Lightroom 4 Public Beta has Arrived

I’ve been a Lightroom Fan boy since the first Beta version hit the scene in 2006. Back then, as a beta, it was a, download, try, see what you think and give feedback style of test. Adobe was asking photographers for their help in trialling a new Database style program with editing capabilities. I downloaded that trail version the moment I read about it. It wasn’t until months later that I watched a video by Terry White on how to utilise this new piece of software. I was hooked. The power of Lightroom was unleashed and I was in heaven.

From that day on I have read anything that mentioned the word Lightroom, that I could get my hands on. I’ve bought books, watched videos and viewed tutorials, anything and everything. As a photographer with a large collection of photos this is, in my opinion, the best cataloguing & editing software on the market. Since using Lightroom, I’ve gone from using Photoshop 100% of the time for editing to less than 10% today. So am I excited about Lightroom 4……you betcha!

At 3:00pm today I read that LR4 was available as a public beta test. By 3:02pm my computer was on and the download was happening. I’ve spent the last 2 hours looking at the latest version of this software. Before I tell you about the newest inclusions, I’ll mention the “precautions” I took first.

Whenever I try a new piece of software that is an upgrade to software I am familiar with, I never just jump in and start using the software without first reading at least 2-3 articles from websites I trust. Then I install the software in the usual fashion.  I roamed the corridors, so to speak, before leaping in. I reloaded the images from a shoot I did yesterday.  I still had the images on the card. I imported them into a new catalogue called “LR4 Beta” so I can easily identify the catalogue later, plus I loaded the files onto my hard-drive into a new folder. After all I’m duplicating files onto the drive so if I want them gone they need to be found easily along with  the catalogue file.

LR3 Develop Module Controls

Importing the images appeared to be no different compared to previous versions of LR . When I went to the Library Module I saw the additions of a Map Module and a Book Module. The Library or Grid looked no different to normal so I clicked the Develop Module where I came across the first obvious change. In LR 3 the controls are :

1. Exposure

2. Recovery

3.Fill Light

4. Blacks

5. Brightness

6. Contrast

LR4 Controls

But in LR4 they read:

1. Exposure (No Change)

2. Contrast (Position Change)

3. Highlights (New)

4. Shadows (New)

5. Whites (New)

6. Blacks (New)

These new controls seem to have different roles to the previous controls but seem more intuitive to me, after all, the names alone make more sense. After playing with a couple of the controls on some images, it all seemed more logical to use. At the bottom right panel is a camera calibration panel that seems exactly like the last but I think Adobe have placed some new algorithms  here as the Chromatic Corrections and Camera Presets seem better. I’ll test this some more.

Map Module

The next module is the map module, at first looks it just seemed to be Google Maps. That’s because it is but with a twist. I’ve been wanting to geotag my images for years. Those pesky Nikon Losers Users ( Ooops sorry…really!) have been doing it for years. I can do it but it requires a computer engineering degree and more patience than a saint to get it done. But now, with the Map Module, I can go to an area on the map, drag a photo onto the map, place the image exactly where I was standing and the information is automatically updated into the Exif data. I can select several images and drag them onto the “Pin” and, they too, get the information updated, automatically. To quote P!nk “Too School for Cool”. The geek in me is revelling in this ability. Why is it important to know this data? It just another way to sort the photographs… it’s cool to see where you were, when the image was taken. Especially if you revisit that location years later. Once Canon gets off their collective butts and introduce a simple geotagging feature into the design of their cameras, I’m sure this process will become automatic but also correctable. GPS units generally don’t work inside a building. Take a photo inside with a GPS unit attached and the last known location is usually recorded. What if you turn the camera on inside a building after flying across the country?


Book Module

Last but not least the Book Module seems to be a “Let’s do what Aperture has been doing for years” kind of thing. Having never used Aperture, I can’t comment on whether this is a clone or not but suffice to say I’m glad it’s here. I was about to embark on a fact finding mission on creating e-books. So far it’s meant learning yet another piece of software to get the job done. Can I now do it from within LR4? I’m not sure but it seems to be a great start. At this stage there seems to be a set layout design that is semi modifiable. With adding text no harder than typing up a blog entry. If this proves to be the case then the dream of writing a series of e-books is just that much closer. This alone will be worth the price of admission. Photo albums will now become Photo Books. Sharing images just got easier with the books also being saved out as a PDF files. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like to see their images appearing in a book, even if they had to do it them selves. Scrap Bookers will be happy too, I’m sure.

No doubt there are many other tweaks under the bonnet of LR4 Beta. In the coming weeks there will be articles and how too’s all over the net. I’m going to have fun playing with LR4 Beta. Will it become my main workflow? Probably. Lightroom Beta, LR2 Beta, LR3 beta all did. Once the commercial version arrived I bought the software and migrated and merged my catalogues over. I don’t see this being any different…….BUT I will still import all my images into LR3 in the usual manner, but I’ll play with them in LR4 Beta first. Any paid jobs will be done in LR3 and saved before playing around in LR4 Beta. All my “playing” will start in LR4 Beta so I can learn more about it’s abilities, so when people start asking me to teach them the new LR4 commercial version, I’m ready to Rock ‘N’ Roll with a new course.

If you want to download the beta go (HERE). If you already know Lightroom, you wont have any problems finding your way around. If you want to read more go (HERE) or (HERE). Until next time…

Happy Shooting

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