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.
The Spot-Removal tool offers cloning or healing from adjacent areas and is mainly for removing dust marks, which plague digital cameras and scanners alike. There’s a separate Red-Eye Corrector tool.
Another newcomer is a graduated filter, which allows you to apply smoothly blended colour or tonal adjustments across the whole height or width of the image (or any angle in between), with adjustments for centre and end points.
A Radial Vignette tool creates softly blended black or white circular or oval borders (taking any crop into account), and a related oval Lens Correction tool compensates for light fall-off at the edge of some lenses.
If you have Photoshop CS3, Lightroom 2 can now export directly to some of its cleverer features. Multiple overlapping files can be exported to the panorama stitcher, while HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures can be blended from multiple exposures of the same view. Alternatively, you can open two or more images into a single Photoshop file with each image in a separate layer.
Direct export won’t let you reduce the pixel count, so panoramas in particular can end up as enormous composite files. The separate Lightroom Export menu does allow resizing, though the menu isn’t very intuitive. You can also open files from Lightroom 2 into Photoshop as Smart Objects, with the Raw data accessible for further adjustment.
Lightroom 2 has some good improvements, and is certainly worth the upgrade price if you have v.1.5. The extra performance with 64-bit processors is welcome, and the non-destructive brushes will save having to switch to Photoshop for small retouching tasks.
At £129 plus VAT, Aperture 2.1 is good and less expensive for Mac users, but Lightroom 2 is better integrated with Photoshop, which many users rely on.