As many photographers these days who rely on Adobe's Lightroom software for all or some of their post processing I have downloaded their Beta-version of LR 4. It is out for trial and testing since a few weeks. If you are not familiar with this software but you would like to give it a trial, this is your chance now. The Beta-version is free but will expire March 31, 2012. It is expected that then the final version will replace the Beta-version. You can find it on the Adobe website.
I have used Lightroom since version 1.4 and I still think it is great. I use other software and plug-ins for my workflow as well (like Adobe Photoshop CS4 and most of the NIK plug-ins), but every post process of an image starts in LR. With every new version released this product became better every time. Critical things, like noise reduction and pre-sharpening of a RAW file, have seen big improvements over time. If I work with an image for a second time that may have been processed before some time ago (five years in digital photography are a very long time!!), I usually start from scratch and use the latest RAW converter and rendering engine that comes with Lightroom. Having a much better understanding about the post process now, plus better software leads always to a better result. Well, almost always, an image that is not sharp from the very beginning will still not result in a tack sharp photo. And I have plenty of them… ;-)
Beside many other new features Lightroom 4.0 Beta has some changes in the develop module. Some sliders are now differently named and seem to have a much more subtle response. I used this photo of some actually pretty dull looking clouds over our neighborhood to try out different settings. I ended up with this contrastive look. It is not just one slider, it is a carefully chosen combination of several settings that boosts the contrast and luminosity in this picture. Give Lightroom 4.0 Beta a trial, you may get addicted… ;-)