Talking To Myself About Lightroom

I was thinking about upgrading my photo editor and I am torn between Photoshop and Lightroom. Photoshop is always talked about when it comes to photography and image manipulation but then I also hear people talking about Lightroom. What is the difference?

There are a few differences between though the major difference is at the core of what these programs can do. Photoshop is a graphics editing software whereas Lightroom is an asset management software, yet both allow you to edit photographs.

So both can edit photographs?

Yes there is a so called Photoshop family that includes Photoshop, Photoshop Essentials and Photoshop Lightroom. Photoshop essentials can be said to be Photoshop Lite and is less powerfull than Photoshop. Lightroom is the newest of the family and is now on its fifth edition.

So I need Photoshop?

Well Photoshop is a very powerful tool and with Adobe Bridge you are able to organise your shots as well as transfer them from your camera. Lightroom on the other hand was design from the ground up to help streamline photographers work flows, from importing the image to exporting the file to print.

So I need Lightroom?

Lightroom is great at organising and preparing images to be edited using the develop tab which is similar to Adobe Camera Raw and is able to process raw images. For more complicated editing and retouching you will still need Photoshop.

Ok, Photoshop allows you to make more complicated retouching work while Lightroom lets you apply more simply editing tasks.

That is a good way of looking at it but remember Lightroom is more than just an editing suite but allows you to also manage your files.

Yes but you can manage your files with Adobe Bridge.

That’s correct but Lightroom allows you to manage your files in a more comprehensive way. Not just by grouping files in folders and sub folders but also allowing you to create catalogues and sub categories with the ability for images to be cross categorised. For example, an image shot as part of a still life project about toys could be catalogued by type and then year and then colour and of course by shoot. This allows you at a later date when you are looking for an image, for it to appear in each catalogue without the file being duplicated.

In Bridge and in Lightroom you can keyword images as well. All of this you can do as you import the images at the same time as adding metadata to images. Although you can do this all in bridge, it is more streamlined in Lightroom.

Lightroom allows you to manage your files better and allows you to edit them, do you still need Photoshop and bridge?

Well I would say yes to both because Photoshop is more powerful and it can allow you to retouch more effectively while Bridge allows you to preview and look at filesand organize those files  better than using windows explorer or the Apple equivalent.

So I need both, isn’t that just a bit of a swindle?

It really does depend on what type of images you create and how much editing you apply to them. For someone who creates images using more complicated processes needing layer adjustments and lots of masking then could say that both would be preferable as you have the image management side as well as the advanced processing. If on the other hand you process images with a more simple method then Lightroom may be more beneficial. Also a lot of plugins allow you to install in both Lightroom and Photosho , Niksoft is a good example of this. For many this will also weigh in Lightroom’s favour.
Lightroom also allows you to print and share images online directing from the program without needing Photoshop or another image editor.

This does make sense now, the possible need for two editors, why do people rave about Lightroom?

I would say that lightroom is exceeding popular because it does a lot in one program but also because it is considerably cheaper than Photoshop, also with Photoshop now being tied up in the creative cloud subscription package and Lightroom not, it does start to look a lot more appealing to a lot of photographers.

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12 thoughts on “Talking To Myself About Lightroom

  1. decisions, decisions!!! for me, I’m not even close to using either one of these programs…I do very little to my photos right now, I’m sure eventually I will want something more than Photoscape and Picasa…but for now these two will do!

    • I would say that Lightroom would possibly a good place for you as it would not be such a change up from photoscape when it comes to editing. of course all when you are ready.

  2. I used to use iphoto but found that wasn’t comprehensive enough so when i really began to get obsessive about iphoneography i started using Aperture – only problem is I managed to bugger it by not checking off “do not import duplicates” in a fit of saving anxiety one day. Seems that the photostream saves 2 copies but only shows one and there doesn’t seem to be a “find duplicates” function in Aperture…. I tried lightroom many years ago and may very well just scrap my aperture library and reimport everything into that! I love photoshop for manipulation, not everything needs to be photoshopped though – some pics are perfect “as shot”….

    • I tried Lightroom when it was first released in 2007 and I hated it, at the time it was not yet refined enough to be a solid replacement to photoshop. Now however it is a lot better and a lot of work has been put into it. I never used Aperture and I am not a Mac user but I can understand how annoying it must be with so many duplicates of files hanging around.
      You are right not everything needs to be “photoshopped” and it is sometimes fine to make some minor tweaks because the shot was good when taken. It is funny when i show shots to my class (aged between 11-16) they always ask if it was photoshopped. I found out after a year that the reason they were asking was because they wanted to know where my skill lay, in image manipulation or taking shots. Although they did ask this question when I showed them some Ansel Adams work. I had to laugh.

      • I think that was around the time I first tried it also. I am always amazed at how youth assumes everything has been manipulated, you should do a photography class on “how to see” to get them to think beyond the box!

      • Before we went to a class trip to a photo festival i did a lesson about how to view an image, and think about the image. It was interesting because they used a bit of it at the exhibition pointing out interesting things.

    • If I was asked last year before creative clould I would say Photoshop but recently I have been testing out lightroom 5 and I think now I would choose Lightroom with my filter plugins and then use Photoplus ( a cheap editing software around £50) for anything I would need photoshop for.

  3. I pretty much use Nikon’s Capture NX for photo editing as 99% of it is ‘developing’ RAW files rather than using layers etc. However, I do need a decent program for tagging/keywording images so that i can find them easily. What I want to be able to do is enter tags/keywords (much like we do with WordPress) rather than selecting tags from a created list (such as Bridge) or catalogue. Do you reckon LR is the tool for me or is there a better option?

    • Lightroom does allow you to add your own keywords although it may try and auto generate them on what you have written you can turn that off. It is also a very good raw converter as well. So it could be a good option. You can download it for a 30 day trial and import a few shots to see how it works for you.

      I would say before anyone uses it seriously, make sure your folders are well organised and import in groups because one of the first mistakes is importing all your files and then having a huge mess.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Noeline

  4. I have the Adobe CC Photographer’s package that includes Photoshop and Lightroom. I’m really enjoying it and glad I got both. I look forward to reading more of your Lightroom posts 🙂

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