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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Software Review

Adobe strengthen their brand with an update to the popular importing tool. Matt Grayson takes a look at Lightroom 2.

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Adobe have been busy working away in their little boxes and have come up with an updated version of the popular Photoshop warm-up party that is Lightroom.

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2: System requirements


  • Intel Pentium 4 processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit and 64-bit editions)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space
  • 1,024x768 display
  • CD-ROM drive


  • PowerPC G4 or G5 or Intel based processor
  • Mac OS X v10.4 or 10.5
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space
  • 1,024x768 display
  • CD-ROM drive

If you're new to Lightroom you may want to take a look at our review of Lightroom 1 for a feel of the user interface and some of the features that were present on the original.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2: What's new?
Most upgrades have been done in the organisation area of the program while new features are more prominent in the developing module. Lightroom 2 has a new Smart Collections feature for automatically organising photos and will grow and shrink as you organise your images more effectively. It has five preset collection folders for importing images into and will update as you tag them.

High volume import feature with specified pre-adjustments has been enhanced to work faster as has sorting and filtering feature to find your images after they've been filed.

In the develop module, global adjustments such as brightness, clarity, saturation and exposure can now be made locally and a new graduated filter has been added. The graduated filter can adjust colours as well as other features such as brightness, saturation and contrast. The filter is a simple drag and drop system with three bars for strength and positioning. If you want to put the grad at an angle, just drag it in at the one you desire.

Multiple monitor users can rub their hands with glee as Lightroom 2 now supports dual screens. It's accessed using the two small monitor icons in the bottom left of the screen just above the thumbnail previews.

Other features include being able to transfer images to file sharing websites and access to the new Lightroom Exchange to take advantage of the export plug ins and web gallery styles that are available there. Fine art printers that use Leopard Mac will be happy to know that Lightroom 2 has a 16-bit print output.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
The library module is tidier with less applications to confuse you.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
The develop module is pretty much the same but with the added tools.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2: In use
To open a folder of images for use in Lightroom, you have to import from disk in the file option and you then get the chance to name the collection, add keywords, select an export area and add metadata. The images will then load in like a contact sheet on the main window and double clicking one will load it as a large version.

Clicking over into the develop module and the treatment options are down the right side with a histogram at the top and the new tools sat directly below.

The size of the new retouching brush can be adjusted by scrolling your mouse wheel and when it's selected a new window will drop down under the icon on the right. Clicking on one of the options will load that template into the brush and it can start to be applied. A small dot will appear on your image and is a reference for the starting point of your manipulation.

This Venetian mask was behind glass and the image had some glare on it, so I fixed it up using the slider bars of contrast, exposure, fill light and blacks.

I then chose the retouching tool to reduce the exposure on the blue cloth in the bottom left corner and the white mask in the background which adds impact to the main mask in the foreground.

I localised some sharpness on the mask and some contrast before cutting the yellow and boosting orange to boost the colours of the mask even more. Unfortunately, sometimes the system can run a bit slow and fast clicks of the brush can take a while to catch up. When this happened I found that if I was adding a colour, I'd sometimes get a streak of that colour across my image. It turns out that the brush was registering my movement with the mouse as an action despite not holding the mouse button down.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
The original image of the Venetian mask with glare reduced but has a distracting bright white mask in the background.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
After messing with the localised brush, I've dropped the exposure in the blue cloth and the mask, reduced the yellow in the mask but boosted the orange.

The sliders work really well, but can be tricky to get a precise amount using them. Luckily, it's possible to click on the value next to the slider and type it in manually.

The graduated tool is great fun to use and really useful. I got an image of a river and decided to give it a boost. I used a dark blue grad to darken the sky and the bottom left corner of the water has had some contrast added. I also added a hint of yellow to the left side. The grad lines can be closed or opened up and also rotated round to fit angled lines.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
This shot of the Grand Canal in Venice has at midday in searing heat. Haze and flat light abounded so this shot needs a boost.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
Adding a blue grad to the sky, yellow on the left and contrast to the river has given the shot a colourful twist.

One thing I like about the program is that you can go through image after image making slight adjustments and as soon as you leave the image for the next one, all the changes you made are saved onto the picture.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2: Verdict
Until you see the graduated filter working, you won't quite believe how good it is. Of course OnOne software have released Phototools which has graduated filters built in but it's fairly primitive compared to this.

There's no denying how cool this program is and it's great for high volume importing and tagging. The images on the screen are crisp and I like the dual monitor feature for comparing or using the loupe.

If you already have Lightroom 1 then you'll be blown away by the new features and if you don't already have Lightroom at all, the whole thing will amaze you.

Now take a look at the video review of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 here.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2: Plus points
Cleaner user interface
New graduated filter tool
Localised retouching tool using global features
Import large batches with preset metadata and tags
16bit support for Leopard users
Multi-screen option

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2: Minus points
Tool sometimes doesn't register the end of an action
Can be slow at times





Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 costs around £209 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.


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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC & Lightroom CC Review
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StrayCat 17 19.1k 3 Canada
Brief but good write-up Matt. I didn't have Lightroom 1.0, and have been trying 2.0 for a little less that 2 weeks. I'm using it on an old, slow PC, but it's about 4 times faster than Olympus Master 2, so it seems ok to me. Then I read all those negative comments in the forum, and the seeds of doubt were sown, but you've restored my interest in it. Good job.
User_Removed 17 17.9k 8 Norway

Quote:Then I read all those negative comments in the forum

Ignore them Denny.

If you have v2 running 'on an old, slow PC,' then (if you're able Wink) update the PC. You will not be disappointed. I have used LR from Day One and apart from a small 'glitch' with one of the versions (which was rapidly updated) I have never had a problem and have never been let down. It is a great product and v2 is fabulous.
MattGrayson 14 622 3 England
The image on the right is incorrect. It has updated late and was correct at the time of upload. I'll amend it in the morning. My apologies to anyone reading the review in the meantime... Smile
Landlord 14 25 1 Scotland
I'm with Mike on this v2 works for me.
It runs far more slowly on my pc than version 1 and I have a fairly decent pc (AMD 6000+, 3gig, Nvidia 8800 GTS).
Help if it's out there - I am not interested in sophisticated image manipulation but more in line with old-fashioned D&P, will Lightroom be the answer to my prayers or do I have to cough-up for CS-4. I shoot in RAW and could be seduced by HDR capabilities. Hope this is the right forum for this enquiry. Many thanks, Andrew

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