Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 (beta)

Adobe revivifies proxy editing with Photoshop Lightroom 5 beta (hands-on)

The latest iteration of Adobe's raw-editing and management software, Adobe Lightroom 5, enters a public beta today with a modest set of enhancements that will make some photographers very happy but will probably make a large number of others shrug and choose to skip it. The biggest news: support for proxy editing of disconnected images, a feature dubbed Smart Preview. Other highlights include an overdue distortion and perspective correction tool, Upright; reusable custom page layouts and page-numbering tweaks in the Book module; a radial filter; the expansion of the spot healing/clone tool into a full-blown healing brush; and the option to insert playable videos into slideshows. Plus, there are the usual myriad small updates.

What's not here: still no face recognition or tagging, HDR editing, panorama stitching, or expansion of the video capabilities. And as far as I can tell, performance hasn't improved; in fact, it seems a little slower on my system, though that may be beta overhead that will be tuned out before it becomes final. It took about 4.5 minutes to import in place 11,850 files (on a 2.2GHz Core i7 system with 8GB RAM equipped with a 2GB Nvidia Quadro 2000M and running 64-bit Windows 7).

While dropping support for Windows Vista will likely pass without a whimper, abandoning support for OS X 10.6.x may prevent some folks from jumping to Lightroom 5 -- the last estimates I found indicate that about 30 percent of OS X users have resisted the call of the wilder, sticking with Snow Leopard rather than moving to newer, sleeker cats. I'm still waiting to hear from Adobe about what this means for camera codec updates for people who decide to stick with Lightroom 4.4 once LR5 formally ships.

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