Points in Focus Photography

My Lightroom 3 Wishlist

Today for me has been spent mostly writing code, not my favorite pastime, and tomorrow looks like more of the same. I did, however make it a point to fire up Lightroom to play a bit more with DFine2, a rather nifty looking noise reduction “plug-in” for LR.

As clean as my mark 3‘s image are, there are times when I want to push the image further than I probably should or want to get as much out of a high ISO shot as possible. Either way my quest for that, and a healthy desire to keep as much of my work-flow in Lightroom, lead me to DFine 2 from Nik Software, which advertises itself as a Lightroom plug-in.

“Plug-in”, that may be what Adobe calls it, and by extension Nik Software, however I don’t know if I’d call requiring a full export to TIFF to a mostly stand alone program a “plug in”. Generally I think of plug-ins as something that adds functionality from inside of the program it’s plugged into.

That got me thinking, a while back I started a Lightroom 3 wish list and adding “real plug-ins” to it seems like just time time to post something about it.

Wish list after the jump.

Dear Adobe,

Here’s 4 features I’d like to see in the next Lightroom, and a Lightroom Server product:

1. The interface, let me customize it.

I like being productive. I’d like to be more productive. Why do you hate me so much you won’t let me?

Keyboard shortcuts are a god send to power-users, it’s immensely faster to do most things with keystrokes than mouse clicks. For instance, in Lightroom, you’ve conveniently bound the ‘R’ key to take me straight to the crop tool in develop. Good move! I crop a lot, sometimes because I suck at taking a picture at o-dark-30. However, I also find that I have to fix a lot of crooked horizons (I probably should pay more attention to that, but that’s life), yet that’s not a key-stroke away. Why not? Why can’t it be?

On the other hand, the White Balance eye-dropper has a shortcut, ‘W’. Maybe there’s someone out there who uses that a lot, I sure don’t, and even if I did, it’s 1 click away. I don’t want to begrudge someone their saber in the quest for quicker white ballancing. But if we could customize keys that would be a net gain.

My other interface pet peeve; why can’t I organize the pallets in develop the way I want them? I use the basic pallet and the detail pallet, a lot. Why can’t I put them next to each other? Sure I could hide everything in between, but I use some of them too.

2. The keywords, give me a fully featured way to edit them.

I’m almost obsessive in keywording things, I don’t know why. I have almost 300 bird species entered with scientific names and other common names, organized, categorized. You name it, and I’ve done it, by hand–with some liberal help from importing keywords from files, a big thanks for that feature.

However, those keywords had clearly defined hierarchies already laid out. The remainder of my more than 1000 keywords grew organically and are now strewn about like a trailer park after a hurricane. I keep trying to sort things into nice orderly categories but using the keyword list… Well I’d almost rather herd cats.

I’d really appreciate a keyword organizing dialog that let me move keywords around quickly and easily. A stand alone program would even be fine.

3. My camera could bury me in metadata, please let me see it.

My cameras give me gobs of metadata. Seriously, who needed to know that the secondary-backup liquid hydrogen turbo-pump for the left cooling assembly is flowing 0.2 micro liters of LH2 per second, NASA?

Somewhere in that mess though, there are useful tidbits like the FEC settings, or which AF points were in focus (Zoom Browser uses this to draw a nice AF grid over the image, it’s cool, really). Some are less immediately useful, but still handy at times, like the distance the lens was focused at or the hyper-focal distance for the lens and aperature.

Speaking of which, hey Canon, can you hear me? Is this thing on? How about giving us access to that in the camera since you can clearly calculate it. Better yet, give me a way to automatically focus there.

Sorry, where was I?

Oh ya, there’s a free open source tool, EXIFTool. It was written by a guy in his spare time in line-noise Perl. It can extract almost every piece of metadata out of almost any kind of RAW file. Why do I know about this? That’s because I couldn’t find some of those earlier mentioned bits of metadata, that I knew existed, with Lightroom and had to go looking.

