Five Features I Wish Adobe Lightroom Had

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.

Resource Prioritization

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.

Culling

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?

Hiding Presets

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.

Fuji Support

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?

In Conclusion

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.

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51 Comments
Mr Hogwallop's picture

That's a good start, how about being able to color code the folders and collections?

Matthew Saville's picture

Heheh. The same wishlist I've had since, oh, LR3? :-(

Dylan Goldby's picture

Touche.

Ken Kotch's picture

Yep. Good start. I'd love to be able to tether my D5 one day soon...

Mr Hogwallop's picture

I had iffy results forever when tethering 5D with LR, then I got A7r2 and C1...it's like magic :)

Ken Kotch's picture

as of now its just not supported. C1 also doesnt support it.
I had to pay Nikon another $180 for Camera Control to get the files to move from the camera to my computer, then I have LR watch the folder they are saved into.
Kind of a pain but it works until there is a more elegant solution.

Dylan Goldby's picture

Lightroom tethering generally just needs an upgrade. I've had nothing but troubles with it dropping out. It would also be nice to have some more robust import options as well, or automatic export to jpeg after applying a preset.

ATOR Photo's picture

I'd like to see LR as a fast first and last photo stop that gets the basic stuff done. Not an everything and the kitchen sink big slooooow can do it all. Every new slider/function will add to the time it takes to make a preview and it's way too slow as it is. Leave the heavy lifting to Photoshop. Learn from FastRawViewer.

Dylan Goldby's picture

I didn't really go too deep into speed in a general sense, but YES! Lightroom is super slow.

Adam Ottke's picture

Hiding presets, yes! That would be great.

Jason Vinson's picture

I know this is a photoshop job, but if we could get some basic liquify and better cloning, I would never have to open photoshop ever again.

Justin Haugen's picture

agreed. they're already bundling the software, who cares if there is overlap in feature sets at this point.

Jason Vinson's picture

what?

Pavel Backa's picture

Speed ... I want only this little thing. I dont care how long take to import or export photos, but work within develop module is really painful sometimes.

Nathan Dana's picture

How about faster tethered shooting? I'd love to be able to tether and have it show on my big monitor as fast as I can on my LCD.

Aivaras G.'s picture

Just simple drag & select in the Library module... :/

Dylan Goldby's picture

Yep! A more "explorer" or "finder" style library module in how it's controlled would be great.

Chris Cameron's picture

Highlight or in some way indicate which collections a selected photo is in.

Dylan Goldby's picture

Yes! Even a mouse-over that would pop up that little detail could be really useful!

Adam Milton's picture

Great list, I would rather sacrifice niche modules like the book or map, and have the Library and Develop mode more functional as you've mentioned.

What about custom keyboard shortcuts?? Has everyone given up hope for these like me? I have a hard time believing it's so difficult to make these user adjustable. I accidentally hit the S key and go into 'Soft Proofing' all the time, yet I don't know if I've ever used that feature intentionally.

My one really long shot wish would be to support storing catalogs on a network, for studios using LR on multiple machines.

Dylan Goldby's picture

Agreed. The book and map modules are not really robust enough to actually be functional anyway.

Justin Haugen's picture

palettes palettes palettes. I'm sick and fucking tired of panels and that never ending panel window. Solo mode is not the answer, clicking on drop down arrows is barrier to access and an added click. I need to be able to move every panel around as a palette like I would any other adobe CC application.

Nixon K's picture

+1 +1 +1

Justin Haugen's picture

I leave all of them open and scroll between them as quickly as possible. That's still not as fast as being able to have every panel accessible as a customizable palette like we do in Photoshop. I should be able to move any panel like a palette anywhere on my monitors or over the workspace. I want to see every slider at all times without having to scroll or click for it.

Justin Haugen's picture

What's your screen resolution?

Justin Haugen's picture

Ah, maybe I'm due for a 4k monitor upgrade. I work on 1080p displays.

