Lightroom Recovers Again

For those of us who shoot largish numbers of pictures with digital SLRs there are really two outstanding choices of software to handle your files, Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture. And if, like me, you prefer to use PC rather than Mac, that leaves Lightroom.

Using it, I can take pictures, download them to my PC, rename them, add that essential metadata including keywords, select the best images, add them to my searchable catalogue, adjust the tonal curve, exposure, contrast etc, get rid of chromatic aberration, cut down noise, apply sharpening and do all the really basic things that every image needs before outputting jpeg (or TIFF) files for all my specific uses (web, my clients, image libraries.)  Almost every step is speeded by appropriate presets which I’ve set up and most of the processing takes place in the background as I get on with working on further images.

With Lightroom 2.1 we got  some great tools for dodging and burning images, and as I wrote at the time,  Photoshop was hardly necessary for working with digital images except for a few essential third-party plugins, some of which can also work standalone or as plugins to cheaper  – or even free – image manipulation software.

I do have other software which can do a great job of converting RAW files to images. Phase One’s  Capture One 4 is an improvement on earlier versions, and Nikon’s own Capture NX (I only have Version 1.3.5) has the advantage of knowing more about Nikon files and a few nice touches. But frankly both are a pain to use and lack the superb workflow of Lightroom, as well as many of its features.

So Lightroom has become central to my current work. When LR 2.0 came out I loved the new tools, but was crippled by its slowness at importing files, making jobs that should take minutes into hours.  in the post Lightroom Repaired I rejoiced that the release candidate for 2.1 had solved the problem.

But a similar problem developed with LR 2.2; if, like me you began to make extensive use of the local adjustment tools you soon found that the program seized up, or crashed. There was a very obvious memory leak.

I’ve got used to having Windows Task Manager open and every ten or 20 images having to kill the Lightroom process. Each time it took perhaps a minute or so to get it up and running again and find the image I was working on, so it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was a major pain, especially as writing batches of jpegs to disk would also have the same effect. I could no longer leave the machine writing out a hundred or two files while I relaxed and had a meal.

So I’m very pleased to report that this particular bug has now been squashed in the release candidate for Lightroom 2.3, which I downloaded (133Mb) on Sunday; it has since behaved itself perfectly on my system.

Lightroom is I think a great program, one that is fast becoming a classic for photographers in the same way that Photoshop itself is for graphic designers (and we photographers used around 5% of it because that 5% was as good or better than anything else on the market.)  But I’m very worried about depending for a living on software that is clearly released without proper testing. Two recent major versions with such obvious bugs is more than unfortunate.

2 Responses to “Lightroom Recovers Again”

  1. This is good info. I have yet to understand what Lightroom could do for me that I am not already doing with Capture NX (convert from RAW), Picasa (basic editing, organizing and uploading) and Gimp (more detailed editing).

  2. Basically it saves time by doing things more efficiently rather than doing a great deal they can’t do. If you want to make use of keywords and IPTC metadata (and you should) then LR does this a lot better, and lets you deal sensibly with batches of images.

    Picasa isn’t great for organising images – nothing like the power of proper managment software. I used to use IMatch which is good, but before that, Extensis Portfolio, which was a bit more basic. But using LR makes it a lot quicker and easier.

    Before I was having to use one program to catalogue my work and add keywords and metadata, another to develop the raw file to jpeg and another for the localised editing etc. LR does all this in one place, and also has a lot of time-saving things you can set up to do automatically as presets. Its also easy to select groups of files and apply a setting or set of settings to them all. And it is very fast, with most of the processing going on in the background in any case.

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