I’m not one to get too excited about new software.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a gear junkie to a fault, but I’d way rather spend my hard-earned cash on lenses, lights, skis and climbing gear that I can use doing what I love. Computers, I don’t love. Software, to me, is just a necessary evil in this digital age of photography.
That’s why I can’t explain why I’ve been on Adobe’s site at least once a day over the last week, trying to see when Lightroom 4 would be released. I’d downloaded and been working in the Beta version for a few weeks after seeing the “What’s New” tutorial, and I have been blown away. So, when I was up late working and saw a B and H Photo email come through seeking pre-orders for Lightroom 4 that would ship in the morning, well, I bought it so fast it made my head spin.
If you’re like me, and primarily use Lightroom to tweak exposures, sharpness, noise, etc., the new release is a must-have. The improvements are subtle, but they’re ones you’ll use every day and that makes them huge.
Here are the highlights for my personal workflow, ranked in a descending scale of usefulness (to me):
1. The refined shadow/highlight recovery is out of this world. No more bleaching colors or washing out the whole image. Go ahead, push it to 100!
2. Mixed light sources got you down? The ability to make targeted white balance adjustments with the paintbrush will save images you missed. I presume this would be most useful for wedding and event shooters who can’t always control their light sources, but I know I’ve seen times when I wished I’d had it…or even knew it was possible. There are also more localized adjustment options now available including moire, noise, shadow/highlight and more.
3. Improved noise reduction.
4. Improved RAW engine.
5. Improved B&W conversion (don’t worry Nix – you’re safe for now).
6. You can now preview out-of-gamut “color-blinkies” (like viewing blown highlight and shadow warnings) in the print mode to be sure you’re printer is capable of what you’re seeing on your screen.
7. There’s a lot more in there, like the ability to synchronize frame-by-frame video color adjustments across an entire clip, some book publishing and GPS-based location organization stuff, and a lot more stuff I haven’t even tried since I haven’t the full version for more then 24 hours yet!
For a comprehensive look at all the improvements, check out this video by Laura Shoe, a local Lightroom Guru here in Seattle
Suffice to say, I bought it. Immediately. Hook, line and sinker, just like Adobe was hoping. If only Photoshop CS6 was $79. Damn you Adobe. Off to play with my new toy…