I first used Lightroom when it was in V2 and I subsequently upgraded to V3. I am always fairly skeptical about the cost benefit equation of upgrades so when V4 was announced I downloaded on a 30 day trial rather than jumping in to buy immediately. Well we retired chaps don’t have money to burn. I followed a few threads on various fora and watched the Adobe videos. The upgrade is pitched at a reasonable price all things considered, US$79 or here in HK, HK$705. That means Adobe has pitched the price higher here and it refused to allow me to buy from the USA site, cunning devils. We have no GST or VAT so its pure higher margin to Adobe as far as I can tell. Nevertheless it is not enough for me to go off in a huff. What almost made me go off in a huff was that I could not find LR4 on the HK site. It is there now but it did not seem to be last week. Perhaps we have to queue to pay our premium.
The development module has the principal changes as you might expect. The ability to manage dynamic range, the extreme contrasts between shadows and highlights has been significantly improved. I find the sliders more sensitive in some areas such as contrast but more finely tuned in others. The ability to drag detail out of the shadows is now excellent and a noise slider has been within the basic panel. This means you can use the noise reduction brush on the areas where you have lifted the shadow detail and you don’t need to impact the whole image. It is also much better at rescuing blown out highlights. I like the idea that I can now use the tone curve on individual colour channels as well.
A feature that many people will welcome is the ability under the Lens Corrections module to Remove Chromatic Aberration. I have not tested this yet but the tutorial video looks quite convincing. You do seem to need, understandably, to have a lens, the profile of which is recognized by LR4. I tried it on an image taken with my small Lumix LX5 and it didn’t seem to do anything.
I put the programme to the test on some old images that I would probably not otherwise have processed. The proof of this is that I took them with my old Canon 30D on a holiday to Italy in 2008 and each of the images below was untouched since downloading!
See what you think of the end results:
And just to test the black and white capability:
So do I like the new version of Lightroom……? Well I do. Very much. Even for a non power user like me it gives me a better chance of delivering an acceptable outcome and it rescues pictures I would not previously attempt to use. There will always be images where the highlights are so blown they are just too far gone and shadows where there is no detail to be extracted but LR4 probably reduces the universe of images that will go into the trash can.