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Lightroom 6 arrives, stealing more features from Photoshop

HDR and panorama tools added to the latest version of Lightroom

Adobe has released Lightroom 6, with a selection of new editing features that were previously reserved for Photoshop users. Lightroom 6 is the first major update to the photo processing packing in two years, and is available on both a subscription and standalone basis.

Originally a tool largely designed for organising a photo collection, Lightroom has gradually added more and more editing tools over the years. Lightroom 6 borrows two new editing features from Photoshop: HDR and panorama stitching. HDR allows photographers to merge multiple images with different exposures to boost the dynamic range of their photos, helping them to pop off the screen. 

Panorama stitching automatically builds wide, sweeping landscapes from a series of overlapping photos. It’s been a stalwart of both Photoshop and the consumer-grade Photoshop Elements for many years, as well as a feature found on smartphones such as the iPhone. Now, at last, Lightroom users won’t need to export their images to a different application to build a panorama.

Lightroom 6 grabs another feature from its consumer stablemate: face recognition. Once faces have been tagged in the keywording section of the application, Lightroom will attempt to automatically identify that same person in successive images. In consumer applications, it’s a convenient way of searching for a particular family member, but for Lightroom’s professional users it could be handy for quickly refining searches to all of the photos of a certain bride from a wedding, for example, or a particular model.

Also of interest to wedding photographers will be the enhancements to the Lightroom slideshows, which now include pan/zoom effects for the first time. It’s now possible to add up to ten music tracks to each slideshow, and the software will attempt to synchronise the slides to the beat of the music. 

Professional users with tens or hundreds of thousands of images in their libraries will probably also appreciate the GPU acceleration that’s been built into Lightroom 6. Lightroom 5’s performance was far from sparkling, especially when applying edits across a batch of images, but Adobe claims to have boosted performance by up to 10x with its new GPU tweaks (although we’ll take such figures with a fistful of salt until we’ve managed to test these claims for ourselves.)

Lightroom 6 is available now, and can be purchased in one of two ways: as part of a Creative Cloud subscription package (with the product renamed Lightroom CC) or as a standalone application. The cheapest Creative Cloud subscription is the Photography Plan, which includes both Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for £8.57 per month. The standalone Lightroom 6 for PC or Mac costs around £100.