So what's new and improved?
Lightroom 3 was predominantly about upgrading the underlying code,
although quite a few new features where included. Unfortunately, the
early releases were quite buggy and some of the new features failed to inspire.
No Books! No Soft Proof! Argh, what are they thinking was the cry. To
be fair, version 3 was not nearly as bad as some made out. For example,
we got vastly improved sharpening, noise reduction and automatic lens
corrections in the Develop module. We could import and manage video and
CMYK files, a watermark editor and customised print layouts were
headline features in the Print module, and on the output side version 3
introduced the ability to export slideshows as video.
Lightroom 4 Adobe went right back to 2006. They've reviewed the
feature requests, and spoken to users. So, which features came to the
top? Yes, you guessed - Soft Proofing, Books, Geotagging and Video.
Obviously, these aren't the only requested features, but the fact that
they've all been included should please a lot of photographers.
following table lists the top level features included in Lightroom
4 public beta:
Native video support including basic editing
Manage images by location with new Map module
Enhanced DNG support
New 2012 Process Version
Simplified Basic Adjustments (tone controls)
Per channels curves adjustments
Updated Clarity adjustment
Additional local adjustments
Automatic Chromatic Aberration correction
Photo Book production in new Books module
Enhanced output model for storing settings applied in Web, Slideshow,
Print and Book modules
Video publishing via Publish Collections
Email directly from within Lightroom
Adobe Revel (formerly Carousel) export
The list may not be as extensive as
some might wish, but it is worth noting that each required a
significant body of engineering work, and is much deeper in
functionality than their name suggest. Ideally, readers should refer to the Lightroom
4 beta Release Notes for
a more comprehensive list of new new features and enhancements. The
release notes also include information
on Known Issues and limitations.
Lightroom 4 System Requirements
I expect there will be a fair amount of grumbling when users,
especially those using Windows, read Lightroom's new system
requirements. In particular, support for Windows XP is gone, and
Lightroom can no longer run in 32-bit mode on Mac platform. The
official list of system requirements for both platforms is as follows:
processor with 64-bit support
Mac OS X v10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or v10.7 (Lion)
2GB of RAM
1GB of available hard-disk space
4 or AMD Athlon®
with Service Pack 2 or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1
2GB of RAM
1GB of available hard-disk space
An Internet connection is required for Internet-based
services (e.g. Books and Maps)
Beta Limitations and Precautions
4 beta will not overwrite or interfere
with existing catalogs nor will it allow the user to upgrade a catalog from an earlier version.
In other words, it should be safe to
work alongside existing catalogs. Nevertheless, it's important to
mention a few caveats when using the Lightroom 4 beta.
already mentioned the first, namely that it is not yet possible to
upgrade an existing Lightroom catalog. Therefore, users will be forced
into creating a new version 4 compatible catalog. The second is that, as with all
beta software, bugs do exist and it is therefore important that users
work on copy files, especially if they decide to save develop settings
back into their files. The third is that the new Process Version 2012
(PV2012) develop settings applied to
files in the public beta are not guaranteed to transfer to
the final shipping version. In other words, the Lightroom 4 Beta is
intended for testing purposes and to provide users with an opportunity
to provide feedback to the development team; it's not yet ready for
Process Version 2012
mentioned above, the Basic panel tone controls associated with raw
image processing algorithms have been reworked. The changes are
significant and have necessitated the introduction of a new process
version (i.e. PV2012). I expect there will be a lot of questions
regarding compatibility, etc with current versions of Lightroom and
Camera Raw. Hopefully, Adobe will address these over the coming
days/weeks. In the meantime, the following information (provided by
Adobe) might help explain the reasoning behind PV2012.
There are many
reasons why Adobe are revising the tone controls in Process Version
2012. Adobe are striving to provide controls that:
implement a new tone mapping algorithm,
for easy yet powerful contrast management.
are more accessible and intuitive
to new users. Ideally, it should be clear to users which
control to grab when faced with a specific photographic problem. In
other words, fewer overlapping behaviours among the controls.
For example, in 2010 there are three ways to
adjust the overall image brightness: Exposure, Brightness, and Fill
Light. They affect the highlights and shadows in different ways,
but they all affect the mid-tones. In 2012, there is one way to
adjust the overall image brightness: Exposure.
cleanly for mobile and tablet applications, where UI
real estate is at a premium.
easy to synchronise between raw & jpeg.
this is hard because raw & jpeg have different baseline settings
(e.g., Brightness, Contrast, Blacks, and Point Curve have different
defaults), and also because some of the internal math is different.
