What’s new in Lightroom 3.0 Beta?

Adobe have just announced the release of Adobe Lightroom 3.0 Public Beta!

Here’s the official announcement: http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/

And the download link, of course! http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom3/

So what’s new so far…?


Image Quality

One of the primary improvements in 3.0 beta is image quality. Lightroom’s been taken back to its bare bones and the raw processing engine has been given a complete overhaul. Even the demosaic algorithms have been substantially improved to give a cleaner file which will respond better to subsequent noise reduction and sharpening.



While Lightroom was back on the drawing board, the underlying architecture has been completely reworked to improve the performance, particularly with large catalogs. It’s still in early stages at the moment, but the basis is there for a great final release.

The preview system has also been redeveloped, so the thumbnail grid won’t keep going fuzzy as you scroll!



  • Entirely new Import dialog, with compact and expanded views, depending on the level of control you need.
  • It has panels like the main modules, including Source and Destination.
  • Destination folders that will be created by the import as shown in italics so you can see exactly what will happen.
  • Import presets can now be saved and reused in both compact and expanded views.
  • There’s a new Loupe view within the Import dialog for viewing embedded previews.
  • The import backup now backs up with the new filenames if you’re renaming while importing.
  • CMYK files can now be imported, although all editing and output will still be RGB.
  • If you right-click on a folder in Library module, there’s an ‘Import into this Folder’ option which opens the Import dialog and automatically sets the Destination folder.


Library Module

  • Publish Services
    • Publish Services provides integration with photo sharing websites, keeping them up to date with the changes you make in your Lightroom catalog.
    • Sync runs 2-way, so comments made on your Flickr account appear back in Lightroom.
    • Flickr is the first to be available and more are sure to follow.
    • Sync to hard drive is also available, and useful for syncing photos to your iPhone, screensaver, other networked computers, etc.
  • Filters are no longer sticky – they reset as you switch folders unless you click the padlock icon on the Filter bar.
  • There’s a new badge on the thumbnails showing photos that are in a standard or Publish collection.


Develop Module

  • Process Version

    • Because so much work has been done on the base ACR engine, a ‘process version’ has been introduced to differentiate between the old process and new processes.
    • Any images with existing settings will be set to the old process version to get an almost identical rendering as previous versions. Any new images imported into 3.0 beta will be assigned the new process version.
    • There’s a warning triangle in the histogram if an image is on the old process version – click it if you want to update (also found under Tools menu).
    • Need to update to the new process version in order to use the new noise reduction, grain and vignette tools.
    • 3.0 beta will not be fully compatible with any ACR version at this point in time. Rendering may vary depending on the settings used – vignette and noise reduction would render very differently using ACR 5.5 and LR 3.0 beta.
  • Noise Reduction & Sharpening
    • Lots of work has been done on improving the noise reduction without losing fine detail.
    • Color noise reduction is already vastly improved.
    • Luminance noise reduction (new process) is disabled for the beta but will be back in the final release.
    • There’s a new Edge Detail slider which refines the edges on extremely noisy images at very high ISO.
    • Any old settings updated to the new process version will probably be too strong.
    • There have also been subtle changes to the capture sharpening.
    • The preview now shows sharpening & noise reduction at less than 1:1 view when using the new process version, although it still needs a little work.
  • Grain
    • Film-style grain sliders added give a very natural looking grain.
    • It shares a new Effects panel with Post-Crop Vignette.
  • Post-Crop Vignette
    • New more natural vignette instead of just painting white or black on the edges.
    • Color Priority mode retains more natural colours under the vignette with softer shadow transitions.
    • Highlight Priority remains heavily saturated under the vignette.
    • Contrast slider brightens the highlights under a dark vignette.
  • Adjustment Brush
    • The buttons are gone, so it’s now either a single drop-down and amount slider, or the range of sliders.
    • New icon shows when no color tint is being applied.
    • Show/hide pins and overlays are now in the toolbar when the Brush/Gradient are active, so no more having to remember the shortcuts.
  • Crop – the list of crop ratios has been tidied up to combine identical ratios like 2×3 and 4×6.
  • Greyscale has been changed to Black & White throughout.
  • AutoTone now includes Fill Light.
  • Sync/AutoSync now has a switch next to it to easily switch between the two.



  • Slideshows can now be exported to MP4 video format for uploading to video sharing websites, including your music track.
  • Mac version is no longer tied to iTunes, matching the Windows behaviour.
  • You can now sync the length of the slides to the music track length.



  • Custom Print Package
    • New custom layout option for different images in different sizes (without resorting to hacks!)
    • Drag and drop to create a flexible layout.
  • Page background color can now be changed.



