Deal 6: 365 days of training from the world’s best photographers
It’s here! The latest version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Currently in beta release, meaning it’s not finished but ready for real world testing, I eagerly downloaded a copy of Lightroom 4 Beta and have been playing with it for a week now. I’m a constant Lightroom upgrader, starting with version 1, and this post will be a quick look at whether or not this upgrade makes sense from a cost/benefit point of view.
Wow, wonderful. Nice improvement in what each can do compared to the older Highlight Recovery and Fill Light. Also an improvement is the ability to go up or down (actually left or right) with both of these sliders. I see more solid colors in the shadows when the slider as used as compared to the Fill Light option. Adobe has also added in Whites alongside Blacks (both of which can now also be increased or decreased instead of just increased as in version 3).
It’s a nice touch to be able to watch video inside of Lightroom. Is it required? Nope. But it is smoother. What is nice is to have the ability to adjust exposure, blacks, whites, contrast and vibrance. It’s little stuff and I hope Adobe keeps it that way to not bloat the software. I have other software that can really handle video well and this subset is perfect for quick edits I might want to do on the road or with non-production pieces. I also like that the rendering of the preview seems to not hold up the rest of the thumbnail creation any more. What I mean by this is, when a bunch of images are loaded in and I view them in grid mode of the Library, it used to hold up on the videos, using another process to render a preview image for that thumbnail, before showing me all the other previews on the screen. Now it will put a black space holder there and continue to show the picture previews, which saves time.
Hell Yeah! It was nice that version 3 had a spot for GPS data but reliance on third party software seemed odd, especially when something like Flickr made it relatively easy to stamp images after the fact. So far, I enjoy the feature that lets me pull up a map via Google and drag and drop images, one at a time or in groups. It’s useful and appreciated.
The book module gets a “meh” rating in my opinion. I won’t be using it a lot and that is part of my rating. For those who want to create their own books, it IS nice to have everything in one location, as in iPhoto, to create a book, rather than exporting to a folder, uploading to a site, etc… If you plan on making many scrapbooks or print books, this will certainly rate “Hell Yeah!” for you from the ease of use.
It’s a little thing. Overlooked in the past maybe? We share images via email all the time. I’d love this to go a step further and be able to send a text to someone’s phone, but I’m crazy like that. To me, this feature is icing on the cake, not a reason to upgrade.
Ahhhh, just my photos without Lightroom’s choice of enhancements when importing. Nice. In the past, Lightroom jacked up some settings on import and, while I could make a Preset to counter this, it was annoying at time. Now things like the Tone Curve are left at “Linear” instead of “Medium Contrast”, something I often backed out. I really like this as a starting point now.
This is a feature I’m happy to see added. The Adjustment Brush gets some more adjustments. It now can control Noise and Moire, but most useful for me is the ability to change the white balance of a particular area. This is great when shooting in two different light sources or with heavy shadows (and white snow). My beef with the current setup is the slider allows for color temperature control, but not as an absolute degrees Kelvin, only relative scale from yellow/orange to blue. It works, but I’d love to be able to set a shadow to 7500K rather than slide around trying to find the right sport. I hope that make that adjustment in the final release.
The improvements in Spot Removal mimic the improvements they made in the DNG fast loading technique. A step back…Adobe adjusted how they create the DNG files upon important to allow the vital image information to load first. In the past the whole file had to be loaded before you could start playing in the Develop module. Now, the image pops up very quickly and while it finishes loading, edits can be started more quickly than in version 3.
I noticed the Spot Removal feature was also tweaked to help those with slower machines. Even on my bogged down travel laptop, I can click from spot to spot and not have a significant delay. In the past, I would click a spot and Lightroom would then select a likely spot to heal or clone from for me. This was a nice update that came about in version 3. But on a slow machine, I had to wait for that process to complete with the current spot before clicking the next. If I had 20 spots on a screen, it was boggy and tedious.
In version 4, I can click away as if I’m playing Whack-A-Mole and Lightroom will catch up with those suggestions when it gets a chance, much the same as a camera buffering images before writing them to the card. This is awesome and speeds up spot removal significantly.
