96 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightroom 4
Adobe Lightroom 4.0 (Mac/PC)The sliders are far more intuitive to use. I particularly like the ease of water marking for images. Being a Pro photographer I need to protect my images from copyright abuse. Simple watermarking for client proofing is so easy to set up.
I have a plethora of pre-sets I have gathered over the years and I'm happy to say all have been...
Published 19 months ago by Dave
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent whole-image tweaking, but difficult indexing. No real editing tools.
Revised EVEN FURTHER, and more sympathetically, in the light of further experience and comments made!
I now have a higher opinion of the program and rate it as a good 3, approaching 4 stars. But I must re-emphasize that Lightroom is not a substitute for Photoshop etc. for managing parts of an image - removing/obscuring distracting elements etc. It's not meant...
Published 9 months ago by Midlander
Most Helpful First | Newest First
96 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightroom 4,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)Adobe Lightroom 4.0 (Mac/PC)The sliders are far more intuitive to use. I particularly like the ease of water marking for images. Being a Pro photographer I need to protect my images from copyright abuse. Simple watermarking for client proofing is so easy to set up.
I have a plethora of pre-sets I have gathered over the years and I'm happy to say all have been imported without any problems. I made the transition from Lightroom 2 without any drama and within minutes was back in the swing using LR4.
At the same time I purchased a new IMac and made the full transition. Initially I was at a cross roads as making such a big jump. It's been totally unfounded. I have both PC and Mac versions of LR and found them both identical. Though I do prefer the ease of magic mouse for the brush settings. Anyways back to LR4. When I first started out in Digital photography I had major problems sorting "keepers" and struggled to sort out dead shots. LR4 library is far easier to group and move. If your just starting out in Photography and your like I was on my very first wedding shoot I used to shoot off something like 1000 shots per wedding and then spend hours and hours filtering keepers and kill shots. With LR 4 it's a doddle.
Though, with experience now I now shoot approx. 300 shots per wedding and find file management is so much easier. The correction of images is better and I never find myself going to Photoshop any more. All post editing is done in Lightroom. Its simple to use, the layout is fantastic and I'm very happy with the product. The version from Amazon is both PC/Mac and so you will have no problems with either.
I had downloaded the demo version from Adobe site direct and this gave me 30 days to trial before you by, I would recommend this method. It's not everybody's cup of tea. When my LR4 arrived I simple started LR4 opened the box and input the adobe serial number and whalla! Its fully activated and you can officially register your copy. Amazon is very well priced and cheaper than than most sellers. I was fully informed as to delivery dates and pleased to say it hit me 3 days before the advised delivery date.
If you wish to know more about Adobe Lightroom 4 Google Julianne Kost and watch her reviews and how to videos. She is an Adobe evangelist who knows the product inside out.
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every digital photographer should own this,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)I have been a photographer for many years now, cutting my teeth in a black and white dark room way back in the 80's. Over the years I've moved on to digital, as probably the majority of photographers have nowadays. But there has always been something missing, Photoshop never really gave photographs that darkroom feeling, the ability to tweak a photograph quite the same way you would have done in a darkroom. Well, Lightroom changes that, I'd tried version 3 and was impressed and when the Beta version of 4 came out I was so impressed with it I bought a copy as soon as it was available. It may not improve your composition, but then that's down to you isn't it ;-) It will however breath a bit of life into photographs you may have originally thought worthless, the ability to change every possible level of exposure, white balance, saturation.... the list goes on and one makes it an essential piece of kit for photographers in my opinion.
229 of 235 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Major upgrade, great value on release, but be aware of the few pitfalls.,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)Ive uploaded a few before/after images to go with this review - click the 'View and share related images' Amazon link near the product image (top of the page).
The big changes (and potential pitalls) in this release are
Improved (and easier to use) tonal control via a new process engine.
If you update your image to the latest process engine, the LR3 sliders are replaced by a simpler set of sliders more relevant to photographers: you can now alter shadow levels via a single slider for example (something I now use a LOT - its really useful for visually separating the main subject from the background).
Better highlight handling.
You are much less likely to have (or create) burnt highlights, and its easier to fix highlights if the original RAW has them. This affects many other features in the application. For example, the clarity slider is much improved because it now has a fuller dynamic range to work with (I often find it better to increase clarity rather than contrast, because clarity inreases both detail and contrast, whereas the contrast slider increases contrast but loses detail).
The adjustment brush tool now works with more properties.
Best of the bunch is ability to add selective noise reduction. Maybe not an issue for high end full frame users, but will certainly be a boon for enthusiasts with noisier APS-C digital cameras.
One great use of the new adjustment brush is that you can now bring up the brightness of underexposed areas AND at the same time give them more noise reduction. In LR3 (which only has a global noise reduction control) you simply can't do this because overexposing shadow areas creates lots of noise in the same areas.
Selective noise reduction also has a many 'thinking out of the box' applications. One of my favorite such non-standard uses is skin retouching: adding lots of NR to skin areas is a fantastic trick for smoothing it: it gets rid of small detail (micro-blemishes) without affecting larger detail (variation in tone, highlights, etc).
What may be more useful for the newer high ISO, high resolution cameras (e.g. D800, EOS 5D MkIII, both with >20MP) is that you can also correct for moire using the adjustment brush (NB - I have only tried this with a few 24MP Sony A77 files: I more often use a 12MP camera so can't fully test the moire feature).
AKA print proofing - see what your images will look like in reduced print gamut.
Support for video.
