Adobe revealed some stunning suite-wide changes in June of 2020 - many of which focused on cloud-based, cross-product integration and sync. Photographers were especially excited for the latest Lightroom features, including local hue adjustment, ISO adaptive presets, and a centered crop overlay.
The June update for Photoshop also revealed an exciting host of show-stopping feature upgrades with cross over from Lightroom in some pretty exciting ways. We found two of these features particularly relevant for photographers: a much-improved Smart Select for subjects and objects, and a completely revamped Adobe Camera Raw. For designers, Photoshop 21 also saw rotating patterns, improved font matching, and auto-activation for Adobe Fonts.
AI-Powered Smart Subject Selection & Masking
- Higher accuracy than ever
- An improved Select & Mask workspace
- Refined selection of hairs and other fine details
While some of us may now be familiar with Adobe’s Smart Select tool, the headlining AI-Powered 2020 Smart Select tool is a powerhouse that blows the November 2019 update out of the water entirely. The days of spending painstaking hours toying with Select > Color Range and/or the pen tool to cleanly isolate subjects or objects down to the smallest hair and detail seem to be nearing their end.
Camera Raw Gets a Lightroom Makeover
- Introduction of a film strip for bulk editing in ACR
- Inclusion of ISO adaptive presets as raw defaults
- Inclusion of Local Hue adjustments
- 2x2 Centered crop for exact center framing
- Improved Curves
- Presets sync from Lightroom Classic and Import is easier than ever!
Anyone who has opened a RAW file in Photoshop, or has utilized XMP presets in Photoshop, has likely come in contact with Adobe Camera Raw. This plug-in is often perceived as a sort of bulky proto-Lightroom that's far more utilitarian than user-friendly. More, this was seen as an extremely frustrating option for batch editing, especially for those who preferred the speed of culling and smart edit synchronization they found in Lightroom.
As Adobe released new and sleek cloud-based features and software, it seemed that ACR remained stuck in the past. Even as presets were introduced and one could better synthesize a Lightroom workflow within the Photoshop workspace, there was still much to be desired in terms of control and organization. That was, until now. The new ACR 12.3 FINALLY seamlessly matches the modern Adobe suite. Not only do we see more natural, user-friendly navigation mimicking the new cloud-based Lightroom, but we see a batch editing overhaul with that ever-familiar filmstrip and 5-star rating system.
The ACR update also shares many of Lightroom’s newest and brightest features including ISO adaptive presets as raw defaults, Local hue adjustment, and the 2x2 centered crop overlay. Finally, we’re seeing a Lightroom and Photoshop solution in one, without the need to exhaust our machines (or ourselves) running the two simultaneously. Even better, though synthesizing the Lightroom experience in terms of basic UI, we don’t see Adobe Camera Raw as its own complex system to re-learn, but rather an easy transition into a simpler workflow.
Faster than Ever Stylistic Editing Workflows
- Users can apply presets, actions, and overlays quickly and seamlessly when combining these new features for the fastest stylistic or composite workflows to date.
Some users depend on Lightroom for processing multiple images, making lens corrections, applying detailed raw photo correction to properly balance light data across exposure and white balance, and for applying basic tonal edits prior to applying more detailed pixel-level cosmetic adjustments or creative edits in Photoshop. Typically, this cross-software editing is accomplished by editing the image in Lightroom, saving, and then opening in Photoshop, or utilizing the “Edit in…” function within Lightroom to edit between the two programs.
Now, you can accomplish everything in Photoshop without missing out on features of Lightroom. Here are some quick visuals to walk you through how this works in the new Photoshop 21.
Load multiple images in ACR to rate & cull:
Make and sync settings adjustments:
Easily Create, Import, Manage, & Apply presets:
Move to the Photoshop workspace:
Smart Select objects for easy Overlay application or background manipulation:
Apply actions for enhanced stylistic edits:
Apply brushes and local adjustments for cosmetic or last-touch edits:
Ultimately, Lightroom is still the fastest solution for bulk editing. However, for photographers who edit between both Lightroom and Photoshop, these landmark improvements are priceless in terms of both time and computational power. Whether you're working on more traditional edits that benefit from the detailed cosmetic corrections that can only be accomplished in Photoshop, or more surrealist or whimsical composites, these new features greatly expedite your process.
For users who primarily work in Photoshop and are intimidated by Lightroom’s more traditional workspace or who want to try presets without learning a new program, ACR is now a truly helpful and user-friendly plug-in packing the power of the workflow favorite.