In 2012, tone controls have the same default settings and the same
math for raw & jpeg. This facilitates mixed raw/jpeg workflows and
means that tone presets can be applied effectively to both raw &
available in both global and local tools, with the
need for parametric & point curves when performing common
tonal adjustments (because curves are less intuitive to new users).
Library Module and Workflow
There haven't been much in the way of UI changes, so the
overall appearance of Lightroom and the Library module in particular should be familiar to anyone
who already uses an earlier version. The Library continues to be at the heart
of Lightroom in so far as it's the module that provides most of the
tools for managing photographic assets. Imported images can be
viewed in the Library in various modes or views. These include the now
familiar Grid view (G), Loupe view (E), Compare
view (C) and Survey view (N). Each of these views is
intended for a specific purpose, but users may find one view more
useful than others. For example, Grid view allows the user to see large
numbers of images as thumbnails whilst at the same time providing a
workspace for applying metadata, labels, ratings, keywords, flags and
even quick development adjustments to images in bulk. As with previous
versions of Lightroom Loupe view restricts these actions to a single
image. Compare and Survey views are designed to make the tasks of
rating and flagging easier.
Figure 1 - Library module Grid view
(Click for larger view)
Library module and workflow enhancements include:
ratios (1:8 and 1:16)
Move multiple folders from
volume to volume (Previously only single folder workflow was enabled)
Filter and search images by
a saved or unsaved metadata property (Smart Collections)
Hierarchical Develop Preset
display in Quick Develop
Layout overlay for tethered
shooting workflow when attempting to match a specific layout template
Photos in publish
collections that have been modified can be set to not re-publish
Flag status is now ‘global’
(One setting per image regardless of location in folder or
Stacking is now possible in
controls on export
Disk burning now available
on Windows 64-bit systems
It's rare that Adobe bow to
pressure when it comes to the Lightroom UI. Fact is, UI changes can
quickly come back to haunt the developers, especially when elements
that were visible one day are gone the next. Nevertheless, there was a
recognition that the Module Picker with two new
modules is starting to get a little cluttered. Add to this the fact
that some users don't use some of the modules and would dearly love to
switch them off. So, how did Adobe
address the problem? Simple, they provided a context menu for
the Module Picker in which the user can choose which modules are shown.
Figure 2 - Module Picker menu
Native Video Support and Editing
Lightroom 3, version 4 supports video playback directly with the
Library loupe window. This should prove very popular with photographers
who shoot both still and video. Even more popular will be the fact that
Lightroom now supports a wide range of video formats including AVCHD
(i.e. the native format for Sony DSLRs and mirrorless cameras such as
those from Panasonic).
Figure 3 - Video
Editing in Library module (Click for larger view)
Lightroom 4 also provides support for extracting a single frame as a
JPEG file. Also supported is the ability set the Posters Frame and Trim
videos. These features are accessed through the controller that appears
in the lower section of the Library loupe window. The controller can be
expanded by either end and dragging. The trimming controls are
located at either end of the controller
Figure 4 - Video
addition, Lightroom 4 also supports adjustment of the video using a
subset of the same controls used for still images. Figure 5 below shows
the controls available when editing video.
Figure 5 - Basic
Lightroom 4 caches video in a dedicated folder, and the
size of is cache can be limited from within the File Handling panel of
Finally, for video, Lightroom 4 provides support for
exporting to DPX files. DPX is a lossless, folder-based format
intended for interop with Adobe Premiere Pro.
Enhanced DNG Support
Lightroom 4 provides options
for Lossy Compression during import, export and preview update.
1. On import, users can
specify a preference to use lossy compression (only enabled for ACR 6.6
and later DNG compatibilities) to generate the DNG from proprietary raw
files. But the imported DNG will always keep the same pixel size as the
original. This compression can also be applied during the Update DNG
Preview and Metadata command.
2. On export, the user can
additionally specify the target image size of the exported DNG using
the existing image sizing controls in the Lightroom export dialog. The
image sizing controls are limited to specifying the long edge and megapixel sizes when the DNG lossy compression option is turned on.
Figure 6 - Export DNG files
Why lossy compression? Well,
Adobe have seen other vendors try to address the problem of relative
file size between JPEG and raw formats by offering alternatives such as
sraw. With DNG lossy compression the user can half the file size at
full resolution with minimal artefacts and all of the flexibility of
raw. The question the user must ask themselves is - does every file
need to be saved at full, lossless compression file size? Probably not.
