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Lightroom 4.1 is finally out of beta and available for download from Adobe. As usual, this update provides additional camera raw support, additional lens profiles, and fix numerous bugs that have surfaced since version 4 was released. Some new features are also included.

New Features

The most noteworthy new feature is the ability to process HDR tiff files in either 16, 24, or 32 bits. Previously this was not possible, and you needed Photoshop or other HDR software in order to process single 32 bit images. Now it can be done in Lightroom which I think is cool since it provides a more consistent editing environment regardless of whether you’re processing regular raw files or HDR files.

Now I must admit I rarely use HDR for my nature and landscape work, but it is very useful for other commercial projects where dynamic range is a major issue.

My experience with HDR has been than even after I apply tone mapping in Photomatix Pro (my HDR softward of choice) I still need to do some additional processing in either Photoshop or Lightroom in order to really fine-tune the image to my liking. Now we can do this in Lighroom on the original 32 bit HDR file.


  • The major fixes for me are improved performance in the Develop module. When I upgraded from LR 3 to 4, I immediately noticed how much slower Lightroom seemed compared to what I was used to, especially when working with the local adjustment tools. I even had some issues while giving some presentations, where I had to quit Lightroom and open it again to get out of a never ending spinning pizza wheel on my Macbook Pro. This seems to be much improved now, so I’m hoping it’s back to LR3 speeds (or better:).
  • The other sticking point for me was that point curve adjustments made in Lightroom 3 were not being preserved when I updated an image to the 2012 process used in LR4. This seems to be fixed now and should avoid the hassle of having to recreate those curves once again.
  • Finally, you can again use “Edit-In” to export images into NIK plugins, which I also use on occasion.

Check out the release notes for a complete list of bug fixes and other notes from Adobe.


I wanted to clarify some questions I’ve received about Lightroom 4 for those who have not yet upgraded, or are not sure if the want to.

  • Can I install LR4 AND keep LR3 in case I decide I have any problems? Yes it is possible to have Lightroom 4 and Lightroom 3 installed at the same time so that you can make sure there are no compatibility issues. Just make sure NOT to upgrade your LR3 catalog, and instead create a separate “test” catalog for experimentation. You can then import some images and see how everything works in your particular workflow ie. plugins, printers, Photoshop, etc. Once you are ready, you can then upgrade your real catalog(s) to work with LR4.
  • I have heard of some people having issues with opening Lightroom 4 raw files into Photoshop CS5. Make sure you always have the latest Adobe Camera RAW installed to eliminate any potential issues.

    Choose Render Using Lightroom to preserve Lightroom 4 develop settings

    If you do get a warning stating that you may need the latest Camera Raw plug-in, you can still open the image by selecting “Render using Lightroom” which will simply create the Photoshop file on your hard drive before you actually save it. Your image will retain all of the processing done in the Develop Module.

  • Is Lightroom 4 better than Apple Aperture? There’s been a lot of debate since Apple seems to have slowed down development of Aperture. Some of the strongest advocates of Aperture, such as photographer Scott Bourne who created several website dedicated to Aperture, now look to be switching to Lightroom 4. I love Apple and their products, but for me Lightroom is my digital darkroom software of choice for many reasons, and this latest version is definitely a huge factor. Better raw processing, improved local adjustments, great Map module, and the same effortless printing workflow that makes my time in the studio much easier and stress free – awesome stuff compared to how I did it 5 years ago.

I’m working on some screencasts of my workflow in LR4, so stay tuned for those in the next few weeks.

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