Adobe Lightroom 4 released today!

The big news of the day is the official release of Adobe Lightroom 4.  I’ve been playing around with the beta version since it was released in January, and am looking forward to working with the final version.

One of the features that I think I’ll enjoy the most is the ability to change color balance selectively using the adjustment brush.  I have been using Viveza 2 to do this, but I’m not always happy with the color balance, and I don’t like that I need to convert a RAW file to a TIFF in order to use it.  I decided to compare the results from Nik’s Viveza 2 and LR4 beta last night, by really pushing some color changes in the photo below.  I should mention that this is not how I would process this photo normally, but I was curious to see how far I could push the processing using these two pieces of software.

Here’s the original RAW conversion with the sliders and curves zeroed out.

Original RAW conversion

 

I then did some basic post-processing to create a version that I could be sent to Viveza for processing, or that I could recreate in LR4 beta.  I have cropped out the blown highlights and greatly increased contrast and clarity.  For further processing, I needed to decide in which direction to push the color balance.  My initial thoughts were to make it quite a bit warmer, since it was taken as the sun was setting.  However, it is the beginning of Spring, and I could also make a case for highlighting the new green leaves budding out.

File with basic RAW processing.

I decided that I should try both ideas in the same photo.  Doing that is essentially impossible in Lightroom 3, so I thought I would bring the image into Viveza or LR4 beta and see what they could do to produce greener foreground leaves and a warmer background.  The next two images are obviously overdone, but I wanted to make the results apparent.  Here’s the Viveza 2 version.  I found it a bit challenging to get the colors I was looking for, but I eventually got a green that I thought was ok.

Viveza 2 version

 

And here’s the Lightroom 4 beta version.

Lightroom 4 beta version.

 

I like the softness in the background of the LR4 version, but I think I like the more refined green of the Viveza 2 version.  It makes it really easy to create sophisticated selection masks, and did a good job of altering the leaf color, without affecting the dark background.  In the end, it looks like it will still take a combination of software to get the results I’m looking for.

 

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