I just found out that OnOne Software has just released a Free Public Beta version (a pre-release version) of a plug-in that I think is going to be a real game-changer for Lightroom (and Aperture) users.

It’s called “Perfect Layers” and this plug-in brings layers functionality to Lightroom (I got to work with OnOne on this plug-in, and although this public beta doesn’t have all the features the final shipping version will have, I can tell you—it’s going to expand what you can do in Lightroom to a whole new level!. We’re talking multiple layers, blend modes, layer masks, a brush—the works!)

You can download it now for free, and have a chance to try it out, and share your feedback with OnOne’s development team. They’ve got a sample movie and just a few examples of what you can do. I’m working on a video to show some collaging, portrait retouching, and other stuff we wouldn’t normally be able to do in Lightroom.

My hearty congratulations to OnOne for giving us the tools we need to work faster and more efficiently!!!! Yay!!!! :)  Here’s the link to download it in case you missed that one above.

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

80 Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up- I’ve been waiting for this. Hope it works as well as anticipated!

  2. Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been eagerly waiting for this since they announced plans for it. Thank you for letting us know.

  3. Now this looks interesting! Looking forward to seeing how this all turns out because going by what you’re saying Scott, this is gonna answer alot of people’s dreams.

    Way to go OnOne!

    Cheers,
    Glyn

  4. Great job, OnOne, and thanks for the info, Scott! Nice to see you had a lot of input on this product development. I just installed it and plan to play around with a few pictures today to see how what it can do. Gee, pretty soon we won’t need Photoshop! 8)

    Now go back to your nap, Scott. Remember it’s Thursday! We’ll see you tomorrow.

    –John

  5. While I welcome the possibility of layers, I would prefer it built-in to Lightroom by Adobe. I’m not really keen with OnOne’s software (outside of Perfect Resize)—too much money for too little product.

    What I would like even more is the ability of NIK software to work with Lightroom’s history state, and/or have the ability to re-edit something from the plug-ins (like a smart object).

  6. Sounds very cool! Hope the plug-in for Aperture is available soon!

  7. I was just saying yesterday that I wished Lightroom would include an adjustment brush based on curves. I think this will make a nice alternative.

  8. While I don’t like to sound negative on advancements in software or technology in general … this plugin is a no-go for me … the fact that a derivative file must be created to implement the functionality is a step backwards … I would much prefer if it could work parametrically with the original RAW data … if I have to create a tiff/psd … I may as well go the distance and use the “Edit in Photoshop” route where I already have an extensive plugin library and layers capability. This really isn’t working “within” Lr …

    With the new NR capabilities of Lr3 … the need to visit PS to use Noise Ninja or Neat Image has been reduced to near zero … for me that adds up to tens of thousands of images per year that I don’t have to generate derivative files to complete my workflow … as I shoot action sports in some pretty tough lighting conditions … I’m looking for tools that will fit that mold … a true parametric workflow actually “inside” Lr … not an excuse to create countless more files to deal with …

    • ButchM,
      Thats exactly what i thought as well when i watched the demo video. If you have photoshop installed this is not serving any extra purpose.

    • If you already have Photoshop installed, you shouldn’t be buying this. This is something that is aimed for people who have Lightroom …

      -but do not want to buy Photoshop-

      RC

  9. Awesome! Definitely going to try out the beta.

  10. I expect this means that Adobe will eventually build layers into Lightroom, too. For most production photos, there will be no need for Photoshop, but I still love going into Photoshop to create.

    • The way I see it, if you want Layers, you’d be buying Photoshop. If they put Layers in Lightroom why wouldnt someone buy Photoshop?

  11. It would increase the power of lightroom, I’m a wedding photographer and I have to do post processing on thousands of images I don’t have time to open them in photoshop.
    Here are some pictures developed whith lightroom3 Fotografo matrimonio

  12. I’m reticent to diss your own software on your own blog, but you’re advertising it as “Layers in Lightroom” but offer nothing on the software’s site to support that claim… I can’t find any mention of how the software is integrated into Lightroom, which seems odd for “Breaking News: Layers in Lightroom”.

