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Photoshop Vs Lightroom — 6 Things You Need To Know Before Choosing One


When it comes to post-processing the images, often a debate arises in the photographic world— which software is best suited for the job— Photoshop or Lightroom. While opinions may vary, the answer mostly depends on your shooting preferences— the format you are shooting in (JPEG or RAW), the number of photographs you need to view and edit and if you need a basic editing for your image or an advanced one. Both Lightroom and Photoshop have their own specifications. Here is a comparison between the two to help you decide your priority.

  1. Different Approaches

    The basic difference between the two — Lightroom and Photoshop lies in the purpose and objective of the products itself. While Photoshop is engineered to service graphic designers, Lightroom is primarily designed for the photographers. Lightroom is designed to assist the photographers in developing the photographs in the same way as they used to do in the non-digital world. Right from featuring image cataloging system to providing handy presets, Lightroom can be rightly referred to as the digital darkroom where as per your visualization you can fine-tune and develop the images with ease and simplicity.

  2. Image Editing Features

    Developed as a graphics editing program, Photoshop provides pixel level advanced editing features like photo merging, high end retouching, creating artistic special effects and layer wise editing. Lightroom on the other hand lacks layers and many advanced graphics editing features like inserting text to the image, using the pen tool, path and quick mask are missing. However, general photo editing tasks like correcting the contrast by using levels and curves, red eye reduction and portrait touch ups, cropping, lens correction, fine-tuning saturation, luminance and vibrance and tweaking the white balance can be easily performed in Lightroom (owing to its user friendly interface).

    photoshop vs lightroom

    Fun With PS By RavenB

  3. Retaining The Original Image

    Unlike Photoshop Lightroom is a non-destructive RAW photo editor. This means you can delete any of your previous editing during your work and gain back your original image. This is like film photographers who could anytime return to their negatives. Photoshop on the other hand, requires a RAW plug-in (Camera RAW) for editing RAW files and is lossy. With every change you make to the image, the image’s pixels are also changing, rendering a destructive output.

  4. Cataloging Files

    Lightroom can be viewed as an expert image management software which allows you to view, edit and manage digital photos. It sorts, tracks and filters a large number of images, including the huge RAW files. It acts as an ultimate destination for most of the image processing needs. It allows you to import your files through SD card, compare similar images, discard the useless ones, store and organize the good ones in the library (stored in the form of thumbnails for easy access), set initial RAW file conversion and export the output for web and printing. Photoshop however misses on cataloging front.

    lightroom vs photoshop

    Before/ After By Severin Sadjina

  5. Speed And Efficiency

    The batch processing of images in Photoshop take much more time than in Lightroom. In fact, all the features of Lightroom are super speedy and very easy to use. Likewise you can also edit multiple images at the same time in Lightroom and also use pre-defined settings offered as Presets for the images. Lightroom presets are image settings which can be applied in to the image with a single click and thereafter you can fine-tune the settings simply by moving the sliders.

    lightroom vs photoshop

    The Sharpening Project By Gezelle

  6. Other Differences

    While Photoshop has a complex interface, the interface of Lightroom is simple and easy to use even for the first time user. It aligns and arranges all the essential tools alongside the opened file making it easier to apply the required settings with a single click. Also features like HDR, content aware scaling actions, selection, photo stitching and masking are absent in Lightroom which allows the photographers to concentrate on improving the core competencies as a photographer than spend time on manipulating the images.

    photoshop vs lightroom

    HDR By Paulo Brockmann

Whatever be the differences, Lightroom and Photoshop have been designed to assist each other and not compete with each other. Sometimes, you might need both of them to obtain optimized output from your post processing workflow. Regardless of the software you choose for post-processing the most important thing is to try to capture an accurate image which will reduce your time and effort in the post-processing phase.

Which software do you use?

1 comment… add one
  • LAW September 11, 2011, 9:13 pm

    There is much overlap between Photoshop and Lightroom and I wouldn’t do without either. However, Lightroom is a professional level editing and cataloguing program, like Aperture, that provides endless options for organizing and accessing photos. It’s editing features are quite advanced and not altogether obvious to the new user (this review is a bit superficial on this point). Adobe has given both these programs a seamless connectivity that allows for speedy, powerful and highly organized workflows. I mentioned Aperture by Apple: This too is an extremely sophisticated cataloguing, database and editing program that is highly recommended.

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