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Software Review – Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 From Adobe Systems

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 is the latest version of Adobe’s complete, end-to-end, photo management and editing solution for both amateur and professional photographers. With version 4, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom adds a number of new features while at the same time, continues to make itself the premier software product directed at photographers who want to bring the best out in their photographs.

Lightroom is a software based digital darkroom that is used for developing your photographs, managing your photographic library, and creating great presentations whether for printing or for the web. For a complete list of requirements to run Lightroom, check out the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom system requirements page

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

For those who are not familiar with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, I find that there is still some confusion between what the difference is between Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. The fundamental difference is that Photoshop is an image editing program that has big guns to do just about anything to an image. Many times, at least for most traditional photographers, it has too many things. While Photoshop comes with Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, they are more challenging to use and really do not provide the same kind of management that you get with Lightroom.

With Lightroom you have everything that is needed to perform photographic processing (it contains the same camera raw engine that comes with Photoshop) but it has the ability for the management of your images that is far easier and, at least to me, more superior than is available with the Adobe Bridge.

Does that mean that you no longer need Photoshop? For some that answer would be yes. In fact, Lightroom is the better choice especially for those who do not do a lot of advanced processing. For others, Lightroom is a better way to get to that point where they send their file to Photoshop for more enhancements. It really comes down to what you do with your images beyond primary processing.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

The first thing that you will notice when you fire up Lightroom 4 is that there are two new modules that have been added. The first is a ‘Map’ module that gives you the ability to organize your photos based on the location of at which they were taken. The second is the ‘Book’ module that provides you with the tools to build photo books and export them to PDF files or send them directly to the photo book printing service blurb.

So what is new with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4?

• Highlight and shadow recovery – represent a significant change in processing in this version of Lightroom. The Recovery and Fill Light sliders are gone and are being replaced by the Highlights and Shadow recovery sliders. The fundamental reason is that Recovery could result in muddy highlights and Fill Light could cause visible halos at high-contrast boundaries and neither of these could be used for local adjustments. The Highlight and Shadow tools are optimized for very high contrast images, produce much smoother highlight and shadow gradations, are available as local adjustments, and minimize halo artifacts. As with prior versions of Lightroom, if you convert existing catalogs that were imported with an earlier version of Lightroom, the Recovery and Fill Light sliders are still there until you update the processing to convert to Process Version 2012.

• Additional adjustment brush options – now give you the ability to adjust noise reduction and moiré which will give you more control over local areas of your image. This is most useful when you want to, say, reduce noise in specific areas of your image without softening the entire shot.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.