But rather than archiving 8-bit lossy compressed JPEGs why not archive
the more flexible, higher quality, lossy compressed DNG files?
Lightroom 4 also includes an
option to embed "Fast Load Data." What is that? Turn it on for a folder
of DNGs and compare the image to image load time in the Develop module when
compared with the proprietary raw file.
Figure 7 - DNG File Handling Preference
There is also new Metadata
and filter options available for DNG file types. These can be found in
Smart Collections and the new DNG metadata panel in the Library module
Figure 8 - DNG Metadata panel
email from within Lightroom has been a very popular feature request
from the days of the very first public back in 2006. Personally, it's
not a feature that I have any real need for, after all there have been
alternative ways of achieving the same objective for nearly as long as
Lightroom has been around. Nevertheless, Adobe clearly felt that it was
a worthy request and invested time and resources in developing a fully
integrated system for sending images via email from within Lightroom
Figure 9 - Direct
The Preset drop-down menu has
a facility for creating customised sizes. Actually, all that it does is
open the normal Export dialog window, which then allows you specify the
size, format, etc for the file. The address button opens a self
contained Address Book, which is only accessible by Lightroom. It's
also worth noting that it's not possible to use the address book within
your default email application.
The Map module is the first
of only two new Lightroom modules introduced since version 1.
It's intended to enable users to geotag their images thus keeping a
permanent record of the location at which they were taken. The Map
module supports two methods for geotagging images. The first and
probably the one most users will utilise is simple drag and drop. The
second requires track logs generated by GPS loggers (e.g. Garmin Etrex
Vista Hx) or even a mobile/cell phone such as Apple's iPhone.
For manual geotagging to work
the photographer must remember or have noted down somewhere the
location at which each photograph was taken. Once the photos are
imported into Lightroom the user switches to the Map module and types
the location into the search field on the top right corner of the map
window (figure 10 below). Assuming the computer is connected to the
internet, Lightroom will search for the location and render the
appropriate map. In some situations there may be more than one location
with the same name, in which case the user must make a choice based on
the information provided by Google.
Figure 10 - Map module (Click for larger
The location shown on
the map by the orange marker with a dot in the centre might always be
close to the actual location as required. In this situation, unlocking the
marker (click on
padlock badge) then holding down the Ctrl/Cmd key (Windows/Mac)
dragging the marker allows for more accurate placement. Once the marker is in the
correct location it only remains for the relevant photos to be selected
then dragged to the flag.
geotag photos using a tracklog the log must be in the GPX format. The
log is selected using the drop-down menu just to the right of the
marker padlock. The only aspect likely to confuse users is setting
Lightroom to use the correct time zone information, but even this is
easily managed using the Offset Time Zone control panel (figure
Figure 11 - Tracklog
Figure 12 - Time
As I mentioned above, Books
was a feature requested by many photographers from the very first day
that Lightroom went public. Obviously, the comparison was being made
between Lightroom and applications such as Aperture and
iPhoto, both of which had supported books from their beginning.
Well, Books have finally made into Lightroom. Not just support for
books but a module all of its own.
Lightroom 4 supports two types of output, PDF and a
direct connection to Blurb, a popular photo book vendor in the
Figure 13 - Book
module (Click for larger view)
In Book, the user picks a book format,
output type, and size in the Book Settings panel on right side.
Laying out a book can be done manually or using the Auto Layout
feature. I suspect many users will find the auto layout feature quite
useful, especially if they create their own set of page layouts. This
is done through the Auto Layout Preset Editor as shown in figure 14
Figure 14 - Auto Layout Editor
For users who prefer the manual method
of laying out a book there is Page selection panel from
which they can choose any one of 180 predefined page types or better
still use some they've created for themselves in Adobe Illustrator.
Figure 15 - Page selection
(Click for larger view)
When Adobe decided to do books they were
clearly intent on giving the user maximum flexibility. This is
particularly the case when it comes to type (text). Using the
Caption and Type panels it's possible to configure pretty
much any text layout, style or colour one can think of. It's also
possible to define the colour of the page background either on a page
by page basis or globally (Background panel).
Figure 16- Text
editing Book (Click for larger view)
following summarises other important features of Book:
Flexible auto-layout tool with preset-based customisation
180 professionally designed page layouts
and drop behaviours for reordering pages or swapping image locations
Helpful layout guides and page bleed information
Flexibility through cell padding for text and photo cells
Dynamically located photo captions based on existing metadata or
Powerful type tools based on industry leading type technology found
in Photoshop and Illustrator
Customisable background color
Elegant background graphics to enhance the style of travel or wedding
integration with Blurb book printing service
size, cover, paper quality directly within Lightroom
estimate dynamically provided during book creation
the book has been completed it only remains for the user to upload it
to their Blurb account for printing.
