Introducing Project Lightroom

We’re extremely excited to introduce Beta 1 of Adobe® Lightroom™, our new pro photography workflow solution. If you haven’t yet done so, please swing by the Lightroom page on Adobe Labs to learn more & to grab the first preview version. In addition we’ve posted an introductory movie, also available as a podcast via iTunes.
This is anything but a traditional launch, or even a traditional dev cycle, for Adobe. It asks for new thinking not just from Adobe, but from customers as well.
First, the product isn’t finished, and that’s a good thing. Letting a preview version into the wild now lets us engage the broad photography community in a new way. It’s the nature of the beast that just about any 1.0 product will have some shortcomings and rough edges. The thing is, we’re not going to start charging for ours until you’ve had plenty of time to kick the tires & help shape the feature set.
Obviously Lightroom and Aperture aim to tackle a similar set of challenges, and one might say, “Well, you guys are just releasing this beta now because Aperture is in the market.” That’s not the case, actually, as we’ve been planning since early in the project to release a public preview. But even if we were spurred by the release of Aperture, so what? Isn’t it better to break new ground on openness?
Second, we’re not interested in a feature war, trying to pack in more knobs and switches than Photoshop, Aperture, or anyone else. The first public Lightroom release doesn’t contain all the features we’ve considered; in fact, it doesn’t even contain all the features we’ve built. Rather than going for the most features, we’re shooting for the right features
So, when sending us your feedback, you might pause for a moment and ask, “What do I really need? Is the benefit provided by Thing X greater than the complexity it would introduce?” We expect they’ll be things you dig & things you miss, and we want to hear about it. Most impactful, though, will be feedback that zeroes in on just what you find essential.
I frequently hear a few questions about Lightroom:

  1. Who’s it for?
  2. Does it replace Bridge?
  3. Will it be available on its own?
  4. Will it be available together with Photoshop?
  5. Will it be available for Windows or just for Mac?
  6. What will it cost?
  7. When can I get it?

Some answers, in order:
Q. Who’s it for?
A. We like to say that Lightroom is for people who want to spend more time behind the camera than in front of the computer. Many photographers are really technically sophisticated about their camera gear, but they don’t aspire to being computer experts. For the kind of tasks Lightroom tackles, they shouldn’t have to be. They need pro-level power in a fast, streamlined package.
Q. Does it replace Bridge?
A. In short, it depends on what you’re doing and how you like to work. Some shooters will want to use Lightroom together with Photoshop much as they use Bridge today. For them having an interface that’s 100% tuned to a photography workflow, plus Lightroom’s unique features, will mean they use it in place of Bridge. For others, however, the broad range of capabilities in Bridge (e.g. integration with the Suite, previewing PDF and InDesign docs, talking to workgroup management tools, etc.) will make it a better choice some or all of the time. That means we plan to keep enhancing Bridge’s photography workflow chops. You’ll be able to mix and match the tools to suit your needs.
Q. Will it be available on its own? Will it be available together with Photoshop?
A. Yes, Lightroom will be available on its own, and yes, we expect to make it available together with Photoshop. We greatly appreciate the investment pros have made in Photoshop, and we want to make it easy and affordable to keep moving forward.
Q. Will it be available for Windows or just for Mac?
A. Yes, we plan to ship Lightroom on both Windows and Mac. The Mac build happens to be ready to share now, so that’s what we’re putting out first.
Q. What will it cost?
A. We believe there’s a sweet spot between Photoshop Elements and Photoshop, and we expect Lightroom to come in between those tools.
Q. When can I get it?
A. Now! Head over to Adobe Labs and grab the first build. As to when we’ll offer a completed 1.0 version, that depends on your feedback, but we’re expecting to ship later in 2006.
As I say, we’re quite excited now that we can pull back the curtain & show you what we’ve been up to. For us to build the tool you want and need, your feedback is critical, so we hope you’ll visit the Project Lightroom page, click the Community tab, and let us know what you think. It’s going to be a great ride.
* To get the intro movie via iTunes, choose Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast, then paste in
[Update: See also Jeff Schewe’s detailed intro to Lightroom on, as well as his perspective on how Lightroom was developed. The newest episode of Photoshop TV shows off Lightroom (starting around the 20 minute/halfway mark), including some slick GPS integration (0:35 mark). And photographers Peter Krogh, Michael Reichmann, Dan Sroka, and Ian Lyons share their perspectives.]

