With the release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 (also referred to as Lightroom 3 in this review) come many new and updated features. One of the first things you will notice is that there have been changes in the different interfaces from categories to items in categories. The process for the importing of images is different than it was for earlier versions including version 2.7. Lightroom 3 has changed the import process to make it, according to Adobe, simpler and more efficient. It took me a little time to become accustomed to this since I was looking for how it was done in previous versions. It has many new options such as where to place an image, known as Destination. I have to admit even with the new additions, I found the older method easier to do even if it was not quite as flexible.

You can open catalogs that are already situated on your computer or you can import images from your camera directly or through a card reader.

Below are some new features to the right panel in the Develop module. (I lightened the panels in Photoshop so they would show up better in the review. I did not change them in preferences.)

Cataloging your images and then developing them encompass the first two modules of Lightroom 3. Image processing has been improved in this new version with the fundamentals of the raw processing engine revised to produce better images. But according to Adobe, these might look different than those processed in Lightroom 2, so to fix this Adobe has introduced the concept of Process Version in Lightroom 3. Using this, you can see how the previously processed image looked along with how it will look with this new engine. In the few I checked, I did notice that some details were sharper with this new engine version. You can choose which version to keep. Since all changes are non-destructive, you can change your mind at any time. This is a very nice feature because so often engines change and what you created in one version looks very different when brought into a new version to print, for example, at a later date. This is especially problematic when you have upgraded a product and can no longer go back to the older version. Here, you start the process from the the File menu on the top toolbar.

You will notice in the History panel on the left, that it refers to the previously processed items only. Lightroom 3 differentiates automatically between those processed in previous version and those never processed. The two screens below show the image on the left that was previously processed and the one on the right that was processed in Lightroom 3. As I stated before, the images I looked at had very slight differences. Some of the details in the new ones were slightly sharper. I used Lightroom 3 default settings and did not modify any.

Sharpening and noise reduction have been improved in Lightroom 3. I did a comparison with Lightroom 2.7 and with Lightroom 3. First, you will notice that the number of options have increased. The settings below are not what I used.

The basic settings were the same in Lightroom 2.7 and in Lightroom 3. Notice the vast improvement.

Below is an example of sharpening in Lightroom 3. It has a natural feel although you can modify it to varying degrees. I was very pleased with these two much improved features.

As you can see from the list of Adobe's top Lightroom 3 features, you can work more creatively than you could in previous versions. Some of the top features are:

Some of the changes are new and others are modifications or previous options such as converting an image from color to black and white. In Lightroom 2.7, the "black and white mix " is labeled as "grayscale mix." One of the new changes has to do with the Effects panel. It combines the Vignettes panel in Lightroom 2.7 with a new grain addition in Lightroom 3.

Of course, while Lightroom's main focus is changing an image as a whole, it has tools such as the Adjustment Brush so that you can work on areas of an image.

Tethered Capture is a method of importing images that allows many camera models to be hooked up directly to Lightroom 3. For a list, click on Camera. And to understand how it works, go to: Import Photos from a Tethered Camera. This document will give you all the details. At the time of this review there are 26 cameras supported. All are Nikons or Canons, but it is stated that different ones from different manufacturers will be added to the list. According to the literature, "The tethered capture window reads the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance from the camera’s settings." This should be very helpful.

You can use 3rd part filters with Lightroom 3, such as Alien Skin's Exposure 3. This plug-in is run from Lightroom as an external editor. To launch Exposure 3 on an image simply select an image (or multiple images for batch processing), and select Photo->Edit In->Exposure 3. You can also right click on the image and select Edit In->Exposure 3. You can do this for other plug-ins as well.

Lightroom 3 supports many of the sites people like to use to share their images such as Flickr, other social networking services, iPhone integration, syncing with mobile devices, etc. If you look at the screen capture in the beginning of this review, you will see that I have highlighted the New Publish Services.

So what is Lightroom? It is a multi-purpose program for cataloging images; optimizing and developing them as a whole even though you can work with areas of an image; sharing them through direct printing, the web, slideshows etc. You can even watermark your images in a distinct style or one that is less obtrusive. You can save your watermarks for use on other images. Lightroom is a program geared toward photographers in the digital age. Easy and fast workflow is another characteristic of Lightroom 3

Many photographers use it in conjunction with Photoshop. If you right click on an image in Library mode, you can edit the image in other programs. All changes in Lightroom are non-destructive which means that your initial image remains "pure" and can be returned to its initial state.

The system requirements are:
Mac OS
• Intel® processor
• Mac OS X v10.5 or 10.6
• 2GB of RAM
• 1GB of available hard-disk space
• 1,024x768 display
• CD-ROM drive

• Intel Pentium® 4 processor or equivalent
• Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista®
Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or
Enterprise (certified for 32-bit and 64-bit
editions), or Windows XP with Service
Pack 3
• 2GB of RAM
• 1GB of available hard-disk space
• 1,024x768 display
• CD-ROM drive

The cost of the program is very reasonable. It is $299.00 for a full copy and $99.00 for an upgrade. To find out more about Photoshop Lightroom 3, click on the link. Also, download a demo and try it. Don't forget the new CS5 Adobe products.