15 Jan 2012

First practical experiences with Lightroom 4

Lightroom 4 is made available by Adobe for beta testing. A number of presentations of new features, small (and big) improvements can be found on the Adobe page and a set of video presentations here.

What would work in practice for me? Is it worth upgrading (though the price of upgrade is not revealed by Adobe yet)? In this post I try to summarize the changes and enhancements that work best for me.

Develop module
The most noticeable difference is an extra slider for image intensity manipulation:
Lightroom 3 basic settings
Lightroom 4 basic settings

So basically the tonal range of an image can be manipulated in LR4 in four areas (blacks, shadows, highlights, whites, walking on the histogram from left to right), vs 3 areas in LR3 (blacks, fill light, recovery). After some experiments with the new sliders I can tell that it is a huge improvement (especially in the right part of the histogram).

Export to e-mail
LR4 introduces possibility of exporting the images to an e-mail address (File->Export, then select E-mail in the Export To drop down list). This feature is nice for two reasons:
- It speeds up the workflow in the situation where the photos are sent to someone for the review, for example.
- It makes easier to use LR as a photo sharing application (next to photo processing and archiving application). In my particular case when my wife wants to send photos I made and stored in LR, I need to export them, store in a place where they are available for a e-mail application so she can send it). This feature makes the whole process unnecessary.

Map module makes geotagging of the photos kind a fun. It is a matter of dragging a photo to a location where it was taken. That's it. One can also load a track log file (in a .gpx format) to further ease the process.
What I miss is an option of tagging multiple photos from a track log file. Luckily a great LR plugin exists for this purpose, available on Jeffrey Friedl's blog.

So Adobe did (again) a good job by extending possibilities of image manipulation. And they modernized the LR with respect to sharing photos features. Now awaiting for a Export to Google+ plugin.