Lightroom 5 beta available to the public

Adobe today announced the release of the Lightroom 5 beta for Mac and Windows. Lightroom is Adobe's photo-management and post-production software that competes directly with Apple's Aperture. The beta is free to download, but users should be aware that its use -- like all betas -- could vary and you should not use it with photo libraries that you do not have backed up.

Here's a list of the major new features, as reported on the Adobe Labs blog:

  • Advanced Healing Brush – Easily remove objects and fix defects -- even those with irregular shapes such as threads or lint -- with a single brush stroke. Take precise control over what's being removed as you make unwanted objects just disappear.

  • Upright – Straighten tilted images with a single click. Upright analyzes images and detects skewed horizontal or vertical lines. You choose one of four correction methods, and Upright can even straighten images where the horizon is hidden.

  • Radial Gradient – Lead your viewer's eye through your images with more flexibility and control. The radial gradient tool lets you create off-center vignette effects, or multiple vignette areas within a single image.

  • Offline editing with Smart Previews – Easily work with images without bringing your entire library with you. Just generate smaller stand-in files called Smart Previews. Make adjustments or metadata additions to Smart Previews and your changes will be automatically applied to the full-size originals later.

  • Video slideshow sharing – Easily share your work in elegant video slideshows. Combine still images, video clips and music in creative HD videos that can be viewed on almost any computer or device.

  • Improved photo book creation – Create beautiful photo books from your images. Lightroom includes a variety of easy-to-use book templates, and now you can edit them to create a customized look. Upload your book for printing with just a few clicks.