Friday, February 23, 2007

Adobe Lightroom - a lucrative surrender

The Raw format has gone fully mainstream, as proven by Adobe's launching Lightroom, a package entirely dedicated to filing and non-destructive editing of Raw files.

Lightroom is a surrender, on favorable terms, a retreat with honor. It signals the failure of Adobe's attempt to
impose a unified digital negative (DNG) and thereby commoditize the digital SLR camera.

This attempt at hegemony of the Pro and Prosumer imagery market sems to have failed at least for the time being. The SLR camera market is now owned by Canon, Nkon and Sony, and none of these seems to be in a hurry to kowtow to Adobe. Of course, matters may still change if customers demand Raw in the consumer market, but at that point Microsoft would be in a better position to embrace, extend and profit than Adobe.

In launching Lightroom, Adobe has come late to the party inaugurated by Apple' Aperture, but Adobe seems to have replaced Apple's arrogance with an ear for the customer's wishes, and probably has a bestseller on its hand.

Of course, it is to be expected that Microsoft, who recently acquired iView Media Pro will gatecrash at least the ground floor -consumer use of Raw - of this party when it gets big enough to warrant a landgrab. The PC has become the digital image shoebox, and even Bill Gates has kid pix to save these days.

I will not be discussing color management in Lightroom here, due to a momentarily lukewarm relationship with Adobe PR who see no reason to send me a copy. However, Andrew Rodney discusses the color model for Raw in a very knowledgable article.



Barry Pearson said...

Lightroom has no such implications for DNG!

Lightroom continues Adobe's policy of making DNG its first-class raw file format, by being the only raw file format in which Lightroom's XMP settings can be embedded, along with non-raw formats like JPEG and TIFF.

The number of cameras that output DNG is largely irrelevant (although the number grows year by year). Their raw files can easily be converted to DNG on input to the computer. The vast majority of photographers who use DNG don't have cameras that output DNG. The vast majority of DNG files in the world didn't come from directly from cameras.

What matters is whether software can handle DNG files, and apart from the software of most (but not all) camera manufacturers, the large majority of raw handling software supports DNG. (Bibble is holding out; Capture One has plans to support it this year).

Lightroom makes it so easy to convert to DNG on input that many photographers will be introduced to DNG this way.

Anonymous said...

Lightroom was under development for several years before Aperture was announced, so I don't think it's fair to say that Adobe was late to any particular game.