Apple may say that its digital photography application Aperture isn’t a competitor to Photoshop, but Adobe isn’t letting the Mac-maker settle into any part of the image software market without a fight.

The Creative Suite creator has launched a new application called Lightroom that, like Aperture, is an environment for quickly managing and processing groups of photographs, using the workflow of a professional photographer as its starting point.

Adobe has launched Lightroom right under Apple’s nose at the Macworld trade show in San Francisco, California. Adobe is planning to give away beta versions of the application to show attendees.

Lightroom combines features and technologies from a number of the applications within the Creative Suite. The majority comes from Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in and the Adobe Bridge asset manager, though other parts have their heritage in the InDesign and GoLive layout packages.

Adobe showed an early version of the LightRoom beta to Digit. The application is split into four ‘rooms’: Library, Develop, Slideshow and Print – charting the workflow from organization of images to processing to output as final prints or contact sheets (printed or online) for a client to chose from.

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The Library is very much based on the Adobe Bridge asset management application. It provides an interface allowing photographers to view images and their associated metadata, including information on camera settings from when the photograph was taken, such as exposure, focal length and aperture. Multiple images can be viewed as contact sheets of thumbnails, or along a filmstrip. Images can be given scores out of five, assigned to Collections to keep images together, and given keywords to make them easier to find in the future.
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Lightroom adds photography-specific functions. Photos can be arranged into Shoots, as well as Collections, and a histogram view of each photo’s colour make-up is available.
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