Lightroom 5 Features Which Make It Worth Upgrading
I know, I know, many of us have barely begun to synthesize, let alone master all the features Lightroom 4 has, so it’s hard to imagine needing an upgrade already, not to mention another $79 expense (USD) to upgrade. But if you’ve been paying attention at all, then you’ve likely heard, read, and already viewed tutorials about many of the juicy new tidbits included in Lightroom 5!
Initially, I had not planned to upgrade, because it’s been less than a year since I upgraded to Lightroom 4. But among the enticing things I’ve learned about Lightroom 5 are a few features which are especially exciting to me: the new Upright tool, the Advanced Healing Brush, an improved Spot Removal tool, the Radial Gradient, and new Smart Previews.
The Upright tool quickly and easily corrects perspective distortions in vertical and horizontal lines; a problem frequently encountered when photographing architecture, among many other scenes involving lines. Unless you own an expensive tilt shift lens, you’re going to have perspective distortions in many of your photos. Previously, unless the only line you needed to correct was to level a horizon, it was necessary to take a photo from Lightroom into Photoshop CS6 to correct skewed lines. Now perspective corrections can be performed more quickly and more easily, directly in Lightroom, with a choice of several different correction methods.
Both the Advanced Healing Brush and the Spot Removal tool now have better size, movement, and shape control, which is helpful since not all corrections need to be made to perfectly round little circular areas. Additionally, these improved tools now allow similar content aware corrections to those previously only possible in Photoshop CS5 or CS6, especially if applied as a series of blended corrections.
The Radial Gradient is a great new feature which allows the creation of off-center vignettes or multi-vignettes in a single shot, to draw the viewer’s attention to the parts of the photo you want to emphasize. Previously, the closest you could get to this in Lightroom was using the graduated filter to try to darken or lighten certain parts of the image, but this filter can only be dragged along a straight line from any given corner or edge; the Radial Gradient will allow far more control.
Smart Previews will be enticing to photographers who enjoy editing photos while on the road traveling, but don’t want to have to bring their entire library of images stored on external hard drives with them. Remember, Lightroom doesn’t store your actual photo files themselves. Rather, Lightroom serves as a database of each photo’s location, along with a preview image, and most importantly, the file’s “recipe” which is a metadata record of all edits and effects applied to that image. Previously, Lightroom had to have access to your image files themselves in order to make and save changes to them. Smart Previews to the rescue! LR5 allows you to create Smart Previews which are smaller sized “stand-in” files which you can adjust and edit in the field; then once back in your home digital lab, those metadata adjustments will be automatically applied to your original image files. No more lugging all your external hard drives of photos with you on the road if you don’t want. “Yay!” they said.
Any one or two of these new features were enough to convince me I wanted to upgrade to Lightroom 5, but just in case you are still not convinced, here is a quick list of a few other new features: improved highlight and shadow recovery; advanced black-and-white conversions; improvements to the Photo Book module; and improvements to the Slideshow module, which now allows you to combine stills, video clips and music into HD videos.
If, like me, you now realize you’ve simply got to have Lightroom 5, but you have an older PC running on XP or Vista, don’t despair even though Lightroom 5 is not compatible with these older operating systems. Stay tuned because As Seen by Janine’s next post will be a step-by-step tutorial: Upgrade a PC Operating System To Be Compatible With Lightroom 5.
Also watch for upcoming demos of Lightroom 5’s new features in action!
By Janine Fugere
As Seen by Janine: Eyes of the World Images