Support for Intous 5 touch (NB - tested on Windows 7 only). With my new Intous 5 touch, I can scroll around and move sliders with my finger and zoom in/out with a two finger 'pinch' (NB - it also works for Photoshop CS5). Even though I suspect this support is being provided by Microsoft rather than Adobe, this is still a cool feature for any Wacom user!
Various 'fluff' features
- Book module (turn your photos into a pdf book or a ready for print format via 'Blurb' website)
- Geo tagging
For users with previous versions of LR, be aware that LR 4 uses a new process engine. Adobe say 'the changes may vary from minor to significant' but are not specific. I can say from early experience, the change is for the better if you are importing images that were edited in previous versions of LR only ('better' can be subjective, but the histogram clearly shows a more ideal exposure level across most images), or are straight-from-camera RAW files. If they have been edited in Photoshop at all, then the new process engine will screw up the image, requiring manual rework (esp if you used dodge/burn in PS - i.e. most retouching!). Be very careful of blanket changing your existing LR3 library to the new process if you roundtrip to photoshop in your workflow. Note that by default, Lightroom will use Process version 3 for your LR3 images (so your old LR 3 images will look the same in LR 4 until you update them to the new LR 4 process)... however you will need to update your old LR3 files to process version 4 to use the new LR4 features.
New slider controls take a bit of getting used to if you are more used to LR3
Limited effects when using video (you can't do to a video everything you can do to an image).
No longer compatible with XP. Yeah, I know XP is an old OS, but a lot of photographers I know tend to be pretty old school in their hardware, so may be an issue. If you are still using XP however, you are probably also using a 32 bit OS. Lightroom becomes much less crash prone and faster if you switch to a 64 bit system, so you may want to take the plunge with a double Windows7/Lightroom4 upgrade if you are still on XP.
Doing so will also allow you to upgrade your memory to 8Mb, wich is a significant performance change: I recall moving from 32 bit/4Mb to 64 bit/8Mb with LR3 was a world of difference - LR almost becomes a different application!
Lightroom 4 seems to require more processing power than Lightroom 3 in some situations. In particular, Photos with lots of adjustment brush strokes seem to pause for a long time (10s) on opening with my Q6600 quad core processor at 100% load. Not really a big issue (nothing ever crashes, this is totally understandable because the LR4 adjustment brush simply does more, and hopefully this is not even seen on faster i5/i7 CPUs) but worth noting if you find Lightroom 3 a little slow - Lightroom 4 will be slower.
Conclusion: Is it worth it?
At the release asking price (just about a two figure sum), I would say its certainly worth it if you have just bought a new digital camera especially if it supports RAW. Without something like Lightroom, you are just not making the most use of your camera.
For the existing user, I would also say it's certainly worth it. As of release, LR is pitched at a *very* low price point for updaters. The additional features make it value for money, although Photoshop users should note that the new LR process engine doesnt seem to play well with previous LR-version images that are Photoshop edited files.
For photographers that currently use CameraRAW/Photoshop/Bridge, I'd give LR4 a whirl given it is currently at such a low price. The cool things about LR over Photoshop are:
1. All edits are non destructive in LR: you can *always* move forward/back in the edit history, and the original image is always available (even after a save and reload).
2. LR is simply quicker in terms of workflow. Even if you know Photoshop well (as do I), LR shaves hours off the workflow because in LR you wil not be spending hours creating layers full of masks just to do a simple eye/skin retouch!
Hardware and Fair disclosure
Ran LR4 on a 8GB Windows 7 system (that also had a previous LR3 library and LR3 installation). Camera: Mid level Sony APS-C DSLR.
I have not used the Mac version of LR4 at all.
This review is mostly based on final beta, although I have had about a day's hands-on with the final release candidate before writing this review.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent product,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)Having several thousand images on my hard drives, with the majority in RAW format, I consider myself an 'enthusiastic amateur' photographer.
I shoot in RAW since for me, I like to be able to make any necessary adjustments to white balance, levels and so on.
Until recently I have used ACR in Photoshop Elements, which was adequate for my needs.
I was invited by a friend (a vastly more experienced photographer) to have a look at his copy of Lightroom 4, and 'see what it could do'.
After a couple of hours during which I sat and watched him put it through its paces, I returned and immediately ordered a copy for myself.
It is not that often I spend so much on software, but I am glad I did and view it, even at full RRP as something of a bargain.
This is not intended to be a complete review, but here goes:
My images are all uniquely named and in order on my drives, so I can find almost any shot I want just through the folder structure - I have not used 'library' programs, or organisers such as that found in Elements.
I was at first dubious about the fact that the library module is used by default in Lightroom and was not overly keen on this - but - having used it, I wonder why did not make the change sooner.
It makes things so much easier - although I would mention one thing. I can't vouch for how the program loads a library with hundreds (or more) images in one folder - my image folders tend to hold less than 100 shots each (with one or two exceptions) - and I find that there is no 'lag' at all when viewing the library at all (aside from the expected loading or caching which takes up to about 5 seconds).
I see other people mention this loading time as a drawback - all I can say is that on a PC with 4Gig of RAM and a modest processor I do not think the program is slow at all - but I don't shoot professional quantities of photographs, so this opinion is based on 'average user' needs I suppose.
Secondly the 'develop' module or interface.
In Elements, you open you RAW file and apply whatever processing you want before 'saving' this image as a JPEG or TIFF (and so on).
(To clarify, no RAW file is EVER altered in any program - the RAW file is not actually a useable image - this comes from loading the data into an appropriate program like ACR or Lightroom - this then creates your 'working image' - the RAW will remain the 'source').
