Lightroom 4 Beta

Adobe have just released version 4 of Lightroom for beta testing. Quoting directly from the Adobe download site, the key new features are:

  • Highlight and shadow recovery brings out all the detail that your camera captures in dark shadows and bright highlights.
  • Photo book creation with easy-to-use elegant templates.
  • Location-based organization lets you find and group images by location, assign locations to images, and display data from GPS-enabled cameras.
  • White balance brush to refine and adjust white balance in specific areas of your images.
  • Additional local editing controls let you adjust noise reduction and remove moiré in targeted areas of your images.
  • Extended video support for organizing, viewing, and making adjustments and edits to video clips.
  • Easy video publishing lets you edit and share video clips on Facebook and Flickr®.
  • Soft proofing to preview how an image will look when printed with color-managed printers.
  • Email directly from Lightroom using the email account of your choice.

Looking down this list the major improvement for me is likely to be the ability to soft proof. I’ve been waiting years for this!

The other items I’m not so sure about. One of the key concerns I have about software products is “bloat”. ie the tendency for software companies to add more and more features, often extending the scope of the original product’s vision. On the plus side this means you get more features for your money, but it also has its downsides. As software products get more features they often:

  • are more complex for the product supplier to support
  • have more defects
  • more complex to use (eg lots of ways of doing the same thing)
  • require more computer resource

With a background in IT, I have personal experience of suffering from the above. In my view keeping products small, simple and focused is a much better way of allowing them to excel in their field. On that basis I would remove the video capabilities and stick to stills. But hey, if companies followed my lead then it would be very difficult to entice people to upgrade or buy new. After all, adding video capability gives Adobe a whole new market for Lightroom.

By the way, I suspect my views about bloatware will not stop me upgrading!

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