It's always a wonderful day when Adobe releases a new Beta for Lightroom.
Just announced today, the Beta for LR5 (Lightroom 5) comes with some pretty snazzy updates, many of which will keep photographers in Lightroom and out of Photoshop even more. This translates into "freaking awesome."
I always dread when Adobe releases the beta for a new Photoshop but jump for joy when a new Lightroom becomes announced. Why? Because Photoshop is really expensive; however, Adobe keeps adding features to Lightroom that make it a better standalone photo cataloguing and editing software. Sure, Lightroom will never replace Photoshop's ability to use layers, masks, and probably a significant amount of filters, but most of the time you shouldn't need to do all of those crazy things anyways. Most photos really just need some exposure tweaking, cropping/alignment, and some sharpening/noise reduction. Occasionally you need to knock out a weird spot or line with the clone tool also and Lightroom is slowly adding to that feature list.
My workflow is 90% done is LR4 right now and I'm incredibly thankful for that. LR5 adds some tools that will help make that go to 93% (hey, every little bit helps!).
My favorite update is probably the addition of the healing brush. LR4 currently only has a clone stamp, which is a single spot fix. The healing brush allows you to paint over an entire line if need be, and LR5 will use Content Aware in attempts to fix it. SWEET!
Another great update is Upright, which fixes skewed horizontal and vertical lines automatically! Landscape and Architecture photographers will love this one.
Radial Gradient is another nifty tool that's been added. It's essentially an easy vignette creator. This tool is super useful for an artistic way to focus the viewer's eye to a specific point in your image.
There are a bunch of other wonderful updates that you can read about on Adobe's website.