Adobe Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Released

Adobe has released a new version of Lightroom today in the form of Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6. As the name suggests, Lightroom CC is for the subscribers of the Adobe Creative Cloud, while Lightroom 6 is the standalone version.

According to Adobe, the update is said to bring performance improvements of “up to 10x” by utilising your CPU.

Other new features include:-

1. HDR merge / panoramic stitching

You can now merge several shots into a single HDR image, or stitch them into a panorama without having to open Photoshop or any other software. Expectedly, this is based on the HDR Merge / Photo Merge functions already present in Photoshop, but this sure made things more convenient.

Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 HDR Merge
Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 HDR Merge
Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Panoramic Merge
Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Panoramic Merge

2. Facial Recognition

Lightroom CC/Lightroom 6 can now automatically find and tag photos of your friends and family in your library, so now you can find all the photos of your significant other in just one click.

3. Filter Brush

You can now use the filter brush to modify the gradients created by the Graduated Neutral Density Filter and Radial Filter by erasing parts that you don’t want to be affected, or apply the effect to other areas not covered by the filters.

I reckon this will be useful in situations when your Graduated ND filter in Lightroom obscures a subject, inadvertently affecting the exposure in that area.

First Impressions

Since I have the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan, I downloaded and installed Lightroom CC from there, installed it and played around a bit with my existing photos. Luckily for me, the installation and catalog upgrade went quickly and smoothly. I’ve read there are several people whose Lightroom CC crashes upon startup.

Unfortunately since I am still on OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.5), I am unable to take advantage of GPU acceleration, which requires Mavericks (10.9) and above.

Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 GPU Mode
Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 GPU Mode

However, Lightroom CC still felt faster to me. Not sure if it’s placebo, but flipping between the Library and Develop modules, toggling between 100% and “Fit to Window” views, moving between photos felt quite snappy.

HDR Merge / Panoramic Stitching is useful and convenient and good enough for most people, but experts will probably still want to keep using software like Oloneo PhotoEngine or AutoPano Giga, which offers far more control.

I have not played with a lot with it, nor imported any new photos but so far the update looks good.

YS: The very first thing I did was to check if there were any performance improvements with the main annoyance I have in Lightroom: 1:1 Preview generation. Unfortunately after timing both a batch of 10 images and the usual on-next photo view in browsing mode, there is no discernible difference. The hate portion of my love-hate relationship with Lightroom stems from there, as it is really hard to use it to parse through images when there is so much minute waiting in-between each image.

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Nikon Announces the Nikon 1 J5

Nikon 1 J5 Front

After weeks of speculation Nikon has announced the Nikon 1 J5. The new camera has a number of upgrades, the biggest of which is the 20 megapixel back-side illuminated sensor. Could it be a Sony? I’ve always thought that Nikon using the Aptina sensors was due to the sensor readout speed, needed for both the crazy fast phase detect autofocus of the 1 cameras, as well as the impressive continuous shooting rates on them. Has Nikon managed to marry both speed and quality this time?

Other improvements include a flip LCD that goes both up for selfies and down for overhead shots, an additional command dial in the traditional Nikon thumb position (which I very much welcome) and a mode dial that has dedicated manual exposure modes. Oh, there is now a custom function button next to the lens mount too. At the very least ISO should be pegged to it.

The camera retains the speed of the J4 before it, with the 170 PDAF points and 20 FPS continuous shooting speed with continuous AF, and 60 FPS with AF lock on the first frame, which is still impressive in 2015.

Now, the other upgrade is a bit embarrassing: Nikon has given the J5 4K video capability, but at 15 FPS. Um, I am not sure who is actually going to use it at 15 FPS. Coincidentally 4K at 15 FPS has the same data rate as 1080p at 60 FPS, so it does sound like the engineers were pressured into delivering a 4K solution with whatever they had on hand for a marketing headline.

As much as I like the Nikon 1 cameras for what they are, such moves really do not help the line. Already I see the less than kind comments about it, and the last thing the Nikon 1 cameras need are more jokes to be made about them. It seems a shame too, as the cameras are slowly improving, and I really did quite like the Nikon 1 J4 despite the somewhat noisy sensor. Nikon really should have tried to address the criticisms head on, which they appear to have with the upgrades on hand, as the J5 has the better user interface, possibly better sensor, and better pricing, with the 10-30 PD kit coming in at a reasonable US$499 (US$100 less than the J4).

The Nikon 1 J5 will arrive in late April in black, silver-black, and white, with the above-mentioned 10-30 PD kit at US$500, the 10-30 and 30-110 dual lens kit at US$750, and the 10-100 kit at US$1050. I wonder if the trend in Singapore will continue, with the Singapore prices at 1:1 rates compared to the US prices. S$500 for the J5 will certainly be interesting, especially if the image quality will be up to snuff. More pictures of the J5 after the break. Continue reading Nikon Announces the Nikon 1 J5

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