Adobe released the fourth version of its Lightroom software today, adding video abilities and editing finesse while cutting its price in half.
Lightroom 4 costs $149 new and $79 as an upgrade, a big step down from the earlier prices of $299 new and $99 upgrade. That's going the same direction Apple has with its competing Aperture, though not as dramatically: an introductory $499 price, then a drop to $199, and in the App Store version now, $80. You can download Lightroom 4 for Windows and Mac.
Lightroom is geared for photography professionals and enthusiasts, especially those who want to ease the difficulties of shooting with higher-end cameras' raw photo formats but benefit from their higher quality. It also lets people manage their photo catalogs, publish photos online or now in books, too.
At the heart of Lightroom 4 are new editing controls designed to let people get more out of their images, for example boosting shadowed areas without blowing out highlights. Several more adjustments can be made locally, too, including white balance, noise reduction, and shadow recovery.
I liked the new version's controls, which I've been using with the Lightroom 4 beta, but stay tuned for a full CNET evaluation.
Another major feature is support for some basic video editing, including an ability to import settings from a still shot to adjust the tones and color balance of an entire video. Photographers also can geotag images with location data using a built-in Google Maps interface.
Adobe also added some new performance and compression options to its DNG file format that make it somewhat more useful as an alternative to the hundreds of proprietary raw formats the software must support.
With Lightroom 4, the software no longer works on Windows XP. Minimum Mac requirements are OS X 10.6.8 or 10.7 with a multicore Intel processor or Microsoft Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7 SP1 on an Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor. You'll also need 2 GB of memory and a 1024x768 or better display.