If you shoot in raw you will love Lightroom 4 and it’s new lower price. All editing is non destructive using the full CS6 raw engine which enables selective adjustments. It’s also a 64 bit application. It will pair brilliantly with your Elements Editor for the occasions when you need layers, text and the tool pallet. It will do everything you need and has virtually unlimited export and print options and about a dozen different sort options including capture date & time. Download the trial and try it free for 30 days. If you get the boxed version you can have installations on both Mac and Windows and you simply use the serial number to validate the trial - no further installation necessary.
When I first installed Lightroom I imported the images from my existing folders. Lightroom has 4 import options:
1) Copy as DNG
4) Add (from existing location)
I used method 4 (selected My Pictures and sub-folders) and then LR4 makes links to everything on the hard drive.
My regular workflow involves downloading raw files from my Canon camera using method 1. For me a DNG workflow is superior in Adobe applications. The only advantage in using the native CR2 files is in Canon software. In the import dialog I add overall keywords.
Next I apply a metadata pre-set to the import batch (my copyright) and I also apply a develop setting on import. I have a basic setting saved for landscapes and portraits. It saves lots of editing time afterwards.
As soon as the thumbnails appear in the Library I flag the best ones. I then use the library filter to view only the picked photos and then move to the develop module. The develop module is the CS6 raw engine but in a more intuitive interface. That’s where I apply selective adjustments using the graduated filter and adjustment brush in conjunction with their respective sliders. I may occasionally use the spot healing tool if I have a few sensor dust marks. I then add more selective or subject related keywords.
I back up each download from camera immediately by copying the files into My Pictures back up on an external hard drive. That’s the beauty of light room. Because all edits are non destructive, and contained in the catalog database, you can forget the static backup once done. The important thing is the catalog backup. Because it’s a small manageable file I perform a backup every time I exit Lightroom and from time to time delete the older ones. In addition a DNG workflow permit’s the jpeg preview and metadata to be written into the file itself, so there is no need to worry about separate XML sidecar files in the folders. This is one of the compelling reasons for using DNG for archiving.
I can export jpegs or tiffs or psd’s at any time I need a fresh copy. I use the publish service plug-ins to upload jpegs directly on-line to SmugMug and face book. Lightroom picks up automatically any re-edits or metadata changes e.g. to keywords and captions and it stacks those modified versions in the Publish Services folders and they can be re-uploaded in a single click to replace the previous versions. I also save my own pre-sets and templates for printing.
The real benefit of Lightroom is that it was designed for photographers by photographers and there are so many things you can do quickly and in bulk that can’t be done in Elements. However when you install Lightroom it will automatically recognize your Elements version as the external editor. You can select any thumbnail in the library and press Ctrl+E to send it into Elements for further editing.
Give it a try and see if you like it.