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The latest version of Adobe's ubiquitous photo management and workflow software adds new Book and Map modules, new video features, soft proofing and improved selective adjustment tools. It also has new backend processing (Process Version 2012)for improved noise control and better overall image quality.
With more and more photographers using Lightroom as their one and only digital photo editing program, the aggressive new pricing should make Lightroom 4 the de facto do-it-all photography software for almost all serious photographers. Most of the improvements were announced with the Lightroom 4 beta, including the addition of new Book and Map modules, better video support; with soft proofing and enhanced selective adjustments added to the Develop module. Continue reading →
Submitted by Franglais a Expert
Date Reviewed: May 20, 2012
Strengths: Compatibility with all major RAW formats. Common look to the end result
Industry standard, lots of documentation to help you, people who know it
Well thought out user interface, easy to understand
Weaknesses: Still rather expensive
Library manipulation tool is weak
Doesn't follow Windows best practices (thousands of tiny files impact performance)
Image miniature display is slow
I started using Lightroom with LR3. My teacher used it and I wanted a single tool to handle both the RAW from both my Nikon DSLR's and my Canon compact. My first impressions were negative:
- LR3 was outrageously expensive for what it was (LR4 is more reasonable but it's still a lot)
- I thought it was very weak as an image library manipulation tool. With ACDSee I had been used to being able to rename files with wildcards, move folders easily onto external drives - nothing like that in LR3. I quickly dropped the idea of using LR to manage my image library and stick with ACDSee so no comments on that part for LR4
- I realised that LR3 was creating thousands of tiny files on my hard drive to use as miniatures. This is not good practice. File creation is an expensive process on a computer system. Having too many files can fragment your disk and over time it can degrade your system's performance. I was also hearing stories about large libraries being slow to open. I decided to have several LR libraries with just a few thousand images in each and so far it's been OK
However I was delighted with the user interface. It was easy to understand, even for a beginner. I could see that it was presenting simply things that I knew how to do from the more technical interface of the Nikon and Canon tools (exposure, highlight recovery, fill light, crop, straighten, saturation, contrast..). There were also some new tricks that I didn't know (Vibrance..). All this in a tool that was stable and doesn't crash (unlike NX2).
I didn't really pay any attention to LR4 until I realised that I needed it for the D800. I didn't notice any difference in using it till I Photo John said write a review and I looked into it. It seems to be even easier than before to get back burnt out highlight information. And the Brush tool where you can select a progressive zone for modification is just wonderful.
I still haven't explored all it can do but I'm enthusiastic about LR4 - as a RAW editor only.
Price Paid: $75.00
Purchased At: Adobe
Similar Products Used: Nikon NX2, the Canon RAW editor, ACDSee Pro, Paint Shop Pro
Type of photography: People
Submitted by armando_m a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: May 3, 2012
Strengths: Image quality
Amazing shadow recovery from RAW files
Ease to quickly browse to a large number of images
Non destructive editing
Weaknesses: Exporting a large number of files is slow
I only used Capture nx2 in the past, I did try LR3 but didn't like it, when the LR4 beta came out I tried and fell in love with the develop module! For example I always struggled with the skin tones and in LR4 it was a breeze, it can recover shadows like anything else keeps amazing detail and comes out looking natural, really impressive! Highlights also does it very well, here the limitation is probably more the camera sensor than LR4. The brushes are very versatile, any adjustment done in the basics section can be applied with a brush, really nice ! HSL section in the develop module is also very nice just put the mouse over where an adjustment is needed and slide it up or down , fine tune it if you like moving the slider on the right panel. In the library I like the ability to import to the catalog, keeping my files where I have them, no duplication. I also like that I have the ability to do some video editing and create books directly from LR4, but I have no tried this last two features. I do not like that resizing of images is in one step, and seems the sharpening I can do is lacking some of the controls I have on applications that can do unsharp mask / high pass filter. It integrates nicely with the nik software plugs ins, although this creates a copy of the file, so it doesn't modify the original, but it is not as simple to go back in history steps to undo some adjustment.
Price Paid: $149.00
Purchased At: adobe.com
Similar Products Used: Capture nx2
Corel paint shp pro
Type of photography: Outdoor
Submitted by Iceman2058 a Expert
Date Reviewed: May 3, 2012
Strengths: Workflow, image quality, adjustments, brush tool (now with more adjustments available).
Weaknesses: Speed (lack of), requires NASA supercomputer levels of memory.
I've been using Lightroom since version 3, and was eager to try out 4 as soon as it came out. In terms of functionality and results, I have not been disappointed. In addition to still looking great in terms of IQ, the adjustments have been organized in a more logical manner. Highlight and shadow recovery have been simplified (although it is still a bit confusing to distinguish between highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks...but their effect is easy to experiment with, so you quickly pick up on when to use which). There are a number of adjustments available, starting from simple cropping, through general exposure control, region-specific exposure control, of course white balance in general but also specific control over hue and saturation of individual color bands, the all important "Presence" controls (clarity, vibrancy, saturation) - aka the "masterpiece buttons" :-). Noise reduction looks awesome, crank it a bit too much and you get that "plasticky" look and feel, but used within "normal" range it works great.
Brushes and build-in grad filters also work well, to give you finer control over specific areas of a picture (not just limited to exposure either - white balance, clarity, noise, sharpness controls are available with the brushes and filters).
Finally, it also does a good job correcting for your lenses (vignetting etc), and has a bunch of options for post-crop treatment, to simulate a heavy vignette for example if you wanted to.
In terms of workflow, it works great for helping you deal with filing of your pictures. My workflow is to import all pictures from a session in RAW, review them in the Develop module (which allows you to already start making minor adjustments as you are looking for the keepers and the ones with potential). It is easy to rate and/or reject photos from this pane, and you can then choose to just remove photos from the library or delete from disk altogether as you thin down your crop (pun fully intended).
I export directly from the Develop module, I don't do much with Slideshow, Print, and Web, so I won't comment on those.
Now for the bad: it is very memory hungry (notably more so than version 3), and it often gets stuck on my 4GB laptop. You don't loose work, but it makes it painful flipping between photos, exporting etc. I often have ot exit and restart it to be able to finsh exporting for example. I can only hope Adobe intend to address this in upcoming versions (will get onto 4.1 RC2 shortly to try that out!).
One of the HUGE advantages of Lightroom that should be pointed out is that it is non-destructive in editing. I.e. it makes no changes to original files, it just remembers the adjustments you have applied to a file. It keeps good track of all the adjustments you made as well (visible in the History pane), so you can roll back one or several steps as you wish. This is helpful when recovering from a crash, as you can see that what you had been doing is indeed still there.
All in all, it is a great piece of software, basically it is all I use for post-processing, only the performance issues keep it from getting a full 5 stars from me. Even so, after the price drop from Adobe it is a no-brainer!
A little pic, (copy and paste URL in your browser):
Type of photography: People
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