Lightroom CC, Lightroom 6 and Capture One Pro

Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6 released

Today, 21st April 2015, Adobe released Lightroom CC – the long-awaited replacement for Lightroom 5. It’s also available as a stand-alone application, called Lightroom 6, which doesn’t require a subscription to the Adobe Photography Programme or the full Creative Cloud suite.

Speed

It’s faster, partly because it uses the graphics processing units (GPUs) inside modern computers to accelerate functions in the Develop module – something that Photoshop has done for a few years. Applying distortion correction, for example, used to slow down work in the Develop module, particularly on laptops – it feels quite a bit snappier now. (Check your settings in the new ‘Performance’ tab of Lightroom’s preferences.) There have also been some rewrites to make other parts of Lightroom feel a little quicker.

Merge to HDR and merge to panorama

Lightroom CC’s raw processing appears unchanged but it does offer the ability to merge photographs to HDR (ctrl-H) and to merge photographs to a panorama (ctrl-M). Earlier versions of Lightroom worked together with Photoshop to achieve similar results but Lightroom now has both functions built in and my early tests suggest that they work quite well.

Other improvements

You now have the ability to fine-tune the effect of a graduated filter by by using a brush, something that has been present in recent versions of Adobe Camera Raw (‘ACR’), the Photoshop plugin that does Photoshop’s raw conversion. Along with that comes an overlay for the graduated filter, which is good for newcomers to that tool – it helps show the direction of the graduated filter’s effect. There’s also an improved slideshow (very welcome) and face recognition, which I haven’t yet tried – I suspect it’ll be a while before we can rely on that feature.

Versions: Lightroom 6 vs Lightroom CC

You can still buy Lightroom as a standalone product (called Lightroom 6) but, despite the misguided ‘cloud’ naming, Lightroom is best purchased as part of the Adobe Photography Plan, which includes Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC 2014. There are still things that only Photoshop can do and, for less than £9 a month, you get full current versions of both Lightroom and Photoshop – that’s excellent value. I call the naming misguided because I still speak with photographers who believe that the Creative Cloud versions of Lightroom and Photoshop somehow run from the cloud or in a web browser. They don’t – they are installed on and run from your computer, just like any previous versions. Amazon has a one-year, cross-platform subscription to the Adobe Photography Plan here one-year, cross-platform subscription to the Adobe Photography Plan here that includes Lightroom and Photoshop. (At the time of writing, £99 including VAT for a year.)

Speaking of misguided naming, Lightroom’s official name became ‘Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’ some time after its initial beta test period but its filename, at least, has now reverted to just ‘Adobe Lightroom’ – a definite improvement.

The rise of Capture One

Over the last few months, we’ve received more requests for Capture One Pro training than for Lightroom training. On one hand, we’re a small company so treat this as anecdotal information and not a large-scale survey; on the other hand, we’ve been using Capture One since version 3, have offered Capture One training since version 7 was released and have seen very little mainstream interest till recently – all our bookings were for training on Lightroom, Photoshop, printing and colour management. The quality of Capture One Pro 8, the current major release, is responsible for much of the new interest. It’s a very well written application that feels complete and solid, providing the strongest ever competition to Lightroom while being very different in its approach and interface.

Is it worth switching your raw converter?

Don’t make the decision to switch between applications based purely on reviews – that should go without saying. If you are an expert user of either Lightroom or Capture One Pro, you’ll likely get better results than most users of the competing application – expertise will almost always be more important than your choice of raw conversion software. (The same goes for expertise vs. new cameras and lenses.) But it is certainly worth downloading and trying the alternative app to see if its approach and interface suit you better. In our experience, photographers often have a very strong preference for one over the other (particularly easy to see when you’re working with a large group of students being shown both applications). If you’re using an application you really enjoy, you’ll get better results with it. Currently, that’s really the best reason to switch.

Training: Lightroom CC, Lightroom 6 and Capture One Pro 8

There are books, online video and ebooks aplenty from the usual sources to help you with all these applications. Some have probably been released already covering Lightroom 6 and CC. One-to-one tuition at your own pace is a different way of learning and also a good way to supplement books and online courses to make some real progress. We’d love to hear from you: call 0333 577 5703 or write to develop@shootraw.co.uk. We’re based in London but travel throughout the UK to provide tuition at your studio, home or office. Professionals, novices and keen amateurs all welcome!