Lightroom 4 Ships with Lower Price
After two months in public beta, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 is now shipping. The software shows improvements over previous editions and adds features new to version 4. Most newsworthy is that Adobe has slashed the price by 50 percent, from $299 to $149. Upgrades are now $79 as opposed to $99. From its first Mac-only version in 2006, Lightroom has been regarded as software geared to professional photographers, but the price drop makes Lightroom more accessible to photographers of many skill levels.
Indeed, the overall look and feel of Lightroom 4 is friendlier than earlier versions. The controls seem less esoteric and the workflow is more intuitive. "This release builds on the fundamental performance architecture and image quality improvements in Lightroom 3 to provide a truly complete workflow solution," Lightroom principal product manager Tom Hogarty wrote in his blog during the beta period. "I kept hearing from customers that they love Lightroom but needed to leave the Lightroom to complete X, Y or Z. Lightroom 4 tackles those issues with improvements to image organization, adjustment tools and comprehensive publishing options."
One such publishing option that will appeal to many creative professionals is the ability to create photo books directly from within Lightroom — no need to exit to a page-layout program. The application comes with 100 templates — automatic or customizable — with extensive text formatting. Photo books can then be uploaded to Blurb.com for high-quality printing. Photographers can elect to sell their books directly from the Blurb website as well.
Photographers who print their photos will appreciate the soft-proofing capabilities built into Lightroom 4 that let them better predict what printed output will look like and make adjustments accordingly.
Books aren't the only way to share photos: you can easily post photos on Facebook, Flickr, and other social networking sites without leaving Lightroom. Depending on the site, comments posted about your pictures on those sites will appear with those images in Lightroom.
With the decision by many camera makers to include GPS tracking in their cameras, Lightroom now includes mapping data that lets you tag images with visual location via Google Maps, making it easy to see where you took photos and how many at each location. As a result, you can sort and organize images by location.
Extensive video support is another notable new feature. Today's DSLR cameras record high-quality video, and in recognition of that trend, Adobe has integrated video editing into Lightoom, negating the need to leave Lightroom to work with video. Clips can be trimmed via a timeline, and video frames can be edited with the same Lightroom tools that are used for photographs. Individual frames can also be copied and used as a still image. Tom Hogarty, principal product manager for Lightroom, shows how it works in this video.
Image editing and workflow is at the heart of Lightroom and Adobe has put a lot of developmental muscle behind it. Most impressive is the ability to easily modulate bright highlight and dark shadows to bring out detail and to better represent what you saw in the viewfinder. To see Lightroom 4's highlight and shadow recovery in action, watch this video, again with Tom Hogarty.
New brushes have been added that let you selectively clean up or adjust white balance in specific areas of an image. Hogarty demonstrates this feature in a video.
All in all, Adobe says that Lightroom 4 incorporates more than 800 "tweaks," many of which were gathered during the public beta period. A complete list of new features can be found at Photoshop Support and on Adobe's Lightroom product pages.
Photographers should note, however, that Lightroom no longer runs on 32-bit Macs; it requires a 64-bit Intel processor and OS 10.6.8. On the Windows side, it no longer runs on Windows XP; it requires Windows Vista or Windows 7. Better check your computer specs before purchasing Lightroom 4.
To see Lightroom 4 in action, check out Julieanne Kost's series of videos What's New in Lightroom 4.
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