Ilford HP5+ – Rodinal 1:50 – Leica M6
There are many reviews out there about LR 3 Beta; however, you just want to try something yourself, sometimes. Although this version has been out for some time, I finally downloaded it about a week ago. I had a lot of time on my hands during the day, let’s say. Having used it for about a week, I’ll give my impressions thus far on the pieces that I’ve used.
The import has been radically changed. It is a lot faster than previous versions of LR, plus they have made the import dialog a lot more convenient by making commonly used items available at the single click of the mouse rather. From this single, simple dialog you can add keywords, indicate the import behavior (copy as DNG, copy, move, or add), and specify where to place the files. The dialog seems to be arranged logically, input on the left, keywords and behavior in the middle, output on the right. There is a larger, more comprehensive import dialog where you can most any and everything that you want, including which photos to import, how to rename them, etc. You can do everything that you could do before, except that it is arranged much better. Lastly, the actual importing of the photos is noticeably faster. They’ve done an impressive amount of speed improvement in this area. Certainly worth upgrading just to get this feature especially if you import logs of files. It will save you a great deal of time.
Vignetting is something that I use rarely; however, in some cases it really can make a significant difference in the photo. The new version of LR functions the same as the old in this area. Sliding the slider to the left causes the edges of the image to darken, sliding right causes it to lighten. In this beta release, they’ve added another slider, Contrast, to the Post-Crop Vignetting sliders. This allows you to adjust the contrast of the vignetted area to give it a less contrasty, softer or harder look. This is different than the Feather slider, which controls the rate of change between vignetted and non-vignetted parts of the image, or gradation. The Contrast slider affects only the vignetted area’s contrast.
I like the use of images and music together. I use SoundSlides when I want to put together such a display. LR 3 Beta allows you export a video slideshow with music. This is a fantastic feature, but can be limiting, depending on what you want to do. With SoundSlides I can choreograph the sound and the images, that is, I can make an image fade on a certain part of the music, or stay a bit longer, etc, a dance if you will. With LR 3, you click on the duration of the music, and LR will figure out how long each image will need to be displayed and display your slideshow accordingly. You can adjust the fade or display duration, but not for an individual slide. The adjustment is for all slides. If you have no need or desire to choreograph, then this works perfectly! The video export offers several different flavors of video to choose from. Here is a good video explaining the export, as well as other features. It’s right at the beginning of the video and lasts only a couple of minutes.
Since I also shoot film, I am aware of grain. Each film has its own characteristic grain pattern and size. This can be further ‘enhanced’ or downplayed, depending upon developer chosen and method of development. To be sure, different films certainly look different in the grain department. I was curious about the new grain slider. I thought back to the fact that when digital recordings first came out that they sounded clean and sterile. Later, a bit of ambient noise was added to give warmth to the music. No digital vs. film flames here, please. Anyway, I’m not against grain. The grain slider works pretty nicely, allowing you to add grain to a photo as well as allowing you to choose the amount, size, and roughness of the grain. You can get some pretty grainy photographs, simulating some type of film. In the above image, I’ve added quite a bit of grain, but it’s kind of hard to see at this size.
If you watermark your image with copyright information, one of the annoying things about Lightroom, at least for me, was that you couldn’t control placement of the watermark or the opacity of it very well. In the new version, you can control the opacity, placement, orientation (horizontal, or vertical), and whether it is text or image. This is a nice feature. If you look at the image at the top, you can see that I placed a slight, vertical watermark at the right side of the image. It’s rather unobtrusive and was easy to do with the new LR.
Those were the only items that I tried out. I liked what I saw and, more than likely, would upgrade to Lightroom 3 when it comes out, depending on what Adobe wants for an upgrade price.