Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lightroom 5 beta

Lightroom 5 beta is here!  I think this is a very significant upgrade - in my opinion, bigger than the upgrade from LR3 to LR4.

  • Advanced Healing Brush: instead of correcting just a spot, you can now paint a correction.  This is so convenient!  I used to be forced to go to Photoshop just for that.  Hopefully it works well.  Update: tried it and just got reminded it's not a substitute for content-aware spot healing because it has to take the brushed area from another area, just like the old spot healing.
  • Smart Previews: can generate a 2540-pixel raw file (while keeping the original file).  Wow.  Most of the time I don't need a full-resolution shot and I wished that the D600 had an sRaw (small raw) format just like Canon.  LR5 makes that dream come true!  Update: now I'm a little confused because I don't know when I'm looking at the preview and when I'm looking at the original.  What I do know is that with smart preview, LR5 is super responsive (not surprising given that the smart preview is only 1mb whereas the actual image is 20+mb).
  • Radial Gradient: similar to the gradient tool except you can do it with a circular or oblong pattern.  This is very useful to me because I otherwise have to resort to using the adjustment brush.  Update: very usable.  I think I will use this tool very often.
Comment re Smart Previews: because of the smaller preview size LR5 is incredibly responsive even on my not super fast laptop (i5, 8gb ram). (I can only imagine the performance benefit with SSD.) I know some people have hesitated to upgrade to a high-res camera like the D800, D600, or D7100 because of the concern about processing high-res files. For example, for wedding photographers who have to take hundreds or thousands of shots per wedding, a D800 or even a D600 or D7100 might not be practical. With smart preview, this is no longer a concern.  Plus you have the flexibility of using the full resolution if you want to.  If LR5 was out at the time of the D800, I might have bought the D800 instead of the D600.  More detailed analysis of smart previews: http://www.theverge.com/2013/4/15/4225934/adobe-lightroom-5-beta-hands-on-smart-previews-radial-gradients-easy-straightening

UPDATE: I found that Smart Previews isn't exactly what I hoped for. See this post for more info about Smart Previews.

[Some may wonder - what's the point of a high-res camera if it will be downsampled. The benefits include sharpness and less noise.]
Other features:
  • Upright tool: automatically levels horizons and corrects keystoning.  This is a new tab under Lens Corrections.
  • Video slideshow: combine photos, videos, and music in a creative HD slideshow.
  • Upgrades to the Book module.
  • In the spot removal tool, there is a new option called 'Visualize Spots' to show spots more easily.
Still no layers, unfortunately (Corel's Aftershot Pro does have that).

Note: the beta expires June 30, 2013 therefore expect LR5 to be available on or before then.

Note 2: historically, Adobe has only provided raw support for the new cameras in the current version of Lightroom (and Photoshop) therefore if you buy a new camera after LR5 is released, don't expect to find Adobe raw support for it in LR4 or previous versions of LR.  You'll have to use the DNG converter unless you get LR5.


  1. For years my first step in dealing with files out of Lightroom has been to downsample them "50%", to 2456 pixels wide. Lower noise, and the 4-megapixel result file still has plenty of resolution for "most purposes". But now Lightroom will do almost exactly that, lower the resolution, with the new twist of leaving the downsampled image as a raw file.

    And now the downsizing is getting done at the place where it really oughta be done, the raw file. In the raw file, during downsizing, Adobe has the opportunity to "de-mosaic" (sort of "pixel-bin") the image with much more color information known about each output pixel. At a very rough cut, instead of having to guess 2 out of 3 colors for each output pixel, with a 16megapixel or greater raw file, Lightroom will have 2 green, 1 red and 1 blue input pixel in hand with which to effortless calculate the RGB values of a single output pixel.

    Nice, thanks for bringing this to our attention.


    1. Thanks Russell. Yes it seems an incredibly useful feature for most people. I'm very curious about the possible noise reduction through the pixel binning type effect.

      Best regards,

    2. If my thinking is correct here, and as long as Adobe's approach is solid, a 2x2 rebinning of the pixels should give a 2x gain in signal-to-noise ratio, or 1-stop boost in dynamic range. This is part of Nokia's logic behind their original PureView cameraphone (and I imagine that Nikon had 3x3 rebinning -- for a 4MP output image -- in mind when it came out with the D800). Do you happen to know if Lightroom will let you change the bit-depth of the output (from 14-bit to 15-bit)?

    3. Hi DJ. I hope you are right but as you said it all depends on how Adobe implements the downsampling. We'll see. As for changing the bit-depth I don't think that is possible because at its core, LR is only designed as a metadata editor.

      Best regards,


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