SLRLounge Lightroom 4 presets – Review
Today I’d like to take a couple minutes to do a preliminary review The Lightroom 4 Preset System by the SLRLounge. These guys have ambitiously called their product ” The most powerful preset system” and I was quite curious to see what they had managed to cook up.
I took the time to throw together a visual “video” review for those of you who are too lazy to read.
Here’s the video:
Initial Thoughts: Skeptical
|My initial thought when hearing the word “preset” went pretty much in the direction of : Ew. It’s just another set of unoriginal simple cheesy effects. In a best case, perhaps there would be one or two cool effects, but overall… it’s probably not worth having an entire clutter of presets on the left of my Develop panel. Did I really need more of these?
But… Pye over at the SLRLounge insisted that I at least give it a spin repeating over and over that this was really a unique product that didn’t exist elsewhere… that would revolutionize my LR4 workflow.
I was intrigued so I decided to give it a spin.
First run: Pleasantly Surprised
|The installation was straightforward enough. Copy the presets to the presets folder and I was ready to rock & roll. From the start. I was presented with an intuitive and comprehensive workflow. Although SLRLounge had taken the time to prepare a bunch of tutorials to introduce how their preset system worked, it took me little more than 5 seconds to figure it all out.|
Rather than cluster a bunch of presets together, they had them all organized in an intuitive and chronological workflow. Click, apply setting… move on.
Finished playing with “Exposure”
What was cool was that the effects were actually stackable. Unlike standard presets which went completely wonky if you tried to stack them one on top of another, these ones could actually mix and blend without jeopardizing one or the other!
Didn’t like the setting?
Reset that particular setting
Simple. Clean. Efficient.
I was impressed.
What’s so special about it anyways?
For those of you who are familiar with Lightroom, you’re probably not quite impressed with the effects that the preset can achieve. Why? Because you know how to do it on your own… and I absolutely agree with you. There is nothing that these presets do that you cannot do… but what these presets do is help to significantly accelerate your workflow.
Check out the example below:
I have applied three presets in chronological order:
- 015 – (dynamic range) Heavy boost
- 024 – (detail) Medium boost
- 054 – (vignette) Light Vignette
So rather than go into the Develop menu and screw around with Highlights/Shadows… Lights/Darks… Clarity… Sharpening… and Vignette, I can actually get the image pretty close to what I want it to be with simply three clicks. Now although these three clicks may equate only approximately two minute of saved time, going from 2 minutes to 10 seconds to arrive at a pretty similar result is actually a 1200% increase in productivity… which can make a HUGE difference especially when dealing with large number of photographs such as weddings or events.
The Lightroom 4 Preset System currently features a total of six categories of effects. That being said, the only ones that could truly affect my work flow were the first two: My Mixology and Base Adjustments. All the other ones are specifically geared towards special pretty distinct and strong colour effects that simply don’t suit my style. The come off as one click “pow” effects that could most probably work quite well for wedding photography. To be honest I would probably be far more intrigued by them if the option to “dial down the intensity” actually existed but I don’t think Lightroom 4 can actually allow such a thing. Although I can manually lower the intensity in the standard develop tab, it somewhat defeats the purpose of having a preset if you still have to go back into the curve adjustments to tweak things back to how you want them.
That being said, all is not lost. Rather than play with curves, Pye has told me that the SLRLounge plan son releasing a Split Toning update that I’m quite looking forward to that will be free for anyone who has purchased the preset pack in about a week so … can’t wait for that to come out!
Oh wait, but there’s more!
The Lightroom 4 Preset System actually features a bunch of brush presets that you can use quite easily on a variety of images. If you’re someone that plays around in Lightroom quite heavily without ever bothering to bring things into photoshop the preset brushes are also presented in a well ordered intuitive manner. It’s quite nice that they have included some very quick and easy dodge/burn tools specifically tailored for simple portrait retouching. To be honest, LR4 brush editing has never quite been my thing so I didn’t spend much time on it but I tested them out and they do work very well. It clearly shows that they have spent a lot of time finding the optimal brush settings to perform specific tasks. Very cool.
So in conclusion, I think that the Lightroom 4 Preset System can definitely benefit somebody who is looking to accelerate their workflow. It is NOT a one click miracle system and I definitely wish that they had some more dialled down versions of their curve adjustments but that’s really just me. The fact that they have things set up cleanly and simply will save me enormous amounts of time in my future edits, and I definitely think that any serious event/wedding oriented photographer should definitely consider investing the 100$ into the system. I’m also extremely curious to see what their upcoming free “split-toning” package will contain.
I’ve attached a couple before/after screenshots of shots edited exclusively with the preset system (sorry didnt play in the curves very much) to give you an idea of what the preset system is capable of doing. Didn’t spend more than a minute on each shot! Check it out: