After much anticipation, Adobe has just announced the latest iteration of their popular editing and workflow program, Lightroom 5. The early adopters to the Creative Cloud services will be happy to see a notification to download waiting for them right now, while the non-Creative Cloud perpetual license version is available for purchase on Adobe’s website now (and everywhere now). While we reserve full judgement on the program until after a thorough review, let's take a quick look at this final release and see how it handles.
I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with the latest edition to the Lightroom series and have culled through hundreds of photos and edited dozens with it already. I’ve spent my Sunday afternoon digging through settings, playing with the new features and and most importantly, getting some post processing work done.
The transition from LR 4 to 5 is simple. Upon installing Lightroom 5, Adobe detected my catalogs from Lightroom 4 and automatically went through the conversion process to make them work seamlessly with its latest software. All of my presets, filters, smart collections and settings were loaded automatically. It did this so seamlessly, I actually had to double check that I was loading up Lightroom 5, and not 4.
The first thing I noticed was the speed of the program. Lightroom 5 is really fast compared to Lightroom 4. So fast in fact, I’ve already uninstalled Photo Mechanic as my culling service for larger shoots which I was using because of the lethargic pace of Lightroom 4. Certainly, the latest software still bogs down a little, but it is nothing compared to what Lightroom 4 does. The previews render much faster now, making it a viable culling application for larger projects (such as weddings). The speed is comparable to what we saw in Lightroom 3. While it still doesn't load as fast as some culling programs available, it does run at a manageable pace. Previews seem to load faster than ever, without the long wait on a blurry photo like you got with Lightroom 4. Switching from Library mode to Develop mode still has a short delay, but the previewing system is faster and makes the entire program feel as though its speeding along.
The Upright tool (which we played with in the beta) is incredible, allowing you to fix horizons and tilts that you might find in your photos. The tool seems to be extremely powerful and work with incredible accuracy. Though this was something that could be done manually, this tool allows it to be done in a single click and seemed to fix every horizon problem I had with superb accuracy. This feature can be found in the Lens Corrections category, in Develop mode.
The Advanced Healing brush works much like the Content Aware fill does in Photoshop. By allowing you to create custom brush shapes, this tool allows you to remove objects in photos with ease. Simply click, drag and release, and the problem is fixed. Prior to this, we often had to open these photos manually in Photoshop to get the advanced tools we desired. And while this type of tool isn’t new for some of us advanced Photoshop users who adapted to it back in Photoshop CS4, it is great to have the tool available while we’re in Lightroom too.
The Radial Filter allows you to alter different parts of the photo selectively, much like you’d find in third party apps such as Viveza. By doing this, you’re able to draw the viewers attention to different parts of the photo selectively. You can also use it to increase sharpness at different parts of the photo, and works much like a Layer Mask would in Photoshop. Previously, this could be done with adjustment brushes, but the Radial Filter allows similar editing stills to be done in a more graduate system.
The Visual Spot setting is perhaps the greatest, and certainly my favorite, new tool to come to this latest release. By temporarily converting your photo into a strange abstract black and white photo, you’re able to see contrastes in the image with ease, which will allow you to clean up any sensor dust or other problems you might not notice right away when looking at it normally.
Like mentioned above, Lightroom 5 is available now for $149 at Adobe.com. If you already have a recent version of Lightroom you can upgrade for $79. If you have the Creative Cloud, there is no additional fee. Just activate the download in the Adobe Application Manager.
Over the next couple weeks, we will be asking the important question: "With these new features (things many of us had the opportunity to play with in the beta release), is Adobe Lightroom 5 worth the upgrade?" For me and at this point, after using it for the last few hours in my actual workflow, it is a no brainer. Absolutely, it's worth it. With the faster speeds and useful tools, Lightroom 5 feels like a significant upgrade from its predecessor. Look forward to our full review of Lightroom 5 for some serious scrubbing of what this software can do, but right now I'm pretty satisfied with what I've seen.
For more on what to expect in Lightroom 5, watch Trevor Dayley take you through the new functions revealed in the beta.