Lightroom Classic Review. New Features. More Possibilities (Mid 2022)

For years, Adobe Lightroom has been the pinnacle workhorse for photographers. The interface is clean, simple to use, and batch editing significantly cuts down on precious editing time. But then it seemed that Adobe became complacent as Lightroom stagnated. Users contemplated jumping ship, and Adobe has swept in with some massive updates for Lightroom.

We hate banner ads too. Download our app for iOS, iPad, and Android and get no banner ads for $24.99/year.

The newest updates for Lightroom have added some necessary functionality to remain competitive against the likes of Capture One. After years of bagging, users can finally adjust the intensity of their precious presets. Adobe has also added some AI-driven features and intuitive adaptive presets. Is it enough? We think so. Keep reading to find out more.

Editor’s Note: We haven’t reviewed Adobe Lightroom in years. Consider this our massive update.

The Big Picture

Adobe has added some significant functionality to its beloved Lightroom. You can finally adjust the intensity of presets for added flexibility. A few extra bells and whistles have also been added. Among them are the new crop overlays, adaptable presets, and the ability to edit video in Lightroom CC.

We prefer the Classic interface at Phoblographer, but we still use Capture One for our gear tests. It would be great to see the company focus solely on the Classic interface and add the best of CC functionalities with the use of layers. A patch tool would be stellar. One can hope! That being said, Adobe is moving in the right direction and finally listening to photographers’ requests again.

It remains a great option for wedding, family, and senior portrait photographers. Batch editing has always been one of Lightroom’s strong suits. Fashion and beauty photographers will still need the functionality of Photoshop to keep up with demanding industry standards.

We are giving Adobe Lightroom four out of five stars. Want to check it out for yourself? Head over to the Adobe website and try a free trial. Or you can subscribe to the CC version for a small monthly fee.

Pros

  • Simple design
  • Adjustable premium and adaptive presets offer flexibility
  • Quick and accurate masking 
  • New crop overlays
  • Ability to edit video in Lightroom CC

Cons

  • More variety for the sky adaptive presets would be great
  • No layers
  • Still no patch tool

Gear Used

We tested Lightroom on a 2020 16” Macbook Pro with an M1 Max processor. The images used were captured with Fujifilm X-T4, Fujifilm GFX100s, Sony a7 IV, and Canon EOS R5.

What’s New In Lightroom?

It has been over a year since I left Adobe lightroom for Capture One. I’m happy to report that the newest update has added some sought-after functionality. Adobe has added a new compare tool, adjustable premium presets, and adaptive presets for snappy photo editing. Lightroom now offers quick and impressively accurate AI-driven masking and red-eye removal. Real estate photographers will appreciate the new crop overlays. Last but not least, you can finally edit videos in Lightroom CC.

Ease Of Use

Both Lightroom Classic and CC remain simple and easy to use. Some of the functionalities have subtle differences between the two iterations.

Compare Images

You can now compare two images side by side in Lightroom. Click on View and scroll down to Compare. Images can either be viewed side by side or stacked. Click on the two lines next to Orientation and select your preference.

Crop Overlays

Lightroom now offers several different crop overlays. You can choose fifths instead of thirds, and the new triangles overlay is cool. Real estate photographers will appreciate these options for better compositions.

Red-Eye Removal

Both iterations of Lightroom offer AI red-eye removal. In CC, click on the bandaid to populate the red-eye removal tool. There is an option to have it automatically do it for you. Although, Adobe has made it easy to select the red portion of the eyes. You can further dial it in from there by adjusting the pupil size and opting to darken it.

The red-eye removal tool is located towards the top right of your screen under the histogram. Click on the eye icon and again drag it to select the eye. You can also choose whether or not it is a human or a pet eye. There isn’t an option to adjust the pupil size or darken it. I prefer the one in CC as the one in Classic feels a bit more proprietary.

Invert Masks

Lightroom’s new masking is impressive. It is blazingly fast and surprisingly accurate. At first, I was surprised there wasn’t an eraser-like tool. Intuitive masking negates the need for one. The select subject allows you to make global exposure and color adjustments to the subject. You can then either invert it to make necessary adjustments to the sky. Or, you can select only the sky to begin with and make the same adjustments.

Lightroom CC takes it one step further and lets you add or subtract from the mask. In this example, I chose to subtract the sky from the selection and make a subtle adjustment to the ground.

Adjustable Premium Presets

Lightroom is equipped with various premium presets akin to Capture One styles. The software includes skin tone effects to apply to your portraits. There are also a variety of other style categories to choose from. Among these are Click an image, scroll through the presets to see the desired effect. I found the presets designed for food photography to be pretty decent. 

Hover your mouse over one of them to see the desired effect and click it to apply it. You can adjust the intensity by moving the amount slider that generates under the preset in Lightroom CC.

In CC, the slider is located at the top of the Presets panel.

Adaptive Presets

Adobe has introduced adaptive sky and subject presets. They are based on the same AI technology used for the Select Sky and Select Subject masking tools. The software accurately masks the subject or sky and only applies the effect to specific parts of your image.

There are nine adaptive sky presets, and six adaptive subject presets to choose from. These are also adjustable and can be applied when batch editing. I wish there were more options for the adaptive sky presets, although this is a huge time saver!

Video Editing

Adobe has finally added basic video editing capabilities. Users can click on the crop icon to trim the video. You can also apply the same premium presets to the video. Adjust the overall effect by adjusting the slider as you would with photo editing. But, it is only available in Lightroom CC.

Who Should Buy This?

Adobe is doing something very right with this newest rendition of Lightroom. It remains easy enough for anyone to use, but the software is now functional enough to keep the professionals enticed as well. Lightroom is a wonderful program for photographers of all genres and skill sets. And the updates have convinced me to keep my monthly subscription fee.

After years of waiting, photographers can finally adjust the intensity of their presets. Masking is fast and impressively accurate, which makes editing a breeze. Lightroom CC takes it a step further by allowing users to add to or subtract from the mask. AI-driven adaptive sky and subject presets are a fantastic choice. I rarely encounter red eyes these days, and the red-eye removal tool is an added perk.

There are a few things I would still like to see added to Lightroom. Layers are at the top of that list because I want to see my adjustments. While it is more than sufficient for weddings, family photos, and senior portraits, I would love to see a patch tool for better skin retouching for fashion imagery. More work is needed for fashion and beauty photography demands. That’s where Photoshop comes in.

Even so, these newest updates are pretty pleasing. Plus, we can finally edit video clips! I am excited to see where Adobe is headed: something I haven’t thought about in a while.

Brittany Smith

Brittany is a commercial fashion and portrait photographer working in Montana and NYC. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local artisan coffeeshop, writing for photography education sites and publications, teaching fitness classes, or baking something fabulous.