I’m an Adobe Lightroom user, and although I love the way Lightroom Classic works, I think there’s still a lot to be improved on. From historical hangups to advanced features designed for busy professionals, here are some Lightroom features I wish existed.
I use Lightroom Classic over CC because I’m a full-time photographer and CC just doesn’t have enough editing options for my intensive workload. Lightroom Classic is my go-to image editor, because it’s fast, intuitive, and non-destructive, but there’s still a way to go until it’s perfect. Here are my two cents worth of updates I’d like to see in the future.
Match Up the Crop Tool Aspect Ratio
For some reason, amidst all the updating of software over the past few years, Adobe seems to have left an inconsistency along the way. Go into Lightroom and crop your photo. You’ll see that the crop is unlocked, meaning you can make it any size you like without holding down the shift key. Now, go into Photoshop and do the same thing. Yep, that’s right, it’s locked: wherever you move your crop anchors, the aspect ratio remains the same.
Photoshop CC got this update a little while ago, but it seems Lightroom Classic (at the time of writing) has yet to follow suit. It’s a real bugbear of mine because I regularly export edits from Lightroom into Photoshop and forget that I have to switch gears and use the shift key. Why not just homogenize this feature? Most photographers I know have the Photography Creative Cloud plan, which includes both pieces of software, so it doesn’t make sense why this feature isn’t the same across editors.
Auto Mask on Graduated Filters
The adjustment brush has a cool feature called “Auto Mask,” which constrains the brush footprint to similar colors and tones so that you can affect only one part of an image, like the sky, for example. I’d like to see this extended to the Graduated Filter, because most of the time, I’m trying to darken skies against an uneven horizon and I don’t want to darken my landscape.
Adobe could call it a Smart Graduated Filter or simply add the Auto Mask button to the tool and give options for size and feathering as they do on the brush so I can decide whether the filter is harsh against the horizon line or softer.
Vibrance Slider on Adjustment Brush
There’s a saturation slider on the adjustment Brush, but why no vibrance? I can’t think of why. Lightroom Classic just got an update to include hue adjustment, so why can’t vibrance be added? For those not quite sure of the difference between saturation and vibrance, a basic explanation is that saturation boosts overall color intensity, regardless of hue or tone. That means you can whack it up high and clip all the colors until the point of posterization. Whereas vibrance will enhance weaker colors and never clip them. For the most part, I use vibrance when editing my photos due to the clipping from the saturation slider.
Bandwidth Selector for HSL/Color
I liken the Hue/Saturation/Luminance/Color panel in Lightroom to an audio equalizer on your Hi-Fi. Each color is represented by a single slider, which can boost and reduce its respective color. Now, there are two kinds of equalizers I’m referring to here: a graphic equalizer and a parametric equalizer, the latter of which is vastly more powerful.
A graphic equalizer boosts or reduces signal on a small bandwidth of one specific frequency (with a slight slope on either side because of physics), and that’s what the HSL sliders appears to do. The parametric equalizer can be tuned to a specific frequency and bandwidth (or Q) adjusted so that you can affect the surrounding frequencies as well. I’d like to see the option for bandwidth selection in the HSL panel, much like a parametric equalizer, because I don’t always want just one type of blue to be boosted.
The best way I can do this currently is to use the dropper tool in the HSL/Color panel and click on the part of the image I want to alter, but there’s no fine-tuning, and you’re stuck with the pixels you just happen to select.
More Luminance and Detail Control on Adjustment Brush
Great, so I can use the sharpness and noise sliders in the Adjustment Brush to control their respective variables, but that’s it. I’d like to see the same kind of control I have under the Detail panel, which includes sliders for luminance, detail, contrast, and color noise reduction. It’d be especially helpful when sharpening eyes on portraits or on macro photographs. At the moment, I export to Photoshop for this.
Syncing Smart Collections
What I’d like to do is set up a Smart Collection with some rules that automatically sync with eligible catalog images and then sync those to the Creative Cloud. That way, I could use my 20 GB storage (I’m on the Photography CC plan) just to keep an up-to-date portfolio in which I can show others/clients without having to manually update every time I finish a new photograph.
Yes, there’s a workaround where you can make Smart Collections and then highlight those images and drag them into the normal collection to sync, but it’s another manual step that could be avoided if Smart Collections were allowed to sync to the cloud. I’m not sure why this doesn’t exist already. Perhaps if Adobe is reading this, they could explain more?
Start-Up Tutorial Showing How to Speed up Lightroom
There are so many people out there dissatisfied with the speed of their Lightroom Classic; I know, I was one of them. There are a few good tweaks you can make based on your specs to speed up the workflow, but I’d like to see this as a first-time start-up tutorial where after you finish learning where the basic tools are, Lightroom runs a diagnostic to analyze your computer specs and helps you set up cache size, previews, and more to make things super speedy.
On the whole, I’m extremely happy with Lightroom Classic. I like the way it handles and organizes my files, and I’ve yet to find better software to do this. I’m not entirely convinced the subscription-based payment is for me, but I understand that this is the way the world is moving — there’s even a company in the USA that is offering subscription electric cars. But these are seven features I’d like to see implemented to Lightroom Classic to make it even better.