X-LR is released

My plugin X-LR, which automatically applies Fuji film simulations in Lightroom, went through a great 60 day preview period. A lot of people tested it, especially after it was featured on Fujilove, FujiRumors and the Lightroom Blog YouTube channel.

  • People found very few bugs – but I had overlooked the sepia film simulation
  • People asked about ratings – I added that feature
  • People asked about DR and other camera settings – I added Expert Mode
  • People wanted to run it without the dialog box – I added an option
  • People who use Olympus asked “what about us?” – I may have something brewing….
  • People asked me to release it….

So it’s now released!

 

Lightroom 6.9 / 2015.9

Lightroom 6.9 / 2015.9 came out yesterday. There’s no headline new feature and my interpretation is that it’s mainly to support a number of new cameras.

Fuji in particular have released a bunch of X bodies and a week ago launched their 50 megapixel GFX. After some mixed messages, it had slowly become clear that Lightroom’s main competitor, CaptureOne, was not willing to support the GFX because of its threat to PhaseOne’s core business (spot the conflict of interest!). So Adobe’s speedy support is welcome for owners of this camera, and no doubt for Fuji themselves.

Also included is belated support for PhaseOne’s IQ100 16 bit raw format. This won’t affect many people, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on it (and whispering in a few ears) because I happen to know a couple of IQ100 users who wanted to use Lightroom as an alternative to CaptureOne. It turns out that support was delayed for such an unusually-long time because Adobe was waiting for certain documentation on the proprietary format from Phase One. Let’s not say any more – often the fault lies on both sides or somewhere in between. Anyway, Lightroom’s default colour rendering isn’t as good as one would hope, and it initially produced ugly results with a blown-out sunset photo, but a couple of tweaks in the Camera Calibration tab produced results comparable to CaptureOne. So for the few users of this camera, they now have the option of continuing to manage IQ100 files in Lightroom’s much-superior DAM, and processing in either Lightroom or CaptureOne.

Plugin Preview – jb-X-LR

The profiles in the Camera Calibration tab correspond to Fuji’s film simulations

A few months ago I got my first mirrorless or electronic viewfinder-based camera, a Fuji X-T2, and I have found myself shooting with the “Fuji film simulations” much more than I ever expected.

The trouble is, while you see their appearance in Lightroom’s Import dialog box and briefly in Library, Adobe’s raw conversion then takes over.

But what if you could automatically apply Fuji film simulations in Lightroom? That is what jb X-LR does – read more and download it here.

Note that this is a preview and has the following restrictions:

  1. This preview will expire on April 30, 2017
  2. It should work with any Fuji camera
  3. The preview only works on 5 images at a time

If you want to test it with more than 5 images at a time, email me. If you will definitely try it (as opposed to promising to do so) and provide feedback, good or bad, please contact me by PM or email and I will remove the preview restrictions.

 

CC price rise in UK

I saw a tweet today, oh boy…

Before you castigate Adobe, just think what’s happened over the last few months.

Let’s say you regarded the previous £8.57 as an acceptable price…. Until the Pound went down because of the idiotic Brext vote (yes, I accept some thought about it seriously, but I stand by my description), this meant Adobe US earned $12.68 a month (£8.57 x $1.48=£). So that’s our starting point – both sides are happy with that deal.

Now though, your £8.57 only earns Adobe US $10.80. Restoring their previous $ income means a monthly UK price of £10.07 ($12.68 / 1.26) and they’re putting it up to £10. OK, they won’t use these exact dates and numbers, but this puts into perspective the kind of price rises we’re beginning to see. I’m tempted to add, don’t blame Adobe, blame David Cameron and those who voted for Brexit.

Lightroom 6.8 / 2015.8

Lightroom 6.8 / 2015.8 has just been released.

For CC subscribers the big new feature is the introduction of the Reference Photo view in Develop, and it’s a feature I like very much. It means that you can now split Develop’s central pane between the image you’re editing and another photo. While it looks quite similar to the existing Before/After view, which I use all the time, here the idea to help you adjust the active photo by comparing it with some aspects of an existing picture.

Until now you’ve had to know a rather obscure and cumbersome trick using Lightroom’s second screen with a locked photo. This new Reference Photo feature is much simpler – you just use Shift R to split the screen, and drag the other photo into the left side.

