Lightroom 5 is the latest version of Adobe’s powerful photo editing program! With Lightroom you can easily change a photo’s exposure, contrast, white balance, sharpening, and a ton of other corrective adjustments. Lightroom 5 is available for US$149 or as a $79 upgrade from previous versions of Lightroom. If you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, Lightroom is included.
This new version of Lightroom marks a new release strategy by Adobe, focusing on yearly updates (instead of every two years). Because of this, Lightroom 5 feels like a lighter update than usual with only a handful of minor new features. The underlying programming for the adjustment sliders remains the same as in Lightroom 4 (process version 2012).
We’ve been using Lightroom 5 since the public beta was released so we’ve had a chance to really test things out. Here’s what’s new!
What’s new in Lightroom 5?
For a quick look at what’s new check out the video below:
With one click you can now have Lightroom analyze the image for vertical and horizontal lines and automatically straighten the image and correct perspective distortion. Below the photo on the left has no correction, while the photo on the right has the Auto correction applied.
You’ll find the new feature under the Lens Correction panel. You have options to level the photo, correct for vertical perspective distortion (like shooting buildings from a low angle) or full distortion correction (if you’ve taken a photo from off centre). There’s also an option for Auto which is what we’ve found the most useful. The Vertical and Full options tend to produce worse looking photos (lines correct but awkwardly manipulated, or quite cropped). The Auto function helped improve images without exaggerating perspective about 90% of the time. We’ve incorporated this new feature into our workflow for any photo that is composed with strong vertical or horizontal lines.
Advanced Healing Brush
You now have the ability to clone out odd-shaped objects just by clicking and dragging with the adjustment brush. With previous versions of Lightroom you were restricted to using only a spot (so you would have to tediously use multiple spots if the object you needed to remove wasn’t round). The advanced healing brush is a valuable new feature that was desperately needed in order to do more serious retouching work in Lightroom.
For a more dramatic example, check out the photo below. I was able to remove the power line and benches super quickly and easily.
The new advanced healing brush feature works fairly well, but unfortunately if you make a lot of brush strokes, or spot corrections, it seems to slow the program down quite a bit. If you’re doing a lot of retouching you may still want to use Photoshop as you’ll be able to get through a batch of images much faster.
A fancy new feature with a fancy name! If you’ve used the graduated filter before then it will be easy for you to catch on to how the radial filter works. You can make adjustments that feather off in a circle, anywhere in the image. Imagine being able to put a vignette anywhere you want in your image (not just along the edges). This filter is going to help you draw your viewers’ attention to important parts of your image.
Like the graduated filter and the adjustment brush, it’s possible to apply a ton of different adjustments with the radial filter – ranging from exposure, contrast, saturation, white balance, sharpening and more. Now, while it is possible to use multiple radial filters on one photo, after adding a couple filters it’s tricky dialing in the adjustment. But used in combination with the adjustment brush and graduated filter, the radial filter is a useful tool. You’ll find it along with the other adjustment tools.
The shortcut to access the radial filter is Shift+M.
Other New Features
The features mentioned above are the top 3 new additions in my opinion, all of which will be quite intuitive for you to use. There are a few other new features that Adobe is marketing.
Smart Previews – This new feature allows you to edit an image even when your original is offline. Perhaps you’re working with a laptop and the hard drive you have your original images on isn’t plugged in. With smart preview you can still make adjustments to that photo, the same way you would if the photo was connected. Once the hard drive with the originals is reconnected Lightroom automatically synchronizes those changes. Under the hood, smart previews work by creating a compressed, medium resolution, DNG file. It’s all managed rather cleverly with a single preview data file that’s stored with your Lightroom catalog. You have the option to generate smart previews when importing images, or any time after the images are imported.
Photo and video slideshows – It’s now possible to include video clips within slideshows. It’s great to see Adobe adding more video functionality with each new release. It would be great to see even more development in this area since almost all cameras are now capable of shooting high quality video.
One new hidden feature of Lightroom 5 not mentioned anywhere is the ability to validate DNG image files. It’s not as sexy as the other new features but it’s an important advancement.
A DNG file is an open-source RAW format developed by Adobe (you can learn more about why you should convert your photos to DNG here). With Lightroom 5 you’re now able to validate your DNG files. What this means is that Lightroom can scan through all your DNG files and determine if any of those files have become corrupt or unreadable. This can alert you to damaged photos so that you can hopefully restore them from backup copies. You’ll find the validate function in the Library module under the Library menu.
Should you purchase or upgrade to Lightroom 5?
Lightroom is the most powerful photo editing program on the market and we definitely recommend it to anyone looking to improve the look of their photos. That said, this new version of Lightroom may not be worth the cost of upgrading. If you don’t have a previous version of Lightroom then Lightroom 5 will cost you US$149 and it’s worth every penny. If you already have Lightroom 4 then the upgrade price to Lightroom 5 is US$79.
If you’re a professional photographer then definitely make the upgrade. The new features, even if used infrequently, will be worth it.
If you’re a hobbyist photographer and already have Lightroom 4, it might be better for you to put the $79 towards a new lens or other piece of gear. Lightroom 6 will be out next year and will likely have a similar amount of new features, at which point the upgrade will be worth it! Just because Adobe is releasing a new version every year doesn’t mean you need to upgrade every year.
Here’s where you can purchase Lightroom:
- Lightroom 5 direct from Adobe
- B&H Photo – boxed and download only versions of Lightroom 5
- Amazon.com – boxed and download only version of Lightroom 5
Super Photo Editing Skills – High Definition Lightroom Video Tutorial
Want to learn more about using Lightroom to bring the best out of your photos? Check out our easy-to-follow video tutorial – Super Photo Editing Skills. Along with videos it also includes two helpful eBooks, over 40 color and black and white Lightroom develop presets, and a printable shortcut cheat sheet.
You can learn more about Super Photo Editing Skills here!