Adobe Lightroom was a game changer for me when it was introduced. I used to spend hours in Photoshop tweaking this and that, creating actions to batch a set of images I had shot, and output different resolutions from the giant PSD files I was working in. Lightroom gave me 90 percent of the control I use in PS anyway, and allowed me to do it quickly, easily, and without an ever-growing collection of PSD files. I was in love.
That wasn't to last, though. I quickly found things that bugged me, many of which Adobe have fixed over the different versions, many of which they haven't. The introduction of the ability to edit graduated and radial filters was a huge improvement for example. The dehaze tool has been a welcomed addition for many people I know, as well. Smart previews are great for when I'm working on the road and just need to make a selection without taking my raw files with me. The map module, I know, has been really useful for friends who shoot a lot of travel work. But there are still quite a few things that could be improved in an upcoming release of Lightroom.
Simple things like being able to prioritize a larger portion of resources to the develop module while an export is running would be great. At present, the moment you begin an export, Lightroom comes to a halt. A simple checkbox next to the export progress bar to have the export processed in the background while I continue editing my next session would be nothing short of wonderful in the busy season. Exports would take a little longer, but I would be able to keep working at a reasonable pace.
An addition to this would be to have multiple catalogs open as instances. I work with multiple catalogs to keep them manageable. Typically, I use one catalog per month, but there are times at the beginning of a new month when I may not be finished with the previous month's work, but still need to make some headway into the new month. By having multiple catalogs open, I could go into my previous month, do some work, switch back to my current month and generate some new previews, then maybe go back a couple of months while this is happening and export a few images that a client has requested without breaking my flow.
If there is one thing that would improve my experience with Lightroom to no end, it would be having a dedicated culling mode. For those of you who have used Photo Mechanic, you will know what I'm talking about. The ability to use the JPEG preview embedded in your raw file to quickly flick through what you have would be such a boon for processing speed. Sure, you have the Import dialog, but it's not particularly quick or all that useful. If I uncheck something, it doesn't import.
I've thought about how I personally would like to see this implemented. If I could flip through the files using the embedded previews, make my selection using standard Lightroom tools like flags or stars, and then have Lightroom bring in all the files, but only generate Lightroom previews for my selection, I believe I could save so much time and simplify my workflow. How do you see something like this being implemented? Would it be useful to you?
I have a lot of presets. Some I have bought, some I have made myself. I use them all at times, but never all at the same time. Because of the number of them, I find myself scrolling up and down the preset list so much, it's almost like not having presets at all.
It struck me while using the print module a short while back that there would be a simple way to fix this. In the print module, I am able to select which paper profiles I would like listed in the profile dropdown box. Why not a system like this for presets? They would all remain in your presets folder, but would be effectively switched on and off while you edit different sets of images. This would mean less clutter, and less time hunting around for the preset you're looking for.
More Robust Contrast Adjustments
Presently, we have a lot of different ways to adjust contrast. We are able to use the contrast slider, the curves dialog, the whites/blacks/shadows/highlights, sharpening, and the clarity slider. One of the things I jump to Photoshop most often for is the ability to isolate shadows, mids, and highs and apply separate adjustments to them.
Lightroom has this implemented for split toning, but I think it would be extremely useful to have a similarly styled set of tools that dealt with contrast. It could allow you to reduce contrast in shadow areas, and increase it in the midtones and highs, or any number of combinations. The ability to do this with the curves in Lightroom would also be a great way to apply local contrast adjustments.
Finally, something of a personal annoyance. Lightroom, despite all of its improvements, still fails miserably with its Fujifilm file support. Sharpening and the rendering of greens have both been improved over the past few releases, but Lightroom still falls short of other software packages. Simply put, it's sluggish.
I can import 100 Nikon D800 files, render previews, cull, and begin my initial retouching before Lightroom can even bring in 100 RAF files. Work really needs to be done. If Capture One can have this support, why can't the software giant Adobe dedicate some resources to improving its implementation of Fujifilm files?
These are just a quick rundown of the things that are at the forefront for my business. I'm sure there are many more things people would like to see implemented or changed. If you have anything else you'd like to see in the next version of Lightroom, or perhaps a different way of implementing my suggestions, I'd love to hear it in the comments.