This photo-management powerhouse excels in virtually every area
Lightroom takes a holistic approach to photo editing. It keeps a library of all the photos on your hard disk, and lets you sort, filter, tag, print and share them online. Its sophisticated editing tools are applied without altering the original files. This makes it easy to change or undo edits at any time.
If your camera has a Raw mode, Lightroom can recover details that would otherwise be lost in the darkest and brightest parts of images. It can fix lens problems such as warped images and chromatic aberrations, where the red, green and blue components of the image aren't perfectly aligned. Shooting Raw also lets you control noise reduction, where the speckled grain in dimly lit shots is suppressed but at the expense of fine detail. Using Lightroom to process Raw images gives a dramatic improvement over shooting JPEGs – a task where it surpasses rival packages such as Cyberlink PhotoDirector and Corel AfterShot Pro.
Processing-quality is better than ever in version 4. It's now able to remove colour casts in just a small area of a photo – perhaps where a desk lamp has given one area a yellow tint. The ability to tweak the highlights and shadows, as well as the tones in between these two extremes, is even more precise, too.
The new Map module displays photos on a world map. They're plotted automatically for cameras with built-in GPS, while other photos are plotted by dragging and dropping. It's a great way to explore a photo collection, and often makes locating photos quicker than by trawling through folders or searching by date.
The Book module generates photo albums, which can be uploaded directly to Blurb and turned into a hardback book. Page design is limited to choosing from various page templates and filling them with photos. There are no custom layouts and text input is limited, but the templates are simple, elegant and easy to use.
There is still no high-dynamic-range processing or stitching multiple images into a panorama, but for virtually anything else you might want to do with digital photos, Lightroom has it covered. It can handle videos, too, but these functions are much more limited – it's fine for cataloguing and basic colour correction but it's no substitute for proper video-editing software.
Casual snappers are better off with Google Picasa, which is free and incredibly easy and quick to use. Its editing features are basic compared to Lightroom, though. Lightroom's image processing is second to none, and the attention to detail at every stage of the digital photography process is spot on. Best of all, the price has fallen dramatically and is now within reach of anyone who owns a digital SLR or premium compact camera. If you're serious about photography, snap it up now.
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A healthy dose of impressive new features, but the best news is the reduced price
Top-quality image processing; elegant management features; competitive price
Not as easy to use as Picasa
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