I downloaded the Lightroom 4 Beta last week, but I finally was able to play with a bit today. The verdict? I'm impressed! I decided to process an image only using LR4 to see just how far I could take it. Surprisingly, the end results was a file that looks like it has been through my normal workflow of Photomatix, Nik Color Efex, Photoshop, and LR3 edits...
First, it does seem that RAW files are rendered a bit differently by default. I wouldn't say it's a dramatic change, but when opening the same file in LR3, the LR4 files seem more detailed. I'll have to continue to evaluate this claim, but it's just an observation.
What is very different, however, is the Develop Module. Gone are some old favorites like fill light and recovery, but they seem to have been replaced with some equally impressive sliders that are now called highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. Perhaps even more significant are some new additions to the Adjustment Brush such as temperature, tint, and noise. For this image, I was able to totally transform the sky with few quick swipes of the Adjustment Brush using the Auto Mask feature.
I'm sure there are tons of changes that I haven't even discovered yet, but to make a longer story short, this upgrade is a must buy!
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