New features in Lightroom 5

The new version of Lightroom was released a few weeks ago and I finally upgraded. At first sight, you could think that it hasn’t changed much. The interface is almost identical to that of Lightroom 4 and there are only a few changes to some panels, which now include a few new features. I’ll try to describe those in detail in future posts but for now, let’s take a quick look at the main improvements.

  • Advanced healing brush
    Before, you could only heal or clone in a circle, of which you could just modify the size and opacity. In Lightroom 5, it is also possible to paint an area, as in Photoshop. Obviously, as everything in Lightroom, those corrections are non-destructive. It is thus extremely useful and will definitely reduce the need to use Photoshop for simple retouches, which in turn will save you time and a lot of disc space, without losing the ability to undo changes.
  • Upright
    The new Basic tab in the Lens corrections panel (in the Develop module) contains a few leveling options. With only one click, you can not only level pictures, but also make horizontal and vertical perspective corrections.
  • Radial gradient
    The new Radial gradient offers the same functionality as the graduated filter, but with a circle or ellipse. Very useful to emphasize part of a picture.
  • Smart previews
    The Smart previews make it possible to develop pictures offline, i.e. when the original files are on an external disk that is not connected. To do that, Lightroom 5 uses a local copy and updates the originals as soon as the disk is once again connected.
  • Video slide shows
    You can now add videos to your slide shows
  • Photo books
    The book module now contains more templates and offers more ways to customize your books.

With Lightroom 5, it is less and less necessary to work in parallel with Photoshop. To me, the most important new function is without any doubt the advanced healing brush; I didn’t need any other reason to upgrade Lightroom. There are a lot of pictures that I will now be able to process completely without having to open Photoshop, which will simplify my workflow and will also save me a lot of disk space, since the PSD and TIFF files (necessary to be able to undo changes, thanks to the layers) are usually quite big.


This post is based on Lightroom 5.0; the described interface and functions may be different in other versions.