Well, that’s the popular consensus, anyway. Adobe Lightroom 4 briefly appeared on Amazon as a ‘preorder’ item to ‘be released on March 6.’ Additionally, Adobe is offering 50% off Lightroom 3, ending today. As a die hard Lightroom user, I’m excited for the upgrade. I’ve been using the beta since its release, and it’s quite nice. I’m hoping there are one or two features that didn’t make the beta that will be in the final release.
My thoughts on the beta of LR4:
Lightroom 4 comes out with a few key features and improvements over Lightroom 3. In my time with the beta, these are the things that stood out most to me.
1. Shadow and Highlight adjustment.
One of the first things you will notice about Lightroom 4 if you are coming from Lightroom 3 is that the familiar “Recovery” and “Fill Light” sliders are gone, replaced with a more fully featured “Whites” slider (to replace Recovery) and “Shadows” to replace Fill Light. Blacks gets a bit more control as well, and there is a fourth slider for Highlight control. On the surface it may seem that these are simply cosmetic, but they have completely revamped the tools themselves. The Shadows slider controls fill light in the shadow areas, but does it without touching the midtones and highlights at all, unlike the old Fill Light slider. Adobe also made sure that this doesn’t make odd cutoff artifacts when really pushing the shadows. These new controls give a lot more control over the tonality of the image. Honestly, these tools alone are the reason I have basically only gone into Lightroom 3 when I need to work on images pre-2012. All my 2012 images are in my Lightroom 4 catalog.
2. Better adjustment brushes
Adobe has added almost every major tonal adjustment to their adjustment brushes now. That means you can do shadow and highlight recovery, white balance adjustment, noise reduction and even moire removal all with selective brushes. This is huge. Being able to paint on extra noise reduction in out of focus areas is a great tool. Have mixed light sources? Paint in a cooler white balance on part of the image and a warmer one on another part. The improved functionality of the adjustment brushes make one less thing I need to round trip to Photoshop for.
3. Full RGB Curves
Previous Lightroom incarnations allowed you some access to the powerful curves that Photoshop uses, but not the full range of control. With Lightroom 4, Adobe has added full point RGB curves to the program. Again, making it possible to process so many more images in Lightroom alone.
Lightroom 4 has many more additional features, most of which I haven’t had a chance to try out. If your photos have location information, Lightroom now has a mapping ability to organize your images in map view. Additionally, there is native book publishing support built in, using direct publishing to Blurb, or creation of a press ready PDF for use with other book making sites. While Apple Aperture has had this functionality for quite some time, it’s really nice to see it built into Lightroom now. There are several more, but I’ll leave those for my full review, which will be coming up after I’ve had a chance to use the full version for while. If you’re a Lightroom user, get ready!