• Price When Reviewed: 175 . 69

  • Pros: Fast, intuitive workflow for previewing, sorting, and processing digital photographs; now with 64-bit processing; improved keywording; remote volume access and localized retouching; available for Windows.

  • Cons: Handover to Photoshop Camera Raw is inconsistent; brushes are circular only; Apple’s Aperture is less expensive.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

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All changes are non-destructive – the master file is untouched, so you can remove or change the enhancements later. You can create presets for most settings and apply them automatically, or overrule them as needed.

Although most camera manufacturers supply free basic Raw converters, Lightroom’s biggest competitor (apart from Adobe’s own Photoshop Camera Raw utility) is Apple’s Aperture, now in version 2.1. Aperture uses many of the same concepts and is popular with photographers, but it only runs on Mac OS X, while Lightroom, of course, also runs on Windows.

Images can now be accessed on remote volumes, such as server, RAID or other computers. Lightroom 2 organizes these into a catalogue file with all the information it needs, including previews and editing data. With our test, a collection of 1,640 10-megapixel Raw files, occupying 22GB on disk, resulted in a 21MB catalogue file.

On import, you’ve got the option of leaving the original files where they are and writing the catalogue files to a separate location, or moving or copying the originals too. If you choose to copy, there’s the additional option of converting to Adobe’s own DNG (Digital Negative) Raw format, which may be more future-proof than keeping images in proprietary camera formats.

Lightroom is designed to emulate film-based workflows. It displays a filmstrip of all current images at the base of the screen, with working views above it. The initial Library view is for viewing, sorting, comparing, labelling and enlarged previewing. Keyword application has been streamlined with a useful new Suggested Keywords feature that displays a table of likely words based on your previous choices – you just click on a word to add it to the list for your current image.