From what I’ve seen of the Beta (minus the occasional crash) I really enjoy the improvements Adobe has made and will gladly plop down money to upgrade. I believe the improvements will give me better results faster. The increased speed in processing and moving between images from Library to Develop alone is worth the expense to me as time is money for me when it comes to play with pictures.
Now, what about you? Have you had a chance to take a look at the Beta version? If photography is not your business, do you think the changes are worth the (likely amount of) $100 to upgrade?
February 14, 2012 09:09 pm
I have been using LR3 now LR4 would be lost without it.
January 30, 2012 06:11 am
I have a question in regards to upgrading. I currently have Lightroom 2 and looking to upgrade. Should I wait till 4 comes out, and if I do, will I need to buy the full package or can I upgrade like I can to 3?
January 25, 2012 09:32 pm
I have a bit strange situation, because I downloaded LR3 trial and I've been very happy with it so I considered purchase. But before I did it there is LR4 Beta and now I am in doubt. Should I buy LR3 and pay upgrade when LR4 will be released or just wait and pay only once the full price?
Another thing is that I used LR3 quite a lot but LR4 Beta doesn't support Catalog upgrade and I can't work with older photos without importing them from the scratch.
January 23, 2012 08:02 pm
Honestly the changes mentioned here I dont really consider real selling points, they nice to have and round off some parts of the Lightroom Package, but the changes mentioned feel more along the lines of a patch fix and not really a whole new product.
I suppose when Lightroom sees the light of the sales room floor then reviews and opinions will let us know just how much a of a change had happened and if they are worth the time to upgrade.
I find myself using a few select features in lightroom, and respect the tool however I do not use it as extensively as many other people do. I suppose for me its another tool in my toolbox and a handy one at that.
Most of my recent photos have been through lightroom, usually to add one or two finishing touches:
These went through lightroom, for a final clean up and sizing ... used for its convenience ( its real selling point ) :
January 23, 2012 03:11 pm
I HAVE THE EXISTING LIGHT ROOM 3.
IS IT BETTER TO DOWN LOAD THE UP GRADE VERSION 4 OR BUY THE DISC UP GRADE FROM THE STORE, SO I WILL HAVE MY OWN COPY.
IS THE COST THE SAME?
HOW MANY FREE UP GRADES WILL BE AVAILABLE TO LIGHT ROOM 4?
THAN YOU---RUSSELL LEPAPE- SAN JOSE, CA.
January 21, 2012 11:33 pm
what the heck the face recognition is missing!!!
January 21, 2012 09:05 pm
To me its everything I've been waiting for!
Right now I copy all my stills to my HDD first, so I can geotag them with geosetter before importing them into LR. Not to mention as a professional filmmaker, I (and many filmmakers with me) have been looking for a way to archive my video footage for a looooooong time.
And I love the fact that I don't have to export my photo's first, lay them out in InDesign and then go back to LR to do some final adjustments. Export again, open in Photoshop for proofing and back to InDesign for export to Blurb. Save's me a whole lot of time.
Softproofing Great!! too bad it doesn't support CMYK profiles yet.
January 21, 2012 12:34 am
I thought this was an article about Lightroom 4, but like almost any Nikon/Cannon or Windows/Apple article, people who use something else want to chip in their 2 cents to put down the subject of the artical with no real contributing substance.
I've been trying LR Beta for a few days now and mostly like the changes. Has been rock solid for me -- much more stable than I expected for beta software. I like the additions to the adjustment brush as well, and that LR doesn't load it's defaults on import as other's have said. I was very disappointed that they didn't add a better touch up tool. When processing a lot of photo's I like to stay in LR as much as possible, but the need to touch up a portrait is what drives me to PS.
January 20, 2012 05:06 pm
That part about "no defaults when importing" is not really true. The default settings are the same, they've just changed the numbers. In other words, +25 Contrast in Lightroom 3 is 0 in Lightroom 4 beta, but it's the same amount of contrast. There's no more Brightness slider, but the default setting of +50 Brightness in Lightroom 3 is baked into the 0 Exposure setting in Lightroom 4. The default of +5 Blacks in Lightroom 3 is the same as 0 for Blacks in Lightroom 4. And what used to be called a "Medium Contrast" Tone curve in Lightroom 3 - the default - is now called a "Linear" tone curve in Lightroom 4 - and is the default. So images will look almost exactly the same if you import with the default settings in Lightroom 3 or the default settings in Lightroom 4 - they've just changed the numbers.
