Adobe Lightroom 4

Warning: this post contains techy-dorkery.

So I upgraded to the Adobe Lightroom 4.0. I never ran the beta version, but kept up with their updates. This isn’t a review, so I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but rather my thoughts on a few of the changes. The standout feature for me in this update were the addition of new brushes, particularly the “moire” and noise reduction. I’ve always liked Lightroom’s noise slider, but it was always too global for me. Now you have the brush to just hit spots, such as an area of the sky and leave the rest alone. Adobe also touted about a better strength in “recovery” in both details and lighting, specifically in the “blown” highlight area. So the post tonight is in regards to checking that ability out as I would not have posted the above because of sheer image quality. The photo above is from an arsenal museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which is aptly named “The Old Arsenal.” If my memory serves me right, there was a no tripod or no photography rule (oops :)) in the museum. While I like the composition of the photo and the aresnal had some cool architect, it was quick handheld shot at high ISO and too low of a shutter speed. It was in bad need of recovery so I decided to put the update in Lightroom to test. I converted to B&W  partly because I thought it popped better in B&W, but partly to see how the recovery worked on a simple color scale. I then worked the recovery and light sliders. With the new noise and white balance brushes, I was able to make heavier noise adjustments in the shadow areas and tweak the lighting in spots.

Below is a comparison. Note the blown lights on the original on the wall lights and then the difference in shadows between both photos.

Overall, I think the software did OK. Normally, I would have gone to Photoshop to improve this one in this way.  The new version definitely handled it better than the previous version would have. Keep in mind, recovery and noise brush editing were not the only updates. Video editing and book processing is now available which are much more significant than detail brushes. However, I would  STILL have loved a bit of layer use in Lightroom. It baffles me they have not ported this ability over into the code of Lightroom.  The biggest shocker, and upside, was they cut the price of Lightroom in half!  Whether someone should upgrade is debatable, but for someone looking to grab a powerful photo editor for the first time, it will be hard to beat the price of LR4 for what it can do.

11 thoughts on “Adobe Lightroom 4

  1. Understanding this wasn’t intended as a full-fledged review, I am glad you hit on your take of the improved ability of LR4 for NR and recovery…these are two areas I am always wishing LR3 could do better. Thanks for your thoughts on this topic!

  2. The feature I most would have liked to have seen would be getting some of the content aware fill from CS5. Now that would get me tripping all over myself to upgrade.

    1. That would also rock, Jeff. Lightroom has really grown on me, especially for workflow, but I’ve always thought it could be potentially much stronger. But now, in perspective, they are pricing it at $149…which to me is both good and bad. Good as in extended a really powerful tool for a good price in comparison to the field, but perhaps bad as in they may not pour too much of their resources into it.

      1. Lightroom is the only “Photoshop” I own. LR along with my Nik plug-ins is all I find a need for. You are right on the price, but I have to wonder, would the price have been lowered if the economy wasn’t in the toilet?

  3. Nice to see your assessment of LR4. It is a part of my workflow and I am happy to see the recovery is better as I usually leave those chores to photoshop. I am curious though, when you upgraded, did your Nik plugs transfer over? Or did you have to do a reinstall for the plugs?

    1. Yes, they did but many MAC users had MAJOR issues and essentially no plug-in would work in LR4 after the update. I run Win7 64bit. Nik put out an update but the problem looks to be on Adobe’s end with the plug-in part on the installer.

  4. Interesting. I picked up LR3 a month or two ago for the photo management aspect and to be honest, haven’t really played AT ALL with the editing side of the program! Looks like I might just have to do that, thank you for the “non-review” review. 😛

    1. Thanks, David. I was primarily PS RAW and Photoshop for a long time, but didn’t like the workflow of Adobe Bridge for photos. I picked up Lightroom for the same reason and never touched a slider in the development hub for probably a year. But I’ve used it more and more and find it does more than I thought it did. I also like working up presets.

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