While we all succumb to the excitement around a new camera, a new lens, or even a new light, in all likelihood it’s updates to the software we use that will carve a path of greater change in our work, and for the majority of photographers out there Lightroom is that primary piece of software, so we should rejoice that Lightroom 7.2 is finally out. Because it’s actually a notable improvement. Finally.

A few weeks ago we got an early look at the ‘new’ Lightroom version to use and test, and our findings were very positive with measurable and noticeable improvements in key areas like preview generation and export. That version is now released today, and with it comes a number of improvements and updates to Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom CC and Lightroom CC on Mobile.

There tends to be some level of caution and even hesitation when a new Lightroom version is released, and for good reason. Since its inception, Adobe’s Creative Cloud updates have often brought as many set-backs as updates, and sometimes a disruption on that end can make updating not worth the risk. However, while we can’t foresee all possible problems, the benefits to this upgrade are not minor.

As a recap, in our initial testing of Lightroom 7.2 we were using 105 Sony A7R3 and Nikon D850 raw files to test times for: I) import and standard preview generation ii) exporting for JPEG at 100% iii) exporting at 85%. And overall there was near-as-makes-no-difference a 21% speed increase importing and building standard previews for 105 raw files; 22% speed increase exporting 25 files for JPEG at 100%, and a surprising 35% increase in exporting for JPEG at 85%.

To avoid confusion, the numbers in grey are how many more seconds it took 7.1 to complete the same operation as 7.2 in blue.

There also seemed to be better fluidity image-to-image with and without 1:1 smart previews generated. Adjustments also seem to be a little more instant as does preset previewing, and after a few hours (2) there didn’t seem to be any obviously noticeable reduction in performance. As mentioned in the initial review, there was no real extended use, nor was there any use with catalogues of any truly substantial size, but still, the outlook was bright. 

A key thing to note too is that Adobe has said performance will “scale appropriately with a customer’s investment in hardware.” That’s generally been a problem, with massive upgrades required for marginal gains in performance.

Lightroom 7.2 New Features (From Adobe):

Folder Search

Much like the ability to search your Collections, you are now able to find a specific Folder via text search.

Filter Favorites within Folders

You also now have the option to filter Favorites within Folders. You can tag the folder as a favorite, by right clicking the folder and select “Mark Favorite”. The folder will have a star icon next to it to signify it is now a Favorite Folder, which you can now filter for.

Instantly Create Collections from Folders

This makes it easy to replicate your folders as collections so that you can sync them with Lightroom mobile.  When right-clicking on a Folder, the context menu command “Create Collection Set” will replicate the Folder hierarchy as a Collection and Collection Set hierarchy.

Create Collections from a Pin in the Map Module

Easily add all of the photos from a specific location to a Collection.  Simply right-click on any pin or group of pins on the Map and choose “Create Collection”.

New Library Filter for Edited or Unedited Images

Now you can quickly find photos that are edited, or unedited, by selecting “Edit” in the Library Filters Metadata browser.

Create a Smart Collection with Edited or Unedited Images

 We have also added the ability to create smart collections based off images with edits in them.  When you go to create a Smart Collection, click on the filter “Develop”, then “Has Edits.” Has Edits includes images with adjustments and/or have been cropped.

Adobe Camera Raw

In addition to the performance improvements describe above, we have enabled the Photoshop Continuously Scalable User Interface feature in the ACR plugin, limiting the scaling to 100% or 200%. This is primarily a Windows change to sync up Photoshop, and Windows users will now be able to scale the ACR plugin from 100% to 500%, in increments of 100%. The Windows OS determines which actual scale factors are available. On Windows, per-monitor scaling is now supported. This means that in a multi-monitor setup, each monitor can be set to a different scale factor and ACR will display accordingly.

As with any software release, there are bound to be new issues that arise when a veritable army of people begin using and testing, so let us know how you’re getting on with the new Lightroom. We think it’s certainly a good step in the right direction.

Find out more on Adobe’s blog posts here and here.