Adobe unveiled a spring update to its photography products today focused on boosting the company’s already strong capabilities in the photography market. It’s particularly focused on Lightroom, a photo management app that offers high-performance handling of lots of large images like RAW camera files.
Today’s update brings a number of new capabilities to Lightroom, with a couple of marquee features. First is the ability to easily combine multiple exposures of the same scene with different light settings into a single high dynamic range (HDR) photo. Users can tweak the combination using a built-in anti-ghosting feature that’s designed to reduce the presence of artifacts that result from combining multiple photos together.
In addition, users can also more easily stitch multiple images into a panorama within Lightroom. Like the HDR functionality, this capability was previously confined to Photoshop, but Adobe has brought a stripped-down version of the system to Lightroom, with support for the most used methods of combining an image. All of these edits can be done with RAW files, and preserved in RAW so that photographers can then use other post-processing tools like exposure adjustment.
The move comes the same month as Apple officially stopped selling its Aperture professional photo management software. Instead, the company is only offering a single Photos app for both consumers and professionals. Sharad Mangalick, a senior product manager for Adobe’s Photography team, said that the company is looking at ways to make its products both more powerful and more useful all at once.
“This is something that we’re very excited about, it’s an area that we’re investing tremendous resources and muscle behind, because we see that there’s a lot of opportunity in this market,” Mangalick said. “Largely, the market has been focused on the needs of professionals, and we are certainly going to work towards the needs of professionals, but we also see a need to simplify our product offering and make it more accessible to more and more non-pros.”
One of the new features that will likely appeal to both professionals and non-pros alike is a new facial recognition feature for Lightroom that mirrors similar functions in Apple’s Photos app and offered through Facebook’s image editor. Starting with the new update, the app will automatically detect faces inside all of the photos users have in their library. Users can then name different faces so that they have easy access to all the photos they have ever taken that contain a particular person.
It’s possible to export that data along with an image when users want to pull it out of Lightroom, but that functionality is disabled by default so that privacy-conscious photographers don’t have to worry about it. That way, it’s possible for people who want to easily track different images of friends or family members for reference or use later.
Those are just a handful of the new features available with today’s update, but they give a sense for what Adobe is trying to accomplish. Of course, there’s still the small hurdle of the price tag. Adobe offers a Creative Cloud Photography package for $9.99 a month that includes access to the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom, along with access to a variety of online services including Adobe’s own Lightroom in the cloud.
People who don’t want to spend money on an installment plan for Photoshop can purchase Lightroom 6 (which contains all of these updates) for $149.