To me this is deceptive. The defaults do boost contrast and brightness. But worse, there's no such thing as a real linear tone curve in Lightroom 4.
But the new highlight and shadow tools are very good.
January 20, 2012 04:07 pm
For a portrait photographer, the new features are worth every penny. Just the new brush adjustments alone are worth the cost.
January 20, 2012 08:18 am
Currently use LR3 and really don't see anything worth upgrading. I absolutely can't stand the GUI and that hasn't changed one bit. There is still not a single piece of code for supporting the social nature of the web and the plethora of social services out there. Plugins? c'mon, the interface to those features provides functionality, but is horrible to use.
Design!! This product needs much more elegance added and unless it's $49 or less to upgrade, I won't even consider it.
January 20, 2012 05:33 am
I too have been playing around with the beta on two different machines. A desktop running Vista with 4GB ram that is obviously several versions of video old and a newer laptop with 8GB and Windows 7 plus a very late video card. So far no problems. I experimented with the "book" module. Loaded well past the 160 photos into the program and let it do its thing the first time. Then I moved all the photos so that I would have a picture on every page and added more photos that weren't auto loaded. At no time did I get any slow down or crash. As usual on the laptop, I did get an "out of memory" error message that I just clicked to ignore. I get this with PS5 but not with PSE. Doesn't bother me enough to tackle it.
Bottom line, I like what I see and do like some of the features that Darren commented on.
By the way, while I was working in the book module I was also making adjustments to the phots in Develop with not problems.
January 20, 2012 04:14 am
I have used both lightroom and Aperture. After viewing this beta, I must say they are getting closer to Apertures features. The ONLY thing I hate about aperture is not being able to make the bright, bright, hard on the eyes, app colors more darker. Otherwise...I will Not be upgrading to LR4.
You do have to wonder if Apple is going to screw us photographers like they did the video crews.
January 20, 2012 12:55 am
I trialled LR3 last year when I bought my D7000 and ended up preferring RawTherapee which is open source and free.
January 19, 2012 10:33 pm
Odd, I commented yesterday but it never showed up :(. I've been using it since the release and really like it. I find the Map feature especially handy. I'll upgrade as soon as it's available.
January 19, 2012 06:17 pm
From what I've seen all the new features, except the reworking of highlights & shadows (i.e. PV2012), It's just copied from Aperture. The only advantage for Lightroom over Aperture as I see it, is that is runs on Windows. So I have to agree with bastien and morgan. And very unfortunately what morgan describes applies to the whole Creative Suite.
January 19, 2012 04:17 pm
@Todd: No you don't. At most you need to get hold of a copy of Windows 7 which, as I have found, often runs quicker than XP but does require more memory to run - 2GB+ if you are running LR. Maximising memory (within reason) is a cheap performance boost. New "system" hardware is not usually required unless you are running something really quite old - my 3GHz Pentium IV runs windows 7 OK - in which case you would be better off running Linux and not Windows full stop. You could also buy a small SSD for Windows, applications and the Lightroom cache which will massively speed things up (min requirement = SATA connector).
@JS: For me one of the most important parts is the cataloguing of photos. I have over 10,000 and I can organise them on disk as I like and easily locate things. I keyword them upon import. I may even rate them if I have time. After this I can create collection sets and smart collections - examples being collections of photos of each of my kids at different ages all just using the metadata (creation date etc) and the keywords I have added. Then there are virtual copies - develop the same photo different ways (colour, B&W) and store the differing versions in the minimum space possible i.e. less than 2xphoto size. Also the editing is more geared to photographers. Yes, there are some things that are in Photoshop/GIMP that I'd like in Lightroom but you can't blame them for not wanting to sabotage sales. I have barely been left wanting for anything over the 2-3 years I have been using it. I also believe that, due to the cost of PS, and I would suspect its declining sales amongst photographers and the need to compete with Aperture, that more and more features will be included until it is *the* one-stop-shop for photographers.