Thus, with Elements, you process 'one at a time'.
With Lightroom and the library/develop module, you can happily look through all your images as you please, and perform adjustments to them all; the preview shows the changes, but no JPEG or TIFF (that is, no image is generated) at all at this stage - you see the results within the editor.
You can then choose, at any time, to reset the develop settings on any image, or 'export' as a JPEG, TIFF etc - which is for all purposes the same as 'save as' in Elements.
The difference is you can 'pre edit' and do your main adjustments and leave it at that - you don't need to create a new image from the RAW every time.
(You can, in fact do this in Elements, but by saving your processed RAW as say a TIFF, then deleting the resultant image, and keeping the xmp 'sidecar file' - this means that when you next open the RAW, ACR (In Elements) applies the last settings you applied to the RAW file - so you have in effect a 'pre edited' RAW to use - although this is a laborious process compared to Lightroom, and, of course, ACR doesn't work in the same way Lightroom's interface does.)
So far then - an easy to use program with features that are surprisingly handy.
What about the main point: image editing?
I can't go into too much detail here - but the processing engine and options are vastly superior (in every respect) to Elements with much greater control available.
Stand outs for me are the Highlights and Shadows capability (which really cannot be compared to Elements at all - the results are far more refined).
Also the Noise reduction is highly useful, as are the lens correction options (with a massive drop down list of lots of lens profiles).
The star of the show is the 'masking' facility.
Much is made of 'Layers' in Photoshop and in Elements.
Say I have an image in RAW with a bright sky and a dull subject.
In ACR (Elements), I need to process this shot twice.
First would be to get the main image looking OK, and a second run to get the sky right.
Within Elements, I would then layer one over the other and either merge or use the eraser tool and keep the 'best' of both shots.
In Lightroom, since you at all times have the source RAW in 'process' this task is much easier.
For the same image, all you need to do is process the image as you would, then, select the mask brush.
Paint over the sky (for instance) and then adjust this 'mask'.
You have immediately saved the effort of using layers (and time).
You then export a single image, and to all intents and purposes have removed the need to use layers for a lot of processing.
The masking facility really is that good.
For instance, if you increase the exposure over the image by 50%, this is applied to the whole image you see. Using the mask brush, you 'paint' any area you wish, and this effectively gives you the ability to 'reprocess' this 'painted area' as if it were the unprocessed RAW - you would then effectively reduce (or increase) the exposure of the painted mask (or perform any one of many other processes like White balance, hue, etc) - which is then only applie to the new mask leaving the rest of the image untouched. You can do this as many times as you wish, on any area of the image.
Another item of note is that on the left panel, you can see a 'history' of all your changes to the file by way of a text list - this is very handy indeed if you are doing a lot of processing.
Secondly, on each 'process' tab (on the right) there is actually a 'switch' on the left of the panel - so - if you have made some HSL adjustments, at any point, you can 'switch' those changes 'off' and the image reverts to before those changes were made. This doesn't remove the actual settings on the sliders, it simply disables the changes (you are 'isolating' the process for that tab) - flicking the switch immediately restores those changes.
This is very useful, if you have been playing around with an image, if you get to a stage where you think it doesn't look quite right, you can 'switch off' each set of edits in turn and this is quite useful to let you see if (for instance) you went too far with a slider in the Noise reduction or HSL process.
It isn't quite the same as isolating a single edit; for instance your 'basic' edit tab includes Exposure, White balance, Highlights and so on - of you made changes to three sliders on this process tab, then 'flicking the switch' to off isolates ALL the changes under that 'tab' - if you only moved the exposure 10%, then 'off' will basically cancel this edit (while the switch is off) - if you happen to have made another few changes, they also isolate at the same time.
A small edit here to report on the overall performance.
Since I edit 'one at a time' I can't give a meaningful review of the program when processing many shots with, say, a preset or two.
There can be a slight delay when moving from 'Library' to 'Develop' In the order of >5 seconds which doesnt' impinge on my use of the program.
I have a Core i3 machine (64 bit) with 4 Gig of Ram. The only noticeable thing with performance is if I am using the 'mask' brush, say I am brushing over the sky, to reduce the exposure - you do notice a lag where the 'result' follows the brush - if you 'sweep' over then you can see the 'trail' following the brush as the adjustment takes place.
This does not really cause any problem for me - and it can be completely eliminated using the 'overlay' option - this is where you 'paint' a colour as the mask (this is actually handy too, as you can clearly see where you've been with the brush) - then make the overlay 'invisible' and then make your adjustment with the sliders for that 'mask' - in which case, there is no noticeable lag at all.
For information my RAW files are either 8 or 12 Megapixel files and the performance is using those size files on the above specified machine.
I would say, yes there can be a lag in some aspects of the program on my PC (depending on what you do) but it does not increase 'time to process' by very much at all (not even seconds).
I can seriously say that there are images I have which would either be a lot of work (in Elements) - or even to the point I could not get a decent result at all, that, in Lightroom, are actually able to be processed and give a good result - that is how good it is.
Lightroom does not replace Photoshop, or Elements - there is always a need to edit pixels - you might want to create panoramas or clone things in and out for instance.
But for anyone who shoots RAW even moderately, I really cannot see how you can go wrong with Lightroom - it has actually refreshed my processing and I enjoy it more.
I cannot recommend it highly enough.
**EDIT** - a little additional information through extensive use.
I continue to be very impressed with the capabilites of Lightroom - and I would be surprised if others did not think the same.
