Lightroom 5 beta has just been posted, and is ready for download and testing. Those of you who read my article last week about using a small, SSD-based MacBook Air for photos will be very interested in one new feature: Smart Previews. This lets you edit your photos using just the previews on your MacBook, and the changes all sync up to your actual photos next time you connect your big external drive.
And there’s more.
Here’s a quick list of the new features:
- Advanced Healing Brush
- Radial Gradient
- Smart Previews
- Improved Photo Book Creation
- Slideshows with Videos and Still Images
Upright is an auto-crop an perspective correction tool which is like magic for people who can’t hold their camera straight.
Radial gradient is just that, and you can also apply several of them to "vignette" several elements at once. Use it to highlight two subjects and darken the rest of the photo for instance.
Smart Previews, as I mentioned, let you generate a special kind of preview (at import or manually). In LR you have always been able to edit metadata and view previews of your photos even when the hard drive containing those photos is offline or disconnected. Smart Previews extend this to actual image editing.
The announcement says that these edits are then applied to the big photos when you reconnect the drive, but this is only partly true. LightRoom never actually edits the files you keep in it – the app instead stores the edits you apply to an image as an XML (text) file, and generates previews and exports based on these edits. The Smart Previews are just previews that can show edits, and in theory you’ll only need to connect the drive to import, export and delete files.
Photo books and slideshows we can skip. There’s another new feature not mentioned in that list which is more interesting: you can no change the shape of the clone tool, making it easier to erase non-circular objects. I haven’t tried this one out yet.
The beta is just that: a beta app. As such it can’t import your existing LR library. Nor can you export LR5 libraries back to previous versions, so make sure that you import any important images into both versions for now. The final version of LR5 will upgrade your beta test library to the full version, though, so any awesome edits you make in the beta won’t be lost.
What are you waiting for? Go get it!