0 thoughts on “Introducing Project Lightroom

  1. This is so lame..Why is Adobe showing off their stupid “direct to costumer crap” in labs??Labs is supposed to be a place for developer stuff.Not for stupid Adobe to showcase their stupid softwares.
    [Umm… did you miss the part about Lightroom featuring a very modern, modular architecture for developers to extend? We haven’t yet released an SDK (gotta make sure the foundation is dry before building on top of it), but however you slice it, we think Lightroom makes perfect sense for Labs. –J.]

  2. That’s really nice, but I do wonder about one thing though. Since Adobe bought Macromedia why do you use an Apple technology to create the demonstration, with having Flash and all?
    [It’s not an either/or thing. Podcasting with QuickTime is a great way to reach a tech-savvy Mac audience–i.e., the kind of people who’d be interested in a Lightroom beta.]

  3. Great job Adobe (and John of course). The product looks like it fits perfectly where intended. And it’s nice to see Adobe take the road of a public beta release like this.

  4. Way cool! I’ve been reading about Lightroom all morning and, while I don’t own a Mac, it’s all quite exciting. I can’t wait for the PC version to be released. Thanks for all the info John.

  5. I think that some Windows users will follow closely the hardware announcements made by Apple, and might get an inexpensive machine to try Lightroom now!

  6. This kind of openness during development is, in my opinion, one of the most dynamic ways to foster inovation and to bring exciting cutting edge products to market.
    Keep it up.

  7. Just from seeing some of the arrangements of the sliders, I’d like to see some of these features in RAW (ie the color backgrounds on the temperature/tint sliders)

  8. Great! I am glad I waited. To really put it to the test I just imported about 2,000 RAW, TIFF and JPEG images from a back up drive to a new firewire drive using a MAC MINI! Took about 60 minutes total but I used the convert to DNG and import command by date. Very impressive.
    Can’t wait to mess around with the Print module next and load it up on my G4 Powerbook and G5 Server.
    Thank you Adobe!

  9. I don’t get Erik’s comment about Lightroom being inappropriate for placement on the Labs site. Even from the original announcement of Labs, it sounds like it was always primarily for public betas of Macromedia software under development, and only tangentially for sharing work by third party developers.
    From that link: “At its core, Macromedia Labs will publish early information and releases of products in development and new technologies in progress.” Isn’t that what Lightroom is? So how could it be bad to put it up there for evaluation and collaboritive discussion?

  10. Nice work… This is the kinda thing we are looking to get a lot more of! I have been looking over the message boards, you are getting a lot of really good (really critical) feedback, Lightroom 1.0 is going to be a solid app.

  11. Great looking stuff! It’s nice to see some products that address workflow issues. As a pro Photographer I can assure you that know one has been truly happy with the patch worked work flow scenarios. We want to shoot pictures, not sit in front of computers… I am even more impressed that program is so streamlined. Aperture on a PowerBook is a painful experience…. Are you going to release lightroom in universal binary?
    Photographers are quite vocal about their problems… I bet the public forums will be quite lively.
    Hey Trevor – don’t wait just go get a mac.
    [Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, I expect that Lightroom will be a universal binary. It has been running on Mactel for quite a while internally, but we made the first beta release PPC-only because that’s the architecture used by the overwhelming majority of Mac customers. We expect to roll dual architecture support into an upcoming beta release. –J.]

  12. Well, well, well!
    This is all very extraordinary. Not the product (which as a photographer I’m delighted to see), but the way in which it is being released. This feels very much like the shareware of old.
    I’ve worked as a software tester for Aldus, Adobe and Microsoft. Let me assure everyone that this is a very VERY different approach to releasing software. It is so fresh it re-awakens my hope for this area of human endeavor.
    The standard way to do this is to TALK a lot about the end-user (sometimes, “customer”) but in reality to IGNORE them. Software coders and marketeers “design” the software. High level Corporate Goals dictate feature sets, price and “spin.” The idea that real people, trying to make a living with the tools they have bought, are actually what matters … never enters the Mind of the Machine.
    It is very difficult to believe that this product originated at Adobe. A particular hint would be that the URLs all refer to Macromedia. (However, I also happen to think that, generally, the Macromedia Interface and Corporate Goals differ little from those of Adobe, and generally suck just as much.)
    Lightroom looks very much like a Skunk Works project originating from within Macromedia.
    Dang! This is so fun I could almost be persuaded to work in the field again! 🙂
    [Here’s a little background on the origins of Lightroom (always an Adobe app): –J.]

  13. This is awesome John. Very, very cool to see Adobe inviting community feedback on a pre-release tool this way. Congrats to you and the rest of the Shadowland team.

