My Take on Lightroom 3 Beta

NOTE: Info on Lightroom 3 Beta 2 is here.

Adobe has just released Lightroom 3 Beta! Now before you rush out and start downloading I’d like to give you my take on this beta release to help you get off on the right foot.

This is a Beta version, which means it is not the finished product. Beta software is usually stable, but not necessarily bug free. Before you import, please start out by creating a copy of a few folders of photos (already safely backed up) and treat these copies as expendable test files. I don’t expect anything bad to happen to them, but with Beta software there is no reason to take any chances. Think of the Beta release as a way to get a taste for what Adobe has in mind for Lightroom 3, give it a test drive and see what you think. They really want your feedback to incorporate into the final release.

What I’m Most Excited About So Far

  1. Improved rendering. The engineer-elves have added some new magic into LR3 to improve the rendering of our raw photos in regards to noise reduction and capture sharpening. Not finished yet (no Luminance noise reduction right now), but any effort to develop better looking photos gets my vote.
  2. Improved watermarking. OK this may seem like a small thing, but it has been on my list for a very long time. I’m working on a LR3 Beta Watermarking tutorial that should be posted this week. Stay tuned! I’m not quite ready to give up LRMogrify yet though!
  3. Custom Print Packages! Gone will be the days when I have to explain to people why they can’t print 3 different 4×6 photos on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. Woot!

Custom Print Option

There is a lot more to love and a lot more to learn! I’ve got several LR3 Beta tutorials in the pipeline so stay tuned, but let me leave you with some valuable resources:

  1. Go to Lightroom Journal and read all about the Lightroom 3 Beta.
  2. Head over to Scott Kelby’s Blog and see what his top 10 list is all about.
  3. Visit the NAPP Lightroom 3 Beta Learning Center to dive into some tutorials.
  4. Check in with Lightroom plugin developer Jeffrey Friedl about using plugins with LR3 Beta.

OK, you are probably really itching to download the Beta … but please please please take a few minutes to read the Release Notes before you do. No, seriously, just give them a go over for known issues. I’m only trying to help!

OK, this Beta is free to everyone for the length of the Beta program so head over to Adobe Labs and take it for a spin. Check back here for more tutorials and resources in the coming days!

New! Updated tutorials for Lightroom 3 Beta:

This entry was posted in LR3, Photography, Resources, Tutorials, Update and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. Josh October 22, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    I can run LR3 without overwriting my LR2 install, right?

    • Rob October 22, 2009 at 12:12 am #

      Yes you can! The Lightroom 3 Beta will not interfere with LR1 or LR2.

  2. Dave October 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    You have always been able to print multiple images on a single sheet with LR2. It is a bit fiddly and requires some changing of settings within a preset description file but it is possible.

  3. Dave October 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

    Can you paint the NR onto parts of the image like other adjustment brushes? Or is it applied to the whole image? As far as I am concerned there is no benefit to improving the NR if you can only apply it to the whole image

  4. JP October 24, 2009 at 7:39 am #

    Yawn. These are X.1 fixes/updates. Nothing here looks truly compelling as an upgrade. Now I LOVE Lightroom 2, but right now I’m not seeing the feature that is going to pry open my wallet.

  5. Rob October 24, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    re #3: Yes, you are correct. Matt did a nice job of highlighting that kludgy-hack back in Feb:

    But there is a world of difference between native functionality and kludgy-hacks. The implementation in LR3 Beta is exactly what people have been wanting (without having to dive under the hood).

  6. Rob October 24, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    re #4: Noise reduction is applied to the entire image, just like it is in LR2, but the rendering is greatly improved. Noise reduction control via the Adjustment Brush would indeed be a great feature!

    What application do you use that applies noise reduction selectively to only parts of an image?

    Would you be supportive of improvements to the noise reduction functionality if it did a better job of protecting the “good” areas while correcting the “bad”?

  7. Rob October 24, 2009 at 8:35 am #

    re #5: What type of new feature/functionality would you consider wallet prying?

