A test version of Adobe Systems' Lightroom 4.3 has added partial support for Apple's Retina displays and other high-resolution screens.
The Lightroom 4.3 release candidate, available on Adobe Labs, shows photos in the develop module so that one pixel in the original photo occupies one pixel on the screen. That means a much sharper and detailed image than with the older Lightroom 4.2, which scales images so that one pixel on the photo occupies four pixels on the screen.
I was worried that Adobe would Retina support for Lightroom 5, which presumably will be a paid upgrade, but perhaps the fact that Apple's competing Aperture software has had Retina support for months encouraged the company to move faster.
So that's the good news for Lightroom customers. The bad news is that the Retina support is only in the develop module, where photos are edited. There's no support in the library module, which is used for actions such as sorting and naming photos and which can show them either in a thumbnail grid view, full-screen, or zoomed in fully.
To my eyes, photos viewed in Retina-capable software support look sumptuously detailed, and it's been one of the chief pleasures of using Aperture for me in recent months. But as a practical matter, Retina support while cataloging thumbnail images is as important as while editing a single shot. It's very helpful to be able to see fine details in the grid of small images, letting me make better decisions using thumbnails instead of full-screen views.
Thus, I eagerly await full Lightroom support for Retina displays, or as Adobe calls them more generically as they spread beyond MacBooks, HiDPI displays since they show a lot of dots per inch.
The new version of Lightroom also fixes a few bugs and supports raw photos from a range of new cameras, including some high-profile compact cameras from Canon. It also finalizes support for the Nikon's full-frame D600 instead including only the "preliminary" support that came with Lightroom 4.2.
The full list of new cameras supported is as follows:
Canon PowerShot S110
Canon PowerShot G15
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Casio Exilim EX-ZR1000
Casio Exilim EX-FC300S
Nikon D600 (final support)
Olympus PEN E-PL5
Olympus PEN E-PM2
Olympus STYLUS XZ-2 iHS
Pentax K-5 II
Pentax K-5 IIs
Lightroom is steadily increasing in file size, something that might cause concern for those who've moved to machines with faster but capacity-constrained SSDs rather than conventional hard drives. The Lightroom 4.3 release candidate is 410MB for OS X and 750MB for Windows.
The raw support also is available in a release candidate of the Adobe Camera Raw 7.3, a Photoshop plug-in for handling the higher-end image formats. Raw files offer higher image quality and flexibility than JPEGs, but they require some manual processing into more convenient formats that can be shared with people or devices that can't process the proprietary file formats.