  14. It all sounds great, John, especially about bundling Lightroom for those of us on the Photoshop-upgrade path.
    There has been such a desperate need for this kind of workflow/sorting product for SO long that it’s awesome to see both you and Apple stepping up to this plate. I have literally suffered for years now with the process of sorting and comparison, so I’m very excited to try every available new solution.
    Based on your hardware requirements, yours gets tried first. 🙂
    Thanks for everything you do right.

  15. Oh, by the way, please GOD include 1/2/3 shortcuts under the View menu for viewing the R, G, or B channels in greyscale. I’ve been begging the iView people for that feature for ages, but it’d presumably be even easier for you guys to implement.
    Why? Because when sorting and picking shots (particularly of human faces but also skyscapes), often a channel-specific view can help me make the decision that I couldn’t discern from the composite RGB.
    I’ll make sure to mention it in the Forums, but thought I’d give you a head’s up here as well.

  16. John it is GREAT to see Adobe finally embrace the wider user community in a free beta vs the select few users – I truly hope this continues and spreads to other products.
    As a Photoshop user since 2.5 and a photographer I’m looking forward to a tool built specifically for photographers, without the extra baggage.
    Bring on the Windows version asap! 🙂

  17. It seems to me a shame that adobe haven’t taken the software one step further and made it a capture tool as well. I like the way Adobe have been heading with bridge and now with lightroom, but it would be a real photographic head turner if the software could capture directly from the camera as well as managing images the way it does. I currently use phase one software for capture and capture management then have to export etc etc – let’s cut out the middle man…

  18. I’m sorry but I don’t get your point. Is it a browser or cataloging system? Or, are you making it into both? At this point, to me, it looks like Bridge with different colors. Besides, I was hoping that since Adobe purchased Macromedia, they would come out with a flash product that photographers would be able to use to make easy cool looking web sites that would be very professional.
    After spending over $1100.00 with Macromedia, and getting very little tech support, I have wasted my money. I don’t know how to use the software. Their support is for wed designers, not for people who just want to build their own web site.

  19. At this point, to me, it looks like Bridge with different colors.

    If you look only at the Library module, it is indeed similar to Bridge. But there are modules for Develop, Slideshow and Print that don’t overlap much with Bridge functionality at all.

    I was hoping that since Adobe purchased Macromedia, they would come out with a Flash product that photographers would be able to use to make easy cool looking web sites that would be very professional.

    Lightroom can output Flash movies from your pictures, complete with transitioning effects. It can also lay them out into html web pages, based on easy-to-use templates. But it isn’t really intended for general web site design.
    I am sure that you will be seeing new products and new product directions that integrate Flash and Adobe technologies even further, but the merger is only about two months old. There hasn’t been time to do very much together yet.
    Download it, experiment with it, especially the web output features. Then if there are specific ways in which you would like those features to be improved, well, that’s the whole point of doing such an early public beta, to involve the users in the product design while it is still early enough to be flexible.

  20. Okay, I am behind everyone else on this. Yeah, I am just stoked the way this product is being introduced. Who cares if people think this is just a counter to Apeture. So what if it is? I am delighted to get my hands on it.
    Anyhow, I was in the middle of scanning in a boatload of slides last Sunday and while waiting for a scan to perform, started the Lightroom download with the sample content. Product installed clean and fired up quickly.
    Then,,, and it must be something I am doing wrong. While the controls (color, luma, corrections) were snappy on the samples, I imported my scanned slide collection (.tif, 600 ppi, 6 inch by 7 inch 40MB avg images) Lightroom performance just went down the toliet (Dual G5 2Ghz, 2GB memory, Firewire 800 7200 rpm drive, Tiger 4.3). Haven’t figured out if I need to be in some other file format or they just didn’t import well, or what. The other thought I had was that it would be nice to enable the color controls so they were more in tune with Photoshop. One part of me likes the more direct, non-geek aproach to fixing an image before pitching it into PS for heavy lifting,,, I have been trained to think in 0-255, gamma, curves, etc. I couldn’t find these controls anywhere. It would be nice, particularly, to have a good set of curve functions, similar to Nikon Capture with the ability to enter numerics to control the curve shape.
    More when I play with it. Thank you Adobmedia for this great new toy.

  21. Looks like a great product, however I’m disappointed that Adobe has released this for Mac OS X only. I use a $17,000 graphics workstation with an HC-RAID 10, and not since the Genesis series by Daystar, has there been any Mac OS compatible computer that even comes close to what I have now. I guess I’ll have to wait for Adobe or someone else to offer something for us workstation users.

  22. I was debating buying Aperture – despite the problems – until I saw this. Wow! even in beta.
    Great work Adobe. Keep it simple please, the current interface is great. and please please keep the price closer to Elements than to PS

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