First released in beta form last October, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 featured an overhauled imaging engine with improved algorithms for chrominance noise reduction and sharpening, while retaining the ability to use the old algorithms if desired. Also on offer were new vignetting and grain tools, and a redesigned workflow -- especially in the area of image import. For output, the first LR3 beta brought full watermarking capabilities,customized print layouts, HD video slideshows, and integration with photo sharing websites. The initial beta also focused on improving performance.
Today's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 beta 2 is said to bring further performance improvements, especially in the Library and Import modules. Beta 2 also enables the luminance noise reduction slider, which had previously been left disabled to help users offer feedback specific to the previous beta's revamped chrominance noise reduction algorithms. Just like in the previous beta version, the old algorithms are still available if desired, and can be accessed by switching the process version - although the names have now been changed to "2003" and "2010" rather than "Version 1" and "Version 2". The vignetting tool has been reworked, and now allows dropdown selection of three vignette types - either highlight priority, color priority, or the paint overlay method which was the standard in Lightroom 2.x.
Lightroom 3 Beta 2 also brings limited support for videos shot with the latest generation of digital SLRs, allowing the program to function as a dedicated media manager, where previously Lightroom users had to rely on a separate tool to organize and manage their video clips. Lightroom doesn't offer the ability to play videos itself, but can create thumbnail and full-size previews of each video clip that appear alongside images in the Lightroom library, and is capable of launching videos in the computer's default external viewer. Videos can be managed in much the same way as still images, including the ability to rate, label or flag clips, and to add them to collections or favorites.
Other changes in the latest beta of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 include tethered shooting support for certain Canon and Nikon digital SLRs, the ability to toggle between landscape and portrait-orientation cropping by pressing the X key, and the addition of further improvements in the areas of importing, watermarking and publishing to photo sharing services -- including further file naming options, and the ability to limit files to a specific predetermined size.
More details can be found on the Adobe Labs website, while Adobe TV has just published a video covering some of the new features. As with the previous beta, Lightroom 3 beta 2 is not yet recommended for use in a production environment, and should only be used with copies of image catalogs to avoid potential issues. It can be downloaded and tested free of charge, and doesn't require you to own (or have tried) previous versions.