Lightroom is viewed by most as direct competition for Apple's Aperture. Lightroom is available as a public beta to Macintosh users who are using OS X 10.4.3, and who have a 1 Ghz or faster processor with 768 MB of RAM (according to the press release, and other places on the site--however I know I saw somewhere that it said 512 MB). It is a free download.
Before getting into the features of the program, a little background on the user, and the hardware available: I have not used any of Adobe's most recent products. I have a very old copy (5.5) of Photoshop that I barely use, mostly because it requires starting up OS 9. I have not used Apple's Aperture, either (it would not even load on this laptop). In other words; when it comes to photo editing software I am a novice.
That said, I tend to pick up on things pretty quickly, and generally don't get to nervous with new software. I also seem to have an embedded artistic sense that helps with these sorts of things.
The equipment: PowerBook G4 Titanium. 512 MB of RAM (below the 768 MB requirement), 1 Ghz processor.
I recommend watching the video tutorial on Adobe's site. It is a long one at 20 minutes, it downloaded very slowly for me, but the server is probably seeing quite heavy traffic today as a result of the recent announcement. I also note that it seems they take a couple of stabs directed squarely in Aperture's direction.
Now to the software highlights:
Upon startup the user is greeted with a four-section, one window interface. It has a black background that highlights the pictures and the menus. The main images are in the center, flanked by menus on the left and right. In the lower section is the “film roll.” All of these panes are re-sizeable.
I imported some of my own work from my 5 mega-pixel Minolta DiMage A1. I can't say much for the image quality of the camera, but it is what I have to work with.
- The flexibility of the filing system is really nice: You can store your photos in your existing file structure, or you can import them directly. Either way, the editing is non-destructive, so you don't have to worry about whether you are editing the original or not (something I have done in Photo Shop several times).
- All the various menus are very user-friendly. I have had no trouble finding my way around.
- Many of the keyboard shortcuts are one-key. This is very easy to get used to.
- It is possible to dim the entire user-interface just by hitting the “L” key, and the buttons, though less-visible, are still usable. HItting the same key again cycles the interface to complete black, and again brings it to normal.
- It works on my machine. Even though my machine is well below spec in the memory category, this program retains its functionality; though with higher resolution photos, users may run into trouble.
- The slide show feature is very customizable, bringing the pro the ability to import company logo, name, and much other information, as well as the ability to export to a number of widely used formats--with more on the way.
- Though I have not tried it, the printing abilities are very interesting, and look very streamlined.
The pro-level photographer will not probably want to exclusively use the beta, but it looks promising. I know I am going to keep using it. It looks like they are positioning this to compete directly with Aperture. In my mind, if it works on this computer, and has even just a little more functionality for a better price, I am in. I will let you know if I change my mind.
Added photos, and the forgotten links (sorry to have left them off).