    So, one’s left with the supposition that it’s just an external application that you can launch from within Lightroom, just like you can launch any application from within Lightroom. In this respect it’s no different from Photoshop.

    I’m not suggesting that it’s not useful and convenient software, but your claims about Lightroom integration seem misleading at best, if not a bit, er, untruthy. You just burnt a lot of trust, for what? Disappointed. Still, I’m holding out hope that the problem likes in a misunderstanding on my part…

    • I agree with you totally Jeffrey. Its not that some here are diss’ing the product, you, ButchM, Daniel, Len etc, get it, you all understand this isn’t layers in LR, its simply rendering the data and not using parametric edits or the LR Develop pipeline. It provides less than you can do today in Photoshop or Elements, the later presumably costing far less than this plug-in. This enthusiasm for the product is either based on a marketing/sales slant or some misunderstanding of the processing going on here. Again, the product is not doing anything but taking the Develop settings you’ve asked for and rendering out pixels to now make “layers” which you have been able to do since LR 1.0 (using Photoshop or Elements).

      Its a useful product for those that have neither Photoshop or Elements but only LR. I suspect that’s a pretty small group and would suggest, just purchasing Elements (or better, Photoshop) is a better route.

    • I am glad Scott’s blog is popular and this sort of discussion can take place. Would have liked the initial post to be clearer for the less tech savvy.

      I have to admit the initial post sounded exciting, but I have Photoshop sitting here as well so it is not needed. Most LR users should at least consider Photoshop Elements before a plug in like this, while it may be streamlined for basic layering work, Elements will give you more capability and a better stepping stone to the full Photoshop if you decide you need it.

    • I had an entire post written for all of this but I figured arguing about the semantics of all of this is pointless.

      If you own Photoshop, don’t buy this. If you do not, and want to try Layers from (Inside/within/near/around/externally/tangentially) in Lightroom, check it out.. it’s free.

      If you think it sucks.. uninstall it, and save your money for Photoshop.

      I think you perfectly understand what the software is supposed to do… it’s cool if you’re not interested in it.

      • So it’s just doing something that can be done easily within Photoshop Elements, but only does a tiny fraction of what Elements does, and costs way more than Elements …

        wow. way to go

  13. I am confused. Why would I use this instead of just using Photoshop?

    • I was thinking the same thing. One of the reasons I love Lightroom is that it does what it does quickly and well. I don’t need the bloat that layers would bring.

    • Thinking the same thing.. I think it’s for people who don’t own photoshop yet and only need layers.

      The main problem is that Lightroom doesn’t support plug-ins, only external editing. So it’s basically the same as using photoshop as an external editor.

    • If you own Photoshop, you wouldnt be buying this..

  14. I must be missing something. Can’t we already do this with photoshop? Having to create an external file is NOT layers in lightroom.

  15. If you have CS5, or any version of Photoshop really, why would you need this?

  16. If this sells for about $20 then I see it as a useful addition. If it cost any more than that then you might as well use PS Elements and get all the extra functionality it can provide. (If you need 16bit quality then your likely to have CS4/5 already)

    Providing layers parametrically would be a big challenge from a performance perspective and as disk is so cheap I don’t see why so many people are so adamant to avoid having a derivative file. There is a certain point when editing an image that parametric processing is no longer efficient.

    • I think you are right Nik, gigabites are cheap these days and anyone who uses Lightroom and Photoshop together most certainly knows that whenever you take a file into Photoshop from Lightroom, it is creating a new file.

      I downloaded the beta and played with it for a bit and found it to be very cool. It had a few issues on my system and I was more than pleased to pass them along to onOne. That’s kind of the idea of a beta.

      What is interesting to me are all the people who need to tell us why they won’t use it. If you aren’t sure why you would use it or need it, then don’t download it, or maybe you should download it to see if and how it would work/not work for you.

      But please don’t tell me what I don’t need.