4. Please, give let us have real plug-ins for image processing tools, not this export a TIFF stuff.

I have some noisy images. Perhaps it’s because they were shot at an ISO so high you need oxygen to breath. Perhaps, it’s because I’m trying to push them further than I should. Either way, the noise must be reduced and the built in NR isn’t up to the task. I know though, I can use one of those fancy-pants noise reducing plug-ins on it.

However, doing that requires the image be exported as a TIFF then run though little more than a stand alone program. What? Sure the TIFF is made automatically, but that’s hardly seamless or “plugged in” for that matter.

Never mind it just broke the whole RAW work-flow idea that edits aren’t destructive that’s so much the core ideal in Lightroom. Useing a plug-in to do something better than LR and I might as well be back to using Photoshop again.

4. My GPU, it’s sleeping while my CPU is screaming; how about GPU offloading.

The GPU you did in Photoshop CS4, okay Lightroom 2 is probably a bit behind CS4 in dev cycles. But this would be a huge help now for some tasks (building 1:1 previews, anybody), let alone if you actually did #4 and built a real plug-in system.

5. Maybe I’ve lost my mind, but how about a full on digital asset management server package.

Okay, this is probably a bit of a stretch, however since you’re using SQL (if only SQLLite) for the catalog, why not port it to a real SQL server and get this puppy networked.

There’s a ton of nifty features that would then be feasible. Like easily synchronizing catalogs between a laptop and a workstation.

It would be even better if such a hypothetical server ran on Solaris or Linux. One of the biggest reasons, for me, is the availability of check-summing file systems like ZFS and, at some point, BTRFS. File system’s that, in my opinion, key to protecting ourselves against the problems of storing large amounts of data securely with the knowledge that it wont be corrupted by bit-rot and random disk errors.

Even better is if it’s expandable in a direct workable. It would be very cool if I could tie my image library, my website’s gallery and my stock licensing and electronic print ordering system all back to one back end that I can easily manage.




A small voice in the big sea of Lightroom users.

Okay, so maybe it’s a bit of a stretch and a lot of wishful thinking though hopefully Adobe already has some things in the pipeline.

Some feature you’d like to see in the next Lightroom? Speak up and share your thoughts in the comments.


Dylan P

Thanks for opening this discussion. Off the top of my head, and in order of importance to me…

1. A responsive interface… currently very sluggish, even on faster computers. Thumbnails are slow to render, delayed responses to clicks and keyboard events are extremely frustrating not only for slowing me down, but also for the number of times I have to undo accidental clicks. e.g. I click on image A, then as I’m moving the cursor to the develop panel, the click actually registers as the cursor is over image B. This sort of thing happens a lot while keywording images as well.

2. Text searches and keyword suggestions that include keyword synonyms!

3. Filters that also allow me to NOT include criteria (e.g. show images with ABC but not XYZ)

4. As mentioned above, a networked version would be brilliant.

5. “in-place” auto import… Jeffrey’s doesn’t work so well for me. (it would be nice to have the option of the import dialog appearing, or at least some sort of visual feedback indicating that new images have been found).

6. 1 step export to email

7. Often when I hit ALT-TAB, Lightroom often mistakenly catches the TAB and hides my panels. Annoying.

8. Support for multi-line caption text in slideshows



I’d like to see these productivity improvements:
1) The ability to color code collections and collection sets. I use both to manage my jobs and work flow, and the ability to color code collections as red for urgent, yellow for needing work and green for finished (or make up your color own schema) for instance would be a great help.
2) KB shortcuts for the common crops, and a customizable set for customized crops, such as 144×99 for my iPod Touch, and 16:9 for screen backgrounds.
3) A customizable watermark for web proofing, including size, placement, content and opacity.
4) Slideshow individual slide timing adjustability

Marty Grivjack
Lightroom Evangelist and Instructor
Jupiter, Florida

Joe the Wizard

The number 1 thing I want for Lightroom 3 — Curves to behave the way they do in Camera Raw. It’s the same engine, why can’t I use curves the same way? And how about per-channel curves in addition to the standard one? Photoshop has been doing that for a million years.

Don’t get me wrong, Lightroom’s curve tool is neat, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d like to be able to use it without restriction.

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