Adobe Lightroom 4
Adobe launched Lightroom 4 on Tuesday, a major upgrade to its digital photography workflow solution. Improved RAW processing helps squeeze out every last bit of dynamic range from today's DSLRs, while new features include GPS tag mapping, photo book creation, and improved support for digital video files. All the improvements also come with a 50 percent price cut, lowering the bar of entry for avid photo amateurs.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 quickly went from public beta release in January to finished app in just two months. "Feedback from our customers is invaluable in developing Lightroom, and the real trick to a great release is to combine these insights with Adobe's unrivaled image processing innovation," Adobe vice president of Creative Media Solutions products Winston Hendrickson said in a statement.
Those image processing innovations include improved RAW processing designed to maximize detail in shadow and highlight areas. Squeezing every last bit of dynamic range from digital sensors has been a challenge, but Adobe promises that the new RAW processing engine can deliver better results at the extremes. Additional improvements have been made to the automatic contrast and exposure controls, and photographers can now selectively apply local noise reduction, moiré, and white balance adjustments.
Adobe has also added some tools that copy prominent features in Apple's Aperture 3. A new Map module can display images tagged with GPS data on a map, can associate GPS data with named locations for more sorting options, or can add geo-tagging to images via map lookup. Adobe also included a new Book module to create photo books directly within Lightroom, utilizing Adobe's well-known type controls and a variety of templates.
Perhaps most useful, though, is the addition of native video support in Lightrooom to handle the increasingly sophisticated video capture of today's DSLRs, compact cameras, and smartphones. Basic playback, trimming, and frame capture options are included, as well as the ability to add many of Lightroom's adjustments to video footage. Edited clips can be exported to non-linear editing software, or uploaded directly to Facebook or Flickr (but apparently not YouTube).
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4's most popular feature, however, may prove to be its new lower price point. Adobe dropped the price from $299 to $149, which we suspect is a response Apple's aggressive price drop for Aperture 3, which now sells for $79.99 via the Mac App Store. Users upgrading from previous versions of Lightroom can pay just $79 (down from $99 for previous upgrades). The new low price should make Lightroom more accessible to serious amateurs or even casual shooters looking to improve workflow and organization of large libraries of digital photos.