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Adobe photoshop lightroom 4 mac review

The feature is intended to clarify complex parts of an image. It's a very subtle effect, and for many photos, it doesn't do a whole lot, especially for parts of the photo that contain consistent texture, such as the sky. You access the feature from the Photo menu or from a right-click menu , and then it shows you a dialog with a detail view of your shot. Running it creates a new DNG file. It's a very compute-intensive operation, and even crashed my system on one occasion. On some shots, the difference wasn't noticeable at all, and on some, it was only noticeable at magnification.

I did see more detail in a shot of wet pavement, and it could certainly make a meaningful difference in a large print. However, it doesn't feel close to a 30 percent improvement in detail. In the following shot, if you click and view full size, the gravel on the right side looks more gravelly. In the shot below, the medallion shows more detail to my eyes though not to those of some of my coworkers. Still, I'm not convinced that it has 30 percent more detail.

In the Develop mode, sliders for adjustments like Exposure, Contrast, and Blacks all sit right in the middle of their tracks at zero, letting you slide them up and down. Having everything set to a 0 baseline and slider motion up to and down to makes good sense. Adobe claims that the Auto Settings button, tucked next to the Tone group of controls, has been sped up, but it's still far from instant.

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There's also an Auto button in Library mode's Quick Develop panel that does the same thing. I'm seldom thrilled with its results, though it's effective on photos with very poor lighting. I find that it often results in overly bright, contrast-y images. The program's shadow and highlight recovery tools let you bring out a dark face without blowing out the bright sky in an image, for example. You can also do this with an adjustment brush, but the effect is more natural when applied with Lightroom's Highlights and Shadows sliders. Most photo apps these days, however, include shadow adjustment, even the free Microsoft Photos and Apple Photos.

A basic behavior of all the lighting sliders is that moving them to the left always darkens the image, to the right brightens. Other programs have less consistent controls. In addition to the sliders, Lightroom offers a Photoshop-like Tone Curve adjustment tool that was updated in the latest release. You can not only drag sections of the curve up and down to brighten and darken the original values, but you can use a control directly on the photo to brighten and darken areas with the same brightness value.


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Area-specific adjustments are possible with Lightroom's Adjustment Brush tool. New for the May update is the Texture slider. This lets you either soften or increase details in a photo. Notice I didn't say "sharpen," since the Texture tool is designed to avoid the severe edges that sharpening usually adds. You can use Texture as either a global or local adjustment.

You can also use it to smooth faces without giving them an artificial, doll-like look. The tool affects the medium-size details rather than the fine, tiny details that Sharpen affects. In the image below, increasing the Texture slider adds detail, but doesn't affect noise in the sky the way Sharpen does. Next up is the opposite case, where you want smoothing. Here, T exture is set to on the right side. For me, it's still a bit too powdery , but I like how the whiskers are preserved.

The Range Mask local adjustment selection tool can use either luminance light value or color to refine a selection you made with the Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, or Adjustment Brush. It extends or reduces the area you selected based on light or color. With the latter, you can use a dropper, and even a rectangle to choose the color you want selected. It's great for cases where you have, say, a very dark group of objects and want to change the background. I used it in the photo below to brighten the bird while leaving the rest of the photo alone.


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Lightroom offers profile-based lens correction for geometry, vignetting, and chromatic aberration. Lightroom's automatic chromatic aberration correction is now equal to that in the excellent DxO Optics Pro. Lightroom also does an excellent job of removing image noise. An Adobe Exchange panel applet streamlines the process of plug-in installation. The Upright tool, which corrects geometric distortion that comes from pointing your camera up at a subject, for example, is something Lightroom shares with Photoshop.

In Develop mode, under Transform, you see the Upright option, which attempts to correct perspective problems such as those you get with wide-angle lenses. The Guided option is possibly the best. I tried it out on a cityscape and an indoor shot, and the result was a definite improvement compared with the original's off-kilter angles. Note that when you have people in your shot, especially on the sides of a wide shot, it's harder to get everything looking natural.

The app offers control guidelines that you can draw on the image to match straight lines, such as building edges or wall joints. The correction only appears after you draw two guidelines on your photos, but you can add up to four. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to correct the perspective of my Boundary Warped panorama from the previous section. In my testing, this feature did a great job straightening out perspective without warping people's faces. A product aimed at nothing but this problem, DxO ViewPoint , is another option if this type of correction is important to you.

Of course, Lightroom still offers manual sliders to adjust geometric distortion, but that can be dicey, especially where people are in the photo. Upright is a valuable tool, especially if you shoot geometrical structures such as signage. And it's not something you find in most photo workflow competitors. Photoshop users will be familiar with the term Healing Brush. What this tool does is to let you actually remove an object from your photo, replacing it with a texture and color from another area in the photo. You can even select a non-circular region for the correction.