January 19, 2012 03:55 pm
After playing with the Beta for a week now, I can say that Adobe continues to struggle. As an ex-Adobe employee it was apparent that Adobe had lost it's identity a few years ago. With the bullet list of "features" in Lightroom 4 I was hopeful that they were back on track - alas I was wishful thinking.
Lightroom is not an innovation as much as an attempt to "catch up" with iPhoto and Aperture for the photographer/videographer using Mac's. For the Windows faithful, Lightroom 4 may be worth the investment - there is really nothing else like it (though you may find Corel's AfterShot Pro a contender on the Windows Platform).
The biggest problem with Lightroom is that it is a collection of "after thoughts." Nothing feels like a polished, well thought out idea - and I'm not talking about the Lightroom 4 Beta but the shipping version. At least with the Beta you expect it to be unpolished.
January 19, 2012 03:08 pm
Not sure if there's anything in that list that I'm dying to have over the current version, but I'll probably cough up for an upgrade eventually. The mapping, video, and book additions are not worth it for me, but the added items in the adjustment brushes could be cool.
Maybe this time i'll actually wait for the bug release before upgrading.
January 19, 2012 01:54 pm
So adobe is catching on up on feature with 2 year old Apple Aperture 3 with this release. Still love Aperture much more and can't wait to see what Apple has in store with Aperture 4 (whenever it comes out)
January 19, 2012 01:20 pm
You haven't mentioned the added ability to adjust individual colour curves- for me, it's the best new feature and biggest reason to upgrade, finally giving me fine control over colour that was lacking in L3 (no more fiddling around with split toning, which was not really designed for that purpose!)
January 19, 2012 12:49 pm
It will probably be worth the upgrade in the US.
But in the rest of the world, Adobe will probably gouge the usual levy for simply being overseas, despite there being little extra cost for digitally downloaded upgrades.
Bastards! (to be retracted if the upgrade costs doesn't follow Adobe's usual pricing practices)
January 19, 2012 11:47 am
What's the cost of base Lightroom if it's upgrade is $100?
What are the major features that you use within Lightroom? Just what are listed here?
Asking because I get great use out of Gimp.org (and its free and free(dom)).
January 19, 2012 10:39 am
I have been playing with LR4 since its public beta release & I love it. The new brushes are great. Defaulting to "0" although minor is awesome. Localized editing is great. I am definitely going to upgrade when the opportunity arises
January 19, 2012 10:33 am
If I could reposition my watermark without having to create an entirely new one, I would buy it today.
January 19, 2012 09:14 am
To me it is not worth it. I have two computers and a laptop on WindowsXP. Lightroom 4 does not run on XP, therefore, I would have to buy new computers to use it. An expensive upgrade.
January 19, 2012 09:12 am
I see a lot of photographers talking about Lightroom, but I really find it hard to find the advantages it offers over Aperture. (Not to mention that Aperture doesn't even cost a third of Lightroom). Anyone to enlighten me?
January 19, 2012 08:29 am
Rotating video, really? Don't you end up with odd orientations in the final product? Are you really viewing / editing the final video in portrait orientation instead of landscape for example? Or vice versa? Or are you rotating 180 degrees (i.e. flipping the video)?
January 19, 2012 06:47 am
I really find the whole video processing method to be hokey. You are saving temporary presets left and right to do color correction. It just feel inelegant.
January 19, 2012 06:21 am
Softproofing ! At last ! And it works really well with virtual copies to adjust for specific printer profiles. That alone makes it worth to upgrade.
January 19, 2012 06:04 am
You know what you can't do (at least not in the current beta) ROTATE a video! this is the most common thing that find myself needing to do; also it gets very bogged down with large video even on a very powerful system.
January 19, 2012 05:45 am
I was REALLY hoping for more LR control of the camera for tethered shooting. I emailed the developers on their forum and asked about it. I got the standard reply that it's the camera maker's fault for not having enough SDK information...except that several 3rd party remotes, flash triggers etc DO HAVE the ability to control the camera's features (shutter, aperture, ISO, brackets etc). Too bad...would have been a useful feature for me.
As far as the rest of the new features in LR4...the best for me soft proofing (LR is a dream to print from). The least interesting is a toss up between video support and the Book (Blurb) module. I don't do video and, to me, the Blurb book module is the kind of thing better suited to Photoshop Elements.
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE
GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed