Posts in Category "Philosophy"

Comments on 1.4 Release

The entire Lightroom team is extremely sorry for any problems we’ve caused our loyal customers with the March 14th 1.4 update. In our eagerness to get new camera support into customers’ hands as promptly as possible, we let some bugs slip past our testing that were frankly unacceptable. Compared to other Adobe applications, we’ve taken a much more aggressive approach to releasing frequent new versions with new features, but it’s clear we need to take a hard look at our release process to make sure that this aggressive approach doesn’t sacrifice quality. One thing that we may consider is continuing the community approach we’ve taken in the past by releasing betas of our updates, so that they can get the broadest testing possible before they are certified as final. The timing for what will need to be a Lightroom 1.4.1 release has not been determined but updated information will be posted to this blog when available. 

Happy Birthday Lightroom

One year ago this morning at 12:01 AM Eastern Time, Lightroom 1.0 hit the streets, or at least, for the first time.  Lightroom isn’t the only Adobe product that shipped on February 19th. The Camera Raw plug-in was first released as a plug-in for Photoshop 7.0.1 on February 19th 2003.  And to the best of Thomas Knoll’s recollection, Photoshop 1.0 shipped on February 19th, 1990.  Jeff Schewe over at Photoshop News has compiled a great list of "Where were you?" on the launch dates of Photoshop 1.0 and Lightroom 1.0.  It’s a fun read and Jeff is encouraging readers to add their own whereabouts on those dates. I also looked back at some of the articles surrounding the launch of the Camera Raw plug-in in 2003 and Uwe Steinmueller’s February 19th review is still available on  I had to chuckle when I read Uwe’s reference to "…the impressive list of cameras supported right now." That list only highlights about a dozen cameras of the close to 30 cameras supported with the first version of the plug-in but it’s worth noting that 5 years later we’re supporting over 180 camera raw file formats.  How’s that for impressive? (Insert shameless plug for DNG here given the rapid growth in
file formats.)  
It’s been an incredible year for the Lightroom team with significant adoption and several updates to address the needs of our customers.
As noted on this blog earlier, we’re excited about the future even if it doesn’t necessarily take place on a February 19th.

DNG in the News

Recent weeks have seen a number of DNG related announcements:

  • Casio EX-F1: A 6 megapixel camera that captures 60 full resolution DNG files per second!(John Nack scooped me on this one)
  • Pentax K20D and K200D: These new 14.6 and 10.2 megapixel cameras from Pentax can capture directly to the DNG raw format.
  • Samsung GX-20:  The new DNG-capable Samsung 14.6 megapixel model is similar to the Pentax K20D but DPreview also looks at how it is different.
  • Noritsu Koki has announced their intention to support raw workflows at the photo retail level by utilizing the DNG format. 

For those not familiar with DNG, it’s the archival raw format that Adobe created to address the proliferation of proprietary raw formats.  With hundreds of undocumented formats introduced since the advent of raw capture, it’s no wonder that the concept of a raw standard has elicited quite a bit of discussion.   Much of the discussion revolves around the topic of file format obsolescence: Will I be able to open my raw files in 50 to 75 years from now?  This is a good question and a valid reason why photographers choose to use the openly documented DNG format but there are other more immediate benefits to using a DNG workflow:

  • Lossless compression of the raw data can reduce file size anywhere from 10 to 40% or more.  In a completely unscientific test I converted a small folder of Nikon D300 raw files to DNG and the folder went from 243MB to 125MB!  You could almost double the number of photos stored on a single drive.  I know ‘storage is cheap’ these days but it’s not free!  
  • It provides a documented file structure that can support writing metadata back to the file.  (No need for XMP sidecar files)
  • You can store an updated preview of the image in the DNG file that accurately represents your latest non-destructive rendering settings.  I think of it as a job jacket for my images.  I have the negative, the processing instructions and a ‘work print’ of how I last processed the image all within a single file.

With all of those benefits it’s no surprise that 40% of Lightroom users who aren’t shooting with a DNG-native camera have already decided to utilize the Convert To DNG option while importing their photos.

Lightroom’s Goals

Mark Hamburg

I’ve covered much of this in some of George Jardine’s Lightroom podcasts, but I decided it was worth writing something down for more general consumption and reference.

The Lightroom (née Shadowland) project had at its core the following goals. Some of them existed from the start. Others evolved as we went along. Interestingly, none of them are about photography. Photography proved, however, a good space in which to explore them.

Personality as a conscious part of software design

All products have a personality of one sort or another. That personality is at the heart of how the product works, what it feels like to use, etc. Sometimes that personality is relatively muted and/or buried behind other conventions. Sometimes it is directly in one’s face. Very often it is something that happens more or less by accident, but that accidental nature doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

One of the goals in Lightroom was to consciously think about the product personality we were trying to create with the expectation that a less accidental personality would induce a stronger emotional reaction in users. That stronger reaction can be both positive and negative. We knew that going in. The second part of this goal was to have enough passionate users to outweigh the detractors.

Elegance, Grace, and Style

We wanted Lightroom to seem elegant. To exhibit grace. To show an attention to style beyond the utilitarian aspect that dominated Adobe’s products up to that time. We wanted a richer UI experience.

We’ve been successful in many ways. At the same time, we are painfully aware that there are places where we could be yet more graceful or elegant.

Style is one of the key factors in revealing personality, and as with personality in general, a rich experience will appeal to some and alienate others. Given the number of Lightroom emulations, I see popping up, there’s evidently something appealing about the choices we’ve made.

Maximizing Power v Complexity

While traditional professional applications like Photoshop generally make some effort at coherency in their interfaces, they also tend to be completely ready to add complexity if that will lead to more power. On the other hand, consumer applications frequently throw out power to arrive at simplicity.

On Lightroom, we sought to maximize the power to complexity ratio. If a small bit of additional complexity opened up a lot more power for users, we would go for it. On the other hand, if the complexity was high and the increase in power was low, we would avoid it.

Have we always struck the right balance? No. There are places in the application where the feature set is more complex than the power it delivers merits. Sometimes this happened because we were seeking compatibility with other software. Sometimes this happened because we didn’t come up with an appropriately simple idea. As a demonstration, however, that power need not be complex and that relatively simple software need not be weak, I think Lightroom has generally been a success.

These goals will continue to guide us and photography continues to provide a good space in which to explore them.