Lightroom 5 Beta

Out now.

Adobe has announced the free availability of Lightroom 5 and as in previous releases the enhancements are substantive. Lightroom 4 brought greatly improved Highight and Shadow sliders and the team at Adobe has been diligent in bringing the latest RAW converters to LR in a timely manner. Most recently, they distinguished themselves with a revised release of converters for the Fuji X series of cameras which use a non-standard arrangement of pixels, resulting in enhanced image quality. Impressive.

Click the image to go to the download page.

Adobe reckons to have the bugs out by the summer and they have to be commended on the way they obviously listen to users. The final release will allow conversion of your existing LR4 or earlier catalog(s) of images. The current Beta version does not permit conversion, so I simply imported a handful of RAW images to see what was of interest.

These were the significant new features which caught my eye:

Automatic verticals and horizontals:

One click in the Lens Corrections panels and keystone distortion (leaning verticals) is (reversibly) removed, automatically. You have a choice of verticals, horizontals or both and it’s instantaneous. Be sure to apply your lens correction profile of choice to render lines straight (meaning you are removing barrel or pincushion distortion) before using this tool.

Visualize spots:

A new control renders the image in high relief to make finding spots easier. Very effective, along with a slider to change the degree of ‘spotiness’:

Simply click on the spot removal tool to invoke, then click the ‘Visualize Spots’ box.

Non-circular healing brush:

You can now elect to define an irregular area for use with the healing brush. The old circular functionality is retained. The size of the irregular area cannot be varied with the mouse’s wheel, whereas the size of a circular spot can be, as before:

Variable aspect ratios:

This allows stretching or squashing of an image with a simple slider. Very useful, and ideal for obese Americans:

I have an image where fixing verticals loses too much content. So I first squeezed it in LR5 using the new aspect ratio slider, then applied the verticals fix and the result was identical to what I achieved in DxO Viewpoint, and in a fraction of the time. Very nice indeed.

No code bloat:

There are many enhancements to other modules like the Book and Slideshow ones (the latter now allows embedding of videos). It seems that LR is on a 2 year upgrade frequency and this new release looks very promising. I’ll let smarter (?) users help Adobe work out the bugs and I expect the upgrade will be the usual $100, which is a bargain.