At first I was skeptical, thinking Lightroom 4 would be a minor improvement over it's earlier version. Quickly looking over the bullet points on the press release I was discouraged by the number of features I knew I would never use. The push for video support, publishing, and location services made me wonder what exactly Adobe was focusing it's efforts on. After all Adobe proudly claims that Lightroom was designed for photographers and by photographers to help them focus on what they love... the art and craft of photography. If that's the case then why the push for video? I know the answer, I just chose not to like it. =)
I now have a few hours of Lightroom 4 under my belt and I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I love it! I notice a definite image quality improvement. The tone and colors appear more pleasing and the rendering of RAW files just look good. Who knows, maybe it's all in my head but I like what I see so far. The biggest changes that I like are the highlight and shadow recovery sliders. I can now control detail with greater control and precision. The new white balance brush is also a welcomed improvement too. There's a catch!
Lightroom 4 is noticeably slower then version 3. The sliders are not as responsive and it feels like you're always waiting for it to catch up. This is BETA software so hopefully Adobe is spending the final weeks working on optimizations and bug fixes to speed things up. I haven't worked with enough files yet to determine whether or not this will be a deal breaker but so far I'm willing to put up with the speed issues in order to enjoy the novelty. One last thing regarding modules.
My personal workflow is pretty simple. I import into the library, crop, set white balance, then perform some minor adjustments. When happy I export into Photoshop to do the remainder of my work and finish the image. Lightroom comes with a bunch of modules that I personally don't use. For those of you interested they include the Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web Modules. I'm sure there are photographers out there that utilize them and I'm also sure there are photographers out there that feel the same way as I do and ignore them completely.
Point being I either have no use for them or have better solutions in place and thus don't utilize them. The main reason why I use Lightroom is for it's cataloging abilities. Lightroom for me does what Adobe Bridge could never do in my workflow. While Lightroom makes things more convenient it's a luxury and not a necessity. I could achieve the final image by using Photoshop alone. If you're looking to buy Photoshop and Lightroom, and can afford to buy the two of them together then great! If you had to pick one then I'd say go with Photoshop because it will allow you to do so much more.
dpreview.com - Tom Hogarty talks about Lightroom 4 BETA