The latest upgrade to Adobe's acclaimed Lightroom software allows you to edit videos, geotag your shots and work on tonal recovery
A must-have application for enthusiastic photographers, whether amateur and professional, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 helps you to bring out the best of your shots.
Lightroom 4 lets you organise, edit, improve, share and print your photos and even make slideshows. Thanks to the all-in-one application, you can also you edit and publish video clips you have captured with your digital camera.
I tested Lightroom 4 with my generic brand Windows 7 64-bit PC with 2 gigabytes of memory installed and powered by Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40 GHz and I was blown away by the application’s fast performance.
Lightroom 4 workspace is organised into seven modules – Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print and Web.
You use the Library module to view, sort, manage, organise, compare, and rate the photos in your catalogue. You can easily import your photos to the library, using the import command. Thumbnails of photos of catalogue you are working on will be displayed at the bottom of the screen.
You use the Web module to create web photo galleries and use the Print module to specify the page layout and print option for printing photos.
The Develop module is the workspace where you edit and optimise your photos. Lightroom 4 comes with a lot of editing features but photographers will probably find it most useful one its functions for recovering highlight and shadow details.
Normally, when you capture a shot with a bright sky in the background or at night in lowlight and increase exposure to try to show details in the shadows, you will details in the highlights, and vice versa. Lightroom 4 has a solution for this problem.
Lightroom 4 provides two new sliders – Highlights and Shadows – that you can use to extend dynamic and tonal range of your image and thus recover more details.
For example, you can use the Highlights slider to darken the sky to show more details of the highlights while using the Shadows slider to brighten parts of the shadow areas of the image to recover more detail. Adjusting the light for the Highlights doesn’t affect the shadow areas and vice versa.
I found that you can also use the Auto Tone function to automatically improve the image. It adjust the values of exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites and blacks of an image. You can then decide whether to tweak the values further to get your desired result.
Lightroom 4 also allows you to make non-destructive edits in targeted areas of your photos easily, using the new selective editing brushes.
For example, after you have recovered details in the shadowed areas, you may see the areas have too much noise. Zoom into the areas and use the adjustment brush paint over the darker areas to decrease the noise. Before painting, first move the Noise slider to the right and Lightroom 4 also allows you to easily adjust the size of the brush.
And the adjustment brush function can be used to apply your preferred white balance to specific parts of an image shot under difficult lighting condition. That is, you can use the adjustment brush to paint on specific areas of an image and use the Temp and Tint sliders to adjust the value of white balance of the specific areas.
Photo books have become popular at several photo printing shops in Thailand. Lightroom 4 provides a function for you to easily create your own.
You can select the size of your photo book and select the layout and then have Lightroom 4 fill the layouts automatically. Or you can add one page at a time, selecting a layout several predefined ones then dragging and dropping the photos to the pages manually.
After you have created a photo book, you can export it as a PDF file for printing at your favourite shop.
Another nice feature of Lightroom 4 is its location-based photo organisation. Lightroom 4’s Map module uses Google Maps to let you place your images according to the locations they have been taken.
In the Map module, you can search for the Google Map of the location you have captured the shots. If the camera is GPS-enabled, the shots will be automatically displayed on the map. But if your camera does not have GPS recording feature, you can simply drag and drop your photos onto the map and Lightroom 4 will automatically add GPS tracklog to link the photos to the locations.
Another nice feature is the soft proofing tool that lets you easily preview how an image will be printed out or displayed online. Select the Soft Proofing box, and Lightroom 4 will show warnings of details that may be lost when printing or displaying on different monitors.
Lightroom 4 also lets you publish your edited photos directly to your Facebook or Flickr account. After you have linked your Facebook account to Lightroom 4, you list your Facebook albums in the Publish Services section and you can then drag and drop your photos to the albums. You can also view and add comments to the photos on Facebook by using Comments menu in the right sidebar of the screen without leaving Lightroom.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 retails for Bt5,080 for new users or Bt2,678 for upgrades.
Minimum system requirements:
OS: MacOS X v10.6.8, v10.7 with Multicore Intel processor, or Microsoft Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor
Memory: 2 GB of RAM
Display: a 1024x768 display