This is a big help, since most objects aren't perfectly circular, and you might want irregular shapes to retain the original image. The tool's Visualize Spots setting displays a negative of your picture so that you can see spots you may have missed. This actually showed me some subtle spots on a wall that I'd missed in normal view. Lightroom's Map mode can take advantage of this data, showing photos' exact locations. Videos, however, aren't fair game for mapping. The program sends your photos' GPS coordinates to Google for this, so you may want to consider your privacy when using Map mode.

The map shows thumbnails of the located images. Double-clicking these opens them at full size. Adobe has teamed up with self-publishing service Blurb to bring you powerful yet easy book design and printing. In the Book module, you can tinker with the page layouts, or completely automate the process with the Auto Layout option. You can choose from several preset layouts for any page, or save your previously designed layouts for future use.

The price for your book is clearly displayed, so you know what you're getting into from the start. I quickly produced a beautiful book in the app in under an hour, but you could spend a lot more time to perfect the layout. For standard photo printing, check out my roundup of photo printing services. Not only does Lightroom continue to support many output options for which plug-ins are available, but built-in support for Flickr and Facebook also makes uploading to those popular sources easy.

Facebook and Flickr comments and likes and are visible right inside Lightroom. Very cool. You can also upload video directly to these services, or share a photo via email with a right click. One export option is to submit your images for sale on Adobe Stock.

Amazing photos. Anywhere you are.

The export plug-in for this is installed by default. To start submitting your work, you need not only a Creative Cloud account, but also a Stock contributor account, which is pretty easy to set up and just requires ticking a few checkboxes. After that, submission is a simple matter of dragging photo thumbnails to the Adobe Stock Publishing Service area in Library mode, and then describing them on the website.

Adobe automatically tags recognized objects like buildings, which makes it even easier. The hardest part came right when I went to submit my first batch of photos. You have to scan an ID that proves your age. A few of my upload attempts for this were rejected. But who knows? You may finally make some money from your hobby. Lightroom doesn't support the desktop operating systems' built-in share features. For Creative Cloud subscribers, Adobe offers mobile apps for iOS and Android, and they keep improving and taking more advantage of the platforms' new capabilities.

Lightroom for iPad now supports split-screen mode, and in the Lightroom for iPhone app, 3D Touch is supported, and you can shoot with live filters enabled. Its Pro mode lets you manually set focus, white, balance, and shutter speed, and ISO—pretty nifty. The key reason for the apps, though, is to be able to edit photos in sync with the desktop program.

They do this admirably. For more details, see the linked reviews above. Lightroom uses your graphics processor for photo adjustments such as exposure, distort, radial filters, crop, and panning. If you have a decently powered PC, you shouldn't be detained too long with any Lightroom operations, which isn't the case for the slower Corel PaintShop Pro though that has improved recently.

Program startup is also improved: The older Lightroom took about 10 seconds to be ready, while Classic took 8 in testing. In previous reviews, I expressed a wish that Adobe would spend some effort on improving the apps' import speed, as importing raw photos into Lightroom was still time-consuming compared with the competition from Phase One and CyberLink.

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For Classic, the company claims an improvement in import speed. I put this to the test by importing photos from my Canon 6D, each about 13MB in file size. The previous Lightroom version took 1 minute and 25 seconds for the import. The same import in Classic took That sounds like a small improvement, but if you're regularly importing hundreds or even thousands of images, the difference could add up to something significant.

In competitive comparison, another set of mixed Nikon and Canon raw images took Capture One minutes:seconds , with previews finishing just 2 seconds later. For the same job, Lightroom finished the import in with another 28 seconds required to complete building standard previews. So Lightroom still has a way to go in import performance. Thankfully, you can start working on photos before the import completes. If working on large images is slow for you, you have the option to edit using the smaller-footprint Smart Previews.

Lightroom Classic, already at the top of the class, has only gotten better with the addition of raw import Profiles. Its top-notch organization features; lens-profile-based corrections; noise and chromatic aberration adjustments; Healing Brush; and other tools make it indispensable for the professional photographer. Lightroom earns its reputation as a well-loved program that's long been the choice of pro and prosumer photographers, despite the company's imposition of a subscription fee and now forking the product into two separate apps. If you're more into photo projects without the deep tech, check out fellow Editors' choice Photoshop Elements, and for those wanting the ultimate in noise reduction, there's DxO Photolab.

Bottom Line: Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom remains the gold standard in pro photo workflow software. Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications.


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A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience.

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Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S See Full Bio. This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.

PCMag reviews products independently , but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page. Terms of use. I would. A long-standing feature request has been soft proofing — the ability to simulate on screen how your printer or other types of output will reproduce the colors of an image. In Lightroom, soft proofing controls are brought to the surface and visible in the Develop module, and they can be turned on with a single press of the S key.