I have mentioned the 'lag' on my (relatively low spec) PC as being slight under most situations.
I have to be fair and say that I have recently noticed some significant lag where the program 'locks' for several seconds, or becomes unresponsive while rendering changes to images.
This is most noticeable when making major changes to images - and does not normally happen with the majority of my images.
For instance if there is a shot which is grossly under (or over) exposed and needs a lot of 'tweaking', this does introduce a slowing of the machine and program.
This gets worse if you resize (zoom in) to the image and use the hand tool to move it about - as the program is continually applying the changes you have made and 'redrawing' them on the resized/moved image.
In this respect, while the program does not crash, it does freeze (until the render is complete).
It is very much less of an issue if you don't zoom in or move the image (that is, use the standard view when processing) - and I repeat, it is only a 'problem' with images that have had a lot of significant changes that the program has to reapply.
Given this is on a 4gb machine (Core i3) it isn't unexpected - and personally I can live with it since it certainly does not happen with every image processed - but I think it is fair to mention it for people with similar spec machines.
A couple of observations through continued use.
First I continue to be impressed with the software.
The organiser based processing is becoming more useful. As I process one shot at a time, I find it difficult to maintain a consistency in processed images by 'look' alone (which is what I strive for) - in theory one could simply apply the same settings to every image but this does not always have the same result depending on the particulars of each shot.
If I have a few shots taken in the same place it is more of an issue.
With Lightroom, once an image is 'right' (as far as I am concerned) it is simple to to an A-B comparison to an unprocessed shot doing no more than clicking onto the last image processed so you can quickly see any differences and 'match' the photos processing wise - this isn't as easy to do in Elements (say) when dealing with the RAW images.
Secondly - speed of the program.
When using the mask tool, or making major edits, there is a significant slowing of the program (on my machine). I have seen Lightroom on a higher spec machine (Core i5, 8gb RAM and a 1Gig graphics card) with absolutely no sign of lag (although there again, there was not the level of editing I have done on some images).
This might seem a drawback but since I only edit one image at a time it isn't - and the key point is that it is still much faster that doing the same edits in Elements where you need to open the RAW more than once to make changes before using Layers. So although there is a lag it is still faster.
Any other 'speed' issues as far as I can tell are only the HDD 'catching up' as it reads the data from Libraries.
Lightroom remains a firm favourite and retains full marks.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightroom v4 - Awesome product,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)I have no experience with previous versions of Lightroom however I knew that I needed some software to look after my ever growing mountain of digital photos. Lightroom v4 was recommended and so was the book Lightroom v4 by Scott Kelby and I bought both from Amazon. This was indeed a good choice and organising my photos has never been easier and there is so much that you can do with the software and the book makes this very easy to understand. So glad that I chose these two and I would recommend these to anyone without hesitation!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like getting a new camera - but download the trial version first,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)I recently started taking photos in RAW and found that these were handled clunkily in photoshop elements (V8). Rather than update to the latest version of elements, which only seemed to offer new features I didn't need, I decided to give Lightroom a try.
After initial disappointment, I spent a few hours playing with the trial version and that really showed how flexible and powerful Lightroom is. The results from RAW photos are fantastic and it does a better job of correcting exposure and colour in existing JPEGs than I could achieve with Elements. 99% of my work with photos is tagging and correcting exposure, with occasional retouching. Virtually all this can be done directly in Lightroom in a far more integrated fashion than Elements.
Lightroom imported the Elements library without problem, so all the work spent tagging wasn't lost. It also preserved the key word hierarchy. The elements editor remains available in Lightroom if needed.
The recent price drop brings this into the range of enthusiatic amateurs for the first time. However, Lightroom isn't really a consumer program. At its heart it's for professional photographers. As a result the interface isn't as easy to use first time. Ultimately it's much more powerful but you need to devote some time to learning the interface in a way that you don't with Elements. You also need to comfortable with concepts such as histograms to get the most out the program. If you don't know what a histogram is, Lightroom is not for you.
That said, Lightroom offers genuinely useful consumer features - I like the map view and the upload to Facebook is quick and simple too. Some people complain about the lack of face recognition. For me this a plus. It takes a second to tag a photo manually and it means you're not plagued with stupid "is this X" messages that I could never get Elements to stop showing, despite it supposedly being turned off.
There's a free 30 day trial on the Adobe website. If you're thinking of Lightroom, I recommend downloading it and seeing how you get on. Several people report it as slow and buggy. I haven't found that but I do have a recent desktop computer (core i3 2125, so nothing spectacular) and the SLR has 10 megapixels (so not as tough to process as more recent cameras with greater pixel counts).
Adobe has some very good "Getting started" videos online which I recommend as the quickest way to get up to speed with the interface. I also recommend Victoria Bampton's book Lightroom 4, the Missing FAQ.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent whole-image tweaking, but difficult indexing. No real editing tools.,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)Revised EVEN FURTHER, and more sympathetically, in the light of further experience and comments made!
I now have a higher opinion of the program and rate it as a good 3, approaching 4 stars. But I must re-emphasize that Lightroom is not a substitute for Photoshop etc. for managing parts of an image - removing/obscuring distracting elements etc. It's not meant to be but too many reviews in magazines etc. seem to strongly imply that it is. There is also a steep learning curve, it is not a program to plunge straight into and dabble as I did with my first version of Photoshop.
But there are great benefits of being able to do much to an image without worrying about the order in which they are done. This is because the editing steps are recorded separately from the image and then applied simultaneously. So, for example, camera lens distortion can by corrected at import from the camera before the other settings are made (and even tweaked alongside them) whereas in Photoshop etc. the equivalent setting is in a filter which is once-and-for-all step on the original image.
