Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

A Quick Look at Lightroom 4

Lightroom 4 (LR4), Adobe’s RAW converter and RAW image editor, was released a few weeks ago (approx. 3/1/2012).  Lightroom is the most used program on my computer so there was no question that I would upgrade to version 4.  The timing on my recent series of articles on Digital Bird Photography (posted in the Articles category of my website) was a little unfortunate since the articles explain how I use Lightroom 3.  Just as I was finishing the series up, LR4 was released.  But, I believe the articles are still relevant because LR4’s overall functionality is similar to LR3.  Here are some of the new features in LR4.


New Price!

One of the best changes the LR4 release brought to us is a reduced price!  My previous upgrades to versions 2 and 3 of Lightroom cost $99.  The upgrade to LR4 is now $79 through Adobe.  The purchase price of the full LR4 program is half what it used to be–$299 down to $149.  This was a welcome surprise!  Student editions are even less.


Map Module Added to LR4

The new Map module added to LR4 lets you drag your photos to a map and, if the images have GPS data saved in them by your camera, the image will automatically be added to the map at the location it was taken.  If the image is not encoded with GPS coordinates, then you can search out the location of the photo and drop it on the map in that location and the GPS data will be added to its metadata.  You can then type in the address of the photo and then quickly copy the address and the GPS coordinates to any number of additional photos in Lightroom’s filmstrip by using the Sync Metadata button.  Locations can also be saved so that not only do you know how many images are taken at that location, but you can click a little arrow on the location entry which takes the map right to that location.

UPDATE 9Jan2013:  I recently acquired a phone app called GPS Logger.  If you are interested, please read how I use this with LR4’s Map Module in the Dec. 10, 2012, installment of The Blog.  If you use a camera body that has built in GPS, you will probably not need this.  But for those of us without GPS, it comes in quite handy!


Book Module Added to LR4

The Book Module is another new addition to LR4.  It’s a full-featured photo book creator that allows you to move and crop photos.  It has over 180 layouts to choose from.  Your finished book can be sent to Blurb, which has partnered with Lightroom for printing photo books.  You also have the choice of exporting your photo book as a PDF for printing at other outlets.  The Book feature warns you if the resolution of a photo is too low.


Soft Proofing

LR4 now has a Soft Proofing tool where you can preview the print output on your calibrated monitor.


2012 Process

Just like LR3 had a new 2010 processing engine, LR4 has a new 2012 processing engine.  To use all the new and improved features of LR4, an image must be set to be using the new 2012 process.  If an image was edited in LR3 (or an earlier version) and you select the image in LR4’s Develop Module, the program will ask you if you want to update the image to the new 2012 process or leave it as developed with its current process.  If you choose 2012, LR4 will apply your settings for that image to the image using the new process–which does change the image substantially in some cases.  You may want to re-process the image using the 2012 process or you can go back to the 2010 process for that image.   The way I approach this is to re-process old images with the 2012 process on a selective, as-needed, basis.  Of course, all of my new images will be finished using the new 2012 process.


New Adjustment Brush Tools

The powerful Adjustment Brush pallet of tools has gotten even better with the addition of white balance, color, noise and moire tools.  These are all now available to apply selectively to any part of the image.  There are now 11 different sliders that can be applied with the Adjustment Brush, either singularly or in combination.  I’m liking a combination of a negative sharpness slider in combination with a positive noise slider to smooth out backgrounds in bird images.  All 11 sliders are also adjustable to a below zero setting as well as a positive setting.  In LR3, only some of the sliders could have a negative setting.

New sliders in the Basic Adjustment panel include improvements to highlights, shadows, and whites in RAW images.  These in certain combinations can make it possible to recover more whites and blacks than before.  The Recovery, Fill, and Brightness sliders that were in LR3 are now gone in LR4.  The Clarity algorithm has also been updated and does a better job of limiting halos around high-contrast edges.

Exposure and Contrast sliders are now paired together and these two adjustments alone can do a lot to improve an image.


Video Support

LR4 now supports high definition video that most of today’s DSLR’s produce.  Clips can be trimmed and you can set a poster frame from the video.  Clips can also be enhanced using some of LR4’s Quick Develop tool.  Videos can now be exported from LR4 directly to Flickr and Facebook.


Email Photos

LR4 allows you to select a photo or photos and then go to File>Email Photo and assign options that weren’t available previously.  This feature automatically identified Outlook as my primary mail program.  I can also assign presets that determine size and quality of the photo sent, including my own presets.  This also works with Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail.


Keyboard Shortcuts

These are not new to LR4 but I thought I’d throw in a few keyboard shortcuts that can come in handy when using Lightroom.

In Library Module:

E = Loupe View

G = Grid View

F = pressing once then twice removes the area at the top of the screen and also the Windows task bar.  It toggles back to normal view.

L = lights out, toglling from normal to medium to black and back.

T = Tool Bar toggles on and off underneath the large image viewing area

P = Pick

X = Reject

CTRL Up or Down Arrow = Increase or Decrease Flag Status.  Toggles between Pick, Reject, and no flag.

0 – 5 on number pad = Star ratings 0 thru 5.

6 – 9 on number pad = Red, yellow, green, blue color ratings

+ sign = larger thumbnails

– sign = smaller thumbnails

Backslash = toggle Library Filter bar on and off.

Up/Down Arrows = select next or previous thumbnail


In Develop Module:

R = Crop Tool on and off

0 – 5 on number pad = Star ratings 0 thru 5.

6 – 9 on number pad = Red, yellow, green, blue color ratings

CTRL apostrophe = Create virtual copy of selected image

TAB = toggle side panels on and off

That’s a quick and dirty look at many of LR4’s new features and shortcuts.  Hope I covered something new for you.  For a step by step look at how I use Lightroom in post-processing, please visit Part 22 of my Digital Bird Photography series, Lightroom 3, the Hub of my Workflow.  If you’re new to bird photography, you might get a kick out of reading the whole series beginning with Part 1, Bird Photography Equipment.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 at 12:01 am and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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