At its annual Adobe MAX event today, Adobe rolled out new versions of its flagship applications, including the Lightroom ecosystem that encompasses Lightroom Classic, Lightroom desktop, and mobile Lightroom apps. They can now simulate shallow depth of field using existing depth maps or by creating new ones, edit in greater dynamic range on HDR displays, add a new Point Color tool for adjusting specific colors and more.

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Lightroom Classic 13.0 and Lightroom 7.1 for macOS and Windows are available starting today to Creative Cloud subscribers via the Creative Cloud app, while the Lightroom 9.0 mobile apps for iOS, iPadOS and Android are available in their respective app stores.

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Lens Blur

The ability to create artificial background blur to simulate depth of field effects is now a staple on modern smartphones, but it's taken a while to appear in the Lightroom ecosystem. Whereas phones and their multiple cameras can gauge depth information during capture, that's not an easy task with a standard flat image.

The new Lens Blur tool can use the depth map information already stored within the image or scan the photo to create its own, to create a simulated shallow depth of field. Lightroom Classic is shown here.

The new Lens Blur tool is characterized as being in Early Access but is available to all subscribers. If the photo already includes device depth information, Lightroom uses that as the depth map; if not, Lightroom analyzes what's in the scene (such as a prominent subject) to determine which areas should be out of focus.

Visualize the depth map and manually adjust it using the Lens Blur tool. In this case, I'm adding some foreground blur by painting that section.

Beyond just blurring areas, you can choose between five bokeh characteristics, such as Circle, which simulates the effect created by a modern lens with a circular aperture, or 5-Blade for replicating the look produced by some vintage lenses. There are also controls for refining the focus and blur areas by painting on the map. You can also limit the range of the depth values in focus or specify a focus point within the image to be in focus, throwing the rest out of focus (including the subject).

Choose different bokeh qualities by simulating various types of physical apertures; in this case, the Ring, or "doughnut," effect.

HDR output and editing

A perpetual challenge in photography is recording images in formats that cannot display the full range of color and brightness that we see with our eyes. High dynamic range (HDR) displays have become more common, and cameras (particularly smartphones) are able to capture those greater ranges, but Lightroom (and most apps) haven't been able to fully take advantage of the extra information.

Most camera's Raw files contain significantly more dynamic range than is typically included in a standard dynamic range (SDR) image so Lightroom now gains the tools to edit and exploit this that arrived in Adobe Camera Raw earlier this year.

An HDR-captured image editing in SDR mode doesn't take advantage of the full dynamic range contained within the file.

The new HDR mode reveals the full dynamic range within an HDR-captured photo (which includes many Raws), extending the histogram and the Tone Curve tool to account for the added values. You can visualize which areas are beyond SDR and the capabilities of your current computer monitor.

With HDR enabled in the Basic panel and working on an HDR-capable display, all of the image's tones are editable, and the Histogram extends to account for the additional data.
Visualize the HDR tones.

HDR settings can be copied and pasted between images and added to presets. When it's time to export, the full dynamic range can be saved in AVIF or JPEG XL formats, as well as TIFF, PSD and PNG.

Point Color

In previous versions of the Lightroom apps, it's been possible to manipulate colors by adjusting their hue, saturation and luminance in the HSL/Color tool. However, that was limited to 8 main colors. The new Point Color tool makes color selection more granular by sampling pixels in an image using an eyedropper.

Sample individual colors using the eyedropper in the new Point Color tool.

Then, you can adjust the HSL of just that particular color or multiple color samples. Point Color works for both global adjustments and local (masked) adjustments. However, the tool is currently available only in the Lightroom Classic and Lightroom desktop apps, not the mobile apps.

Just the sampled yellows have been hue-shifted, not the entire yellow spectrum, as would be the case with the HSL tool (which is still available within the Mixer tab).

Lightroom desktop goes local

Until now, the desktop version of Lightroom (not Lightroom Classic) has been tightly tethered to the cloud. By default, every image you import gets synced to Creative Cloud and made available to Lightroom on other devices. Sometimes, though, you may want to open an image and use Lightroom's tools to edit it without adding it to your cloud library (and taking up cloud storage).

Now, a new Local option in Lightroom lets you browse your storage and edit images locally without any cloud involvement. If you do decide to sync one with the rest of your devices, you can copy it to the cloud, where it becomes part of your regular library.

In Lightroom 7.0, a new Local option lets you edit images without adding them to your cloud-synced library.

Other improvements

Full-version releases always include many little changes that improve the experience of using apps. For example, Lightroom Classic now includes a search bar for filtering preset names, so you don't have to scroll through all the ones you've made or collected. Adobe has also boosted performance when converting images to DNG format, moving folders within the app, and reading and writing metadata. All in all, these are some exciting improvements for Lightroom users that will make the app much nicer for Creative Cloud subscribers.