Adobe Giveth, and Adobe Taketh Away…

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Lightroom’s new (and temporary) Import dialog released with version Lightroom 6.2

Quite recently, Adobe gave us all Lightroom 6.2, which was an update that was, well, a not so welcome one. It was fraught with issues of crashing and bugs and many users and educators were shocked to see a total overhaul of the Import dialog’s user interface (UI). In fact, there were so many problems, Adobe very quickly issued Lightroom 6.2.1 to fix the crashing and bug issues, along with a public apology issued by Tom Hogarty. Below are Tom’s words:

I’d like to personally apologize for the quality of the Lightroom 6.2 release we shipped on Monday.  The team cares passionately about our product and our customers and we failed on multiple fronts with this release.  In our efforts to simplify the import experience we introduced instability that resulted in a significant crashing bug.  The scope of that bug was unclear and we made the incorrect decision to ship with the bug while we continued to search for a reproducible case(Reproducible cases are essential for allowing an engineer to solve a problem).   The bug has been fixed and today’s update addresses the stability of Lightroom 6.

The simplification of the import experience was also handled poorly.  Our customers, educators and research team have been clear on this topic: The import experience in Lightroom is daunting.  It’s a step that every customer must successfully take in order to use the product and overwhelming customers with every option in a single screen was not a tenable path forward.  We made decisions on sensible defaults and placed many of the controls behind a settings panel.  At the same time we removed some of our very low usage features to further reduce complexity and improve quality.  These changes were not communicated properly or openly before launch.  Lightroom was created in 2006 via a 14 month public beta in a dialog with the photography community.  In making these changes without a broader dialog I’ve failed the original core values of the product and the team.

The team will continue to work hard to earn your trust back in subsequent releases and I look forward to reigniting the type of dialog we started in 2006.

Sincerely,

Tom Hogarty and the Lightroom Management Team

I think it’s safe to say that such backlash, and such a response is unprecedented for Lightroom.  Unfortunately, the apology didn’t quell all the frustrations—including personal frustrations. But in the spirit of full disclosure, part of my frustration was a tad selfish. I have a book due to come out on Lightroom called Creative Workflow In Lightroom that’s just weeks away, and this UI change makes much of my book outdated and obsolete before the first copy was due to be sold. Not good! I was honestly surprised by the change because such big UI changes almost never happen with dot releases and are typically reserved for full version releases like Lightroom 7. Yes, bugs happen and bugs can be fixed, but the change in the Import dialog was, well, not cool!  Usually, I welcome changes, even drastic ones like the recent one, if they make sense. I believe programs must evolve, and if we photographers are stuck with the idea of don’t mess with my Lightroom, Adobe will lose it’s competitive edge.

It seems as though the goal of the new import dialog was a good one. Adobe wanted to make Lightroom easier to beginners to engage–or for the not so computer savvy user. The trick of course is for Adobe to pull this off while maintaining all the important features that loyal and more savvy users have grown to love.  I suspect it’s complicated  to create a tool that’s advanced enough for the pros, but easy enough for beginners?

However, I think the answer was hinted to in Tom Hogarty’s apology. Tom referred to the open dialog Adobe had with the photography community when Lightroom was created. He said, “In making these changes without a broader dialog I’ve failed the original core values of the product and the team.”  This sounds like a dude sincerely listening to Lightroom users.

Here’s a thought: A program that’s universally accepted by so many as a tool to handle an entire flow of work, is thus a tool that needs to understood as part of many photographer’s lifestyle.  Lifestyle: that’s a big word to use, I know. But I think it’s absolutely appropriate, and people will show their fangs if you mess with their way of life without asking, and certainly will without warning.  I think also rolling back to the time when public beta’s were part of Lightroom’s production, would be very helpful in creating that “broader dialog.”  The more communication the better I say.

So, Thank you Tom for the apology. Thank you more for listening, and thank you even more for rolling back the Import dialog to its old self. Many of us photographers can’t wait to see its return.

IN THE MEANTIME… WHAT SHOULD YOU DO??

Well, there are a few options for how to proceed depending on whether or not you have, or have not upgraded. Please see my tips below for each. But needless to say, none of this is relevant if you have not upgraded to Lightroom 6/CC to begin with.

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    Figure 2. The ‘About Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’ information box to ID which version of Lightroom you own.

    –Your first step should be to verify which version of Lightroom you are running, if you’re not already clear. To do so, go to one of the following and then look to the top of the information box that pops up, to find which version you are currnetly running (see Figure 2):

    • –Mac: Choose Lightroom Menu > About Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
    • –Win: Choose Help Menu > About Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
  • –If you are using Lightroom 6.1, you can choose to simply not upgrade until the next version (likely 6.3) will be released. If you do upgrade, you will see the new import dialog.
  • –If you are using Lightroom 6.2, and you want to roll back to Lightroom 6.1 and the old Import dialog, please follow this link recently supplied by Tom Hogarty: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/roll-back-to-prior-update.html

Personally, I’ve been able to adapt quickly to the new import dialog, and now that I’m left with the good news of the old one returning, which helps my book release, I don’t feel a ton of urgency to roll back. Not to mention, there is something that got lost in all of the this craziness of the new release. Lightroom CC users did get the addition of the Dehaze slider added to localized corrections. But, more on that later.

Good luck with your workflow, in putting this aside to get your camera outdoors, and let me/us know if you have any comments or questions.

—Jason Bradley