Another positive point: Lightroom is often described as as "a RAW image processing tool" - but it works brilliantly with jpgs too - and TIFFS (including the non-lossy LZW or ZIP compaction algorithms. So don't be put off if you prefer to let your camera do the initial processing and get far more pictures on your memory cards.
This review is however more critical than most reviews I have read, so I should explain that I have been interested in photography as an amateur for many years, doing darkroom work since the early 1960's, and digital since the mid-90s. So I'm something of a traditionalist. I've also reviewed for Amazon two programs and one book I mention here: Photoshop CS5 (5 stars), Windows 7 (3 stars) and Adobe Lightroom 4 The Missing FAQ by Victoria Bampton (5 stars).
So to Lightroom 4 for Windows. Excellent whole-image tools but and difficult to use for indexing, and contains virtually no editing functions. The indexing is unavoidable as pictures have to be "imported" because of the non-destructive editing which is the fundamental feature of the program.
Lightroom might best be described as an extended combination of Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW, with a Library Module (indexing system) acting rather like the Windows 7 Libraries.
The program contains excellent whole-image correction and tone controls, particularly the automatic distortion facility for recognized lenses and cameras, but a hard-to-use and unreliable image indexing system, at least in Windows.
I would advise anyone who is considering buying this program to download the free trial version from the Adobe website before committing themselves. A browse through the many excellent web pages and books on the program will show the problems and how to respond, and how many traps it contains. If you do buy Lightroom, I do recommend a book that very well fills in for the lack of supplied documentation: "Lightroom 4 The Missing FAQ" by Victoria Bampton (my review = 5 stars).
Its whole-image enhancement tools are however excellent, and far more instinctive than in Photoshop. Many of the tools are similar to those in Adobe Camera Raw (including the marvelous Clarity) and work in much the same way: by adding the editing functions to a tiny, separate "sidecar" file for RAW images or to metadata within the file itself - the latter is an option for RAW files but mandatory for jpg & TIF. The ability to tweak individual colours is useful too (you get more than the primaries) as is the ability to adjust sharpness and noise with sliders concurrently and in real time and that seems to be slightly better than the ACR version.
The camera correction and distortion removal tools are similar to those in Photoshop but again, a little better and easier to use IF your cameras & lenses are in the database. Recent DSLRs, lenses and high-end compacts are - and the data is frequently updated.
You can create or use existing Presets, for one-click use, of specific permutations from nearly all of these functions - much like Actions in Photoshop - and you can apply selected presets as images are downloaded.
BUT I must re-emphasize that these functions do NOT include tools for dealing with specific parts of an image - cloning, content-aware tools, panorama-making etc. etc. There is a clone tool in Lightroom but it is a very crude affair as it only selects elliptical shapes, has hardly any selection options and is fiddly to use. (TO BE IMPROVED IN LIGHTROOM 5 - due later this year!) There purports to be a red-eye correction tool but it is frankly unusable: you have to select the eye manually and drag the selection to a radius - but it often selects the wrong area or tells you that the eye isn't an eye and refuses to do anything at all! So, Lightroom does not offer anything like the range of editing features of any version of Photoshop that I have used - and that's going back to version 4LE - the "light" version of Photoshop 4 (NOT CS4) which shipped free with scanners way back in 1996! I think reviews in magazines etc. that treat Lightroom as an effective alternative with image editing software are simply wrong.
It is harder to use than any other image program I have used. This is partly of necessity, as the program does non-destructive editing so you work in a separate files of alterations rather than the file itself. Non-destructive editing means pictures cannot simply be opened - they need to be "imported" and, if you wish to use them in any other program but Lightroom or Photoshop, "exported" again. This has advantages and disadvantages: two huge advantages if you are using RAW images, or other uncompressed images, as all your editing is held in a small text file rather than altering the data in the image itself. So, you can save both your editing and the original image in just one working copy of the file with little impact on your memory requirements. You can also roll back the corrections one-by-one even after you have closed and re-opened the file (Ctrl-Z) - but only in reverse sequence (i.e. you can't cherry-pick the steps you want from any point in the process). But don't forget that Photoshop has adjustment Layers as a way of saving edits with an original image.
This is great with RAW files for two reasons. You can save memory as they are huge (you don't need separate original and edited versions). If you only use jpgs, which are always greatly compressed, it might easier to save one or two copies in Photoshop - so long as you copy the files rather than re-save which would further degrade the image. But Lightroom is still good to process jpgs as you can always go back to tweak the image without starting all over again or compounding image degradation. You can Export the revised jpgs as complete separate files at as many stages as you like of course.
My main criticism of Lightroom is that the indexing/cataloguing system is very unintuitive and hard to use. You at real risk of losing photos, so keep checking that only files you want to delete are selected and carefully check any dialogue boxes that come up. Messages about files being missing are rife - but (thank goodness) usually only because the index has mislaid them maybe because you have done something to them or their folders outside Lightroom's Library. As with the libraries in Windows 7, this works independently of the physical location of the files. This is useful, maybe essential, in Lightroom but it makes management and backing up much more difficult. Ian Lyon's online article (see the end of this review) describes how to use Windows to manage the files and then sort out Lightroom afterwards!