  17. No no no) Photoshop Only)

  18. Hi Scott,
    I have never posted here before but have been reading you blog for a long time and think you do a great job,…. but, I’m going to have to chime in with the others on this one, this is not working within Lightroom or Aperture, as it is right now it’s working as an outside app creating extra files, why would I use this when I can just use Photoshop to do my outside edits? The fact (in my opinion) they are going to be asking $160.00 for this when it’s released is ridiculous as well, one could pickup PS Elements for half that price and have ton more tools to work with. Disappointed with this one…

    • You’re right… if you would use Photoshop to do this -this isnt the program for you. This is built for people who have Lightroom but dont have Photoshop.

      There’s no reason for you to be disappointed with it.. it’s a piece of software that wasnt meant for your needs. You already have what you need.

  19. I see the value but the beta apparently doesn’t work at all on Windows 7 with LR3…crashes immediately on start…anyone have better luck?

  20. Looks like I am with the majority so far. If you already have Photoshop why would one spend $160 on this. It will probably wind up in Lightroom eventually as it should.

  21. Wow, this turned ugly fast.

    People, this is a plugin. Creating an extra file to work outside of LR is not that big of a deal.

    OnOne came up with a great idea. Is it for everyone? Nope. If you are an accomplished PS user this is not for you. There are many people that don’t have PS, or they do, and they are on the lower left side of the PS learning curve. Perfect Layers is a easy way for many folks to layer a simple comp or blend a couple of images. It is what it is.

    That said, OnOne might want to reconsider the opening price point. I downloaded and used Perfect Layers for about an hour before I looked at the selling price. In my mind I was thinking this would price out at under $100. I was a bit surprised at $159 price point.

    I have purchased some of OnOne’s offerings in the past. Good Product. Good people. Well supported.

  22. I agree that if it doesn’t integrate with the xmp or develop history it doesn’t have much incremental value. PS, PS Elements are better alternatives. The fact that it is ‘free’ to Perfect Suite 5 owners is the only way I will have it in my arsenal. The one advantage is that it loads very fast.

  23. While this will definitely bring advantages to people using Lightroom and not having Photoshop, I too believe the price tag is rather steep.

  24. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for the heads up!

    However, what we don’t need is another program to manage inside LR. We need it as part of LR! Also, OnOne is really proud of their software. Like Ziv, I’ve seen training the videos and there are some interesting tools, but not for $160.00! I’m thinking maybe $79-$99. I have three OnOne applications and the only reason I have them is I got them on sale of $99. Yes, yes I know they have to pay back the R&D costs, but they don’t have to do it in the first year! Okay I’m off my soapbox! :-)

    Again, thanks for letting us know. By watching the videos, I could tell you had major input!

    Dennis

  25. I have no clue why people are so excited about that. Did you guys try it? This is *not* bringing layers *inside* Lightroom at all, this is just providing yet another external editor to combine two or more files into a PSD file. This has been possible for ever by right-clicking and selecting: “Edit In -> Open as Layers in Photoshop”. And for $160?!

    • Yes.. and if you have Photoshop -this isnt software for you-

      There are people who use Lightroom and DONT have Photoshop. For them to be able to not spend 800 bucks on software for Layers, it could be a good thing, no?

  26. I love OnOne products and have enjoyed being a Perfect Suite owner so when I first heard about this product late last year I was very pumped up about its possibilities. But now that it is here (in beta) all the anticipation seems to have been for nothing. As several others have already stated this product adds little value for those of us using Photoshop, as a matter of fact it seems to be a step backwards because it does not support smart objects. Every time I want to try a different variation of a file or files I’m forced to re-render the files and output them from Lightroom. If I use smart objects in Photoshop then I can make changes in Lightroom (or Camera Raw) and see the resulting changes in my layered files.

    This is not Layers in Lightroom but rather is nothing more than external editor, something that Photoshop perfected years ago. I’m not sure that GIMP wouldn’t do just as well and it’s Free!

