Since updating Lightroom to v7, Adobe has been working very hard trying to fix many of the performance issues that so many users have been complaining about for what seems like years. With the release of v7.1, a lot of progress was made fixing some of these issues. In fact, v7.1 had virtually no new features, and focused almost entirely on performance. v7.2 introduced a couple of new features, and you can review those features from my previous post, right here. Once again, there were many performance improvements as well. Lightroom is pretty much at the point now that most users seem pretty happy with the most recent version, at least from some of the conversations I’ve had with my fellow photographers.
One feature that was introduced to beta testers late in the v7.2 release cycle was removed for the “official” release as it wasn’t quite ready for prime time and I’ve been anxiously awaiting it’s comeback…
So, what’s new with the latest v7.3 release? Let’s take a look.
Along with some new camera support, which we would normally expect anyway, and many bug fixes that affected both Mac and Windows users, there are a couple of minor improvements as well.
First up, the Facebook plugin has been updated internally to improve performance. The only noticeable change is that you will no longer be able to add comments from within Lightroom.
Next, the Dehaze functions have been moved to the Basic Panel, which makes a lot more sense. Functionality is identical, just the location has changed.
Face Tagging has undergone some changes and updates as well. The engine has been completely updated to provide much better face detection. Adobe has also added a checkbox that allows you to retain already confirmed faces or manually selected faces when performing “Find Faces Again.”
A minor change, but very much welcomed involved the Tone Curve Panel. Open this panel and you’ll notice right away that the Tone Curve itself is now BIGGER! Yay! It still doesn’t scale when you resize the side panel, but it’s about 25% larger which makes it much easier to place control points and more responsive when dragging those control points as well.
Importing images got some more love this time around as well. Specifically for Windows users this time, importing from a connected device, such as a smartphone or tablet, will see performance improvements, with images appearing as they are scanned rather than waiting until the entire device has been scanned. Once loaded, they are also stored in Lightroom’s cache, for faster scrolling and viewing.
And the big one? Meet Profiles.
What are Profiles? Remember the little used option in the Calibration panel called “Camera Calibration” which housed some less than useful presets you could apply to roughly match your camera’s built in presets? Well, they are now called Profiles. Camera Profiles, specifically. Think of them almost like film in the digital world. A Profile can affect the tonality and color of an image and affects the way RAW data is processed by Lightroom and ACR.
Why the big deal? Well, two things really. First, it’s been moved to the Basic Panel, which makes them much more accessible and more likely that you will remember to think of using them. Second, they are much more powerful than they ever have been before.
Profiles have actually been around for several years, but their use has been limited to mostly power users. Adobe Standard has been the default Profile since the introduction and has provided a great base point to start with when processing your RAW files and helps create consistency across a range of lighting conditions and cameras. Over the years, profiles have been created to match most major camera brands and mimic the “styles” built into most cameras.
What most people seemed to miss was that these profiles, match the JPG preview the camera creates and then embeds into the RAW file. Remember when you first started using LR and the brilliant preview that initial popped up was quickly replaced by a flat looking drab photo? That was back before Profiles were introduced as Camera Calibration and Lightroom showed the embedded JPG preview before it rendered the RAW file. How times have changed!
With Lightroom v7.3, Adobe has introduced several new “default” profiles. Adobe Color, which will be the new default profile moving forward, Adobe Monochrome, Adobe Neutral, Adobe Vivid, Adobe Portrait and Adobe Landscape. Similar to the past, each of these Profiles will focus on the tones typically found in each style of image.
With the release of Lightroom v7.3, Adobe is also adding several new Creative Profiles. These include Modern, Vintage, Artistic and B&W. Yes, B&W. We, the beta testers fought hard for that one. The default Adobe Monochrome couldn’t be changed, but we pleaded with Adobe that photographers shot black & white images, not monochrome images. It’s semantics, I know, but small victories, right? 🙂
Each of the creative profiles have several options so feel free to look around and play. You might be surprised by the results.
How are Profiles different from Presets? Simple. Profiles affect the initial RAW processing and when displayed in LR, the sliders all remain at 0. Giving you much more latitude to adjust as necessary. When applying a preset at import, the sliders take on the value of the preset. If you have an import preset that increases Exposure by +0.5, the slider will be +0.5. If you have a Profile that increases the Exposure by +0.5, the Exposure slider, in Develop, will show 0. This can be important for many reasons, but the biggest one is that you get more latitude with your edits. Plus, you can change the Profile later without affecting the actual edits you’ve made, since they don’t affect the sliders. Also, thinking of the future, Profile developers can incorporate 3D LUT (Look Up Tables) in the profiles meaning they can accomplish things that are simply not possible with the RAW processing engine of LR or ACR.
One of my personal favorite updated in LR v7.3 is the Profile Browser. Click the small set of four boxes just to the right of the Profile drop down box and you will see the new browser.
Here, you can choose, Grid, Large or Test to display and browse the available profiles. Remember, applying a Profile doesn’t affect your develop settings, so feel free to select different profiles to see how they affect your image. At the top of the browser is a list of “Favorite” Profiles. You can add a Profile to your favorites list simply by moving your mouse to the upper right of the preview icon. When you do, you will see a small outline of a star icon appear. Click it and the star lights up and the profile is added to the favorites folder.
You can filter the available profiles by Color or B&W simply by clicking on the “All”, “Color” or “B&W” headings below the Profile name.
My favorite part of the profile browser (and if you haven’t noticed yet, it also applies to the Presets too!) is that as long as you have “Use Graphics Processor” enabled in Lightroom’s preferences, when you hover over a Profile (or Preset) you see a full preview of the Profile (or Preset) in the Loupe view!! No longer do you need to squint your eyes to see the tiny Navigator Panel preview of your presets. Again, Yay!!
Such a huge feature, IMHO.
When finished browsing, don’t forget to click the Close button to close the browser and get back to your familiar Develop panels.
With the release of v7.3, there are still some performance improvements, although most are incremental now and many of the biggest improvements are already implemented, but I understand there are still more to come. I’ll keep you posted with my updates as new versions of LR are released, but the first rule of Fight Club, err, I mean, the LR Prerelease / Testing Group is that we aren’t allowed to talk about the prereleases until they are released.
So, enjoy the latest release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v7.3 and I’ll be back with more when the next release is available too.
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram as well at @McCarthy_Photo and @Elegant_Boudoir too!