No matter how much the Lightroom ethos is about designing a program for photographers from the ground up, there are still those atavistic folk who want to do things just as they suppose they’ve always done them. So every so often you’ll get people wanting Undo to be Alt-Ctrl-Z because it’s how Photoshop has always worked, forgetting that the vast majority of programs use Ctrl-Z. Others will demand point curves, with RGB channels too, crop tools that behave just like Photoshop, or even the ability to work in Lab mode (eek). And I suspect that’s the underlying – and questionable – reason why onOne has released a preview of “Perfect Layers“:

Perfect Layers is the fast and easy way to create layered files in Lightroom. With Perfect Layers you can create and edit multi-layered Photoshop files directly within Lightroom

For an idea of what you might do with the program, as well as Scott and Matt’s video on OnOne’s site, see Sean McCormack’s Quick look at Perfect Layers.

onOne’s product range has always puzzled me – a jumble of filters they’ve developed and ex-Extensis tools “allowing [photographers] to create the images they want and [cliche alert] get back to what they really love to do: go shoot!” Even if I felt Perfect Layers filled an important gap, I’d question that $160 is “a very affordable and reasonable price” – for $100 the excellent Photoshop Elements 9 can do layers and a whole lot more. Apparently it makes financial sense as part of onOne’s $500 suite, but as I understand it anyone who has the suite would already own the full-blown Photoshop.

In my view a more serious mistake is presenting what is an external editing program as working “directly within Lightroom”, and the connection with Scott Kelby will draw even more attention to this hype. As Jeffrey Friedl points out in his hilariously-caustic The Amazing Marketing Power of Scott Kelby:

But what really surprised me is that no one (but me) called him out for his bald-faced lie. [I don’t think Jeffrey uses Twitter]

Scott knows full well that it’s not “Layers in Lightroom”, of course, because he’s an expert in this stuff in general and he helped develop this specific product, but perhaps the marketing potential of the lie was just too tempting to pass up.

There are some interesting comments on that post, not least from Andrew Rodney which shines more light onto the NAPP (while an awe of it as a business model, I’ve always steered clear of NAPP – mainly because it’s far too much like US commercial TV for my taste).  Scott Kelby’s own post also provides a good laugh as the initially-sycophantic “wow, what I’ve always wanted” posts quickly give way to cries of “King’s new clothes”.

In a way, to describe external image editing programs as “plug-ins” is merely another way of hankering back, in this case to what Adobe called “Photoshop[‘s] rich history of supporting these image processing plug-ins”.  But for a $160 price tag, shouldn’t you be more careful not to mislead the technically-unsophisticated photographer? When Apple pulled the same stunt with Aperture’s “plug-ins”, I proposed we should help out developers when they market false plug-ins – let’s just label them “strap-ons”….


Update – also see Jeffrey’s follow-up Scott Kelby Responds, Dazzling With His Marketing Magic and the misleading Layers in (sorry WITH) Lightroom Follow Up 🙂. A simple “sorry” would have been more honest – it wasn’t just a simple grammatical error that was so outrageous.