This might be handy in a number of circumstances. For example, you might have a series of pictures and want a consistent look, or you may want to edit a picture so it can be used alongside an older one. I’ve found the feature helps when I correct the white balance of photos taken with extreme ND filters such as Lee’s Big and Supper Stoppers. Since I’ll usually have other pictures taken at the same time without the filter, I can use one as the Reference Photo.

Here I'm editing a long exposure image which has a colour cast due to a 10 stop ND filter. An earlier picture was taken without the filter and is my Reference Photo.

Here I’m editing a long exposure image which has a colour cast due to a 10 stop ND filter. An earlier picture was taken without the filter and is my Reference Photo.

There are a few ways to set the Reference Photo:

  • One idea is to maintain a collection of reference photos and add it to your Favorite Sources

    One idea is to maintain a collection of reference photos and add it to your Favorite Sources

    When you want to use a photo you just worked on, it would still be in the filmstrip and you can often just drag and drop it into the Reference Photo side.

  • If the filmstrip contains lots of photos and you can’t see the one you want, just hit G and find it in Library. Then right click it, choose Set As Reference Photo, and then go back to Develop.
  • Sometimes you want to use a photo from a different folder or collection, so remember the filmstrip has the Recent Sources list. This could let you switch quickly back to a previous folder, or you could add folders or collections to Favorite Sources – such as a collection of sample or reference photos.

Another little feature is Has Snapshots, a new criterion added to Smart Collections and the Library Filter. It’ll be handy in the sense that there’s previously been no ability to find pictures that do have snapshots. But it’s been implemented in such a half-baked way that I’m not sure why they bothered – you can simply find pictures that have snapshots, or those that don’t. What you can’t do is search for the snapshot name, so you can’t find all the pictures with a certain paper profile in the snapshot name, or with a phrase like “final” or whatever. A lost opportunity which I mention just in case you may find a use for it.

 

 

 

LrMobile 2.6

img_1036Lightroom Mobile 2.6 for iOS has just been released. The main change is for the iPhone version which now has a slightly different UI. It’s probably better, but it doesn’t greatly excite me.

But the best thing is that the iPhone app now allows you to update photos’ titles and captions. Finally, finally….

Obviously the phone is a fiddly way to enter lots of metadata, but for odd pictures it’s going to be very convenient. You just go to a picture, change the top menu to Info and you can then edit the title, caption and copyright. I try to use the voice recognition to do the captioning – it’s not very efficient, but it’s fun.

 

By the way, if you want a quick to Lightroom Mobile, check out Julieanne Kost’s new set of videos.

Uploading to Blurb – if it stalls….

Yesterday and again today I tried uploading a book to Blurb. Each time the progress bar never moved, and I was forced to cancel.

So what was wrong? There seemed nothing odd about the images, and I could generate the book as a PDF. The book + cover wasn’t huge, 12×12 inches and 50 pages amounting to roughly 180mb as a PDF, but in any case I am on a fast internet connection (200/20 mbs) and Lightroom was certainly communicating with Blurb as it was able to get the price info from them. It wasn’t clear where the problem lay.

As I know the Lightroom SDK, I eventually decided to edit the preferences file and zap the relevant preferences (mentioned here):

  • Blurb_Currency
  • LayoutModule_blurbUsername
  • pw_pw_com.adobe.lightroom.layout.blurb_blurb_accounts_generic_username

Restarting Lightroom, I tried to upload the book and this time I was asked to enter my Blurb user details and password (which have never changed). The upload then proceeded normally and sent Blurb the book.

Clearly it is unacceptable to leave the user wondering why upload isn’t happening. Equally, assuming the fault is in Lr, I can’t see Adobe putting much time into Book. So if you do apply the above method, make sure you take care – by backing up that preference file before you hack away!

Lightroom 6.7 released

Lightroom 2015.6.7 has just been released with the usual range of new camera and lens support, and a couple of new features. See Adobe’s what’s new page.

Smart Preview Preference

This year it appears that Adobe has been making consistent efforts to improve performance or eradicate bad performance, however you want to see it. use_smart_previewsSo in 2015.6.7 they’ve introduced an option which facilitates a workflow based on smart previews.

You can create smart previews, small proxy versions of your originals, either during import or afterwards in Library. They come in very handy when you go on the road, letting you take along your main catalogue and edit and output existing photos without access to the originals. But smart previews are also quick to adjust, so for a few years some people have been quite ingenious with them. What they’ve been doing is temporarily renaming the original folders in Explorer or Finder, forcing Lightroom to use the smart previews even when their originals were available.

