IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a pre-beta version of Project Nimbus, not even meant to be live. So a lot can change!

Uh Oh, I got my hands on Adobe Nimbus… and things got all “mobiley” on my MacBook Pro.

Okay, to get it out of the way, I’m not really sure if I am supposed to even have this. Apparently Adobe accidentally leaked Project Nimbus. A little Lightroom alternative they have cooking up. None the less, I’m proud to say, I’m one of the lucky ones. I saw it in my apps screen, I installed it and after some time exploring, I started typing… So here it is…

Since I am unsure how long I have until Adobe realizes the mistake and yanks it out of my hands, I’m moving fast here typing out a stream of consciousness, describing what I see, what I don’t see and what I like or don’t like… Be prepared, this might not read well, but it is full of info.

Opening thoughts on Adobe Nimbus…

It’s snappier in some regards. Particularly when clicking between pop-outs such as, “My Photos” (library), “Edit” (develop), etc… and I dig the interface. Simple and focused on developing (editing).

However, flipping between photos is a hell of a chore and definitely puts a strain on the MacBook Pro… Full disclosure, my beast is old as the hills, so take this with a grain of salt.

The interface:

It’s certainly looking like a port of the Mobile App, with heavy focus on simplifying the feature-set, stripping away the module system and thrusting you into the editing process. Which, I have to admit, I’m not opposed too. It’s nice to see a cleaner dashboard, with a pop-out driven system and open photo viewing real estate.

Surrounding the screen, you’ll find a number of fun little icons. Top left, you have a Plus symbol for simply importing new photos to the session. Below it is a pop-out section for “My Photos”. This is pretty much the library module, where you’ll find the normal “All Photos” and related total images, The “Recently Added” photos, which awesomely drops down to offer your last 5 imports by date. Not something you’re gonna find in the full blown LR application.

Beyond that, there are no more file folders in Project Nimbus, or at least the folders system that we are used to. It pretty much handles everything on a automatic chronological organization system. With drop downs for the year, month and day. I search around for any other ways to view photos, even attempting to right click on each to see if it does anything. Alas, nada, similarly to the LR, so no surprises just yet. This could always change,

Moving on, you will find the “Albums” section, which is pretty much collections lite. No smart collections here. Just straight up, folder within folder, drag and drop organizing. I’m assuming they are aiming at a more LR mobile approach to allow for better syncing across the devices, but who knows what is to come when it actually hits the light of day.

In the lower bar, we have the normal grid and Loupe view, as well as a new masonry view. This is really neat and could see this as being a much more visually pleasing manner of scanning images with a client.

Below the main viewer, we have our all too familiar filmstrip for sifting images on the fly, Loupe switch for viewing at Fit, Fill and 1:1 (No option for 1:2, 1:4, 2:1, 4:1, etc), the toggle to show/hide the filmstrip, show/hide the original image and the usual ratings, flags and the like.

Oh and along the top, a handy-ass search bar. (we’ll get to this in a moment)

I have to say, its a direct, purposeful change to the interface, set up well for quick editing and offers a wonderful amount of photo real estate within the Loupe view. A bit more than Lightroom even. At least without going into a great deal of tinkering… and even then, I think it still wins out.

Alright… That’s the layout… got it… Good… Let’s discuss.

Thoughts & Assumptions:

Again, it’s worth saying, this is NOT Lightroom. This is pretty much Lightroom mobile for your desk and while I respect the design of the software, I’m unsure as to the need of this product. At the moment, it seems to split the LR camp between power users and light/moderate users… is that a good thing?

I don’t see the need to have both, because, why would I switch back and forth between applications to conduct what Lightroom already does. Albeit, at a snails pace, as always. But I’ve gotten used to that by now.

Or maybe, and potentially more logical… this is the new groundwork for Lightroom and the accidental release is the crazy stripped down version without the bells and whistles that will be built on top of it. Thus, unseating Lightroom for a new process they envision for the cloud based future. I mean, let’s face it, all companies are beginning to look at their client base, as being fully high speed internet accessible. I mean, that’s the future, right?… That would be nice…… Someday.

