I’ve used Canon DSLRs for many years and my preferred method of tethered capture (where you connect the camera to a computer with a USB cable to transfer files while shooting) has long been Lightroom. But that’s not because it has ever been particularly fast or stable. Thankfully, all Canon shooters should see improvements thanks to new updates to Lightroom’s tethering capabilities. The File menu now features a Canon-specific tethering option, so users are less likely to experience dropouts, disconnections and the inexplicable loss of image files that should have made it to the computer. Simply choose the pertinent option under the Tethered Capture heading of Lightroom’s File menu.
Rearrange the Develop Module
Photographers are nothing if not particular about their tools, and now Lightroom users can customize the Develop Module to put their favorite tools right at their fingertips and avoid having to scan past several rarely used tools to find what they need. For instance, if you rarely use the Tone Curve or Split Toning tools, you can drag those panels to the bottom of the Develop Module, replacing them with tools you use more often, such as those in the Effects and Calibration panels. Simply right-click on any Develop Module panel header and choose Customize Develop Panel from the window that pops up.
Improved High-ISO Rendering
The new Process Version 5 update improves Lightroom’s RAW image processing in a way that minimizes colorcast in high ISO images, improving image quality for photographers who use any camera while shooting in low light. Better color is complemented by lower noise, which also manifests itself in the Dehaze slider’s negative values. Best of all, these improvements are automatic and don’t require any special input by the user.
Depth Range Masking
The most unique of Lightroom’s new features, in my opinion, is the introduction of depth range masking. This tool allows Lightroom to behave in a way familiar to iPhone users who use Portrait mode to create the appearance of shallow depth of field for stronger compositions. The iPhone automatically makes a quick mask based on depth to separate the subject from the background, and now Lightroom users can have that same kind of control. When working with HEIC photos—Apple’s new image format that has largely replaced JPEGs in its products—Lightroom users can harness the power of that depth data that’s captured by the camera and recorded in the HEIC file. Lightroom can access that data in the Range Mask options of the Brush settings area of the Adjustment panel. Simply choose Depth as the Range Mask type (under the adjustment brush panel) and then adjust the slider to modify the range or click and drag on the image area to be adjusted. The Smoothness slider also helps fine-tune the transition between foreground and background areas. With the depth range properly selected, image adjustments may be selectively applied between foreground and background elements. This is no doubt just the beginning of a technology that’s likely to find its way into all kinds of cameras and image processing software going forward.