So 2015.6.7 now adds a preference (Performance tab) which makes Lightroom use smart previews if they are available, even if originals are present.

When you zoom in to 1:1 for tasks like noise reduction and sharpening Lightroom will then load the raw data, but for other work it will try to use the smart previews.

I think Adobe should have provided a switch in Develop rather than burying it away in a Preference, but it’s still good that the renaming trick is no more. As this isn’t really a “new feature”, perpetual licence users get this too.

sync

Just say No – or Yes – and check Don’t show again.

Sync

Another change affects how Lightroom Mobile Sync keeps photos on Adobe’s servers. In the past, you added a photo to Mobile by adding it to a collection, and equally when you removed a photo from a synced collection it was automatically removed from “All Synced Photographs” (ie from Adobe’s servers) if it wasn’t in any other synced collection. Simple enough, eh?

This has now changed and it means that pictures removed from all synced collections remain on Adobe’s servers. They aren’t automatically removed.

In itself, this is no big deal – who cares if Adobe are using more cloud storage for you than you actually require? The only downside is the annoying dialog boxes that Lightroom now displays whenever you remove photos from synced collections, delete a collection or unsync it.

To be frank, I think Adobe are overthinking this area. So I simply recommend you just choose No – or Yes, if you wish – and check Don’t show again.

Other

There’s a new Publish Service allowing you to submit your photos directly from Lightroom to Adobe Stock. I’m not sure how interesting this is – it’s royalty free – but you can read more about it here.

Adobe have tested Lightroom CC 2015.6.7 on the new Mac Sierra operating system, but 2015.6.7 on Mac now requires Mac OS X 10.10 or later. I wouldn’t be surprised if this upsets a few people!

 

How can I customise a built-in web gallery?

screenshot 21-08-2016 09.50.19

The user was specifically asking “I am trying to create a web gallery using the Grid Gallery but its Multiple page option only allows 5 or 10 or … items per page. Can I use 12 items per page for this specific gallery?”

How can I customise a built-in web gallery?

If you know your way around your computer’s user folders, and if you can hack a Lua file in a text editor like Notepad or TextEdit, you can certainly change the choices you see in Lightroom (for example see right). You can also change the HTML/CSS if you have those skills. It’s techy, which might deter some people, but it’s not too difficult….

The gallery templates are in C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Lightroom\Shared\webengines\ (Windows) or an equivalent place on Mac – inside the app’s package. Copy the LR-Gallery-Standard.lrwebengine folder and temporarily put it on your desktop. Rename it LR-Gallery-Mine.lrwebengine.

You’ll need to edit galleryInfo.lrweb. Look for the lines:

title = LOC “$$$/AgWPG/Templates/HTML/Standard/Title=Grid Gallery”,
id = “com.adobe.wpg.templates.html5.standard”,

These need to be unique, so change them to:

title = LOC “$$$/AgWPG/Templates/HTML/Standard/Title=Grid Gallery – Mine“,
id = “com.adobe.wpg.templates.html5.mine“,

The drop down box is defined at line 274. If you’ve got this far, you’ll understand how to add extra choices. It’s just cut and paste, but take care with the syntax. That should be all the editing.

Now you need to move the folder into a subfolder called “Web Galleries” which is in the Lightroom preferences & presets folders. Get to this via Preferences > Presets or use direct links:

  • PC: C:\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries
  • Mac: USER\Library\Application Support\Adobe\Lightroom\Web Galleries

So Web Galleries is a subfolder at the same level as Metadata Presets, Print Templates etc (if Web Galleries doesn’t exist, create it at that level), and put LR-Gallery-Mine.lrwebengine inside it. Restart Lightroom and “Grid Gallery – Mine” should be listed. That’s it!

 

Further reading

Sean McCormack’s article Anatomy of a Lightroom HTML Gallery is work reading. And for more technical information, see the Lightroom SDK.

Lightroom 6.6.1 released

screenshot-21-08-2016-09.59.38Two small but important bug fixes are in Lightroom 6.6.1 which has just been released.

