Adobe Lightroom, originally developed as a companion to Photoshop, has evolved into a powerful platform for managing catalogs of images and for detailed editing of things like exposure, tone, lighting, sharpening and color while keeping your original files intact. In addition to the top-notch workflow tools, professionals will appreciate the gallery templates, proofing capabilities, exportability of slideshows and publishing features. At a lower price than earlier iterations, Lightroom 5 (Est. $150) is a must-have organizational system.
Lots of guidance. Several modules guide Lightroom 5 users through the software. In the Library, collections and images are managed through keywords, flags, metadata and search features, and can be viewed in different layouts. The Develop module allows for exposure, lighting, color and other image adjustments. In Book, there are templates for photo books, which can be uploaded for printing. Slideshow enables you to package images as proofs or presentations. Print gives you complete flexibility to package layouts and printing. And in the Web, you can share directly with other devices and social apps.
Indispensible workflow manager for pros. Reviewers agree that Adobe Lightroom 5 is the best resource for professionals and hobbyists who need a comprehensive organization and workflow system, especially for processing RAW files. You'll save time using Lightroom to quickly cull, rate and process digital images. Its photo-editing capabilities are quite robust, though not necessarily as rich as Adobe Photoshop CS6 (Est. $700) ; for example, there is no pixel-level editing. Lightroom 4 offered video previewing, redesigned exposure adjustment sliders and publishing tools. New features with Lightroom 5 include Smart Preview, for editing images on the go, and a spot healing tool for working with irregular areas.
Flawless editing. Lightroom 5 excels at, naturally, lighting adjustments, including recovering blown out highlights, white balance tweaks and brightening shadows without a lot of noise. Though it's light years ahead of earlier versions, users will still notice some lagging performance, particularly in the Develop module. The enhancements to the content aware tools and cloning brushes work quite nicely. Trips to Photoshop or Elements may no longer be necessary for some edits. Processing smaller versions of files on portable devices using Smart Preview is slick, and the changes are automatically made to original files housed on a larger system.
1. PC Pro
Lightroom 5 is on PC Pro's Recommended A-list, rated overall 5 out of 6 stars. The reviewer tests the updated editing tools as well as the Smart Preview feature, which works "flawlessly."
Review: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Review, Barry Collins, June 10, 2013
CNET rates Lightroom 5 Excellent, giving it 4 out of 5 stars. After a comprehensive review Lori Grunin says Lightroom 5 is exceptional but might not be enough for Lightroom 4 users to upgrade, particularly for Mac users still on Snow Leopard operating system.
Review: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Review: Better Focus on Offline Images, Lori Grunin, June 9, 2013
Sharon Machlis tests features new to Lightroom 5 beta version. While she felt that the upgrade to Lightroom 4 was a must, an upgrade to version 5 is not essential, she says.
Review: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Review: A Useful, if not Radical, Upgrade, Sharon Machlis, April 15, 2013
4. Digital Arts
Lightroom 5 receives a rating of 4 out of 5 stars here. The author walks through Lightroom 5's new features, including advanced healing, content aware, upright, radial gradient and smart preview tools.
Review: Lightroom 5 Review`, Duncan Evans, June 19, 2013
J. Meyer tests out all the new features in Lightroom 5, including the interface, the Advanced Healing Brush, Smart Preview, Video slideshow sharing and photo books.
Review: Adobe Lightroom 5 Beta Review, J. Meyer, May 24, 2013
Mike Tomkins runs down the new features of Lightroom 5 as well as bug fixes. While it's not a formal review, it's helpful for deciding whether you need to upgrade or not.
Review: Adobe Ships Lightroom 5 with Smart Previews, Perspective Correction; Camera Raw and DNG Converter Updated Too, Mike Tomkins, June 10, 2013
7. N-Photo magazine
R. Lawton looks at the beta version of Lightroom 5 and walks readers through the new features using screenshots. While she likes the new tools, she wishes there were more additions.
Review: Lightroom 5 Beta: 6 Things You Need to Know, R. Lawton, April 17, 2013
This reviewer looks at the Mac version of Lightroom 5. Like other sources, he likes the new features but doesn't think it's worth the upgrade from version 4.
Review: Review: Adobe Lightroom 5 (Mac Version), Chris Gampat, June 10, 2013
Rod Lawton provides a detailed review of the new features in the Lightroom 5 beta version. Though its interface hasn't changed much, he finds it "promising."
Review: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Beta Review, Rod Lawton, April 29, 2013
10. USA Today
This reviewer explores Lightroom 5's new features, comparing it to Lightroom 4. He notes that the healing and content aware tools make Lightroom 5 comparable to full Photoshop.
Review: Review: Quick Photo Fixes Are a Snap with Lightroom 5, Editors of USA Today, April 20, 2013