that all the difference between 2 and 3? It seems that I have to wait till v 10 - may be then it will worth upgrading :(

The lens correction is very good, but the database of included lenses is not extensive enough for me.  I have a couple of Tokina lenses and they are not supported.  My only option is to create my own profile for the lenses.  In Adobe Photoshop CS5 there is the ability to download other profiles as they are created but this feature was not included in LR3.  So I need to spend a lot of time creating profiles or buy Photoshop CS5 and hope the Tokina profiles are released.


+1 on the kudos for the noise reduction. For me it works beautifully. I haven't used Noise Ninja since I got the LR3 Beta 2. Well worth 99 bucks for that alone.

If you guys could tolerate a newbie for a moment...I recently downloaded LR3 specifically for the noise reduction. I tried it on several shoots involving ISO 1600 and 3200 shots. Interesting results...way better than elements 7 - I dont currently use any CS version.

I'm disappointed in the tagging/catalog...seems like I will still need something like elements for the front-end organizing and tagging solution. Is that common or am I missing something in LS?

I don't see much improvement with the lens distorison and perspective tool thus for me the upgrade is not all that great.  I do not use the latest and greatest of cameras, so the video has no interest for me.   Did not much better noise reduction than what I get using NoiseNinja.   Upgrade would be an not  must get for me.

I don't find a reason to upgrade to this software.  It doesn't seem very useful for any of my 27 film cameras. 

 I waited to download LR3... after about  an hour of fiddling with it I placed my order for Aperture 3. Aperture 3 works perfectly for what I do.

 yeah...really useless examples - i barely see any difference in the first pair of images and i see none at all in the second pair. i can understand having to rush to make deadline, but if you can't find sample images that illustrate your point, you probably shouldn't include sample images.

and to whomever asked, "torrenting" something basically refers to downloading (or uploading) it for free. which is irrelevant to Lightroom since it's free to download anyway. what you need to pirate to get Lightroom working is not the software, but a serial number.

but i didn't say that. that was somebody else.

Has there been any improvement on the programs functionality in a network storage setup. I have been very frustrated trying to work with Lightroom and my NAS. All my images are stored there but Lightroom keeps losing its way. Adobe support offers no support and tells me that this program is not designed for "network use" Crappy.

RAW conversion is better than LR2 but still not up to the standards set by Capture One or DxO.

And to run LR3 you need to have a fairly new computer as what was sufficient for LR2 needs a big upgrade.

   Oh, by the way, if you're a Mac user and haven't "upgraded" to a machine with an Intel processor and 10.5 or 10.6 then you're out of luck.

  Considering Apple and Adobe have been having a slap fight about Flash content and Apple's formerly solid operating system is locking up and crashing all over the place, I'm not too excited about "upgrading" my machine and O.S.

 Apple OS10.x and Adobe products, the "new" Microsoft!  Whoo hoo, here's my money.

Or... if you'd like to make a valid point in an argument/debate/review, you should probably spell correctly. 

Not impressed!

What am I suposed to be seeing in example 2.?

This forum is about photo editing software, namely LR3  If you want to blast someones spelling or grammar  you should start a spelling and grammar forum

Yeah Adobe never seems to amaze me either. I'll stick with Aperture 3.0.

 The reason they had a "long beta" is to incorporate the improvements in raw processing into Bridge in CS5.  They did so, and guess what?  We have two upgrades to buy!  Heck of a deal for bonus time for the developers at Adobe!

And they made their bonuses by using the ideas from you "beta testers!"

The video feature sounds like an improvement for me.  If I have videos and stills mixed from a shoot, I would like to import and view them at one time with one program.  Then they can be edited to keep the keepers and ditch the junk.  It's still an amazing program for the money.

I agree with Anonymous.  

The biggest shakedown is locking key photographic development capabilities into the CS module.  To process in LED, apply image, real sharp controls, etc., you must have CS.  I would like Adobe to place all of the photo development processes into Lightroom, and let the designers and manipulators of reality have their processes in the Custom Suite modules. 

Before I bought Version 2 less than a month ago I asked Adobe if I should wait for the next version. They said it wasn't even on the release schedule yet. So I bought V2. Surprise!  I called to see if they could work something out other than a $99 upgrade and they said MAYBE ... if I can send them the original receipt ... but naturally I no longer have it since I assumed that registering it designated the date of purchase on their records.  Nope!  I am not a happy camper..

I will gladly torrent this program. Seems to be worth every penny. 

Shakedown is right. They need to learn a little bit about how print packages work. When I offer a customer an 8x10 2 5x7s and 12 Wallets I don't want to have to place each image separately (15 times) I want to place three images. The image they want for the 5x7 might not be the one they want for the wallets and I need to be able to frame/crop them differently since the aspect ratios are different. The only way to get close right now is to duplicate the image once for each aspect ratio but then I still have to place each image independently and this is a clumsy approach to begin with.

For a program that purports to be designed to aid the workflow of people printing that's pretty dumb. You need to let people tag the cells that share an image. Placing an image on one tagged cell automatically fills the other cells that have the same tag. Sizing/cropping the image on one cell automatically adjusts other cells that have the same tag. How easy is that Adobe, and here we are at version 3.0 and Lightroom still doesn't get it.

Does anyone know how does the noise reduction compares to Imagenomic's Noiseware. 

If I don't have to take every noisy photo over to photoshop, this is easily work $99 to me. 

A shakedown to a degree, but no worse than iPhones with irreplaceable batteries or versions of Windows that really are a joke.  At least this stuff works.  For what I do with it, and not so much really, and for the absolute pleasure of its workflow capabilities, I will gladly pay $99.

My staff is absolutely going  nuts  on how great this program is...Adobe never seems to amaze me....  they simply keep getting better and better

While, I'll grant you the two improvements in terms of RAW imaging processing and lens perspective correction, the video support is a real joke.  It simply allows one to link or view a video.  The absence of editing features is a big minus. 

The bottom line is that Adobe made a small incremental improvement but they could have enabled/created many more features.  It's another $99 shakedown of current users - what a business model.

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