Lightroom 2.6 beta supports new compact cameras

Along with Canon's 7D and Nikon's D3s, and a number of high-end compact cameras move into the Adobe fold with betas of Lightroom 2.6 and related software.

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Canon's new S90 high-end compact camera.
Canon's new S90 high-end compact camera. CNET

Adobe Systems released beta software on Wednesday to support raw images from Canon's higher-end new compact cameras, the Powershot S90 and G11, Olympus' rival E-P2, Panasonic's FZ38, and a host of SLRs.

The software updates are betas of Lightroom 2.6, the Camera Raw 5.6 plug-in for Photoshop CS4, and the DNG Converter 5.6. All the software uses the same raw-image processing engine.

Raw images provide more flexibility and image quality but require more processing; typically only higher-end cameras support raw file formats. Most folks are happy with JPEG, but many photography enthusiasts prefer raw.

It's a hassle, though: Adobe and various competitors spend a lot of energy reverse-engineering each new camera's format before software such as Lightroom, Aperture, or Picasa can open and edit the photos.

Raw images are the norm for SLRs. The new beta software supports raw images from Canon's higher-end EOS 7D, and Nikon's new professional-grade D3s, the Pentax K-x, and Sony's A500, A550, and A850. Also on the list are medium-format models from Mamiya and Leaf. For a full list, check the blog post announcement from Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty.

The new software also corrects an error in Lightroom 2.5 and Camera Raw 5.5 that could mar images from some Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic and from various medium format digital camera backs. The glitch only affected people with PowerPC-based Macs.

Update 8:02 p.m. PST: As Michael Reichman observed on the Luminous Landscape site, Canon's S90 is a member of a newer breed of camera that corrects lens distortion on its own, making parallel lines parallel again. Naturally, I was curious if Adobe's raw processing techniques did the same, because the distortion can be pretty severe, and fixing that manually is impossible in Lightroom and a hassle in Photoshop.

So I asked Adobe. The answer: yes.

"The S90 raw support in the release candidates (Camera Raw 5.6 and Lightroom 2.6) provides distortion correction that allows our raw processing results to match the optical characteristics of the JPEG output and what's viewed on the camera LCD," Hogarty said.