Adobe sets mid-February ship date for Lightroom

After getting downloaded more than 1 million times as a beta, Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom is ready for prime time. Adobe announced that version 1.0 of its photography workflow application will ship on February 19; it’s available for pre-order now.

Lightroom will sell for $199 until April 30, 2007. After that, the price increases to $299.

“Lightroom will not be bundled with the Creative Suite in any way, so this a way for us to say thanks to Photoshop users and our Lightroom beta testers,” said Tom Hogarty, Adobe’s Lightroom product manager. More than 500,000 people helped beta test the program since its beta release a little more than a year ago.

While the Lightroom betas were stocked with features, Adobe added enhancements to all five of the Lightroom modules, Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web.

Photoshop Lightroom’s Library view is your primary dashboard where you can also perform basic editing tasks, add keywords, and group images into collections that make sense for your workflow.

In addition to more advanced keywording tools, Lightroom will also include a Metadata Browser, which provides quick access to images based upon the tags most digital cameras embed into images. The program will also offer an improved ranking and rating system. Also added to Lightroom since the last beta are Clone and Healing tools, which are designed to provide quick fixes that once would have required Photoshop or a full-scale image editor.

Using Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom supports more than 150 native raw file formats, according to Adobe. New camera models to be supported in the initial release include the Nikon D40 and D80 and the Pentax K10D.

Hogarty said that Lightroom fits in between Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CS2. The program looks to solve workflow challenges, so Hogarty expects users will continue to turn to those other programs for editing tasks.

Adobe has also thought of its Elements users. The company will release an import tool that will bring the Elements library into Lightroom when users are ready to make the switch.

The current beta release expires on February 28. Macintosh system requirements are Mac OS X 10.4.3 and 1GHz PowerPC G4 processor or better. Lightroom is a Universal Binary application that will run natively on older PowerPC and new Intel-based Macs.

Unveiled in January 2006, Lightroom was rechristened Photoshop Lightroom last fall. Version 1.0 will enter a competitive field where Apple has already staked out its claim with the workflow management tool Aperture.

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