Adobe just announced its next-gen version of Lightroom, which adds some pretty nifty Photoshop features to the company's lower-priced editing and archival offering. Photoshop Lightroom 5, which is available as a free public beta beginning today, brings features like Smart Previews and an Advanced Healing Brush to the table, delivering access to tools previously only available with full versions of Photoshop. That latter tool, the Advanced Healing Brush, lets you paint in corrections, rather than using the round dropper to make tweaks. Smart Previews enables you to edit images even when you're not connected to your archive -- smaller representations of selected RAW shots will be saved locally, and any changes you make to them will be automatically applied to the original image once the source comes back online. In the meantime, you can publish shots online or even add them to book layouts, thought prints can't be ordered until the app can locate the original file.
And the fun doesn't stop there. Another tool, called Radial Filter, adjusts levels for a highlighted area while adding a gradual, natural-looking shift. Editors who often work with scanned prints and negatives might find the Visualize Spots tool to be quite useful, which helps you easily identify dust spots and remove them, while perfectionists can take advantage of Upright, the app's new perspective shift technology -- it's some crazy voodoo code that more or less works like magic (see screenshot above). Lightroom 5 beta is compatible with Windows 7 SP 1, Windows 8, Mac OS 10.7 or 10.8, and is currently available at the source link below. Keep in mind that the beta expires on June 30th, though, so prepare to hand over some (TBD) cash to keep going after that date.