The selection process for files is unintuitive and unreliable. There are two levels of selection: a single main selection and others that are half-selected. These are differentiated by slightly different shades of grey. Doing something, like applying a keyword, a develop setting, delete etc., will always work on the single fully-selected image and SOMETIMES works on the others depending (apparently) on the permutation of module and display mode you are in. Frankly, it looks random. Often I finish up repeatedly clicking a single step on a succession of individual images. Twice I've had rescue images from the Recycle Bin because I thought I was working on one but a whole series were in the half-selected mode (yes -partly my fault - I didn't read the prompt).
There is no file back-up system built in, only a back-up of the separate Lightroom index and a back-up of all original files when first importing. Files often vanish from the index system for no apparent reason or are shown as imported when they are not - and can too easily get lost. The message "the file named...is offline or missing" becomes all too familiar - and yet the file has been imported and is right there in the right folder in Windows Explorer! They can also not be where they are shown which makes backing up a bit dodgy - usually because they are in another folder but have been automatically imported into a virtual folder of the same name, easily done if you use dated folders.
Keywords are a useful feature that saves you having to use named folders for locations, subjects etc. but the feature could be better designed. For example, a search for pictures tagged "Stafford " will also include pictures tagged "Staffordshire" or "Stafford Station". Apparently you can nest tags in parents and children, like folders/directories - but this does seem unduly complicated.
The photo cataloguing and managing system operates pretty much independently of the rest of your system. Mercifully, it does not grab all your pictures automatically (like Windows Photo Gallery and others) so have to "Import" photos into it as the editing, tagging etc. you do is not always reliably readable in other programs unless you "Export" the pictures again as new files (jpeg, tiff, psd etc. but not png) with the editing built in.
In short, you really need to understand Lightroom's strange and sometimes inflexible ways before you start importing pictures into it, but the initial learning curve is not so much steep as vertical. The supplied documentation is abysmal. It desperately needs a printed Introduction guide, but there is none - although the PDF Manual says there is! There is however masses and masses of stuff on the internet - much of it attempting to explain the library/indexing system - and many links are provided to it from the online help in the program. Browse the introductory pages of a few of these - you may find it difficult like me, or a breeze like many others.
I've worked hard to get used to the frustrations of the image management tool, but I do use them and they are IMHO better than the similar and partly-compatible ones in Elements 11. I could use Collections - but they are not too different from a file system. I use an excellent whole-image correction facilities (diving in and out of Photoshop to do the things Lightroom doesn't, to create properly-edited high-quality jpgs which I then save into location or shoot-based folders which are backed up to an external Hard Drive through Windows. I retain the processed originals as my negatives in the date-based files created by Lightroom and also back these up to External HD together with the Lightroom Catalog (.lrcat) files. So I've managed to reconcile LR with my long-established old-fashioned way of working - but it didn't come easy!
To forestall criticism, I do know Photoshop CS now costs a fortune (and is to be subscription only) and is therefore not a fair direct comparison with Lightroom. I bought Photoshop v4 cheaply second-hand (with a formal transfer of rights from Adobe by Fax) and updated about every third version - all of which worked out very reasonably. It I've experimented with the trial version and I know others who do use it and it is a more comprehensive version of "big" Photoshop than the old LE versions (which were themselves very good) and with additional image management tools, all for a less than Lightroom. In truth I use Photoshop Elements very little as I'm used to CS5 and, for all its frustrations, Lightroom's indexing is rather better than that in Elements 11 (though I'm told it's not better than that in earlier versions of Elements!). But in time I'll move to a combination of Lightroom and Elements as CS5 gets out of date.
But I do think that for anyone who is not a really serious amateur photographer will find Elements gives more for less than Lightroom. The importing and indexing works similarly between the two programs but Elements has the huge advantage IMHO that you are managing the ACTUAL files not a virtual index that works only in the one program. So you are less likely to use them, and they can be opened and used in other programs complete with all you editing.
I'll also repeat that Adobe do offer free trial downloads of Lightroom 4 (and their other programs). I do most strongly recommend that you try before buying.
And check out the websites for instructive guides and videos. Those I found particularly helpful were Victoria Bampton (Lightroom Queen), Ian Lyons (Computer-darkroom), Laura Shoe (Laura Shoe`s Lightroom), and Scott Kelby (Photoshop Insider). For three must-read pages on controversial issues, search online for:
"Lightroom Top 10 Gotcha's" by Victoria Bampton
"10 Things I Would Tell New Lightroom Users" by Scott Kelby
"Finding missing or moved photos and folders" on Computer Darkroom by Ian Lyons
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightroom 4.00,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)Great product. Works well - with the latest update to 4.1. A good compliment to Photoshop Elements 9. I like the nondestructive manipulation to RAW files and the easy to use intuitive workflow
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (Light)room for improvement!,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)I'm going to begin this review by saying something that a few people will maybe find a little bit controversial and unpalatable, but I'm going to say it anyway: judged solely on its abilities as an editing tool for the hobbyist photographer, Lightroom 4 is not as easy to use or fathom as Photoshop Elements 11 - straight out of the box, or even after a good many weeks of studious endeavour - and overall, probably not as good because of it. That statement's going to need a lot of persuasive argument, I know - so here goes!