So, here we are at the
Develop module where two of the most significant changes have taken
place. I've already touched on both (PV2012 and Soft Proofing), but now it's time to put a little
more meat on the bones.
Figure 17 - Develop module
summarises changes to the controls in the Basic panel:
for Highlights, Shadows, and Whites.
for Recovery, Brightness, and Fill Light.
PV2012 is a combination of 2010's Exposure and 2010's Brightness. It
is now the main control for setting the overall image brightness.
is (mostly) the same in 2010 and 2012.
Shadows are the new tone mapping controls.
set the overall desired image brightness with Exposure, use
Highlights and Shadows to set the relationship between the mid-tones,
highlights, and shadows.
high contrast image - Set Highlights to negative value and Shadows to
positive value to "relight" the scene. This procedure pulls down the
highlights and lifts up the shadows, thereby "evening out" the
lighting in the image. Users should not be afraid the full range
(i.e. values as high/low as +100/-100).
Whites and Blacks
are the highlight & shadow clipping controls. They are useful for
adjusting how much of the highlights and shadows are clipped off,
while preserving the overall tonal relationships in the image.
The positive direction of Clarity is now integrated with the new tone
mapping logic. Hence the appearance and effect are different than
before. Halos on either side of a high-contrast boundary should be
reduced. The minus direction of Clarity is unchanged (same behaviour
in all process versions).
Figure 18 - Process Version 2012 Tone
All controls in
PV2012 have a default of 0 and a range of -100 to +100 (except for
Exposure which is still measured in stops, with a range of -5 to +5).
This is true for both raw and jpeg. The ideal workflow is from top to
bottom. That is to say, set Exposure first then work down through the
adjustments as appropriate for the image being edited.
All toning controls
in PV2012 are directed (oriented) such that the "right" direction"
means a brighter image, and the "left direction" means a darker
image. Contrast is the obvious exception ("right" means more contrast
and "left" means less contrast).
In PV2012, the
default point curve for raw files is Linear. In PV2010, it is Medium
Contrast. The actual internal default tone curve for raw files is
unchanged. Adobe have simply recentred the UI so that Linear is the
default user-visible setting. In other words, the old "Medium Contrast"
default curve in PV2010 is now effectively "built into" the new
"Linear" curve in PV2012. That is why the default rendering is
unchanged. The Tone Curve now includes the ability to correct
tone/colour on a per channel basis.
default, photos that contain develop adjustments edited in previous
versions of Lightroom or Camera Raw will continue to use the original
process version (likely PV2010), but newly imported photos will use the
new process version. It's when a catalog contains multiple process
versions that users will compare and clearly see the difference between
the two, both in terms of the actual adjustment sliders and image
quality. In my opinion, the improvements in image quality are so
significant that the time spent learning how the new controls is well
One limitation of
the new process version that will probably become apparent to users of
Develop Presets is that presets created in earlier versions of
Lightroom do not work correctly in PV2012. Adobe are still
investigating approaches to "migrating" presets forward. Hopefully, the
issue will be fully resolved by the time the Gold Master version of
Lightroom 4 ships.
The Local Adjustment
tools have been updated to reflect the new PV2012 settings. Both
Brush and Graduate Filter panels incorporate the new controls. If the
photo being edited is PV2010 then the panels will open
with the old sliders rather than those shown below.
The adjustment brush and
graduated filter sliders can be reset by holding down Option/Alt and
clicking on Amount. Although not new, the button with the = 'X' overlay
indicates that no colour is selected. Clicking on it will open the
colour palette from which any hue saturation value can be selected by a
simple mouse click.
keyboard shortcuts for the Gradient Tool and Adjustment Brushes
haven't changed, but it's always worth repeating them for new Lightroom
Open Adjustment Brush - K
Open Gradient Tool - M
Show/hide Pin - H
Increase/decrease brush size - ] / [
Increase/decrease feather - Shift+] / Shift+[
Commit a brush stroke or gradient and/or start new - Enter
Delete selected pin - Delete
Holding down - Alt/Option key activates erase
Toggle Auto Mask On/Off - A
Pressing 'O' toggles on/off the overlay
Shift+O cycles through alternative
colours for overlay
Constrain gradient to vertical - hold down Shift
Invert gradient - '
Scale from centre - Alt/Option plus drag
been a long wait but eventually we have Soft Proofing in
Lightroom. However, the way it has been implemented in
Lightroom is nothing like it is in Photoshop. So, be ready to learn
some new tricks.
