Adobe unveils Lightroom; Aperture competitor

Adobe on Monday will announce the public beta release of Lightroom, the company’s answer to Apple’s recently release Aperture. Adobe will release Lightroom as a public beta for the Macinstosh to get feedback from professional photographers before releasing the full version later this year, the company said.

“We see this as the efficient, new way for photographers to import, develop and showcase large volumes of images,” Kevin Connor, Director Digital Imaging Product Management, told Macworld.

The Lightroom beta has an interface more similar to Aperture than any other Adobe application. In Lightroom control panels and tools fade into the background in Lights-Out mode, allowing the image to take center stage.

Photographers also can rapidly scroll through hundreds of images and Quick One-to-One Zoom allows instant magnification of the finer points within the image.

Adobe readily admits that Lightroom does offer some of the same features of Photoshop, but contends that the application also offers a completely new workflow for photographers.

“In some ways this does have some overlap with what Photoshop already does, in particular some of the things photographers do with Bridge and Camera RAW, but it also introduces some new ways of doing things, particularly when you’re dealing with large volumes of images, said Connor.

Using Camera RAW, Lightroom supports over 100 cameras and incorporates raw conversion into the workflow.

Images can also be showcased via slideshows with drop shadows, borders, Identity Plates and different colored backgrounds. The size and position of the images can be manipulated and delivered in Macromedia Flash, Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) or HTML formats, according to Adobe. A variety of templates are offered for contact sheets with the ability to add identity plates or produce a fine art print.

The public debut of Lightroom for Macintosh OSX 10.4.3 will occur at Macworld 2006 on January 10, 2006 in San Francisco at Booth #1307 and is available for free download from the Adobe Labs Web site. Recommended system requirements are Macintosh OSX 10.4.3, 1GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 768 MB RAM and a 1024x768 resolution screen.

Adobe said that regular updates to the software will be posted on the site, feedback will be collected and the final product is expected to be introduced in late 2006. Final system requirements and pricing have not been finalized, according to the company.

For more information, please visit Macworld's first look at Adobe Lightroom.

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