A Viewfinder Darkly

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Now Available

March 24 2012

by Philip Northeast

Adobe’s upgraded photo management program Lightroom 4 offers improved processing of RAW photos, while new features reflect digital photography trends.

Adobe revamped the image exposure processing in the Develop Module for Lightroom 4 and there are new modules for Video, Maps, and Books.

“Feedback from our customers is invaluable in developing Lightroom and the real trick to a great release is to combine these insights with Adobe’s unrivalled image processing innovation,” said Winston Hendrickson, vice president products, Creative Media Solutions, Adobe. “Lightroom 4 is a stunning new release that will enhance photography workflows and help photographs stand out from the crowd.”

Changes to Exposure Processing

In Lightroom’s Develop module there are small but significant changes in the exposure adjustments. In the basic panel a number of familiar exposure adjustment sliders from Lightroom 3 have disappeared. They are the Fill Light, Recovery, and Brightness tools. They are replaced by the Highlights, Shadows and Whites adjustment sliders.

adobe Lightroom 4 basic panel

The Basic panel in the new Develop module in Adobe Lightroom 4

The first impression is the changes in exposure adjustment do not have a huge impact on the photo processing workflow. Adobe says these changes to Lightroom 4’s develop module produce superior shadow and highlight processing.

A short time spent experimenting with the new controls and shows the effect they have on a digital photo. For the final presentation it still comes down to working with the large image preview in the central Lightroom 4 window and the exposure histogram on top of the panel column. The histogram shows when black or whites are clipping and what area of the image light range is being affected and how much.

Photo Management

Importing and cataloging operations seem the same. This is important for photographers who organised and annotated their catalogs and collections using Lightroom 3.


Lightroom 3 could catalog and manage video clips, but in Lightroom 4 Adobe added video editing facilities. This is a sign of developing technology, and the convergence of video and still photography in the digital environment.
Additional video support allows photographers to play, trim and extract frames from video clips shot on DSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones. While this is only basic editing the real power of Lightroom 4 is the ability to apply many standard Lightroom image adjustments to video clips.
Importing, cataloging and the initial editing of video clips along with still photos in a familiar environment is more convenient for photographers. It is a real benefit when photographers have a mixture of still and video images on the same memory card.
The convenience makes it easy for photographers to start experimenting with the video capabilities of their DSLRs. The basic nature of the editing capabilities makes it more attractive to video editing novices as it is simple to use.


This module enables photographers to sort and filter photos based on geographic location. For digital with cameras with GPS units the location is in the EXIF data in the image file.

Map module Adobe Lightroom 4

The yellow box indicates five photos with GPS data for this location in Lightroom 4’s Map module

If the image does not have any GPS data then photographers can add it in Lightroom. One easy way is to drag and drop the thumbnails from the film strip onto the map location to record their position.

The Lightroom 4 map module uses Google maps so the computer needs to be online to use this facility.


Lightroom 4 now includes a module for creating photo books, with emphasis on templates that suit the popular print on demand publisher, Blurb. Lightroom 4 also manages the inclusion and formatting of text, ranging from simple captions for each photo, to more extensive text for books that are more than a simple photo book.

The expansion of Lightroom’s capabilities in version 4 makes it easy for photographers to expand their creative work in new forms.


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