One deals with a memory bug that could reduce Lightroom to a crawl on more powerful computers. Version 6.6 introduced a mechanism in Develop to cache files in advance, which meant that loading photos could be dramatically faster. This is really wonderful when I load Nikon D800 raw files on my MacAir with its puny 4Gb of RAM, but unfortunately there was a memory leak affecting those computers with much more memory. So on my main computer, a PC with 48Gb of RAM, staying in Develop for a long time could lead to memory usage rising and rising, and performance dropping so much that restarting Lightroom was necessary. That problem seems fixed.

The other is a printing problem that only affected Macs and meant blues and to a lesser extent greens were not accurately printed by Lightroom 6.6 or Photoshop 2015.5. Adobe had been an early adopter of some new Apple APIs, and it’s hard to know who really bears the responsibility – or rather, the blame. Some people always point the finger at Adobe, of course, and their QA should certainly have detected a problem, but it’s not as if Apple ever admit to their faults! As I don’t print from my Mac laptop I’ve not tested the fix for myself, but I hear from usually-reliable sources that it works correctly.

Other interesting stuff:

  • Support for the Fuji XT2 – already!
  • A new AppleTV app to show Lightroom Mobile photos. I can see the point of this, though I can’t see existing AppleTV owners upgrading to 4th Gen. After all, you’re already able to mirror from a laptop, iPad or iPhone to older AppleTVs. At least that’s what I like doing.

LrMobile 2.4 – big new features

Graduated and radial filters are very intuitive.

Graduated and radial filters are very intuitive.

Lightroom Mobile 2.4 is available on the iOS App Store right now, and it has some exciting changes:

  • Directly import raw files
  • Local adjustments – graduated and radial filters
  • Lens corrections
  • Copyright added to imports
  • Keyboard shortcuts available when iPad keyboard attached

Directly importing raw files is undoubtedly a major development for LrMobile. I must admit though – it just doesn’t interest me. When I travel, I take my laptop and an external hard drive, and I don’t feel like spending money on Apple’s camera connection cable. But clearly mobile hardware is now making such a workflow more practical, and I acknowledge that many others have demanded raw import since day 1. Be careful what you wish for.

This is how Adobe envisage its use:

We’re sure it’s happened to you before: you’re out taking photos (in raw of course) and you capture a real stunner that you can’t wait to share with the world. Until now, you had to either transfer a JPEG version of the file over or you had to wait until you got back to your desktop or laptop. With the raw technology preview, you’ll be able to import raw photos immediately to either your iPhone or iPad, edit them, and then share them, anywhere you’ve got a connection. Our goal with Lightroom for mobile is to make it an indispensable part of your photography workflow, providing the tools that you’re familiar with and the quality you expect in a product that can be with you, no matter when inspiration strikes. With this technology preview, we want to push the boundaries of how photographers around the world work with their mobile devices.

You get all of the benefits of raw, such as the ability to change the white balance, being able to recover blown out highlights, access to the full range of color information, as well as editing an uncompressed file, all using the exact same technology that powers Lightroom on your desktop. An added benefit is that the raw file that you’ve imported into Lightroom for iOS will be synced with Lightroom on your other devices, such as Lightroom for desktop or Lightroom on the web, along with any of the edits, star ratings, or flags that you added.

While importing raw files does nothing for me, I’m much more interested in being able to add graduated and radial adjustments. These are added in a way that will be very familiar, if a bit awkward. First you enable Local Adjustments by tapping the button at the bottom of the screen, then you choose “Linear Selection” or “Radial Selection” on the screen’s left, then you click a little + button at its top. But then the adjustments handle just like in Lightroom Desktop, and the adjustments “round trip” (I guess that’s a verb now) just like any other adjustments.

Incidentally, I think they’ve made a mistake using the technically-correct but ugly and unphotographic names “Linear Selection” and “Radial Selection”. I appreciate “filter” misleads those who use other mobile apps, but filter is what they’re called on the desktop and LrMobile isn’t just for mobile-only folk, you know.

Lightroom 6.6 released

Adobe have just released Lightroom 6.6 / 2015.6 – and it’s a more interesting update than usual. In addition to the new camera and lens support, there are two big changes:

  • Dramatic speed improvements in Develop
  • A “guided” upright mode allows you to control straightening on images

Guided Upright may be what catches the eye, but for me the headline is what Adobe have been doing to boost the speed of accessing pictures in Develop. It’s faster when you initially take a picture into Develop, and Lightroom then loads into RAM the 2 images before and 2 images after the current image, so you should see loading time improvements when you navigate in either direction.

