Adobe has announced a point-0 upgrade to its digital photography software Photoshop Lightroom. A freely-downloadable beta version of the application is available from the Adobe Labs Web site.

Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 gains a series of mask-based brushes that enable photographers to 'paint' on colour corrections. Users can add or subtract levels of exposure, brightness, clarity and saturation, with controls over brush size and feathering. The corrections are non-destructive, and can be modified later using a series of sliders.

The new version adds support for dual-monitor configurations. The second monitor is used for one of four functions. Grid displays the contents of the current library, shoot or folder. Loupe shows a 1:1 display of the image chosen in the first monitor - with a Live Mode option showing a 1:1 display of any image under the mouse. There are also Compare and Survey settings.

Improved organizational tools include filtering images by successive columns of criteria. Users can find images within libraries by choosing only those that fit one criteria -- such as particular keyword -- then drilling down further by adding another -- such as a particular date or lens type. More columns can be added, and each column can modified to offer a wide range of criteria to choose within.

Lightroom 2.0 also boosts its keyword tools by automatically suggesting words based on those associated with similar images. It looks at the time, date, keywords and other metadata of your image and suggests keywords from those that match those of your image most closely.

Other new tools include the automatic 'best fit' of images on pages for most efficent output of images over the fewest sheets; sharpening for Web output using technology licensed from PixelGenius, and support for smart filters.

Lightroom 2.0 is also the first of Adobe's creative applications to be released as a 64-bit version for Mac OS X 10.5 Intel Macs and Microsoft Windows Vista 64-bit (though not Windows XP 64-bit). This allows the application to utilize more than 2GB RAM, which is designed to make the application faster and more stable when dealing with large libraries of RAW images.

Current owners of Lightroom can use the beta version until August 31, 2008 - and can invite non-owners to do the same. Without an invite, the beta will run for non-owners for 30 days. The beta can be downloaded here.

Pricing and availability of the final version of Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 has not yet been announced.