Lightroom 6 - Improved Performance and a Bundle of New Features

Lightroom CC (or Lightroom 6) was announced yesterday and comes not only with massive performance updates but also many long awaited features. For those who don't know, Lightroom is Adobe's answer to photo cataloging, RAW processing, and general organization. Lightroom is available through the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography package (Lightroom + Photoshop) for $9.99/Month or as a standalone program for $149.  If you're serious about photography I highly suggest the Creative Cloud option and personally have all of Adobe's programs through Creative Cloud for $50/month.

Lightroom 6 CC Adobe Photoshop Logo Update

Lightroom CC (or Lightroom 6) now offers in program Panorama Stitching, 32 BIT HDR merging to DNG, Facial Recognition, Mobile support for Android, Advanced Video Slideshows, Better control of Filters, and most importantly up to 10x faster performance. These are just some of the improvements so let's take a look at a few!

Lightroom 6 CC Adobe Photoshop

Faster Performance - GPU boosts

Lightroom now takes advantage of your computer's GPU (graphics processor) to boost your overall workflow speed. This is a huge deal considering many of us spend hours culling through potentially thousands of images on a regular basis.  Even nominal performance increases can mean substantial time saved.  It's true, you're very unlikely to see 10x improvement in real world use over Lightroom 5 but you should see a noticeable difference when using the Develop module. This is much appreciated, thank you Adobe. We are that much closer to full on culling software, but if you need to review your images in full resolution while moving that quickly I still suggest Photo Mechanics

Below is a chart from The Verge showing the rendering improvements you can expect for your computer (or similar to it).

Lightroom 6 CC Adobe Photoshop Performance Increase GPU iMac 5k Surface Pro 3

In Program HDR - 32 BIT Float in form of DNG file

The ability to merge several RAW files into a 32 Bit Float (or super raw file) without leaving Lightroom is a complete game changer for me!

Until now I've been forced to take my RAW's into Photoshop via "Merge to HDR Pro" which is not only cumbersome but slow and less than ideal. Doing so has always required you to blend images on a pixel basis but now with Lightroom CC (or Lightroom 6) you can merge multiple bracketed RAW files into one "super RAW" non-destructive DNG. Not only is merging 4x as fast now but the resulting DNG is truly a RAW file compared the pixel-based TIFF that we've normally had to save these 32 Bit images out as.

Lightroom CC 6 Adobe Photoshop Photomerge New HDR DNG Non Destructive 32 Bit Float

As if that isn't enough, the DNG's take up substantially less hard drive space than the old method using TIFFs.  I compared a 5 bracket set of images from my Sony A7R and found that the traditional method through Photoshop's "Merge to HDR Pro" yielded a TIFF file of 433MB while the higher quality RAW DNG file of the same 5 images merged together was only 138MB. This will literally save me several gigabytes per shoot and for working professionals that can add up to several terabytes over time. 

The new Photo Merge HDR option in Lightroom CC (or Lightroom 6) is literally 4x as fast while producing better non-destructive files that take up hardly 1/3 the hard drive space. Win, Win, Win. 

Below is a video by Julieanne Kost (Adobe's Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist) showing the process.

Photo Merge Panorama

You guessed it, you can merge several RAW files together into a DNG panorama that will perform just like any RAW file. Until now we've been forced to rasterize our images and stitch panoramas with pixels but now we can use an entirely non-destructive stitching process all right inside Lightroom CC (or Lightroom 6)   

Lightroom Mobile for Android + DNG Support

Lightroom finally reached Android users in mid January this year but along with Lightroom CC (or Lightroom 6) we finally have an update giving us true DNG or RAW file support.  Lightroom Mobile on Android, Google Play Store.  

This is where things get really interesting!  Not only can you sync collections with your desktop and edit on your device, but Android 5.0 "Lollipop" has an update in API and allows you to actually shoot RAW DNG's on your phone. Now this isn't possible with the stock Android cameras, but I use Camera FV-5 ($3.95 on the Google Play store) to get a more controlled camera experience and capture DNG's natively which I can then edit not only in Lightroom Mobile but also transfer to my desktop catalog.  

Phones & tablets can truly be workstations of their own!

 

More Control with Filter Brushes

Graduated and Radial filters are incredibly useful in Lightroom but all too often we stumble across horizons that aren't entirely straight and shapes that aren't completely cylindrical. Now you can apply filters same as before but tweak your selection with a brush as well. In the rough example above I've used the brush to erase part of the graduated filter that was pouring over the bluff. Click on the image to enlarge and get a better view! 

 

Conclusion

I'm really satisfied with what Lightroom has done here.  They seem to be working hard to provide solutions to everyday problems that users experience. It's true, now the Apple has thrown in the towel with Aperture, Adobe seems to have a bit of a monopoly on the RAW processing. That being said, we definitely shouldn't forget Capture One Pro 8 or DxO Optics Pro 10 either. As much as I love many of the features with DxO and Capture One it's Lightroom's flawless integration with Photoshop that keeps me coming back! 


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