As they did with all previous versions of Lightroom, Adobe have just released a public beta for the upcoming Lightroom 5. This beta is available to everyone to test out, regardless of whether you’re an existing Lightroom user or not. This new version brings a host of new features that will ease your photo workflow. Be aware that Lightroom 5 beta will not read your existing Lightroom catalogs – you’ll be required to create a new catalog if you want to play around. This is a smart move as the last thing you’d want would be a potentially buggy beta to be let loose on your production files. There are a number of new features that are quite exciting so let’s take a quick look.
Getting your horizons straight in Lightroom is already pretty simple but Adobe have just made it even easier with the new Upright tool. Found under the Lens Correction panel, it offers automatic perspective correction and horizon leveling. Your options include full correction, vertical correction only or leveled image.
One of the great features of Lightroom has been the ability to have your catalog on both a desktop and a laptop, and the ability to preview images when they are offline. You may be on the road with your laptop and all your images are on your desktop at home. Until now, previewing them is all you could do but smart previews changes that. Lightroom 5 can now generate reduced resolution previews of these offline images that you can make edits to. This could be really useful during a long flight when you want to dive into your back catalog and edit some older work, or if you have an idea for a particular edit and you’re presently unable to access your catalog images. Of course there are some limits in the reduced resolution preview – you probably want to avoid detail work such as noise reduction or sharpening, but there is plenty of potential for what you can do. And the best bit – when your offline images next come online, Lightroom will apply the edits you’ve made on the smart previews. Very cool.
Radial Gradient Filter
As you can see in the above screenshot, the radial gradient filter allows you to place a circular or oval filter over a part of an image and make adjustments accordingly. You have access to the full range of adjustment brush tools such as exposure, sharpness, clarity, saturation, contrast and so on. In its default, the changes are applied outside the radial gradient but you can also invert that to have them applied within. This tool looks to have a lot of potential in helping you call attention to certain parts of the image. It reminds me a bit of the control points in Nik filters. Below is an exaggerated look at an image with a lot of underexposure dialed in. This is obviously not how I’d want to process the image, rather I’ve gone with the over the top look just to highlight the strength of the tool.
Advanced Healing Brush and Spot Removal Tool
One of the main reasons I take a photo in Photoshop these days is to use the healing brush tool. The tool in Lightroom is great for certain spots but has been limited in that it only works in a circular fashion. Not anymore. Now by simply holding the mouse button down you can paint over the spot to create any shape of brush you want tool you want. If you wish to have a straight line, say to remove a power line in the sky, just hold down the shift key as you paint along it. It works a treat for irregularly shaped objects. In my testing of Lightroom 5 so far, this is probably my favorite new feature and promises to be a real time saver in my workflow. In the photograph immediately below you can see the shape of my spot that I’ve created by painting over the leaves, and with it Lightroom’s automatic selection of a replacement area. I can drag the automatic selection around to find the replacement area I want if I don’t like what the software has chosen. In this case I’ve done that and in the second image you can see a before and after look at my photo.
Dust spots are the curse of photography within dirty sensors, poorly stored and scratched film being the main culprits. Lightroom has long had the ability to easily remove dust spots but there are times when they are not so obvious. The new visualize spots feature makes life a lot easier. With the spot removal tool selected simply use the keyboard shortcut “A” or check the box in the tool bar to activate the visualize spot tool. It will highlight dust spots and scratches making for easier removal.
Lightroom 5 promises to be another must get update to Lightroom. No word yet on availability but previous public betas have run a few months so I’d guess this will be out in the second half of 2013. But that is only a guess. Click here to download Lightroom 5 beta.