On my 3 year old Mac Air, which I regard as underpowered for the D800 raw files I typically shoot, I would describe the results as dramatic. But the optimisation applies to all types of computer. And this improvement applies to all users, not just those with subscriptions.

As for the other change, Guided Upright, this is an obvious improvement to the existing Upright feature and is limited to CC subscribers. While Upright’s existing Auto setting often appears to work by magic, I often find the other sliders fiddly and unsatisfactory when when Auto doesn’t get it right. So the new Guided Upright method lets you draw up to 4 lines for things that you want to align to 90 degrees. Upright then twists the image accordingly.

  • Apply lens corrections first
  • Draw lines to straighten
  • Maximum of four lines
  • Notices (errors, instructions, etc.) appear at the bottom of the Transform panel
guided_upright-beforeafter

With Guided Upright, you draw up to 4 lines to help Lightroom straighten the image.

Here are the other changes and some important bug fixes:

  • HDR and Panorama Merges
    • Possible when only Smart Previews are available
  • Wacom fixes especially on Windows
    • Pressure sensitivity now works
    • Can drag around in Develop when zoomed in
  • Keyword count for given photo is now visible as a tool tip when hovering over the applied keywords box in the Keyboarding panel
  • In Preferences > Lightroom mobile, there is now a “Pending Sync Activity” information section show uploading and downloading activity
  • Export should be faster, should be noticeable for bulk exports

Nik plugins for free

It’s interesting to speculate why, but yesterday Google announced “Today we’re making the Nik Collection available to everyone, for free“:

Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which we’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.

Google may not have made significant improvements to the Nik desktop apps since they acquired them, but I don’t see any downside here. I’ve always been a fan of Silver Efex Pro, and only really questioned its price. Then Silver Efex 2 came out and Nik halved the price, so that was when I bought, and Google followed up their acquisition by giving existing users the entire suite. Now they are giving it away.

The are two aspects of Silver Efex that I particularly appreciate:

  • Its B&W output is great
    • I don’t think SFX produces better image quality than Lr, but….
    • A different tool makes you make different creative decisions and sometimes you’ll prefer the result from SFX over Lr, and vice versa.
  • It’s a really well-designed application
    • One thing it does get wrong is that setting the Color Filter isn’t obviously the first thing you do. I’d recommend you always visit this panel first.
    • Learn how to use control points both to adjust specific areas and to place extra control points to protect nearby areas.
    • If you also have Photoshop, the best workflow is Lr > PS as a Smart Object -> SFX. This “smart filter” method allows you to revisit and fine tune your SFX work afterwards by double clicking the smart filter – all its adjustments remain editable.

Now it’s free, I can’t see any good reasons why you wouldn’t get it. Can you?

 

My other posts on Silver Efex Pro

 

What story are you telling? The Color Filter is like using lens filters with black and white film and makes a massive impact on the picture’s appearance and your greyscale composition.

blocking

Lightroom Web’s new search tool

web_searchLightroom on the Web, the browser-based sibling of Lightroom Mobile, has a new feature or “technology preview” – a search tool. According to Adobe’s official blog:

To access search, launch Lightroom on the web, and log in. Then, click on the Lr menu in the top left to open the menu and select Technology Preview. Toggling Search on will start indexing your photos, which makes it possible for you to search through your photos….

The functionality will also grow and improve before we release it, adding in the ability to search through an image’s metadata and more, making the search even more powerful and able to find a specific image precisely. Try searching your library for things like food, temples, flowers, animals, and more.

To enable it, follow the instructions above.

search_enableNote that the slider next to “Search” isn’t a bit of decoration as I thought at first. It’s what they mean by “Toggling Search”, so you drag it to the right to enable the feature. Then Apply Changes and you should have the Search box.

It’ll take a while to index your photos and my guess is that this will vary depending on how much you’ve uploaded. I’ve about 2000 photos and it took 20 minutes to go live.

Metadata plus intelligence

It obviously uses metadata for searching, but it also uses recognition techniques. With “Bugatti” it scored 100%, probably as the pics are captioned and keyworded, but with “sheep” 6 of the 9 were right. Of course, one doesn’t know which images were missed.

