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The 2 Biggest Differences Between Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4

Lightroom 4 has been on store shelves for about 8 months now.  Some chose to upgrade right away and others chose to wait and see if the upgrade was worth it.  I think it is time to discover what the major differences are, whether the upgrade suits you, and I will even share my opinion at the end!

  • The DEVELOP Module
  • The Book Module

This module got a serious overhaul in Lightroom 4.  Adobe hadn’t seriously changed its basic developing algorithms since it was first launched.  In Lightroom 4, the Basic panel looks A LOT different and has new capabilities.

A few options are gone from the panel and several new ones were added.  The “Recovery”, “Brightness”, and “Fill Light” sliders are gone.  In their place is a new “Exposure” slider that combines both the Brightness and Exposure features.  “Highlights” has taken the place of the “Recovery” slider and “Whites” can be used in a similar fashion as “Fill Light.”

Also, ALL Basic Panel sliders are set in the center—a change that really does make more sense.

Check out this diagram to compare the Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4 Basic Panel options.

Along with the Basic Panel’s changes, the Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filters are substantially improved.  Now there are even more changes that you can paint on or apply via graduated filter that weren’t options in Lightroom 3.

Check out the following diagram to compare these tool differences in Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4.

The Tone Curve also had a major addition—the point curve.  This is a feature that I only use on a limited basis but has MANY similarities to the Curves Adjustment in Photoshop.


These changes to the Develop module are the reason that your Lightroom 3 presets don’t work with the same results in Lightroom 4.  However, that is an obstacle with an easy fix.

The Book Module is a new addition in Lightroom 4.  I have really enjoyed this feature.  It enables you to create book spreads simply WITHIN Lightroom.  Using a drag and drop interface book pages are created and can then be exported to Blurb or exported as JPEG files.


After using Lightroom 4 for more than 8 months, I have to say that I really like the changes and additions.  It was a bit of an adjustment at first (new sliders and all sliders starting in the middle), but the improvements far outweigh the inconvenience.  

Also, I love the new Book Module.  I have used it both to export books as JPEGS and directly to Blurb.  Both methods were simple and had great results.

Overall, I love Lightroom 4 and would recommend it to anyone considering an upgrade.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 sells for about $124 online at Amazon.  While Lightroom 3 sells for around $85.

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