At first I hesitated to upgrade, because the LR extension seemed not relevant to my personal preferences. In case of LR2 -> LR3 transition the decision was obvious. But as soon I begun to experiment with the new Developer Module, I understood how significant is the step-up in its capabilities. I think that currently no one has the expertise and vision to provide any serious competitor to Lightroom. Below is an example of LR4 detail recovery: My wife uses the Lumix superzooms and sometimes she forgets to change the exposure mode properly. Here she kept the FZ35 camera in "M" and overexposed severely (the FZ35 compensates the image for the LCD display, and this "intelligent" function gives a false indication of a proper result!) This the *.RW2 file as imported into Lightroom:
A total loss... I tried the new LR4 Whites and Highlights sliders and got this stunning improvement:
I literally could not believe my eyes. To compare, this is the same image generated by LR3.6 with Recovery=100:
Congrats to the scientists and developers at Adobe, Lightroom is truly a great tool for photography with no equal. Atop of the scientific advances, with every major upgrade Adobe manages to provide a compelling package of novelty for the money!
This great recovery latitude extends now also into shadow areas. Its application reaches also into properly exposed images, of course in terms of camera setting. Whenever there still is chromatic information, LR4 seem capable to recover it with astonishing ability to preserve the hue (Pottery on Kauai, Canon 7D in P-mode, full sun outside, no flash used):
Maybe working more with curves in LR3 could provide a comparable results, but now with the new Basic Development I can really get some usable results quickly.
Foremost we can recover blown out skies in high contrast situations, like in this Na Pali image (Canon 7D P-mode):
12 versus 14bit raw files surely play a role, but with 12bit LR4 can also do wonders: Nikon 1:
Nikon D7000: These waves look just splendid, also the detail in shadows show up. Time effort 10-15sec. I am sure a perfectionist would do much more detail work, for example on the sky:
Brief tests with HDR (Photomatix Pro) show that often LR4 seem to mak a better job with one image, without the masking drama and noise in Photomatix!
And as it seems, more it come from Adobe. The V4.1 provides the brand new defringing controls, a salvation for an entire bunch of our images!