Adobe Lightroom 4 Gets Closer to Video

January 11, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

The Photoshop Lightroom 3 and video were not the best of friends, with one not understanding the other. But things have changed, with Adobe Systems releasing the first beta version of the Lightroom 4, which is apparently a big step forward.

Tom Hogarty, principal program manager for the software points out the new features of the beta version include new editing controls to better balance changes to highlights and shadows, the ability to geotag photos by using a Google Maps interface or by processing GPS track logs and the ability to design and print photo books through a partnership with Blurb.

Lightroom emerged and grew up as a photo editing tool, along with the increasing popularity of SLR. But something else arrived, read Video SLR, and the Lightroom 3 added the ability to import videos alongside still photos.

Do not take Lightroom for a full-fledged video editing software like the Adobe Premier Pro. But still, you can trim your video and export it to sites such as Flickr or Facebook. You can geotag your videos, and you can apply some editing settings such as tone curves and color corrections.

Lightroom 4 doesn’t handle raw video the way it handles raw photos, which means only a subset of editing controls can be applied like white balance, tone, exposure, white and black settings, and split toning. Some feature such as lens corrections would be too taxing for processors to handle with acceptable performance.

People using the software can extract a still frame, edit it to get a desired look, then apply those editing settings to the video. Hogarty said Lightroom 4 will similarly change shooting habits through better controls of highlights and shadows and also extract every possible detail out of the sensor.

One useful thing in Lightroom 4 for those who have used Aperture is better local controls that now can handle highlight and shadow recovery. No longer will photographers have to fiddle with coarser brightness or exposure adjustments. Also, the current version does not fix the lens defects like the previous version. Instead, Adobe moved to an algorithm that attempts to just calculate the best settings on its own to remove the aberration on the fly.

You can’t import your Lightroom 3.x catalogs into Lightroom 4 until Adobe ships the final version. But to make sure you don’t mess up your archive, Hogarty says you shouldn’t let Lightroom write its metadata changes into the photo files themselves.

Lightroom gets its own map interface, also courtesy of Google Maps. It will show where a particular photo was taken, and people can assign locations too. Photos shown in the filmstrip across the bottom of Lightroom’s interface can be dropped onto the map.

The software can also understand a GPX track log and match photos with their locations based on the time they were taken. Slated to arrive before the final version is reverse geocoding.

And finally, the software comes with a new version of Digital Negative format, Adobe’s attempt to bring some order to the chaos of proprietary raw files.

Lightroom can convert raw files to DNG, a format that offers some archival advantages and that is better able to accommodate metadata such as geotags and editing settings.

The new DNG option, which is not the default choice, offers lossy compression that dramatically reduces file size while preserving raw flexibility for things like white balance, it has been pointed out.

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