1) NON-DESTRUCTIVE EDITING (Part 1)
Of all the various Photoshop family members, Lightroom 4 is unique in its approach to editing your photos. Typically, the process might go something like this: you import a RAW file into the programme, you do your editing/developing, and then you save the perfected image file... Hold on a minute! Search as much as you like, you won't find a traditional 'save' button anywhere! Why? This is where the peculiar concept of 'non-destructive' editing comes into its own. So what does it all entail...? When you make editing adjustments to your image files, Lightroom 4 stores these as text instructions in an associated metadata file within its 'catalog' - a preview is built and updated as you proceed, but no direct changes are ever made to the original image data. In other words, Lightroom 4 is NOT a conventional pixel editor at all in the truest sense of the words. When you've finished developing an image, you 'export' it: to a specific folder on your computer's primary hard drive, as is; or you export AND convert it to a JPEG or TIFF* file (in which case, an edited copy is produced - leaving the original image file preserved); or you might choose to export AND convert it to a local printer, or the web. The benefits of editing in this manner are assumed to be twofold: that the original image file data always remains untouched and never expands in size, and that less space is consequently being consumed on the hard drive by subsidiary JPEG and TIFF* files (neither of which are produced until they're specifically required). It all seems well and good in principle, but it never seems to work that way in practice. For example - say that you wanted to print a batch of 20 photos from the RAW originals: if you didn't already have these copied and stored as JPEG or TIFF* variants on your computer (as you might have had, if you were working with a more usual type of editor), you would then have to wait for Lightroom 4 to process and convert every single one of them - into the correct format - before they could be printed! So of course, most people tend to end up using this obvious workaround: the original RAW file saved as the master image file on the computer's main drive, a copy of the same saved as backup somewhere else, and a saved JPEG or TIFF* rendering in a separate folder, ready for immediate use. In other words, the final result of all your determined industry is pretty much just as it might have been with a more conventional type of editor. So much for conserving storage space!
Non-destructive editing is a boon for making it so much easier to render identical copies from your original RAW files, time and time again, without changing or corrupting the original image data in any way. But you are still likely to find that your hard drives end up being populated by countless copies of your precious image files - for peace of mind, if nothing else; and when the brilliant Adobe DNG format (more later) makes it very easy indeed to duplicate your RAW files from the outset, so that the original remains intact, I find it hard to accept that non-destructive editing provides the user with much in the way of additional benefits!
(* I must warn you that the 16-bit TIFF files created by Lightroom 4 can be very large indeed - typically, anywhere between 120MB and 150MB EACH!!)
2) NON-DESTRUCTIVE EDITING (Part 2)
In some ways, Lightroom 4 can prove itself to be extraordinarily capable: for example, it has the facility to edit EIGHT separate colour channels (rather than the standard RGB), which is brilliant for achieving perfect chromatic adjustments and for providing superior tonality to black and white conversions. However - when you decide to embark upon more extensive alterations to an image file, you will find that Lightroom 4 really begins to struggle as it continuously tries to re-write or revise the text instructions to the image's metadata file as the operation progresses - instead of temporarily retaining the changes in RAM and postponing this part of the updating process until the editing is concluded (remember - no 'save' button!) Unless you have an ultra modern and high speed computer, this could prove to be a VERY slow and CPU-intensive undertaking! If you don't, if your computer isn't 'state of the art' - and if, for example, you're contemplating trying to 'heal' or correct imperfections that extend over a large proportion of a high megapixel image - then my advice would be to choose another picture editor altogether...or you're likely to grow old in the attempt! LR4 really needs to be used in conjunction with a proper pixel editor for these particular kinds of job; and to my mind, this severely weakens the case it tries to make for itself as a stand-alone alternative to other members of the Photoshop family!
3) DOT VERSION UPDATES
If you have used Photoshop Elements or CS5/6, you will know that acquiring version updates (usually ACR (RAW) compatability updates, but not exclusively) is a simple matter of downloading the relevant files and patching them into your existing program: the work of a few minutes. Not with Lightroom 4 it isn't! ACR is an inseparable part of this particular piece of software, so when desirable update versions do become available (by the way - we're up to LR 4.2, ACR 7.2, at the time of writing this review*), you have to download and replace the ENTIRE 800MB program each and every time!! I live in a small rural town, with an internet connection that averages between 5MB/S and 6MB/S, and the whole excersise takes me a good hour - from start to finish! Why on earth did Adobe design this program in such a hopelessly cumbersome and unhelpful manner...?
(* 06/04/13: Adobe has now released Lightroom 4.4 and ACR (RAW) 7.4 updates. Here we go again...!)
4) THE DNG (DIGITAL NEGATIVE) FORMAT
Lightroom 4 provides you with the option to convert your RAW files to the DNG format, which is a genuinely useful feature of the editing suite. What is DNG...? It's Adobe's valiant attempt to provide us all with an archivally permanent storage solution for our RAW image data files. Why do we need it? The problem identified by Adobe was that the different camera manufacturers were each employing their own unique RAW file parameters to get the job done, and that there was absolutely no guarantee that any or all of these would survive or would always continue to be adopted by third party developers. What would happen, for instance, if Nikon decided to supersede its NEF format in the coming years...? DNG was - and is - intended as a universal RAW standard, available to one and all: Adobe has designed it to be 'future proof', so that DNG files created today should still be accessible to the much more efficient and powerful algorithmic processors of tomorrow. Actually, it's just an ingenious way of encapsulating a regular RAW file core inside another file 'wrapper' and keeping it safe and sound; but it also has the additional advantage of being 10% - 40% smaller than the original RAW file it encompasses. Very clever! Personally, I can't see any reason NOT to convert your RAW files to DNG (you can even set Lightroom 4 to do this, automatically, on import)...but this is not an argument, in itself, for purchasing Lightroom 4! You see, you can download the DNG Converter program from Adobe's own website easily enough - free of charge - and use it with whatever type of (compatible) editor you wish...
