Lightroom 4 Public Beta has been posted to the Adobe Labs site. This new version incorporates many exciting features which have been long requested. You can discuss the Public Beta over at the Adobe Labs Community Forum.
A traditional word of warning at this stage. This is a beta release for you to try on copies of your files, certainly not for use with your main Library. There are some fundamental changes to the way images are rendered in Lightroom 4, so the strong recommendation is to copy a subset of your images to a different folder or disk and experiment with those. Don’t use your main image set! There are no guarantees, that the final release of Lightroom 4, will support any changes you make in the Public Beta.
The new feature list is extensive, so I will highlight the main features with some more in-depth descriptions of what they are all about, and then a roundup of some of the links from other commentators.
Two New Modules
For v4 Adobe have added two hugely requested modules to Lightroom; Maps and Books. Maps is a Geolocation module for your images. You can geotag images within the Maps module, search for locations, create saved locations, manage privacy settings for saved locations and load GPX data created by GPS units or even phone apps.
The second new module is Books. Adobe have teamed up with Blurb to offer a Photo Book creation tool within Lightroom. It comes with over 180 professionally designed page layouts, it has a flexible auto-layout tool and you can customise layouts with presets. Not only can you print direct to Blurb but you have the option of exporting your book as a PDF, so you can use other services or even use it as the basis of an InDesign layout for further customisation.
DNG and Develop
The DNG format has received a big upgrade for this release. A new Process Version, PV, (2012) has been introduced which not only changes the look of an image, more noticeable with an existing image than a new one which will have the PV applied by default, but also changes the toolset in Develop to offer even greater control over an image. Anyone disappointed with the rendering capabilities of Lightroom in the past, might find that they have a lot more flexibility with the new PV, and be much happier with the rendering capabilities. You should find there is more depth in the colour and more headroom. I would advise spending plenty of time with the new controls, to really road test them so you are comfortable with what they can now achieve.
When an image is converted or imported with the 2012 Process Version the Basic controls in the Develop Module will change to reflect the new features. Instead of Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light and Blacks, you will now see Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks as your options in the Basic Panel. And as you will find as you use them, they offer much greater control for getting the most out of your images.
The Point Curve tool has also been updated to allow Red, Green and Blue channel editing. That Lightroom has a Point Curve tool still surprises many (in fact I pointed it out to a user of Lightroom just before Christmas and he was delighted!) but this update to it will please many.
As well as the new Process Versions and Develop Controls, Clarity has been updated to give better results without artefacts and halos that used to be prominent in v3. Chromatic Aberration in Lens Correction panel has been much improved.
In the Local Adjustment tool, you can now adjust Noise Reduction, Temperature and Tint, Shadows, Highlights and, for those who shoot products and fine material, Moiré.
Other enhancements to the DNG format, include a Fast Load Data option, which improves the loading performance in the Develop module. DNG now has a Lossy compression option, which provides file size reductions with a minimal impact on quality. It is envisaged that this will be ideal for archiving rejects (if you keep them) or reducing the size of time-lapse projects without losing the quality of RAW. Resolution reduction allows you to export a reduced resolution version of your file, while retaining the advantages of RAW and there are now metadata and filter options for DNG filetypes.
Note that you need to select Camera Raw v 6.6 and later as your compatibility format to enable Fast Load and Lossy Compression.
With a huge number of still cameras supporting video creation, Lightroom has stepped up from supporting, viewing and managing video files to include a raft of new features.
You can now playback video within Lightroom (previously you had to use the QuickTime Player), you can now trim Video in and out points, set a Video Poster frame, extract a single frame from a video as a JPEG file, Lightroom supports most popular DSLR, compact and phone video formats including AVCHD.
Videos can be adjusted with a subset of controls used on images: White Balance, Basic Tone; including: Exposure, Contrast, White and Black Clipping, Saturation and Vibrance, Tone Curve, Colour Treatment, Black and White, Split Toning, Process Version and Calibration.