Editing on a dark background can make you think an image is too light, which can sometimes be a factor in why prints seem too dark. Another nice touch is that Lightroom integrates soft proofing with virtual copies, so you can maintain a master image and multiple instances tuned for different types of output. These may sound like minor things, but in Photoshop they require jumping between dialog boxes, menus, and sets of layers and alternate views that you have to manage by hand.

The Lightroom approach seems like a nice fresh start in comparison. Figure 6: Turning on soft proofing adds options under the histogram, as well as displays the image on a white background that can optionally simulate paper and ink. Remember that for accurate soft proofing, your monitor must be calibrated precisely, and you must select a profile that correctly represents the output for example, the paper and ink you want.

While there are still-frame photographers who question why video is part of Lightroom, it makes sense now that new cameras typically capture HD video, and many photojournalists shoot both stills and video on assignment. There are other reasons as well, such as avoiding data loss. If you wanted to import a card containing stills and video into Lightroom 1 and 2, only the stills would be imported.

Figure 7:Video tools appear under a video in Loupe view, including playback controls, trim controls for setting in and out points, and commands for capturing a still frame and setting the poster frame. Lightroom 4 adds a limited set of video editing features. You can preview and catalog video, trim the ends, adjust the appearance though precise adjustments require an awkward workaround involving presets , and export individual clips.

At the moment, Lightroom video support is most useful for exporting trimmed and color-corrected individual clips to be edited in another program, such as Adobe Premiere Pro. That level of involvement in video may be appropriate for Lightroom. Geotagging, the ability to attach longitude and latitude metadata to images, is already widely supported by other image-editing applications such as Apple Aperture. Lightroom 4 addresses this popular feature request with the Map module.

You can look for pins on the map or search for a location to see if you have any photos there. The Saved Locations panel lets you create collections of locations that you can then apply to images. If you have a GPX-formatted tracklog, Lightroom can import it. A private data option lets you prevent location information from being included with images you export. Figure 9: The new Map module lets you display geotagged images or apply location data to images you position on the map. The weak link right now is the limited availability of cameras that record location data.

Most of the photos you have that include location data are probably from your smart phone. While Lightroom does let you assign locations to photos manually, doing that for a large number of photos is a lot of work. While not every photographer today will use the Map module, real estate, travel, landscape, location scouting, and wildlife photographers will probably find it to be a valuable addition.

As with geotagging, the new Book module could be seen as a response to the well-known book feature in Aperture. The Collection panel stores the books you save. Figure The new Book module makes it easy to add and customize pages based on included templates. The Book module is tied to Blurb blurb. You also have the option of creating a PDF file instead of sending the book to Blurb. If you set up a Blurb book, the Book module displays the estimated cost based on the settings you specified.

In previous versions, a flag was limited to a folder or collection. While I always wanted flags to apply catalog-wide, quite a few Lightroom 3 users prefer the old behavior, so if you do, be aware of this change. And you can never really buy just one bigger drive, because your backup drives must also be upgraded to match. The problem of growing archives also gets worse as megapixel counts rise, making your drives hold fewer pictures before they fill up.

One way to address this is the new lossy compression option for DNG files exported from Lightroom 4. While the concept of lossy DNG compression may alarm photographers who expect DNG to preserve the original quality of raw files, the fact is that the majority of photos will never be reproduced at a size that will stretch the limits of the original raw format.

Lightroom 4 also supports fast-load DNG, which helps images open more quickly in the Develop module only. Figure New options for exported DNG files can speed up Develop module loading time and save space in your photo archives and backups. One of the best features of Lightroom 4 is its new low price. Some might say that adding soft proofing and the Map and Book modules in Lightroom 4 are catch-up moves versus Apple Aperture. But Lightroom has also had its own unique advantages over Aperture such as its superior noise reduction and lens profiles.

I also wish I could tag photos with keywords and other metadata in modules other than the Library module, and to be able to break off the panels and put them on my secondary monitor so that my main monitor is all image. Other users hope for face recognition or built-in panorama or HDR features. Still, Lightroom 4 is extremely capable and feature-packed.

In my view, Adobe has a winner in Lightroom 4. Categories: Photo Asset Mgmt. Conrad Chavez writes about digital photography and Adobe Creative Cloud workflows. He is the author or co-author of many books including Adobe Photoshop CC Classroom in a Book release , and is also a photographer.

You can find out more about Conrad at his website, conradchavez. I even considered using Aperture or Capture One, because I see a huge benefit when I can see the image in full size at its full effectiveness. Even the bars with the arrows around the image are disturbing in full-scale. These are the three things that I, personally, have no interest in at all. The ability to create a running, always available string of edits on an image, but never modifying the actual original is great for me.

Best money I ever spent. I think this price is still high!! Can I pre-test this app before I buy? Thanks a lot buddy, based on your information I edited a photo of my daughter and printed out for my home album.