    Until smart objects are supported this product is a non-starter. All we can do now is hope that the shipping version that comes out this summer is more of a real deal. Scott please let OnOne know that this one is not passing the “Friends of Scott” smell test and to save face it might need to be a free plug-in until it can make good on its promise of “Layers for Lightroom” rather than a GIMP for gumps.

  27. The only way you are going to get layers truly in Lightroom is when Adobe puts them there. This is plug-in in very loose terms and as pointed out. If you have Photoshop or Elements you don’t need it.

    Scott this is not a game-changer by any means at all and shame on you for promoting it as such. Considering your deep connection with Adobe over the past decade and longer, this just seems like a major plug for what will be another “plug-in” that nobody in their right mind would want to use in a successful digital workflow. I hope they have made it worth your while because me thinks your reputation just took a bit of dent.

    Why not drop Adobe an email and ask them nicely if they would consider putting Layers into Lightroom for us? If you dont ask you dont get!

    Cheers

    Stu

    • *sigh*

      Seriously, Stuart? And what about all of the people that use Lightroom and dont use Photoshop. The market that this is -intended for-

      what about them?

      Again.. if you have Photoshop, how are you even considering this.. or better yet, rendering an opinion on it?

      RC

      • They could, Andrew.. they certainly could.. their choice… and nothing wrong with that.. I’m not arguing that..

        I’m arguing the entire “For shame” rants that people are on when starting a conversation with “I use Photoshop so… “

    • There will be a dramatic reading of this comments on The Grid Live..

  28. Another concerned voice regarding this application/plugin. Constructive debate is a fine thing and we’re going to disagree from time to time and as long as we keep it civil all debate is good debate.

    I’m just clueless as to why I would want this if I already own Photoshop or Elements. And at a suggested $160 just buy Elements and get Layers plus lots more for less money.

    The comment “Breaking News: Imagine having Layers in Lightroom. Well, OnOne Software Just Did it!!” simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The sad truth is that now I will have to consider comments and recommendations from Kelby Media with a little more attention than I did before. Not their finest hour. That being said the amount I’ve learnt from Kelby Media through both paid and free content is almost unmeasurable. So they still have an enormous amount of credit in the ‘good will’ bank :-)

    • Greg:

      The part that I dont understand is this..

      If you have Photoshop, you don’t need this. The title of this post wasn’t “PHOTOSHOP AND LIGHTROOM USERS REJOICE>>> YOU DONT NEED PHOTOSHOP ANYMORE”

      – he specifically pointed out Lightroom users that wanted Layers… at an affordable price.. He said nothing about Photoshop.. –

      If it sounds that I am a little sensitive about it it’s because of this… you’re telling me, that you’re totally cool with throwing the credibility of a person down a couple of points because people couldnt sit back and do the following.

      “Hey.. Layers in Lightroom.. a separate program.. cheaper than Photoshop.. but I already have Photoshop.. oh, this isnt for me”

      Because people couldnt -get- to that conclusion… there are all of these debates.. Its a Lightroom thing for people who dont have Photoshop.

      RC

      • RC,
        I have a lot of respect for Scott and beside Martin have his books and followed him on Photoshop TV etc etc.

        However I agree with Greg, this post is a dent on Scott’s reputation. I would have no problems with this post if he hade said ‘layers with Lightroom’. By penning ‘Inside Lightroom’ he had (at least in my mind) falsely imply one can do non destructive edits within Lightroom.

        Everyone who knows what layers are within Adobe’s language can do this with by jumping from Lightroom to PS. This means outside Lightroom not inside.

  29. Have to agree with all that’s been said above – seems like a bit of an own goal Scott – anyone that’s serious enough about digital workflow to shell out the money for Lightroom has probably already bought PS or PS Elements – can’t see what this adds.

  30. I’m a Photoshop user myself, so I probably wouldn’t buy this product at this price point… but I definitely see how useful it can be for someone who is not ready or interested in going the Photoshop route: Layers are a great addition for composites (group pictures anyone?) and exposure blending (when you want more detailed control over your image than what HDR is going to give you).

