It’s rare these days to find a product that is so well rounded that it can appeal to an entire market of users. Especially in photography, it is not uncommon to find products that claim to be designed “for beginning to advanced users” but suffer greatly from the attempt to spread out over such a vast range. SLR Lounge's Lightroom DVD is advertised to be an A-Z Lightroom mastery experience, so does it live up to it's claim?
I'm happy to say, yes. The DVD not only manages, but excels in corralling the interests of all possible parties into one comprehensive learning tool. The Lightroom 4 Tutorials DVD Guide by SLR Lounge is fantastic.
When this DVD was first described to me, I was afraid. I expected it to be like every other teaching DVD I have watched: no longer than a few hours, and full of overarching, generalized information rather than the details I need to really get a grip on a topic. I've seen far too many "video tutorial series" in my day to not be wary. It is extremely common to come across a product that claims to allow you to "master" a technique just by watching a one-hour video. It rarely works. No technique can really be explained in a short burst of time. I was jaded. "A great instructional DVD isn't possible," I said. But after seeing what SLR Lounge's Pye Jirsa came up with, my faith in what the at-home DVD can accomplish was restored.
The first chapter doesn't even show Lightroom, but instead Pye describes what to expect with the program, which works great to ease you into the experience.
Pye goes way beyond the expected with this DVD. Of the 14 hours you get with your purchase, the first five chapters are dedicated to introducing the viewer to what Lightroom is and how you can use it best. It doesn't just peruse the functions, it goes into incredible detail in every capability of Lightroom. Pye obviously knows what he is talking about, and his expertise is such that he is able to easily explain everything with wonderful pace and simplicity. He speaks in simple terms, and moves from subject to subject at the perfect pace for teaching something. The best part is that he divides the DVD into very easy to define sections. You can obviously go chapter-by-chapter and watch all 14 hours in order, which works great. However, if you've used Lightroom before, you can easily skip around and find the sections that are pertinent to you or what you need help with immediately.
When I say Pye goes into detail, it is a massive understatement. He explains subjects so completely that there is hardly a place one would need to ask for further explanation. He shows how to perfectly customize the workspace, watermarks, metadata presets, and other functions of Lightroom so that you personal experience with the product is maximized. For those of you who really don't know Lightroom at all, or just think you could use a pro to teach you how to use all the functions that you maybe didn't even know existed, this DVD covers it. He slowly teaches you everything, from understanding how the program works to using the simple functions and basic processing techniques to advanced post processing techniques. It's paced extremely well, and doesn't suffer from the rushed, fast paced, and impatient tone that is commonplace among many tutorial videos. It’s as though Pye has been teaching for years, and it truly works.
So Pye can teach a beginner how to use Lightroom. That takes a certain kind of teaching method that is usually separate from what an advanced user would call for. We might expect the transition to falter. But like I have said, Pye doesn't fall victim to either shoehorning himself to one audience or being so overarching that nobody can benefit. The detail spent on what a beginner would need does not detract from the extensive amount of time Pye spends on advanced techniques. Pye shows you how to process a number of photos, and even includes thirty files that allow you to work along side the DVD and learn as Pye guides you. It's an intensive process that is usually reserved for expensive college courses. They aren't just small tester jpeg files, but the full resolution RAW files. In this way, Pye allows you to get the most out of what Lightroom has to offer and lets you work along side him and get the same results he does by following his detailed instruction. Pye manages to cram weeks of classroom-level information into one amazing place that you can move through at your own pace.
While Pye explains a process on my right monitor, I can follow along with him on my left. It is exactly like being in a classroom, only I'm not bored and I didn't have to drive anywhere.
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SLR Lounge's Lightroom DVD is more than what the title says. It's even more than you could get from a weekend seminar. It is a full on, highly intensive, at home university-level course. It grabs the best from the comfort of learning in your own home and combines it with the necessary incredible attention to detail and careful instruction you would normally only find in a school setting and manages to arrange it all into one product. It could easily have been a Frankenstein monster, but instead emerges a complete and wholly functional teaching tool. And best of all, it works.
It was great to have all the images shown on the DVD included so that I could practice on a wide range of photos I might eventually take.
The most impressive thing about this DVD is the price. College courses cost hundreds of dollars, and you only get to go through the class series once. Other photography related DVDs can run up hundreds of dollars, and those that are under the c-note price tag can even be less than two hours long. But SLR Lounge is setting a new standard by offering this 14 hour DVD and instructional packet for a cool $99. He could have easily charged a few hundred dollars and it would have STILL been a steal. 11 cents a minute for extreme detail and amazing instruction sounds like a bargain to me.
If you want to learn Lightroom and you learn best from a personal instructor, this DVD is basically the end-all option outside of hiring a professional to sit next to you in your home office. Even then, the pro doesn't wait around for you to be ready to learn. With this DVD, you can power up two screens and have Pye calmly walking you through what you need to know on one screen while simultaneously following along on your second monitor. This is the best way I have seen to learn how to use Lightroom. Hands down, no contest. I could even go so far as to say that it is possibly the best instructional DVD for a software program I have ever watched.
To read more about the DVD, read the table of contents, and order your copy, head over to SLR Lounge's Store.
Note: Jaron received a digital download of the Lightroom 4 DVD, not a physical copy.