  • New watermarking allows a simple text or graphic watermark to be applied in Export, Publish, Print and Web.



  • Backup has moved to quit rather than startup, by popular demand!
  • There’s a new checkbox in the backup dialog to run optimize catalog after the backup.


Other bits and pieces

  • The breadcrumbs bar on the filmstrip now has a Favorite Sources option.
  • The Select Catalog dialog has had a facelift.
  • Library menu > Show Missing Photos creates a temporary collection of all missing photos instead of having to go through Synchronize Folder.


System Spec Changes

  • System specs have increased to a minimum of 2gb of RAM on Windows
  • No more PPC for Mac, Intel processors only.
  • No more Tiger – Leopard or Snow Leopard only.



This is still in early stages – even earlier stages than the 2.0 beta – so there are plenty of bugs. It’s not likely to blow up your computer, but you are strongly recommended not to switch your entire workflow over to the beta at this stage. It’s been released for testing and feedback on the new features, and the beta period is likely to be longer than that of 2.0 beta. It won’t allow you to upgrade 2.x catalogs to the beta, but the final release will.

Lightroom 3 Beta is not feature-complete – there’s more yet to come in the final release.

If you want to keep reading, there’s some more great blog posts:

Gene’s Lightroom Secrets http://lightroomsecrets.com/2009/10/lightroom-3-beta-is-here/

Ian Lyons’ Computer Darkroom http://www.computer-darkroom.com/lr3_preview/lr3-preview-1.htm

Jeffrey Friedl’s Plug-in Update Post http://regex.info/blog/2009-10-21/1339

John Beardsworth’s http://www.beardsworth.co.uk/news/

Clicio Barroso (in Portuguese) http://clicio.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/adobe®-lightroom®-3-saiu/

Richard Earney’s Inside Lightroom http://insidelightroom.com/?p=415

Sean’s McCormack’s Lightroom Blog

Rob Sylvan’s Lightroomer’s http://lightroomers.com/my-take-on-lightroom-3-beta/662/


And I’ve been busy… my new book release updated for Lightroom 3 Beta is available for immediate download! Read on to the next blog post for more information!


  1. “Filters are no longer sticky – they reset as you switch folders unless you click the padlock icon on the Filter bar.”

    Does the padlock make the filters stick between different folders too? I’d love that.

    [Yes, when the padlock is turned on, the filters stay set as you browse across folders, so if you’re viewing 5 stars, you’ll see 5 stars in every folder you view. Before, one folder could be 1 star and another 5 stars, but that’s changed. – VB]

  2. Thanks for the reply! That is a small but huge improvement!

  3. Thanks for the news. Can’t wait for the FINAL release (I’m beta-shy.)

  4. How about the Smart collections ? Will it be possible to delete pics which belong to smart collections ?

    I use tags like “december” and while importing, pics are assigned to Smart Coll. No other way to get rid of them as to delete the Smart Collection…which isn´t smart at all.

    [Smart collections? They live update using the criteria you’ve set. What are you trying to accomplish? Delete the photo from your catalog, or just put specific photos in a collection? – VB]

  5. What about a proper clone tool and the ability to fix converging verticals?
    These are the only reason I go to photshop & it would be great to have them in LR.

    [LR3 beta’s not feature completely, so you never know. I’d guess proper clone is a bit unlikely as that would be tough to write as metadata, but I do like to be proved wrong on such assumptions! – VB]

  6. Just observed this and hasn’t been noted yet (I think). The library module previews now better reflect what is seen in the develop module. This wasn’t something that was easily noticed in the past as only specific images had this issue, but it seems that both the library module and the develop module now share either the same preview now as opposed to LR2 where the library module used a different preview than what was in the develop module. This ‘bug’ in LR2 also affected exporting of images. It seems that colours are far more consistent after export (especially through the flickr export).

  7. I don’t own any Lightroom as I decided to check out the Beta 3.0 I have come to like it but do not want to buy earlier versions. I been using it as normal which it seems fine . Any down falls if a person takes it slow and back ups his files before and after use, regular files that is, Thanks for your input CC

    [Just make sure you’ve got good backups. There have been one or two reports of files ‘disappearing’ which may well be user error, but could potentially be beta bugs. Check out the latest blog post with the list of most-reported bugs too, so you know what to avoid. – VB]

  8. Can you save finished editing photo’s with name changing and still export back to eleaments 8

    [I’m not sure I quite follow the question, but yes you can save edited photos and then open them in Elements. – VB]

  9. Thanks Victoria. You’re the best thing since the F1 key.

  10. So Queen, what would you say for the LR3 release date… I hope very soon

    [I’d say I couldn’t possibly tell you….. 😉 – VB]

  11. So very helpful, and in plain english. Thank you!


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