Figure 18 - Soft
Proofing activated in Develop module (Click for larger view)
Figure 19 - Soft Proofing panel
Using Soft Proof
To enable "Soft Proofing" -
click on new checkbox labelled Soft Proof
This checkbox will now
toggle the Proof Preview on and off. (Shortcut key: "S")
When the proof preview is
enabled, a new panel appear just above the Develop Basic panel. This
panel allow the user choose a colour profile and rendering intent.
The Develop loupe is rendered using these settings.
Pixels that are
out-of-gamut can also be highlighted in the photo, similar to how the
clipping indicators work (yellow boxes in figure 18 above). There are
two overlays that can be toggled independently: a red overlay showing
pixels that are outside the gamut of the selected destination
profile, and a blue one showing pixels that are outside your
display's gamut. The controls for toggling these appear at the top of
the histogram whenever the proof preview is enabled.
With the proof preview
enabled, the user can now adjust the photo in any way that they want
to make it look best given the constraints of the output profile.
The first time an
adjustment is made to a photo while the proof preview is on, the user
will be asked if they want to make a virtual copy to hold those
corrections. If yes, a virtual copy is created and selected, the
colour profile's name is recorded in its "copy name" metadata field,
and the adjustment you just made is applied to that copy instead of
the original photo.
the background colour of the proof
preview defaults to "Paper white", which simulates the paper white
colour of the profile. This colour is also used for Lights Out
when proofing is on. Also, when proofing is on, Before/After now
assists the user with comparing the current proofed copy of the photo
with any other copy of it. Adopting this approach enables the user to
refer back to the ideal, output-neutral rendition of the photo while
making adjustments to the proof.
useful features within Soft Proof include the live updates to the
histogram as the proofing profile is changed, and even more useful is
the scale RGB scale used to represent the pixel values is 0 to 255
rather than the normal 0 to 100%. Using this latter feature is also to
soft proof normal RGB working space profiles (e.g. sRGB, Adobe RGB,
etc), which is very useful as a quick check before exporting files for
the web, etc.
Updated Chromatic Aberration Correction
With the introduction new automated Chromatic
Aberration (CA) algorithms there is no longer any requirement for
lens profiles or manual sliders to correct for CA correction. This new
correction solution can even correct CA present in images shot with a
Tilt Shift lens, something the previous methods didn't fair too well
Figure 20 - Chromatic Aberration Removal
Slideshow, Web and Print Modules
The Slideshow and Web modules in particular have seen
little to no love this time round. The Print module hasn't
faired much better, but there is one new feature buried deep within the
Print Job panel. What is it and why is it hidden? Well, the
feature goes by the name Print Adjustment and basically all it
does is increase or decrease the brightness and/or contrast of the
image being sent to the printer. The actual image data as stored by
Lightroom is unchanged, only the data going to the printer is changed.
In an ideal world such a feature shouldn't be required and many would
argue that Adobe should not have included it, but sometimes ideology
has to give way.
Using the new adjustments is
a bit clunky, but for some users it may well be worth the time an
effort invested. Basically, the adjustments are applied
on top of the normal develop settings during printing. These
adjustments are stored per printer profile, not per photo. Also,
there is no visual feedback within the Lightroom. To see the effect of
an adjustment the user must make a print, allow it to dry, assess it,
then refine the adjustment as necessary. The process is iterative and
may require a few attempts before the print finally matches the screen.
Once the correct settings have been established the user can pretty
much forget that they ever made the correction.
Figure 21 - Print Adjustment
Again, and not to stress to breaking point - Print Adjustments are
meant to address the "my prints are too dark" problem, providing a
simple way to consistently tweak all prints on a particular printer.
Soft proofing is a more advanced feature, allowing you to hand-tailor a
particular photo for a particular printer. For the majority of users
soft proofing will be more than enough to get an excellent screen to
Remember Rule 5 -
Links to other useful material
on Lightroom 4 beta
Lightroom 4 Beta can be downloaded from
Michael Reichmann at Luminous Landscape has
produced a video summarising the
new features of Lightroom 4.
Andrew Rodney (AKA The Digital Dog) has produced an excellent overview
video for the new
Soft Proofing feature.