    One scenario wher I can see its use is on a “light” editing platform, like the ASUS i5 windows 7 tablet, coupled with Lightroom – Indeed, that would give me 99% of my editing needs on one slick machine.

    Comparing it to PS Elements is unfair. LR3 is a pro tool, PSE is definitely consumer-based, and switching between the two universes would grow old quickly I believe – they’re 2 very distinct types of interaction.

    So, a useful tool from what I could see in the video – not sure I would want to shell out 160$ for it though – not when LR3 itself retails for 265$.

    • Don’t know why switching between LR and PSE is so tough, certainly no more so than opening in Photoshop. And certainly not tough enough to make up for the difference in price between PSE and this thing. Really, it does not make a difference that Lightroom is a “pro” tool and PSE is consumer.

  31. If you already own:

    Adobe Photoshop
    Adobe Photoshop Elements
    Corel Photo Paint
    Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo
    (others may feel free to add to this list)

    then you already have all this functionality. Not that this isn’t a useful product (provided you don’t have a layer-capable app already), but that it is being hyped as something it isn’t. It is a limited function external image editor. Marketing should be corrected to reflect this.

  32. Have to agree with the majority. The only market for this plug-in is Lightroom users who don’t own Photoshop or Elements (or use the free Gimp program), and who also have a serious need for layering files. That seems like a pretty small market. Even for that market segment, though, it seems that purchasing Elements would provide a lot more functionality for a lower price point. So it is hard to see who is going to buy this program at this price.

    I agree that if Adobe put layers functionality directly into Lightroom for non-destructive editing and compositing, it would be a true game-changer. And perhaps we will see that in Lightroom version 9 or 10. Not anytime soon, I am thinking.

    With due respect to Scott, I do think he is being a little over the top on the overall impact of this program. How exactly does it give me any “tools [I] need to work faster and more efficiently” than just using Photoshop, which I already own. I know when you put a lot of input into the development, it is easy to get excited about the product. But still, the overall potential impact of this software seems pretty limited and it seems overpriced for what it is.

    • Richard: I talk to Lightroom users every day who don’t own Elements or Photoshop—they’ve moved up from iPhoto, or Aperture, or some other program, and this is perfect for them, and for them it is a game-changer. Plus, I have people tell me all the time that they wish they could do more in Lightroom without having to go to Photoshop, and they have lots of plug-ins they love, but they still have to go to Photoshop to use Layers. So, OnOne (not me) brought out a plug-in for those people. If it’s not for you, that’s fine—don’t buy it. As for the price—that’s for OnOne to decide, but since it’s in Beta, they can still certainly choose a different price point. In the end, the marketplace itself will determine what they’re willing to pay for it.

      Also just remember; this is a free public Beta version—it doesn’t have all the features it will have when it does ship. It’s a version out there so people can give OnOne feedback about everything from features to workflow to price.

      -Scott

      • What is the difference between going to Photoshop/Photoshop Elements to use layers vs. this new plugin? Aren’t you leaving LR in either case to do your work?

        Don’t you end up with an extra file that is removed from the non-destructive LR work flow in either case?

      • Scott,

        The biggest problem folks seem to have with this is you state that this works IN Lightroom when in fact it doesn’t. If you had stated it works WITH Lightroom there would have be a much less negative response to this… My 2 cents.

      • Chris,
        I had the same thoughts. The words ‘Layers Inside Lightroom’ is misleading.

    • I have read this thread with interest and have to say that I have no problem with OnOne or anyone else developing a product that people might use. (I have to agree with most others that I think it has very limited usefulness). What irks me is the way it is being promoted here and elsewhere.

      At best it is misleading to say “Breaking News: Imagine having Layers in Lightroom” Others ‘gurus’ are saying the same types of thing. Perhaps it was meant tongue-in-cheek, and if so I apologize. If not the rhetoric is disingenuous.

      Sure, no one has to buy it. Sure its up to OnOne to decide on the price, and sure, some features might change. My concern is with reputation and integrity, and I think that has taken somewhat of a hit here. Sorry.