I’ll say this, it’s great for the straight forward, on-the-go, bite sized library, mobile user… I think the power user on the the hand, like myself, will continue swinging Lightroom around like an unwieldy sword. At least until true organization and publishing options are built in. I live and die by the automation of Lightroom.

Okay, now that I have that out there, let’s segue into the silver lining…

“The Search Bar”

This thing is freaking handy and to a point, helps overcome the need for the filters.

You’re not going to find any way of filtering images per camera type, or focal length, or anything like that… However, if you type “dog” or “truck”, it can be quite accurate sometimes.

Of course, this isn’t without its false-positives, so do not expect to be able to search, select all, and create an Album (read: collection) dedicated to said subject. Plus, I’ve regularly experience a failure in the app to fully load all the preview images. Although, like much of the errors I am coming across, these should be chalked up to the fact that this is not a fully working copy… Much of this is sure to be resolved, so I’m not too worried about it.

Developing/Editing

So, yeah, this is where Nimbus seems to be focused. As I’ve noted above, Nimbus isn’t about power-organizing your photos, it’s (currently) all about quick processing. I’ll give it to Adobe on this, I expected a ton to be cut and carved out of this app, but that’s untrue. We receive a relatively feature rich toolset for tweaking those Cloud stored images. Some items are missing, but could always appear in the live release. I will bring these omissions up as I move along… just in case Adobe is reading. 🙂

From the right side editing menu, you have access to pretty much every develo… I mean, editing feature that Lightroom offers (terminology has shifted on this release)… Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks… Color shifting, White balance adjustment/dropper, B/W and hue adjustment, Clarity, Dehaze (YES!), Vignette, Sharpening, Noise Reduction, Grain, Lens Correction, Chroma correction and on and on. It’s all there.

We even gain submenus for creating custom grain, vignette, sharpening and noise reduction, among others. It’s really impressive and the part of the tool box that I figured would be missing (simplicity and all),  And tucked away in the bottom right of the screen, you’ll find a Presets button, Photo Info and Keywording buttons. All of which I damn near over looked, because presets only come up when you are in the editing mode.

How well does this process work? Not to bad. It’s a great experience working in the large real estate of the loupe and I love the fact I have access to most of the tools from LR. However, its still a bit sluggish in rendering the full quality photo, as well as reflecting some of the adjustments (though, faster than LR). It does get real bad when switching between images. Again though, my computer is old and this is pre-beta. Which would give me solace, except for the fact, we all know Adobe is with speed, right?

Anyway, the sliders are smooth and allow for fine tuning. Plus, I like that they carry over the ability to select and adjust by number with my up and down arrow keys, rather than just the slider. You can still use the preloaded presets and even save your own. However, I can’t yet find a way to import presets into Nimbus, so at this time that seems to be out.

It should be said, you can copy your adjustment settings and paste them across other photos. This is nice, except you cannot choose which adjustments to be copied and pasted. LR is far more powerful here… Though, I am sure this can be easily baked in.

Cropping;

Nothing new here, but I will say the only thing that seems to be missing is the straightening tool. You can customize ratios, rotate, drag, pan around and all that.

Selective Adjustment (Brush/Linear/Radial):

Almost the same as LR, we have our Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Clarity, Dehaze, Sharpness, Noise. You will not however find adjustment sliders for Moire, Defringe, or any selective color correction adjustments for temp and tint.

The most glaring I noticed that was missing… No adjustment brush presets…same goes for the Linear Gradient and Radial Gradient. So, each time you use the adjustment brush (at this time), you’re going to have to rely on the most recent setting, or adjust on the fly. So, if this is going to be your go to app, I’d suggest pen and paper to jot those regular use settings. Let’s hope this gets backed into the final copy.

You can duplicate each node though. So there is that. But that brings me to the next issue.

Adjustment mask. You know, that red overlay showing where the adjustments cover. I only seem to be able to access it when I hover over a node. The common “O” hotkey to toggle on and off does not seem to work. This is nitpicky and could be user error, but it’s tedious… I’m notorious for painting outside the lines, and I simply have to have this feature easily accessible… So my fingers are crossed, hoping it becomes more apparent, or makes its way into the final version if its not here.

