Well, include me among the eager Adobe Photoshop Lightroom users looking forward to the next major release of our image management and editing tool. When Adobe announced the initial beta release for Lightroom 4 this week, I had it downloaded and installed in very short order.
Installation was easy enough, and LR4 is riding along side my main LR3 instance, each with their own catalog. I imported all of my pictures in to the LR4 catalog, and because I export the XMP data automatically, LR4 shows the edits I did in LR3.
The big thing for me is that it appears that I can keep my current workflow with LR4. There’s nothing worse than having to change the sequence of events or learn a new flow in order to upgrade to a new version of a piece of software, but it appears that LR4 kept the same feel (so far). As a result, working with LR4 felt very natural. In develop mode, there were a few changes to the Basic edits, clarifying and streamlining things a bit. All of my presets from my previous version of Lightroom where there and useable, too.
One of the big, new features that I’m excited about is better support for video inside of Lightroom. Sure, you could import video files in to your catalog , but that was about it. LR3 used an external video player, and you couldn’t really do anything with the video.
Lightroom 4 changes that. Not only can you play the video inside of the application, but you can do some basic editing of your video files. Now, this isn’t going to replace Premiere, After Effects, or Final Cut, just like Lightroom doesn’t technically replace Photoshop. But just like you can do a good chunk of your work in Lightroom for photo processing without going in to Photoshop, you can do the same for video files. You can trim and crop video files, sure. I mean, I can do that on my iPhone. But in LR4, you can also do some basic adjustments to the video files; things like adjusting exposure, correcting white balance, and, yes, applying some of your photo presets to video files!
Lightroom 4 Beta – Video Mode
The video editing options come up when you select a video file (here, from my iPhone backup). As you can see in the image above, the movie timeline shows up below the larger still from the movie, where you can play and trim the video file. On the right column are the controls for applying edits to the video. You can apply a custom white balance (more limited options than you get with a video file at this point), adjust the exposure up or down, or apply a preset. On that front, if your preset includes adjustments that are unsupported for video files, you are presented with the dialog below.
Lightroom 4 Beta – Video Mode Preset Dialog
That dialog gives you a list of the types of presets that you can apply to a video file that, honestly, is pretty impressive and covers a lot of the basic edits you would do to a file, for example, that you were going to upload to Facebook or your blog. Again, if you’re doing a wedding video or something more heavy-duty, Lightroom 4 probably won’t get you there. But it might be great for previews.
In the image below, I applied a split-toning preset to the video file. After I applied the preset, I was able to play the video inside of LR4 and see the video played with my adjustments without having to encode or export the video.
Lightroom 4 Beta – Video Mode Preset Applied
An interesting note, though, is that while you can apply a preset to a video file, the Develop module, at least in this first Beta, does not support video files. So you’d have to create a preset, then apply it to the video file. You can’t make individual edits. Not a deal breaker, but certainly something that can be improved.
Lightroom 4 Beta – No Video In Develop Module
Exporting a video was also straight forward. File > Export, and there is a new “Video” tab that includes a few options, such as quality and format. Exporting the 8-second video below took under a minute on an older MacBook Pro with LR3 and a bunch of other applications running.
Lightroom 4 Beta – Video Export Dialog
My initial impressions of Lightroom 4 are pretty positive. On the video side, even the basic adjustments that I’m able to do inside of the application are really going to give me a simple way to clean up and tweak my videos before I upload them. Granted, I only used small iPhone videos here; I’ll likely use some larger videos in different formats down the road. But I figure 90% of the videos I’ll be editing in this way will be from my iPhone, so I’m pretty pleased.
Here is the exported video with the preset applied.