Lightroom 5 beta brings a raft of new features including offline editing | Imaging Resource | Fuji X-Pro1 | Scoop.it

A little more than a year ago, Adobe released its most recent major update to Photoshop Lightroom -- the company's flagship photography workflow application -- after a two-month open beta program. Today, the company takes the wraps off a beta release of the followup, continuing a tradition of public beta that stretches right back to Lightroom's formative days. The latest Lightroom 5 betabrings several interesting new features, including a radial gradient tool, a more advanced healing brush and a clever automatic perspective correction tool. But for our money, the feature which stands out is support for offline image editing, or what Adobe calls Smart Previews.

If you're one of the many photographers who take advantage of Adobe's license terms allowing use of a desktop and laptop on the same Lightroom license, chances are you've hit a certain dilemma. You're out in the field with the laptop, yet you want to browse your existing catalog and perhaps tweak a few photos -- but you've not brought the catalog's contents with you. The laptop drive doesn't have enough storage space for all your photos, and you didn't think you'd need to carry your bulky external drives with you. Or perhaps you're not even using external drives -- maybe your catalog is shared across the network from your desktop machine. Either way, you don't have access to the files you need. That's the problem Smart Previews aims to solve. Lightroom 5 public beta can automatically generate reduced-resolution copies of your images on external drives and network shares, suitable for the smaller storage space available on your laptop. And it will let you edit these images just as if the files were online. Of course, some edits won't be meaningful on reduced-res previews. For example, you'll likely want to forgo tools like noise reduction and sharpening, where information at the pixel level is key. However, for many tools such as cropping, tweaking color and so on, that reduced-resolution file will still be enough to get the job done, or at least to get you in the ballpark while an editing idea is fresh in your mind. The clever bit happens when the offline media comes back online -- go back into the images, and your edits are applied to the originals automatically. This is very clever stuff, and something we have a feeling many photographers will welcome with open arms.....