One tip is to search for singular nouns, not plural ones. “Cars” only found 5 photos, while “car” found plenty more.

Searching for “women” worked pretty well too, even detecting photos of women which had no related keywords. Unfortunately it also picked up some long-haired guys and some bearded blokes in kilts! Adobe had better not launch it in Scotland, if they “ken” what’s good for them.

Here I tried a vague term “mountain” that probably isn’t anywhere in the metadata, and I’d say it did a reasonably-good job of finding matching images.

So it’s interesting technology, and pretty useful for a preview.

web_mountain

Panorama Merge and Spot Corrections

Lightroom 2015.5 is released with the usual round of support for new camera and lenses, tweaks and bug fixes – and a feature that I have wanted ever since Panorama Merge was added – correct handling of dust spot corrections.

This may not be sexy-looking like Boundary Warp, and it’s only described by Adobe as a bug fix, but it should have a big impact on the way we use the merge tool, and it is all about efficiency.

In short, from now correct your dust spots before you run the merge.

Do other adjustments when you want

You’ve always been able to adjust the source photos before or after you run Panorama Merge. Of course, you would generally make better decisions once you can see the full, merged image, but nothing stopped you making adjustments before running Panorama Merge. There was no impact on the merge process, and Lightroom would just use the “most selected” photo’s adjustments.

Dust spots are an exception though. Sadly, until now, Lightroom’s Panorama Merge would ignore any spot corrections when producing the merged picture. What made this particularly annoying was that sensor dust does tend to stick in the same spot (forgive the pun) in each source photo, and it would therefore make sense to clean up one photo, sync your corrections to the other frames, and then do the merging. But because Lightroom was ignoring those corrections, each dust spot would reappear in the merged image and would be repeated however many times that image area was used in the panorama. That’s no fun if you have to correct the same dust spot 13 or however many times it appears.

Correct spots in Autosync mode before merging

And that’s why I like the change to Panorama Merge in 2015.5. It simply respects any spot corrections you have already made to each source photo.

So from now on the most efficient workflow is to correct one frame’s dust spots before merging, then Sync those corrections to the others – or use AutoSync mode if you want to be really efficient. Then Panorama Merge will bake those corrections into the merged image.

Frame by frame

One aspect that is especially welcome is that this process does work at the level of individual images. So spot corrections added to each source photo are applied to that photo’s pixels before the merge ever takes place.

This allows for the many occasions where you can’t simply sync spot corrections to every frame. In the example below I can happily use AutoSync to correct dust spots in the sea and the sky, correcting 11 frames each time I click. But with the building on the left, syncing spot corrections may produce funny results in that area. Alternatively, imagine if the sensor dust moved between shots, or if you wanted to clone out a bird or a plane that flew through the scene. So Panorama Merge allows you to correct each frame individually, if you need, and then merge the results.

Lightroom should be about efficiency as well as about image quality. The more sensor dust spots you have, and the more frames you merge, the more time you save. What’s not to like?

1 one element sticks out

Sensor dust spots will be very obvious in the sky and sea, but I might not want to sync spot corrections into the building. Lightroom is perfectly happy with this and handles each photo’s spot corrections individually before doing the merge.

 

Ten years ago today….

lr1logo

It’s exactly ten years since Lightroom first appeared. As is often my inclination, a scene from Monty Python  comes to my mind. It goes along the lines of OK, apart from helping us manage our photos more efficiently, adjust them better and faster, get prints up on the wall, output pictures to the web, get them off and onto our mobile devices, precisely what have the Romans ever done for us? But of course, that’s the short version of the scene!

Take a look at former Photoshop product manager John Nack’s reminiscences. It’s interesting to see him writing of his “antipathy” towards Apple :

We never looked back, and over the following years, I loved writing about LR kicking Aperture’s ass among pros.

I recall those days very well as I had already written a couple of books and I had been invited to a private UK launch of Apple’s Aperture in November 2005. As a PC user, I remember being repelled by the cult-like whooping when they revealed each feature, and my eyes rolled when one presenter claimed “I’m not buying this for what it is now, but for what it will be at version 3”. But there was no doubt in my mind that it was significant.