  33. OnOne Software was before Lightroom.

  34. Maybe he has one of those keyboard macros that automatically converts “outside” to “in”, which is why the truthful statement of “…outside Lightroom” was converted to the less-than-truthful statement of “in Lightroom” without his noticing!

  35. Maybe Scott identifies with Arizona Senator John Kyl who’s comments are “not intended to be a factual statement”.

  36. Wow, you all need a reality check. I’m totally shocked and disappointed that so many of you have tried to spin this as a plot from the evil empire. It’s software. It’s a plug-in. You access it from within Lightroom and therefore it is Layers “in” Lightroom. It works just like my Silver Efex Pro and Viveza, and Topaz Adjust. Yes, I can access those from Photoshop but I rather enjoy using the plug-ins from Lightroom directly. And by the way, each of those plug-ins creates an additional file as well. It’s how it needs to be until Adobe adds those features.

    onOne is filling a void. It’s something that isn’t in the program as such and they have developed a product to do something that Lightroom can’t do. Is it expensive? I think so but in the end the market will dictate the price. If it doesn’t sell I imagine that they will drop the price.

    Here’s one more thing that some of you might want to consider, this isn’t just a Lightroom plug-in. It also works for Aperture. I know a lot of folks that are using that now, especially since Apple droped the price to $79 in the App store. For them, it might be a perfect fit if they want to have the ability to edit layered files without the added bulk of a 650MB gorrilla on their hard drive.

    There are a lot of different workflows out there and this is certainly not a must have product for anyone who doesn’t have that void in their current software arsenal.

    I’m sure though that there will be some, maybe a lot of people that see this as an innovative addition to their post-processing.

    But what do they know?

    • “You access it from within Lightroom and therefore it is Layers “in” Lightroom.”

      By that definition, so are Photoshop and Photoshop Elements in Lightroom.

  37. Its funny how many people still write ( well i have Photoshop or elements why would i need this).. Geesh RC said its not for those people over and over and noone seems to read the post above them before they type. Why are people so picky about the wording of the title of this post. I kinda felt at first the same way with thinking well I have Photoshop so I dont need this and after reading the comments RC makes it clear that no its not for people like me that already have these apps. Ok Cool.. End of story. I dont think i need to rip on Scott for saying its layers IN Lightroom. Your just nit picking something to be nit picking. Id say the bottom line is if this is something you could use be happy about it and if its not, move on..

  38. Wow! What a thunderstorm of comments.

    I came here to see if I understood why I might want to buy/try this plugin when I have PS. I thought the commentary would be more civil.

    I have my answer but I didnt need to go through the negativity. Want it? Buy it, Dont need it, use the money to fill up your car with gas.

    Scott and others at NAAP, thanks for keeping us informed about whats around. You have made me a better photographer and PS.LR user than I ever could be so to me you guys are aces.

  39. Mark:

    HOW DARE YOU CONFUSE IN with … um.. WITH..

    :)

    RC

  40. What Mark says is reasonable and is king of what I thought also. But to be fair my initial reaction was tremendous excitement about actually using layers as part of LR. Just read the headline of the blog post and you see what I mean. “Breaking News,” “imagine having layers in LR,” etc. So I don’t agree with RC that it’s JUST a prepositional faux pas. I forgot about it, but after a while it bugged me about all the hyperbole. I know Scott needs to market the stuff he is associated with, as well as his sponsors in general, but this just does not “feel” right. I am betting that allot of people are feeling the same way-probably feeling let down, manipulate or (dare I say it) lied to. To be fair, I don’t think that was the intent, but I would advise caution for Scott and the others in the future, to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest.

  41. I’m always mildly surprised to see the level of idiotic responses, and negative visceral knee jerk, nit-picking comments from people who, also surprisingly can write.

  42. Scott — This is a classic example of “No good deed goes unpunished.”
    Thanks for pointing this out to those of us who have LR but don’t have PS.

  43. Scott — This is a classic example of “No good deed goes unpunished.”
    Thanks for pointing this out to those of us who have LR but don’t have PS.

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