Adobe Lightroom 4.0 Beta - the key changes.

Lightroom 3.0 is a great tool, but it has some serious issues that have tripped up the most experienced users. The real trouble-maker for professional photographers is the fact that your RAW files can only be viewed in Prophoto RGB colour space. This has been misleading because no display system can render that colour space, so the LR view of an image was always a long way away from a printed version. Has this been addressed?

Well yes, partly. In the Develop module, there is now a softproof tool, allowing you to see your image using a selected printer profile to constrain the view. Will this work? We certainly hope so! What would we prefer? An overall preference option to view in Prophoto, AdobeRGB or sRGB in all modules, plus the softproof option in the Develop module.

The one thing notably missing feature is a facial recognition engine to tag files with subject names...please hurry up with this Adobe! Metadata adds value to your images.

Here is a list of the key changes in LR 4.0:

  • Softproof option in Develop Module (would be lovely if you could change the default profile from ProphotoRGB to AdobeRGB so in Library module etc things would be closer)
  • Maps module. Full support for reading geotags to maps from both the camera and putting back geotags into files via a map. Great idea, the more metadata, the more value to any image.
  • Video support. This is a biggie, develop functions to colour correct videos, timeline clipping, and a few more neat tricks.
  • Develop module tweaks. There are a lot of fine improvements here, and some that go through to the Adjustment Brush. Many fixes.
  • Book design intergration with Blurb. Nice one Blurb.
  • DNG improvement. If you use DNG format you will see improved speed and a few new features with LR 4.
  • Print module tweaks. I don't agree with the brightness and contrast compensation sliders, they are very un-scientific. However, this may suit some users who avoid buying a good display and participating in colour management. Professionally we call this 'Fudging', and in our experience this can be very wasteful.
  • Email directly from the file menu. Minor but very helpful to productivity.

Should you participate in the Beta test? If you have the time and patience. Remember, Lightroom 4 is not ready to ship. It is free. As a beta tester, you are finding bugs for Adobe. I'd hold back if you are a busy person, or someone practised at eating chocolate slowly.

Here is the link to the Lightroom 4.0 beta download.