You can also publish videos direct to Facebook and Flickr.
Obviously this doesn’t take the place of using Final Cut Pro, Premiere, Avid or any other high end solutions, but it is a big improvement on what we had before.
There will be a big cheer from many for the inclusion of Soft Proofing. Perhaps one of the most requested features in Lightroom, this perhaps more than any completes the workflow of a typical photographer. As is now traditional with Lightroom, the solution provided is simple and elegant, but does exactly what it needs to!
And here is a close up of the Soft Proofing Panel
If you ‘Create Proof Copy’ it will go into your Collections as a Print Collection item.
In the last few years Adobe has added JDIs to their major projects These ‘Just Do Its’ are those niggly little features that should have been done years ago, but no one thought they were worth adding engineering resource to fix. In Lightroom 4, there are a bunch of these, as well as a couple of other features.
You can now Email directly from within Lightroom, once you have configured your email client to do so. Presets are appropriate for email.
New Zoom ratios (1:8 and 1:16), Mac version includes language selection option in Preferences. You can now move multiple folders from volume to volume (this is a huge hooray from me!), the White Balance sample area is zoom-level dependent, it used to be too small if you were dealing with a noisy image. You can now see your noise reduction adjustment at all zoom levels (this, I think, will please many). You can collapse the Tether toolbar to a minimal view of the Shutter Button using Option/Alt. The Module Picker can be customised using a right click – you will notice in the screenshots, mine doesn’t include Slideshow or Web, which are my least used modules. Presets are displayed in a hierarchical view in the Library Module and the default presets are also hierarchical in the Develop Module. You can filter and search images by a saved or unsaved metadata property. There is a Layout overlay for tethered shooting workflow when attempting to match a specific layout template, photos in publish collections that have been modified can be set to not re-publish, there are additional metadata controls on export. Disk burning now available on Windows 64-bit systems, Stacking is now possible in collections, Flash galleries are now colour managed, there are per-module walkthrough tips. The “Lens Correction” section of the Develop Preset dialog has been reordered to match the panel order: Lens Profile Corrections, Transform, Lens Vignetting, Chromatic Aberration. A button has been added to the “Presets” tab of the prefs dialog for resetting Develop presets back to their defaults. You can right-click on a preset, new choice to Apply on Import.
And finally one particular thing to note is that Flag status is now ‘global’ (One setting per image regardless of location in folder or collection), which for a JDI is actually quite a big change.
So hopefully that makes for a solid release for the Public Beta. If the past is anything to go by there will be much debate in the Adobe Labs Community Forum, so make sure you head over there and not the usual Adobe Forum to comment, and who knows, when it is released there may be some more goodies to play with.
Meanwhile here are some resources from fellow testers.
Resources - these will be updated as more are posted and links are refined
Lightroom Journal, Tom Hogarty: http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/
Sean McCormack: http://www.pixiq.com/article/lightroom-4-beta
John Beardsworth: http://lightroomsolutions.com
Victoria Bampton: http://www.lightroomqueen.com/2012/01/09/whats-new-in-lightroom-4-0-beta
Ian Lyons: http://computer-darkroom.com/lr4_beta_preview/lr4-preview-1.htm
Laura Shoe: http://laurashoe.com/
Rob Sylvian: http://lr4beta.lightroomers.com
Gene McCullagh: http://lightroomsecrets.com/2012/01/lightroom-4-public-beta-is-here
Matt Dawson: http://thephotogeek.com/adobe-releases-lightroom-4-beta
David Marx: http://thelightroomlab.com/2012/01/introducing-adobe-photoshop-lightroom-version-4-beta/
Gilles Theophile: http://www.utiliser-lightroom.com/blog/2012/01/08/lightroom-4-en-beta-publique-est-disponible/
Clicio Barroso: http://www.clicio.com.br/blog/
Piet Van den Eynde: http://www.morethanwords.be/blog