Dylan Goldby's picture

I agree with the OP on this one. There are so many tools I wish I could just hide or move around to get my job done in the most efficient way. Even being able to arrange the tools on my second monitor would be great, so I could use my whole primary monitor for just the image.

william mitchell's picture

On a Mac use on Metal for speed. And better Fuji support.

Hidenori Inagaki's picture

minor but never really addressed since LRv1... is consistency with Bridge photo import folder date format name option. This actually causing minor issues from day 1 of LR in workflow.

Dylan Goldby's picture

ANY integration with other Adobe apps would be welcome to be honest. Why can't InDesign bring a simple "mini bridge" style Lightroom catalog up and allow me to drop links in directly from the Lightroom cat. Then it could automatically read image changes during the design process and have Lightroom export final images when I'm ready to create my end product.

Dylan Goldby's picture

A better way to make selections. Yes, that would be great.

Chris Cusick's picture

I'm totally with you on the multiple catalog thing, Dylan. Mine's done by country rather than by month, but when I string together a few countries I find myself jumping between various catalogs fairly often. And a more effective culling process would be a godsend; I've been using On1's Perfect Browse for this, but having it "all under one roof," so to speak, would be a welcome improvement.

Dylan Goldby's picture

It's a pain in the bum, right? Opening multiple cats would be such a boon.

Jacques Cornell's picture

How about just buying Aperture from Apple and implementing its UI? Much faster and more user-friendly. I switched from Ap to LR out of necessity, and I love some of LR's tools, but I curse the UI every time I use it. Adobe's engineers have never understood UI or non-studio photogs' workflows.

Jacques Cornell's picture

I totally disagree. Moving from Ap to LR, I find that many more clicks and mode changes are required simply to cull, rank, stack & organize. I mean, how retarded is it that when I've selected a 3-frame bracket in the Develop module's filmstrip and want to stack them, I first have to return to Library mode before I can hit command-G to group them? WTF were they thinking? Argh! The modal BS drives me nuts.
Most people who think LR is "intuitive" have been using it forever. It's not.

Jacques Cornell's picture

More capable, yes. Easier to use, no, especially for culling & ranking (aka editing, as opposed to adjusting & retouching). The UI is user-hostile and inefficient compared to Ap. I mean, they call viewing one image at a time "Loupe" view. That's not what a real loupe does. Ap's loupe view is what a real loupe does. The non-sensical terminology reminds me of Windows, where you'd click on the Start button to shut down. They only called it Loupe view to hide the fact that Ap had a real loupe view and LR didn't. LR-only users never noticed, but Ap users did.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Disagree about Loupe view. Ap can show the whole image or zoom in, just like LR. But, IN ADDITION, you can see a magnified view of a portion of the image, and you can move the loupe or park it in a corner and have it show what's under the cursor. The benefit is that you can see the whole image AND the magnified portion at the same time without having to continually zoom in and out like you have to do in LR. When checking a series of near-identical shots of someone at a podium, I can position the cursor over the eye, see the whole image AND the magnified eye at the same time, and zip through checking focus on each one by simply hitting the right-arrow key. LR offers nothing so simple. LR's "Loupe" is nothing but a full-image view with a zoom function. In Ap, you do the same thing by hitting the Z key.
As for what I call editing (select/reject), I find I need a lot more clicks with LR, and you haven't even addressed my original complaint about mode switching. WHY CAN'T I STACK IMAGES IN DEVELOP MODE? LR shoehorns us into THEIR preferred workflow, and it's not MY preferred workflow. The whole modal thing is what happens when engineers and not photographers design software.

Jacques Cornell's picture

"That window is now doing exactly what the loupe does in Aperture *and* it can be resized, unlike Aperture's Loupe."
Uh, Ap's loupe can be resized. I get the feeling you like LR better simply because you're not that familiar with Ap.
" Just select your images > right click > Stacking > ...."
LOL. A keyboard shortcut is much easier and quicker. You can command-G in Library but not Develop. A UI where you have to pay attention to which mode you're in to know what keyboard shortcuts you can use is user-hostile, to say the least.

