Why use Adobe Adobe Lightroom 4.0? One word – iPhoto. Being locked into Apple’s ecosystem is filled with both joy and pain. There’s the joy of having everything be easy to use and then there’s the pain of being in a closed environment. In most any other photo editing tool on Windows and Macs, users still have full access to their photo libraries. Not so with iPhoto.
The primary issue with iPhoto is that all of your images are stored in a custom database that doesn’t allow for easy exporting. There used to be a button that would allow you to dump everything into a backup drive. That button has been removed in recent updates, now you can only select individual photos to export, which is all well and good, but does not work too well if you have 10,000 photos.
If iPhoto goes wonky and you don’t have a time machine backup or if you would like to transfer your photo library to a non-Mac machine then you are essentially screwed. Sure there are convoluted ways to get at your data, but it is not easy and the end result is not pretty.
Now that you have been, hopefully, convinced not to rely on iPhoto. Let’s talk about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. It can be your friend. The added features and freedom come at a price. There is a learning curve and the interface isn’t nearly as intuitive as it should be. To help ease you into using it, Adobe provides a lot of free learning material to get you started.
With Lightroom you have full control over your photos. All your photos can be grouped together by collections. When importing you can create a custom collection or add a batch of photos to current collections. There are other extensive organization features including the ability to add custom tags to photos, add ratings, set geolocation data and use face identification.
Much like iPhoto, Lightroom 4 relies on using a custom database to store its information which is the primary common complaint against iPhoto. It still feels more stable than iPhoto and most importantly you can export your entire catalog and there’s a version available for Windows.
Lightroom 4 also has built in editing features for users who want to be able to have more customization features without the price and pain of going to Adobe Photoshop. There are a bunch of preset filters that makes it very easy to touch up your photos. You can apply lens flares, fix color issues, remove red eye and more. The location mapping tool is pretty neat – visually, but I’m not convinced of its usefulness.
The application works well with pretty much every image file type and will handle importing video – but has very limited editing functions. Once you are finished touching up your photos you can upload them to various Photo Sharing services including Facebook and Adobe’s own Adobe.com service. The application is fast (once the photos load) and feels stable.
The problem with this product is Adobe has done a really poor job of distinguishing it from their other editing product – Photoshop Elements. They both appear, at least to the average lay person, to do the same things. However the Elements Bundle includes Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements and the Adobe Elements Organizer for the same price.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.0 is a viable alternative to iPhoto that you should seriously consider. However the Adobe Elements 11 (newest version was recently released) Bundle may ultimately be a better bargain.