Regardless, it’s still a nice interface and I find it very easy to quickly touch photos. I’m still looking at this as an alternate Lite version of LR and in that light, the adjustments are well set up, responsive and feature rich. Just wish there more similarities to LR on some of the nitpicky issues, like not having a “reference photo” window or being able to selectively copy and paste adjustments.

Oh and if it matters to anyone out there, theres no red eye correction feature or way to find blowouts through the histogram such as Lightroom offers. I don’t care about this, but some of you may and figured I might as well bring it up.

Other Stuff

You’re going to find that most of the common keyboard shortcuts we are familiar with are here, so that’s nice for us LR users. At least for the features included from it’s older, more powerful cousin.

1-5 on the keys will rate images, “/“ gives you a before and after, “X” will rotate your crop and so on… Except as I noted above, “O” won’t be turning on your adjustment mask, so keep that in mind.

Exporting is limited to JPG (no tiff files) and directly to Facebook only. No 500px, no Flickr, no Twitter. This is highly likely to change.

Ummmm, what else… OH! Right, Info and Keywording

I meant to note this earlier. These features are easily overlooked, as they are tucked away in the bottom right of the window, as a little tag icon and an “i” for info icon. Click on Keywording and you get to toss in a few words to help describe and easily find your images. There are no Smart Keywording, or keyword groups here… Just the straight up basics.

The information tab on the other hand is handy and visually handsome. Click it and a new column pops out to offer Title, Caption, Copyright, File Name, Capture Date, Location, City, State, Country, Camera info and even GPS if the image has it. I have to say, I like this a lot. It omits a lot of the chunky features (labels, publications, folder, and so on)… but I never needed them anyway. This leaves it nice and clean… and easily to minimize out of sight.

You’re not going to find a “Book” making module, nor “Slideshow”, “Map”, “Print” or “Web” options here. These all seem to be omitted from the application, since much of those features were removed or baked into other areas of the app. This isn’t all bad, but I do miss being able to set up a number of Publish Service folders for online sharing and archiving. Which is probably the sole reason I could never find myself switching to Nimbus for studio usage, at this time.

Anyway, thats what I gather after a few hours of playing with Adobe Nimbus. At this time, would I switch? No.

Not because I dislike the app. No, actually I rather like it. It’s snappy in some areas (far quicker to get from library to editing), its laid out well and easy to navigate, images look great on the huge loupe real estate and the editing toolbox is packed with options.

These are all great things, but I NEED power-organization and have no desire to organize in one app (LR) and edit in another (Nimbus). It’s tedious and a waste of time. This app will better suit a light/moderate user who intend on keeping much of their archive in the cloud. For that, I salute Adobe and wish them luck… Also, my thanks to whomever it was that accidentally released this “pseudo-demo” to the handful of us Creative Cloud Users that watch the app installation list, like starving buzzards.

Pros:

  • Simple, well thought out Interface
  • Search feature has promise
  • Easy to use importing process (automatic from the cloud)
  • Large window space dedicated to viewing photos
  • Easily switch between Library and Editing tools – no more modules
  • Full Editing Tool Box
  • Clean Metadata, photo info tool
  • Integration across multiple devices per the Adobe Cloud system
  • Automatic chronological organizing when importing

Cons: (this is all PRE-BETA and can change)

  • Sluggish transition between photos (pre-beta)
  • No smart collections
  • No publishing services – Facebook Only for social sharing
  • No filtering by camera type, focal length, etc…
  • No presets for the brush/gradient adjustments
  • No Soft Proofing or Selected Mask Overlay
  • No way to import Presets found
  • Keeping a large library would require tremendous online storage
    • 2000 photos is 9GB in the on board Nimbus folder

IMPORTANT: This is a user’s point of view on a PRE-BETA version of Adobe Nimbus. Much can, and likely will change.

Also, be sure to check your Creative Cloud Apps list… You may find you too are one of the lucky ones. Until it’s “resolved”. ;-)… If so, install it and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

All in all, I look forward to what this is to become. Secondary app, New foundation for future Lightroom… Who knows, but it’ll be fun to watch… Especially with Affinity heating up the over and cooking their own photo management application.

It’s a good era to be a photographer.