Adobe Systems has begun giving away the newest version of its photo editing software, Lightroom 5. But there is a catch. It is a public beta test version of a sister product to Adobe's Photoshop. Lightroom is easier to use than Photoshop, but just as powerful for making overall adjustments to things like colour, shadows and contrast.
However, it is not as good for extremely detailed editing and has fewer tools.
It has an improved ability to erase and replace objects in photos. The older Lightroom was best at erasing small aberrations, like dust spots. The new Lightroom lets users pick a larger area in any shape to replace. It's still not as powerful as the Photoshop tool called "Content Aware Fill" , but it's close.
It also has a feature called Radial Gradient, which lets photographers draw a circular or oval area in which to apply effects. It can be used to create a vignette, where a picture darkens toward the edges, for instance. So you can circle someone's face, and have the picture dim as it moves away from her, creating a spotlight to draw the eye.
A new feature called Upright examines the horizontal and vertical lines of a photo to correct for lens distortion. So what is the catch? When the beta test is over, you won't be able to use Lightroom 5 anymore unless you buy the new version. Upgrade pricing will be available to people who bought an earlier version of Lightroom.