Import Improvements in the Lightroom 3 Beta

Lightroom 3 Beta's About dialog

A little over a week ago Tom Hogarty – Product Manager for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – announced the Lightroom 3 public beta (download here).  Its been more than a year since the last version of Lightroom was released so I was keen to see what improvements had been m2de to my favourite photography program.  So keen in fact that I didn’t wait till I got home from my holidays and started using it immediately to import and organise photos taken on the trip!

For those of you new to Lightroom the Import feature is how you load photos into your catalog so the program can find and work with them.  The Import feature has obviously received a lot of attention from the Lightroom team this time around.  There are three major changes that have been made, and a number of usability improvements.  Major changes:

  1. Import from Disk” and “Import from Device” dialogs have been merged into a single Import dialog
  2. UI has been completely overhauled aesthetically
  3. UI now has Compact and Expanded modes that give you control over all aspects of the import task on a single screen

There have also been a number of usability improvements including:

This is a beta so don’t expect perfection just yet.  The dialog can get a little sluggish under certain circumstances and I’ve logged a bug report about one specific case (Copy as DNG when source and destination are on the same drive) that can stall the import entirely.  But all in all I found it was reliable enough for my import workflow and I’m liking the new UI more and more every day. 

One of the great things about this being a beta is it will only get better over time.  I’m personally crossing my finders and hoping these three usability improvements make it into the final release:

  1. Extending folder renaming to use a template-based mechanism similar to to file renaming, including access to the new “Shoot Name” field
  2. Backups to be stored using the same folder structure, not just file names, as the imported files
  3. Allow resizing of the dialog and the side bars within it.

I will get to the other new and improved Lightroom 3 beta features over time but wanted to share my observations after working with one of the first features most users will be encounter.  If there are any other features you are keen to hear about now  Tom has posted links to other beta related articles and resources.  And if you plan to test LR3 yourself then I’d recommend reviewing Victoria Bampton’s LR3 Beta – Popular Bugs and Forum Threads post to find out its most frequently noted limitations.

Detailed Look at Import UI

Compact Import dialog

When you first try to Import Lightroom defaults to the Compact dialog and launches over the dimmed main UI. 

Lightroom 3 Beta's Compact Import dialog (with annotations) Key elements of the Compact dialog:

If you are familiar with Lightroom 2 you will have noticed that the file renaming, Develop Presets and Preview size features are not available via the Compact dialog.  To configure these you must use the Expanded dialog, though once set you can always create a new Import preset that captures these details and can be chosen from the Compact dialog.

Additional screenshots of the Compact dialog’s “Quick Setting” and “Summary” modes (respectively) can be found below.

Lightroom 3 Beta's Compact Import dialog (Quick Settings mode) Lightroom 3 Beta's Compact Import dialog (Summary mode)

Expanded Import dialog

Clicking the arrow button at the bottom left corner of the Compact dialog opens the Expanded dialog.  The description below refers only to elements that differ from the Compact dialog.  

Lightroom 3 Beta's Expanded Import dialog (with annotations)

Key elements of the Expanded dialog:

* Not available for Add import type

All four import types (Add, Copy, Copy as DNG and Move, respectively) are depicted below, including at least one example of each of the Import settings panels.

Lightroom 3 Beta's Expanded Import dialog (Add import type, with File Handling and Apply During Import panels visible) Lightroom 3 Beta's Expanded Import dialog (Copy import type, with Destination panel visible) Lightroom 3 Beta's Expanded Import dialog (Copy as DNG import type, with Destination panel visible) Lightroom 3 Beta's Expanded Import dialog (Move import type, with File Renaming panel visible)

I hope you’ve found this trip through the improved Import UI useful, and good luck with your Lightroom beta testing!

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Posted on November 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm by Matt · Permalink
In: Review, Software · Tagged with: , , , ,