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Home > Tools September 13th, 2011

When Will Adobe Lightroom 4 Be Released?

[UPDATE (March 6th) – The Lightroom 4 final release is now shipping!]

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (unofficial)

With Photoshop Elements 10 having just arrived, and Creative Suite 6 on the distant horizon, one question remains: when will Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 be released?

Adobe hasn’t said, and has not given advance notice in the past. But as shown in the chart below, Lightroom has run an average of 20 months between releases. So if history is any measure, then moving forward twenty months from when version 3.0 came out would put Lightroom 4 shipping in April 2012…

But there’s more to the story. Every previous release of Lightroom has had at least one public beta period – and a beta release is generally expected for Lightroom 4 as well. These beta periods have lasted 3-4 months each. Adobe has not yet announced a Lightroom 4 beta, so it’s reasonable to assume that we should be seeing one on Adobe Labs well before the official release of the product. In other words, don’t expect (the final) Lightroom 4 for at least three months from now – or from the time the beta comes out.

[UPDATE (January 10th) – The Lightroom 4 beta is here! So we maintain our outlook below…]

Free Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta - Download Now!

There’s also the connection with Photoshop and the Creative Suite… Lightroom is so closely related to Adobe Camera Raw (they use the same processing engine and share the same file caches) that arguably they all would have to be released on about the same timeline. And indeed, whenever Adobe updates Camera Raw for Photoshop, they also update it for Lightroom as well. In fact, every major release of Lightroom over its history has been within two months of a major release of Creative Suite as well (CS3, CS4, CS5). So with Photoshop CS6 forecast to arrive in the spring of 2012, Lightroom 4 is unlikely to be far from that window, especially since these two products are often sold/bundled together with a discount.

 Adobe LightroomApple Aperture
     * Our estimate
Release 1.xFebruary 19, 2007September 29, 2006
Release 2.0July 29, 2008February 12, 2008
Release 3.0June 8, 2010February 9, 2010
Release 4.0March/April 2012*February 2012*

Another data point: Aperture is one of Lightroom’s main competitors, although it runs only on Apple computers – and the two tools have historically kept close together on their release cycles, with about a four month difference. So if Aperture 4 arrives in February once again, then going by that measure we could see a Lightroom 4 ship date in the springtime.

Save 50% on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3!

So, what does it all add up to?  Putting together the anecdotal evidence and dates from the different analyses above, with luck we expect to see the release date for general availability of Adobe Lightroom 4.0 coming in March or April 2012, with the LR4 beta arriving several months prior to that.

And hopefully, upgrades from all previous LR versions will remain at $99 or less.

Give your input – what would you like to see in Lightroom 4 for new features, functions, or improvements?  Leave your feedback below and/or at Adobe’s “wish list” suggestion box

For Lightroom 3

[UPDATE (March 6th) – The Lightroom 4 final release is now shipping!]

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  1. Pie

    Two of many things I would love that jumps in my head right now:

    – local correction with brushes about everything- wb, single colors, etc.

    – In the hue part of the HSL panel possibility to shift the hue of every color to every other color, not only the two on the sides (ex. shift orange not only to yellow or red, but to green, purple, blue etc. too).

  2. I’d like to see either a third slider for white balance (a red-cyan slider) or a toggle grabber in between the two existing sliders that’d allow you to slide both the yellow-blue and the magenta-green sliders at the same time (resulting in red-cyan white balance functionality).

  3. There are lots of things but on the cataloging side, letting us see our folders and or collections supplemented with publish information together, not in separate panes. This would be helpful for us who publish lots of galleries and are running multiple jobs at the same time. This would allow us to quickly see whats been published and what has not without going back and forth between the two panes; in my case these are very large.

    Maybe being able to highlight the folders/collections with several color options to denote their level of completion. Like for me, nothing done yet, first rejection edit, color corrected/adjustments, second rejection and crop, and finished. All being use-defined so maybe 6 or 7 colors to choose from. Allowing one to see the where in the timeline that collection/folder is at, without having to look inside. I have students that give a hand from time to time, so if I can see a Folder has a different color or has not changed I know what they have gotten done or not.

  4. I know this may not be the place to bring this up. However I just lost LR3.6 (won’t open win7), system says “error in start up.” Can’t access

    Up till this point it’s run great.

    • Sorry to hear that Jerry… Can you be more specific with the detailed error message and what exactly happened before that point?

      Have you tried uninstalling the software, rebooting your computer, and then reinstalling?

      (Make sure you have safely copied a backup of your catalog first, before doing or trying anything else.)

  5. Rick Spehn

    VERY heavy user of Lightroom 3. I sure wish the importing and filing were more intuitive. Maybe a drag and drop arrangement for this. I absolutely love Lightroom but I am a sloppy file keeper because of the myriad of choices available for moving and copying files.

    More of a graphical interface for this task would be a huge help.

  6. geek65535

    I’d like to see better/more functionality for keywording. I’d really like to see dockable panes a la Photoshop, which would really help with keywording and pretty much everything else.

  7. Valerie Henschel

    I am still waiting for Adobe to add the “Composite” module that would include features like HDR, swop, stitching, multi layer sharp, cut and paste, or other processes that are basic or semi-automatic for combining multiple images quickly. I don’t need layers, but would like some of the automated processes that come with almost every other photo editing program!

  8. Anthony Haney

    Hey there. I noticed that a lot of the issues and wants that I have have been mostly covered; ex. importing and filling, the composite module. I do wish the level of control and overall editing capability when dealing with the individual photos was expanded. I’ve gotten my hands of aperture and I feel the level of detailed editing is better, but that’s just me. Something else I would seriously appreciate seeing in LR4 would be an integrated geo-tagging, map and all, instead of having to install a plug-in which I was not fond of. Also the ability to create and order a photo book through Adobe.

  9. Hi all,

    Thought you might like to know that right on schedule, the Lightroom 4 beta release has just been unveiled and is now available for free download to the public:

    Get the Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta


  10. Mike

    For those of us who bought the full LR3 software recently, is there a window for a free LR4 upgrade when released? What’s Adobe’s track record catering to buyer’s remorse a.k.a. bad purchasing timing? Or should I return my new LR3 to Adobe and wait a while for the new LR4 version at the same cost to me?

    • That’s a great question Mike. And in fact earlier today, Tom Hogarty (the product manager for Lightroom) was interviewed and asked a similar question. He didn’t make any promises from Adobe’s perspective on a grace period for a free upgrade to Lightroom 4. However, he did say, “Typically in the past if you bought Lightroom within 30 days of when the next version is released, you could go through Adobe Customer Service channels to either get a refund or a free upgrade.”

      So the question then becomes whether the final LR4 would be released within 30 days of when you bought LR3. By our forecast, that would be unlikely. But if you decided that what you wanted to do was wait, then you could still return what you have using Adobe’s Return Policy in any event, and see what happens in the coming months.

      In other words, regardless of whether there is an official Lightroom 4 grace period, Adobe’s general refund policy effectively provides the same thing – so how you play it now is up to you.