Hurtling down the new product chute at high speed is version two of Adobe’s popular photo-editing and organising suite, Photoshop Lightroom.
The company is hoping that with booming sales of high-end SLR cameras, enthusiast snappers will be looking for more sophisticated methods of sorting, categorising, editing and tweaking collections of images scattered over their bulging hard drives.
According to market research bods IDC, digital SLR shipments soared by 41 percent to 7.5 million units between 2007 and 2008, with more users looking to exploit the higher quality images available from shooting photos in the RAW format.
When snapping in the more common JPG format, digital cameras try to guess the best exposure settings as they save them, but the RAW format offers far more flexibility, grabbing the ‘raw’ data off the camera’s sensor and letting users tweak images on their computers later.
Despite the superior control over exposure, many users find dealing with RAW files to be a complicated and fiddly process, but Adobe are hoping that their latest version of Lightroom will ease the pain and encourage more users to start using the format.
“Prices are coming down, so more people with entry-level SLRs are experimenting,” intoned Tom Hogarty, Adobe’s senior product manager tasked with bigging up Lightroom.
“If you pick up the camera for the sake of creating an artistic thing and not just recording a family event, you’ve really taken the plunge into serious photography. Anyone at that level is an ideal Lightroom customer.”
Sporting a revamped interface, Lightroom 2.0 offers new features such as the ability to dodge, burn and other effects to specific parts of a photo and improved non-destructive image editing tools for colour adjustment and enhancement, as well as support for JPEG, TIFF, PSD file formats and over 190 camera RAW files.
There’s also full dual monitor support and new image-sharpening technology which automatically applies appropriate sharpening settings during printing, taking into account factors like the photo’s size and printer resolution.
The new interface has been designed to make it easier to rummage through zillions of files using metadata like the camera or lens used, along with the usual keywords and dates.
Lightroom 2.0 supports 64-bit Windows Vista and Mac OS X and the new version costs $299 new or $99 as an upgrade.