Lightroom 4 Review
1 Lightroom 4 Review
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 offers an impressive list of features, the vast majority of which will be familiar to those who explored the previously-released public beta Adobe made available in January.
These include a completely new book-creation module, expanded support for video, soft proofing capability, and geo-tagging of still and video images via a Google Maps-powered module. Image editing tools have also been significantly updated, with a new process version (PV2012) that includes a reworking of the Basic panel controls and new localized editing options. If you've spent time playing with the public beta and are already comfortable using these features, you can jump ahead to a listing of the few (and mostly minor) changes that have gone into the shipping version of Lightroom 4.
One welcome surprise to everyone, though, is Adobe's announcement of a 50% price drop. For the first time in Lightroom's five year history, the retail price is now $149 US for a full version. Upgrade pricing for current users as well as the student/teacher versions also see a (more modest) price reduction to $79 US.
I've been using the shipping version of Lightroom 4 for a few weeks with my own personal image catalog and in this review I'll take you through the tools and features that have changed since Lightroom 3. Keep in mind this is not a step-by-step Lightroom tutorial, rather an illustrated guide to what has been added and updated. My goal is to explain the new features so that you can decide whether the upgrade to Lightroom 4 is one you should make. Of course, if you've already decided to take the plunge, this article will help you get started in exploring these new features for yourself.
We'll take a look at the following features:
- Develop module (part 1)
- Develop module (part 2)
- Book module
- Map module
- Soft proofing
- Video support
- Changes for public beta users
Before we get started it's important to note that the minimum system requirements for Lightroom have changed. Lightroom 4 does not support 32-bit Macs. You must be running a 64-bit Intel processor and OS 10.6.8 or higher (read this Apple support document to determine whether your Mac has a 64-bit processor). On the Windows side, support for Windows XP has been dropped. Lightroom now requires a version of Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Lightroom 4 introduces Process Version (PV) 2012. What's a process version and why should you care? Well, it's the image processing engine behind Lightroom (and Photoshop's Adobe Camera Raw plug-in). The Lightroom engineers make periodic tweaks to its components to provide better image rendering and/or enable new editing functionality. While the rendering performance sees some minor changes, PV2012 stands out by introducing a redesigned and recalibrated set of the Develop module's Basic panel tools, along with more localized editing options. Simply put, PV2012 is of huge consequence for every serious Lightroom user. Its changes are significant and will have a direct effect on your editing workflow.
As with the introduction of previous process versions, Lightroom, by default honors the current (in this case PV2010) process version of your existing images. If you desire, you can simply go on working as you always have. But should you choose to update an image to PV2012, a whole host of new functionality awaits.
Select any image in the Develop module that was imported in Lightroom 3 or earlier and you'll notice a warning icon in the lower right (shown below), indicating the image has not been updated to PV2012.
|A warning icon appears at the bottom of the Develop module when an image processed via PV2010 or earlier (circled in red) is displayed.|
After clicking the icon you can choose to update the selected image or all images in the filmstrip. Once an image is updated to PV2012 you will notice a revised collection of tools in the Basic Panel (shown below), as well as a noticeable change to the appearance of your image.
Gone from the Basic panel are the Recovery, Fill Light and Brightness sliders. Instead, what you see in Lightroom 4 is a separate grouping of sliders labeled Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks. Moving any of these sliders to the right (a positive value) brightens pixels. Negative adjustments darken pixels. The default value for all items in the Basic Panel is now set to 0 for raw files, just as they have always been for JPEG images.
|Many of the Basic panel controls
in Lightroom 3 (shown above)...
|...have been changed in version
4 with default values set to 0.
It's very important to understand that for many of the Basic panel tools, the internal effects ranges have been changed, meaning that a slider value of say +50 in a PV 2010 tool may not correspond to +50 in the equivalent PV2012 tool. When updating PV2010 (or earlier) images which already contain manual Basic panel adjustments, slider values will be carried over or 'transposed' to the appropriate PV2012 settings. But the appearence of your image will change, often significantly. For this reason, I encourage you to apply PV2012 on an image by image basis to your existing photos to get a feel for what the new tools can do. Or simply import new images, which will automatically get the newest process version, and explore the new features with those images.
The WB selector's sample area is now zoom-dependant, mimicing the behavior seen in Adobe Camera Raw. Clicking with the WB tool on an image displayed in say a 1:2 (50%) view will result in a white balance calculation based on a wider range of pixels than performing the same action with the image at a 1:1 view. Put more simply, when you adjust the Scale slider for the WB selector's loupe window, the image area you see in the grid is now the same area that LR will sample to determine WB.
|The loupe window of the WB selector
indicates the sampling area on which the
WB calculation will be made.
|Setting the Scale slider to the lowest
possible magnification results in a wider
area of pixels from which to sample.
Sampling over a wider area of pixels should lead to more accurate WB settings in noisy images by minimizing the impact of random pixel values. In previous versions of Lightroom, a consistent grid of pixels was being sampled regardless of the image view or Scale slider setting.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more