Yes! It's here! Head on over to Adobe Labs and download the Lightroom 3 Beta! Adobe continues its laudable practice of releasing Lightroom as a public beta to get important feedback from its users! Thanks Adobe!
First, a word of CAUTION. This is a true beta. DO NOT use this in production! Make copies of any images you intend to work on inside the beta. There are still known, and perhaps unknown, issues to be ironed out before Lightroom 3 is ready for production work.
Whew! Now that we have the warnings out of the way let's dig in and see what's new!
WatermarksFinally! Useful watermarking comes to Lightroom. The new watermarking functionality let's you use text or graphics based watermarks. You can control the size, position, opacity, color, and rotation. You can also save watermarks so you can choose which one to apply.
Watermarking is available in the Print and Web modules. You can also apply them during export.
Slideshow MoviesLightroom 3 Beta adds the ability to create a movie in H.264 format. The movie will include any music you have chosen for your slideshow.
Print PackagesYou are no longer tied to one image per page when laying out your custom print packages. Now you can use multiple images and different sizes on one page or across multiple pages.
New Import DialogsGetting your images into Lightroom 3 Beta is a whole new and improved process. There are now two different import dialogs: compact and full. The full dialog covers nearly all of the Lightroom interface and will show you where the images are coming from, what images are being imported and where the images are going. Add to these three main areas all of the expected frills such as keywords, metadata presets, backup copies, selection check-boxes, and the ability to save import presets and you have one powerful import tool!
A nice feature of the full dialog is the ability to zoom an image so you can examine it more closely before deciding to import.
The import presets become very useful as workflow enhancers. If you have regular sources of images that you regularly send to the same destination then you can set up the preset and call upon it in the compact mode.
The compact mode of the import dialog is much smaller and quicker.
PublishThis is a great new feature! Lightroom 3 Beta comes with a Publish connection to Flickr. More will be rolled out later (yes, Jeffrey Freidl is hard at work!)
Publish let's you create a connection to an online site (or a folder on your drive). Images added to the publish collection are uploaded to the site. If you make any changes to an image it rejoins the "ready to publish" queue and will upload the changes.
But wait! There's more! Call before..sorry I just got carried away! It's not just a one way street. When comments are posted online they will download into Lightroom and appear with your images!
Stop back in a few days. I'll be posting a short tutorial on using the Publish feature.
Some Develop Module EnhancementsLots of tweaks here. Improvements have been made to the capture sharpening and color noise reduction algorithms.
The problem with the post-crop vignette has been solved by letting you choose whether to vignette using Color Priority or Highlight Priority. Some photographers didn't like the unnatural look of just adding black or white to the edges and this addresses that.
Now I know you try your best to shoot so your images have as little noise as possible. But sometimes we yearn for the days when fast films had visible grain. Enter the Grain Tool! Now you can add as much grain as you like and adjust the size and roughness of that grain. Give your images some texture and edge!
Because so much has changed under the hood, Lightroom 3 Beta introduces the concept of Process Versions. Whenever major changes are made to the RAW processing features, a new Process Version is created. Now, instead of just updating your image automatically, you can choose which Process Version you want. No more mysteriously changing images!
Other TweaksThere are so many things going on here and I've only scratched the surface!
A few simple changes such as the appearance of Collections in the Develop module makes getting to images much easier. Also, filters are now lockable. When you change from one collection to another you can lock the filter so it will apply wherever you go.
Well, this is getting to be a long winded post. I'll be back with more about Lightroom 3 Beta.