Jacques Cornell's picture

There's no keyboard shortcut for expanding and collapsing stacks, and there's no built-in shortcut editor. Not user-friendly or efficient.
Oh, and BTW, shift-E does NOTHING - I tried. I have searched all the menus and cannot find a way to display the square loupe you showed above. Again, not user-friendly.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Finally figured out shift-E. The window was popping up on my laptop, which is under my desk. Closed the lid and it appeared on my desktop display. Thanks for the tip.
As for "moving on" my point about command-G stands. Your right-click alternative is not an adequate alternative, and the whole fact of keyboard shortcuts changing with mode is user-hostile.

Campbell Sinclair's picture

Yes I want split toning for blacks and whites. Presently you can only use colors .
I dont have the dehaze as I only have 5.7. I took a series of photos of horses jumping jumps early in the morning with fog lingering . I could not get rid of the glare from the background . it was under exposed photos with blown out highlights . maybe the haze tool would help ?

Rob Mynard's picture

I'd like more control over sharpening, especially when using the selective brush

Bert Nase's picture

Hmm, I have several exports running in parallel and can keep working. The only time LR is blocked if I import from other catalogs or memory card. I have all my images (> 300.000) in one single catalog on external RAID which isn't a real performance problem. It only takes some time if I go back to some albums I haven't used for some time as the previews are newly build (they are automatically removed after some time). So I have everything at hands when needed. And yes, I use PM to tag and cull my images in first place.

Presets are organized in subfolders so I can collapse them when not in use but there could be more levels to be honest.

Mathew Parri Thomas's picture

My kingdom for the ability to have sub folders in develop presets.
I'd also like to see the ability to Favourite/star develop presets and then have a quick filter like in ASE.

Bruce Thayer's picture

Scalable print layouts that can be reused for 4x5, 8x10, 16x20...

Darren Whitley's picture

There are many many good ideas here. I totally agree about using PM for culling. That's the only reason i still use PM, which pains me because they're a very fine company to deal with. I agree about the presets. I want them, but they highjack too much real estate.

I want the option to turn off modules to increase performance. It used to be in the older versions you could remove modules from the application folder and boost performance. You can't do that anymore.

It would be nice if camera manufacturers would embrace Adobe and make RAW processing native to Adobe applications. AFAIK Adobe has to hack or reverse engineer RAW image processing without the absolute support of camera manufacturers. Canon reps. still defend their crappy OEM RAW conversion software as the best way to convert files. It's just too poorly designed to even consider that.

I wish LR was more robust for cataloging video. There's really nothing in its class to essentially create catalogs of videos. The laggardly response of LR is a real turn off at times.

Phil Dickson's picture

Anything that can be done to improve the culling speed would be the biggest win IMO. Building the previews for standard, then 100% size is very time consuming, but still doesn't deliver the super-fast speed I would love.
Definitely agree with being able to put sub-levels in Develop module, that should be an easy fix. I could have folders with wedding effects, portrait effects etc.

My pipe dream would be to have PS incorporated into Lightroom. Edit in PS would still deliver you to the same PS UI, but it would remember all the actions you took, which would then be easily reversible and there's be no need to open PS. I open lots of files at once in PS from LR and it always misses a few - don't ask me why. I then need to carefully find the ones that didn't open and then put them into PS.

Phil Dickson's picture

Oh, and the Slideshow could do with being improved - massively. It's unusable for anyone serious about wowing clients.

Paul Watt's picture

Layers!

Zoli Tarnavölgyi's picture

I wish a bigger or better manageable Curves part, and would be really-really nice, if it has a kind of Opacity slider/option for the separate Develope panels, and overall!
On the other hand, yes, folders for the presets please! :)

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