For me, though, it wasn’t a matter of faith. Quite the contrary, for a year or more there had been rumours that Apple were working on a “Photoshop killer” and it was interesting to see how closely their diagnosis of photographers’ problems coincided with my own. From 2003-4 digital SLRs were really taking off, and we were managing pictures in one app, converting them one-by-one in another, then having to go into Photoshop to perform routine corrections, and struggling to adjust or output more than one picture at a time. Apple had rightly seen that managing photos was becoming as important as Photoshopping them, and they had also recognised that any solution would unite all tasks in a single application. Fortunately, Adobe weren’t too far behind.

Mac v Windows

usage2015My estimate is that Lightroom use on Mac now outnumbers Windows by 2:1.

This is based on visitor statistics to this site which show 51% Mac, 25% Windows. The balance of 20% iOS and 3% Android is impossible to split between Mac and Windows users, though I’d expect the ratio would be similar.

This 2:1 is very consistent with the trend which had been steadily climbing from 50% in 2012 to above 60% in mid 2013.

While these are only visitor statistics, I think they are representative of Lightroom users, After all, if you aren’t a Lightroom user, you’d be an idiot to visit this site!

That said, I don’t think such numbers are a basis for deciding which computer brand you should buy!

Adobe’s FY2015

adobeq3

Adobe estimate CC subscriptions now account for more than half of their 16.9 million userbase

I always think it’s a good idea to keep a corner of my eye on Adobe’s financial results – after all, it’s goodbye Lightroom if Adobe went belly up. So I notice they just released their  FY2015 year results which appear in line with market expectations and kept the stock price on its upward trend.

One interesting detail in the headline numbers was under “Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Highlights”:

Net new Creative Cloud individual and team subscriptions grew by more than 2.71 million during fiscal year 2015 to 6.17 million.

50% above target

To put that 6.17 million in context, I’ve a post from Dec 2013 saying they had 1.4 million subscribers at the end of FY2013 and were targeting 4 million by now, the end of 2015. OK, published targets tend to be conservative, but it’s still a clear indication of their progress, isn’t it?

35% of user base

Another way to see this 6.17 million is that it represents 35% of their installed base. This comes from slide 22 of their recent investor relations presentation November 2015 where Adobe estimate 16.9 million existing users of CC and CS products. Notice too that 16.9 is up on their May 2013 estimate of 12.8 million (source: investor relations presentation in May 2013).

Of course, you can interpret these numbers however you wish, as signs of their progress, benevolent or not, or as a high watermark. The numbers don’t lie though, do they?

Cropping with Syncomatic

Syncomatic-workflow

Syncomatic is my plugin that syncs metadata and adjustments between files with similar names or within stacks. But one thing has annoyed me ever since I wrote it 6-7 years ago – it couldn’t sync the crop.

I always wanted to do it – why wouldn’t I? – but for reasons best known to themselves Adobe didn’t make crop available and it’s been even more painful since I heard people were using it for a raw+JPEG workflow involving Lr Mobile.

Sadly, possible workarounds involved techniques I disliked, or relied on undocumented features in Adobe’s SDK, and would trigger large and unnecessary backups. And none seemed reliable anyway. So I just kept the idea on my to-do list.

Finally when Lightroom 6 came out someone noticed it included a second SDK method to apply adjustments, so I dug around and saw that it included crop settings. The method is undocumented, and it does only work in Lr6, but it works well enough for crop support to be added in version 2.19 which I have uploaded here ahead of a normal release.

Because it uses undocumented code which I’ve had to figure out, cropping may not be synced correctly in every circumstance, and portrait orientation photos present more difficulties. I’ll continue to work on this area but I may not be able to help you if it doesn’t sync crops correctly for every photo. Still, the worst that can happen is that it may apply an incorrect crop, or none – which seems preferable to never syncing any crop!

The buck stops here

Adobe have just announced an important change to their camera support policy in CS6:

In order to pursue further innovations in image processing and workflow technology, the next release of Adobe Camera Raw (v 9.1.1) will be the final version available for use with CS6.

DNG-infographicsCustomers can utilize the free Adobe DNG Converter utility to receive the very latest camera support for CS6 and older versions of our software going all the way back to Photoshop CS2 and Lightroom 1.0.

In other words, if you’re using CS6 and your new camera only saves photos in yet another variation of its manufacturer’s raw file format, you will first need to re-save the raw files as DNGs. Just don’t blame Adobe for not supporting these new raw file formats in software that’s now 4-5 years old – blame the camera maker for not offering an option to save your photos as non-proprietary DNGs.