It’s January 9, 2012…and Lightroom 4 is now available as a free public beta!
It was January 9, 2006 when the team first introduced Project Lightroom, a “test drive” of sorts for a new workflow specifically designed for photographers. It’s the sixth anniversary of a public preview that became an opportunity for the team to define the concept for Lightroom. The goal was to gather as much feedback as possible and after four beta iterations over a 14 month period, the software was sufficiently poked, prodded and pushed to its limits by hundreds of thousands of photographers.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 was finally ready for prime time and released in 2007. Photographers had “moonlighted” as official testers and the Lightroom team had learned a tremendous amount about the demands of a photographer in the field and in the studio. This relationship is what inspired collaborative development efforts for future versions and over time, Lightroom has become an application that anyone who wants to focus on the art and craft of photography can use.
Tom Hogarty is the principal product manager for Lightroom and has been a part of the team well prior to that first public beta. Before he left for Florida to film this week’s KelbyTraining.com’s live webcasts, we sat down to catch up about Lightroom 4 Beta.
What do you hope to learn from this beta release?
Tom: We’ve come a long way since version 1.0! (The first public beta didn’t even have a crop tool!) Back then, we used the beta over a much longer period to determine exactly what Lightroom should be. With the last public beta – Lightroom 3 – we had so fundamentally changed the underpinnings of the application, we wanted to make sure users were getting the results that they wanted. Our focus then, was largely on performance and image quality. We even released another update to the beta with changes we made along the way, in response to the feedback we received.
For Lightroom 4, we can leverage all the work that was done on performance and image quality to offer features like better video support, the ability to geotag photos and create really slick, custom Blurb photo books. These are all customer requests that we spent this version tackling. Video is a new focus for us and we want a broad base of folks to test it out now. We also have a new layout creation feature in the book module and wanted some additional exposure around that. We just want to know – does what we’re offering work for you? As the software evolves, the beta process can be shorter because we’re mainly looking for public validation that we’re indeed headed in the right direction. We truly value that input.
What are some key changes Lightroom users should be aware of?
Tom: It’s important for us to balance the addition of new features with ease of use and simplicity for those who might be new to the application. Customer feedback fueled many of the changes and updates we made to this release. If you’re already familiar with previous versions of Lightroom, you might notice that there are more modules to choose from. You can hide modules by right-clicking on them. However, we feel these fit into the natural progression of the workflow and many will find it useful.
We’ve added all new basic tonal adjustment controls for stunning shadow details and highlights, additional local adjustment controls for Noise Reduction, Moire and White Balance. The tools are so balanced now that current Lightroom users will see that they’re able to achieve the visual results they desire much faster.
There are some fundamental differences between Process Versions 2012 and previous Process Versions. Since editing is non-destructive, users have the ability to pick and choose when to upgrade to Process Version 2012 for their older photos. We also aren’t supporting the ten-year old Windows XP operating system with this release. We’ve made changes in favor of committing resources to enhancing new features and capabilities. However, previous versions of Lightroom will continue to run on Windows XP.
If you’re curious about checking out this public preview, there are several opportunities for you to watch a live demo with Tom and ask questions.
Friday, January 13 (FREE)
WHAT: Tom Hogarty lunch hour live demo and Q&A (online session)
TIMES: 9 am PST & 12 noon PST
DETAILS: http://on.fb.me/w0CGBE (9 am PST) & http://on.fb.me/z2vtXw (12 noon PST)
There are also eight new Lightroom 4 beta videos, hosted by Julieanne Kost – senior Digital Imaging evangelist at Adobe – available on our YouTube channel. Become a subscriber to catch all the latest video tutorials and behind the scenes footage from the team and our own Lightroom community.