  8. John Geyer October 31, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    I would buy LR3 if had a find similar images so I could weed out dupes. I had this in a Cerious Software program called Thumbs Plus and that was like 7 years ago. It worked great!

  9. Dianne November 2, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    I see this sentence in the promo “The catalog selection dialog has been expanded and improved” but I can’t seem to find out just what that means. One refinement I’d like to see is the ability to create a new catalog without starting totally from scratch with settings/options/keywords/identity plate. Will we have that flexibility in LR3?

  10. Cornelia November 29, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    I want to become a new Lightroom customer. So what is better to do: buy LR2.5 now and later upgrade to LR3?
    Or better start with LR3-beta and buy LR3 from scratch? In the meantime I would miss luminance-functionality. Any more of core-2.5-functionality that is missing in LR3-beta? Or is just the delta of future LR3 vs. 2.5 not yet available in 3-beta?

    • Rob November 30, 2009 at 7:32 am #

      I would choose to buy Lightroom 2 now (then free upgrade to 2.5). We don’t know when the full version of Lightroom 3 will be released. Lightroom 3 Beta is not feature complete and while it has some improvements over 2.5 I find 2.5 to be a more reliable tool for the job for now. In the past, the catalog from the current version will be upgradable to the next, so everything you do in Lightroom 2 will transfer to Lightroom 3.

  11. Robert December 5, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    i want tethered shooting

  12. MB February 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Question: I have LR2. I would prefer not to lod the whole LR3Beta, but rather prefer to wait until the actual version comes out. In the meantime I’m shooting RAW files with my Canon G11 that LR can’t read. Is here a way to take/load a piece of LR3Beta so that LR2 recognizes them? Help! Thanks!

  13. Rob February 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

    Actually, all you need is the latest version of Lightroom 2, which is now 2.6:

    Lightroom 2.6 supports the G11, but the LR3 Beta does not.

  14. jere Carroll March 12, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    I saw in your article about backing up the lightroom catalog that adobe assumes you will already have a backup process for your photos folder. Any hints as to how to do this with out the use of time machine on a mac?

  15. John.B March 15, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Reviving an old thread, since it was recently bumped:

    >> re #4: Noise reduction is applied to the entire image, just like it is in LR2, but the rendering is greatly improved. Noise reduction control via the Adjustment Brush would indeed be a great feature!

    FWIW, that would be huge. The noise reduction I might use on skin tones might be completely different than the noise reduction I would want to use on a background. Not just different levels of NR, but different types of NR.

    >> What application do you use that applies noise reduction selectively to only parts of an image?

    Look at how Aperture 3 does this with their brushes tool, esp. the “detect edges” feature. That sort of paradigm but with exposure, white balance, noise reduction, the works.

    >> Would you be supportive of improvements to the noise reduction functionality if it did a better job of protecting the “good” areas while correcting the “bad”?

    What I need is the ability to mask off layers inside Lr for selective corrections. Without going to Ps and back (and rendering a PSD on top of the raw). I’m not asking to be able to do Ps stuff like cloning an image, just to be able to create layers (or an approximation) that I can use to selectively adjust, etc. Maybe on a hard edge, maybe feathered…

    Basically, anything I can do with Lr I’d like the control to be able to do to just a selected part of an image at potentially even to the pixel level. Not just a spray can tool.

  16. LW April 18, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    For selective editing, check out NIK software. I will be upgrading to Lr3 when it is launched but there are lots of great plug-ins out there that add functionality. For people are ticked off b/c such functionality isn’t already in Lr, meditate on Don Quixote awhile. The fact is Lr3 WILL be the 800 lb. gorilla on the block and everyone [other than Aperture fanboys(people)] will be using it.

  17. pete Thornton May 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    when LR3 finally is finally released, how will i get it to see all my LR 2 work / catalogs??

  18. Rob May 27, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    The final release of Lightroom 3 will upgrade Lightroom 2 catalogs (and Lightroom 1 catalogs too).

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