Five New Lightroom Classic Features In The October 2021 (v11.0) Update

by Andrew S. Gibson
Five New Lightroom Classic Features In The October 2021 (v11.0) Update

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Adobe has just announced the official launch of Lightroom Classic v11.0. This release includes a major update to way selections and masks work, plus several minor updates that add new features. 

The changes to the masking tools make this update a major one in terms of functionality. Using masks is much easier and it will change the way that we work in Lightroom Classic. 

How to update to the latest version of Lightroom Classic

You can update to Lightroom Classic v11 by opening the Creative Cloud app and clicking the Apps heading then the Updates menu option on the left. 

Lightroom Classic v11 upgrade

You’ll see a list of any applications you use that need updating on the right. Click the Update button to upgrade. Any upgraded apps are listed at the bottom.

Got that? Great! It’s time to dive in and take a look at the new Lightroom Classic features.

New Lightroom Classic feature #1: Masking panel

This is the headline feature and it’s one to get excited about. Adobe engineers have reimagined the way that we apply masks in Lightroom Classic. 

It’s a massive improvement and there are a lot of changes to get used to. 

Adobe has redesigned the toolstrip under the Histogram panel, replacing the Graduated Filter, Radial Filter and Adjustment Brush icons with a single Masking icon.

New masking tools Lightroom Classic

Clicking the Masking icon opens the new Masking panel.

Lightroom Classic new feature masking panel

Here you’ll see any masks you’ve already made. Hover over a mask to see the overlay displayed on the photo. 

For example, in the photo below you can see a mask I made with the Adjustment Brush. Another nice feature is that it’s easier to change the color of the overlay to make it easier to see (here I changed it to green).

New Lightroom Classic features

Click the Create New Mask button to make a new mask. 

New Lightroom Classic features

You now have eight masking options, including the familiar  Brush, Linear Gradient and Radial Gradient. The names have changed but the function of each tool is the same.

New tools include the Color Range, Luminance Range and Depth Range options. These tools existed in Lightroom Classic v10 but only as an option to modify another mask. Now you can use them to make a mask in their own right.

The other new tools are Select Subject and Select Sky. These are AI driven tools that make it faster and easier for you to mask the subject or the sky.

Let’s take a look at how it works. Selecting Subject in the above photo results in a mask that looks like this. 

New Lightroom Classic features

It’s much faster and more accurate than the old way of using an Adjustment Brush.

You can invert the mask so that it masks the background instead of the subject. There are a lot of uses for this that I’ll cover in more detail in another article.

New Lightroom Classic features

You use Select Sky to select the sky in a photo.

New Lightroom Classic features

Then invert the selection to select the foreground.

New Lightroom Classic features

You can also add to a selection or subtract from it using any of the eight masking tools. This helps you refine a selection so the mask covers only what you need it to. 

How accurate is the masking?

It depends on the subject. There are times when it doesn’t work so well, but my testing so far shows it works well most of the time. Take a look at this portrait for example (100% enlargement). 

New Lightroom Classic features

This is the mask Lightroom Classic made when I used Select Subject. As you can see, it’s way more accurate than using an Adjustment Brush.

New Lightroom Classic features

New Lightroom Classic feature #2: New Premium Presets

Adobe has added more than 70 Premium Presets to the Develop module. You’ll find them near the bottom of the Presets panel. The User Presets has also moved to the top of the panel, so it’s easier for you to find your own presets.

New Lightroom Classic features

It looks like Adobe has done a great job at providing you with useful presets suitable for nearly any genre of photography you can imagine.

New Lightroom Classic feature #3: Metadata panel improvement

You can now customize metadata displayed by the Default menu in the Metadata panel. Make sure the Default menu is active, then click the Customize button.

New Lightroom Classic features

Now you can select exactly what metadata info you can see under the Default menu. It’s a bit like customizing the information displayed in Grid View using View Options (View > View Options).

New Lightroom Classic features

New Lightroom Classic feature #4: Faster syncing when batch developing

You’ll see a big performance increase when you copy and paste Develop module settings to a selection photos. Previews displayed in the Filmstrip (if you’re in the Develop module) update much faster. So do thumbnails in Grid View if you paste Develop module settings there.

New Lightroom Classic feature #5: Two more Filter bar options

Adobe has added two more options under Metadata in the Filter bar – Month and Day. They help you search for photos by date.

New Lightroom Classic features

New Catalog update

You need to be aware that Lightroom Classic has to upgrade your Catalog to work with version 11. This is normal and happens once a year when there’s a major version update (from version 9 to version 10, or version 10 to version 11 etc.). 

You’ll see this message when you open Lightroom Classic v11 for the first time.

New Lightroom Classic features

Lightroom Classic prompts you to give the new Catalog a name to distinguish it from older Catalogs. I suggest “Lightroom Classic Catalog-v11”, but you can of course use any name you want.

When the Catalog upgrade is complete, you’ll see something like this in your Lightroom folder. 

New Lightroom Classic features

Lightroom Classic makes a copy of your Catalog, so you still have the v10 Catalog if you need it as a backup or for any other reason.

You can move the version 10 Catalog and Helper file (marked in red) to another hard drive so that you don’t get the two confused.

There’s a new .lrcat-data file (marked in green) that contains smart selection masks created by the new Masking tool as well as 3D LUTs from profiles. This is an essential file that you need to keep with the Catalog file if you move it to another folder. It’s automatically included in the backup when Lightroom Classic backs up your Catalog.

Upgrading from Lightroom 6

If the latest update has convinced you it’s time to upgrade from Lightroom 6 (or earlier), then you can go to the Adobe website to sign up for the Creative Cloud Photography plan.

It’s a good idea to read my How To Upgrade To Lightroom Classic article first so you know which plan to select.

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Peter Townsend November 4, 2021 - 1:04 am

I have been using the updated Lightroom. I particularly impressed by the subject and sky tools. I have been learning photoshop over last last while ( I find it tough and getting there). It has the new subject selection as well. It is sooo good.
Your review is great and I look forward to more.

Chris November 22, 2021 - 4:44 am

Hi, is there any update on when Adobe will be making Lightroom multi-user so a team can edit in a single catalog? It’s doing my head in trying to find a way to do this. Lightroom CC just isn’t there yet for professional photography use.

Andrew S. Gibson November 22, 2021 - 9:04 am

Hi Chris to my knowledge there’s no plans to make Lightroom Classic multi-user.


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