5) USEFUL FUNCTIONS AND EFFECTS
Lightroom 4 has one really marvellous editing tool contained within its Develop Module: the Adjustment Brush Tool. This allows you to 'paint' very precise local alterations to white balance, sharpening, and luminance noise reduction - to name but a few. It's very impressive, although it can commandeer a sizeable chunk of your computer's processing capacity if you're not careful! BUT... If you are a Photoshop Elements user, don't expect Lightroom 4 to provide the many other useful functions and effects that you now take for granted. For example - Lightroom 4 has no comparable ability to work with image layers - an incredibly useful option, readily available to users of Elements; in fact, layered (PSD) files have to be 'flattened' before they can be imported and developed in Lightroom 4! Nor is there any means of simulating/manipulating depth-of-field, or lighting effects, or special treatments - such as posterizing...etc, etc. If you want any of these, then you'll have to buy third party softwares and install them as 'plug-ins'; but why bother when you could buy Photoshop Elements 11 in the first place and have most of these options readily available, as standard...?
6) LIBRARY MODULE
This is probably Lightroom 4's stand-out feature, but is often the source of frustration and delight - in equal measure! It really should be ridiculously easy to build a very useful 'catalog' by creating your own Collection Sets and Folders; but as often seems to happen with LR4, it's never that straightforward! However, as is always the case with these types of organizers, it's only ever going to be as good as the originating filing system/hierarchy on your hard drives - so you really do need to have put a lot of thought into these before you start compiling your image database. Many people have complained about their photographs suddenly going 'missing' from their image catalog(ue), but their consternation is usually because they have failed to grasp this fundamental fact: that whilst the image metadata and preview files are stored in the catalog(ue) database, the image file itself is NOT - only its drive location (its computer address, if you will.) Once you get your head around this basic principle, it becomes obvious that you need to have conducted an initial assessment of newly-imported photographs, and to have saved your image files in their permanent drive locations (and their folders/sub-folders), BEFORE you even think about developing them in LR4 and adding them to specified Collections/Folders in the catalog(ue): follow this regime, and you should rarely have any problems with disappearing photos! Oh - and one last word of advice: if you must rename specific image files, only do so from within LR4 (which will simultaneously change the name in the catalog(ue) and the file name on the drive.) If you only change the latter, independently, there will be a subsequent mismatch of names - and LR4 won't be able to find the corresponding image file. However, the fun and games don't really start until you decide to buy another computer and try to transfer your (by now) extensive catalog(ue) from the old machine to the new...!
Rather than the complete package I was hoping for, Lightroom 4 has shown itself to be something of a mixed bag: there are notable strengths in evidence, but there are also undeniable weaknesses.
If you repeatedly need to workflow high volumes of photographs, need to maintain the highest possible standards of image quality, and need a quick and efficient catalog(ue)-cum-organizer, then Lightroom 4 would probably be a very sensible choice...but it's not exactly what I would call 'intuitive', and you're going to need a very powerful computer* with lots of RAM to make it run effectively.
(* Lightroom 4 has been designed to function with (up to) 8-core processors. This will hopefully give you some idea of the amount of processing power the program can occasionally demand!)
On the other hand, if you're in the market for a highly practical, amenable, and thoroughly no-nonsense picture editor, then it's my belief that Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PC/Mac) provides the best combination of versatility and accesibility - in this price range - for the amateur photographer (and its organizer is pretty good, as well!)
If you do decide to opt for LR4, you will quickly discover that there are many tasks you simply won't be able to accomplish without recourse to a proper pixel editor. The ideal solution, I believe, is the one I've finally settled on: using LR4 AND PE11, in combination - so that the strengths of the one program compensate for the weaknesses of the other!
PS: If you do decide to buy Lightroom 4, you'll find that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 - The Missing FAQ - Real Answers to Real Questions Asked by Lightroom Users is absolutely indispensible. The software itself is shipped without any printed guidance material whatsoever!
URGENT NEWS FOR PROSPECTIVE PURCHASERS 16/04/13: Adobe has just released the public Beta test version of Lightroom 5. I would expect the finalised version to become commercially available later this year.
49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very very slow for some,
This review is from: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) (DVD-ROM)I'm a professional photographer and have been using Adobe Lightroom since it first appeared a few years ago.
Other reviewers have gone into detail about it's features and how it works, that has been fairly well covered. My review, after 7 months of frustration using Lightroom 4 concentrates on the disastrously slow performance I've experienced using it on a 2010 27" iMac with 8GB RAM.
Moving from one RAW image to another in "Develop" mode takes 10 - 12 seconds before the image focuses / renders, after which adjustments you subsequently make to an image also take an unacceptably long time to take effect.
It used to take me 8 - 12 hours to edit and adjust images from a 1500 image shoot, it now takes at least double that. I have literally lost days and days this year since LR 4 release in March sitting at my computer waiting for changes to take place in Lightroom.
Adobe are fully aware of the problem, and Adobe discussion forums a littered with people all experiencing the same ridiculously slow performance.
It doesn't seem to be affecting everyone though, but as yet no one including Adobe seems to know why it is affecting the people it is, and I'm told that there is at present no solution in the pipeline.
So, for now, Lightroom 4 is for many people including myself no longer the wonderful image editing and processing software it once was, but is instead the cause of huge amounts of frustration and wasted time, and so as such, I cannot recommend it to anyone until Adobe finally fix this serious performance issue that has been affecting so many of it's users for so long now.
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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/PC) by Adobe Systems Inc. (Mac OS X, Windows 7 / Vista)