When the very first version of Lightroom was released it was in beta for a long time, and I got very familiar with it then. At the time it included many raw development parameters that Photoshop didn't have so I found it very useful. These were then incorporated into Photoshop so I stopped using it.
I started using this new version as it has support for the Canon 550D and I was interested to see what it could achieve with the outstanding files I had from that camera. Certainly my initial impressions were favourable and a full days work with it yesterday confirmed this.
I'm particularly impressed by the way that it handles noise, CA and fringing. The default settings produce very clean and sharp files and I had to spend far less time in Photoshop. There is a very real difference in how Lightroom processes raw files as opposed to the current 5.6 version of Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop and the Lightroom files look significantly better to me. I was particularly pleased with my Leica M9 files and my Canon 5D Mk II files were easily the best I've got out of that camera. Dpreview found an improvement too:- http://www.dpreview.com/news/1003/10032402lightroombetaupdate.asp
I'm a bit unfamiliar with the interface these days, but by the end of the day was finding ways to speed up the process.
It will be interesting to see whether these improvements in raw processing transfer over to the new version of Photoshop, announced yesterday.
However its something I would recommend you having a look at. Since at the moment it's free, its an easy recommendation.
Finally it even managed to get some decent results from a whole pile of Pentax K-7 files I have waiting. Not great but reasonable & better than I was able to achieve with either Photoshop or Pentax's version of Silkypix.
Words - D
Images - D & A