Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Review

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Adobe’s recent change of license strategy for most of its Photoshop family software tools has introduced a lot of doubt among the previously happy customers. Because of Photoshop CC, many owners of Lightroom 3 and 4 have started looking for alternatives, fearing that despite Adobe’s claims, there is a possibility that Lightroom will also be moved to a subscription-based license in the future. Such fears are further complimented by the fact that the older versions of Lightroom will never gain support for the newest mirrorless and DSLR cameras, or new lens profiles. For this reason, Adobe had to make sure Lightroom 5 was so good, it would keep its customer base happy and tempted by the new features despite the recent changes in license strategy of its other products. The pressure is made worse by rivals always breathing down Lightroom’s neck.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

So, was Adobe successful in providing a stable, capable update for its long-time users? Is Lightroom 5 likely to attract new customers, who previously avoided what may be considered a Camera RAW plugin dressed in a suit of extra functionality? In this article, I will review the latest version of Lightroom and discuss its newly gained features in detail. I will also talk about what could have been better in Lightroom 5 so as to, by the end of the article, help you make up your mind whether purchasing or upgrading to this popular piece of software is beneficial to you.

1) System Requirements for Mac and Windows

Before we dive into all the new features, let’s start out by comparing system requirements to those of the previous Lightroom 4 release. First, here are the system requirements for Mac OS version:

MacLightroom 5Lightroom 4
ProcessorMulticore Intel® processor with 64-bit supportMulticore Intel® processor with 64-bit support
Operating SystemMac OS X v10.7 (Lion) or v10.8 (Mountain Lion)Mac OS X v10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or v10.7 (Lion)
Amount of RAM2GB of RAM (4GB recommended)2 GB
Hard Disk Space2GB of available hard-disk space1 GB of available hard-disk space
Display Resolution1024×7681024×768
Optical DriveDVD-ROM drive required if purchasing retail boxed versionDVD-ROM, only for DVD-based installs
Internet ConnectionYes, for Internet-based servicesYes, for Internet-based services

And here are the system requirements for Windows OS:

WindowsLightroom 5Lightroom 4
ProcessorIntel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor with DirectX 10–capable or later graphics cardIntel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor
Operating SystemMicrosoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1 or Windows 8Microsoft Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1
Amount of RAM2GB of RAM (4GB recommended)2 GB
Hard Disk Space2 GB of available hard-disk space1 GB of available hard-disk space
Display Resolution1024×7681024×768
Optical DriveDVD-ROM drive required if purchasing retail boxed versionDVD-ROM, only for DVD-based installs
Internet ConnectionYes, for Internet-based servicesYes, for Internet-based services

You will notice that not much has changed, but the changes that did take place are rather important. As many have noticed in our Lightroom 5 Public Beta Overview, Mac support is now limited to OS X 10.7 (Lion) and newer. This means users of older Mac OS versions are left out and will either have to skip on this and, most likely, future Lightroom versions, or update their operating system to a newer release. Official support for Windows includes Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8, although we have received reports that the Public Beta release worked with the older operating system from Microsoft, Windows Vista. Even so, if you are a Windows Vista user, do not be at all surprised if your copy of Lightroom stops working after an update, or fails to update in the first place at some point. As with Lightroom 4, Windows XP support has been completely dropped. While there are many Windows XP users out there that might complain about this requirement, we think it is the right move on behalf of Adobe – Windows XP is more than 10 years old now and it is about time to kill it. In addition, Microsoft is discontinuing support for Windows XP as of April 2014, so you really have no option but to upgrade. Same goes for Vista to an extent – it was by far not the best effort by Microsoft and you’d be much better off with Windows 7 or 8 anyway.

OS restrictions are not the only changes. Lightroom 5 wants a bit more hard disk space with 2 GB’s versus 1 GB for the version 4. I personally think that, today, such a requirement is not really relevant, because virtually everyone will have that amount of free disk space and more. For what it’s worth, my Lightroom 5 directory does take up a little bit more space than that of Lightroom 4.3 (0.99 GB vs 860 MB). There are more files in it, too, by around a thousand. Lightroom takes up additional disk space while working by creating temporary files. Catalog sizes stay about the same after the upgrade, with catalog sizes changing by 1-2% (up or down), depending on the size of the catalog. More importantly, Adobe now recommends twice more RAM when using Lightroom 5 than it did with the previous release. The minimum requirement is still 2 GB of RAM. This surely indicates the new version is somewhat more resource-hungry. However, I haven’t noticed any significant performance changes except for those described in the “Performance Issues” section of this review. I would have expected Adobe to improve Lightroom’s usage of available resources to make it operate faster, especially when it comes to Importing/Exporting images. That said, I am still generally happy with how snappy Lightroom is. It’s just no better than Lightroom 4 in my opinion.

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