Lightroom versus Elements

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by walterh, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. Hi I need to install some basic image processing software for users of an
    scientific instrument (complex light microscope). The users have a good
    knowledge about the instrument but very little background in the digital image
    processing. Images will be raw+jpg. RAW is required for best dynamic range etc.

    The images are taken in a tethered setup. I use a D200 with capture pro and the
    images can be seen shortly after capture on a dedicated computer screen.

    Some simple raw conversion and basic adjustments need to be done by the
    operator. This will be done typically on a different computer via internal
    network. Several licenses will be required but at reduced campus license cost -
    so cost is an issue but a minor one. I personally do everything in PS but
    obviously this is not a choice for beginners.

    Question: which of the two (or any better alternative) is more intuitive to
    users with a background in natural science. The output is for personal
    documentation. I will standby to produce final output for publication of
    selected images if necessary.

    Any experience including response from users would be most welcome.
  2. Lightroom and Elements are aimed at two different types of markets. They are not the same, from what you are describing here Elements is what you need.

    Lightroom is aimed at someone with a couple of hundred images that wants to rate, sort, and do some post processing. Then output them to web or print etc.

    I know you say cost is only a minor issue but Elements is also a third the price.
  3. Learning Elements is just like learning photoshop except there are fewer controls most of which will make no difference to any but graphic artists.

    Lightroom is aimed at photogs will many images to convert at one time and to apply the same settings to multiple images. No local control is possible such as you can do with selections in photoshop or elements. No layers either. You are expected to move to ps for that work.

    I think you can run the latest raw converter with Elements 5, which is the same converter almost as in Lightroom.

    The controls are cumbersom in 5 compared to previous versions like you can not use tab to make pallets and tool bar disappear. You have to go to view two times, once for tool bar, once for layers pallet. The advanced highlight/shadow controls are not there, but basic are. There is no support for layer masking.

    Just start with open/close rename files, brightness/contrast, levels, and work forward. Anyone who can work an electron beam `scope can do ps.
  4. The advantage is Lightroom is batch processing with a fixed set of parameters. This may be exactly what you need when shooting a whole series of images - if they have the same processing applied you can do a direct comparison. I doubt that you're going to need Photoshop tools such as cloning, brushes, etc. for touching up specific parts of the images. As such, Lightroom may be the way to go.
  5. Having done exactly this kind of work in the past, I would unhesitatingly suggest
    Lightroom over Photoshop Elements.

    Scientific data capture through recording instruments like microscope and telescope
    requires that you automate making the *same* adjustments to batches of captures easily
    and efficiently so that you can use the image data comparatively in analysis. This is what
    Lightroom excels at, and what is most difficult to do in Photoshop Elements which has
    only limited batch operations.

    You generally don't need capabilities in spot and selective area adjustment/editing until
    you get well past the "process a data take and then analyze differences between the three
    out of a thousand that show something anomalous" stage of operations. At that point, you
    likely need analytic image processing tools, not necessarily image editing tools, but both
    can be helpful.

    Adobe has both academic and volume licensing for Lightroom which can be used to
    reduce costs. There are a lot of very good and very easy to understand video tutorials
    which can be used as instructional material for teaching a group of people how to import,
    keyword, and do basic adjustments very rapidly ... getting them up to speed so they can
    continue their work efficiently and cost effectively.

  6. Ah - lots of input and quite a bit to think about. Thanks for the good info already. We do have a campus license (we pay per computer) so while we try to keep cost low the price for this type of software is not much (even PS is cheap then) compared to the work that could be lost by choosing the wrong type of tool. It is true that sometimes large numbers of shots are taken and quantification is important. We use analytical software as expected above for image analysis. This varies a lot for each application - "image J" (follow-up of NIH image) is just one of the popular ways. Most images, however, are just for documentation of intermediate steps of experiments. Part of my concern is how "intuitive" the software is for the user. This takes a lot of work from my shoulders^^. Lets face it - nobody reads the ""$%&? manual^^.
  7. Lightroom is a heck of a lot more intuitive, end to end, than Photoshop Elements. It was
    designed from scratch to be for digital photography, and in doing so delivers a pretty easy to
    figure out workflow.

  8. I agree with Godfrey. I'm an engineering student (which is sort of close to a background in natural science, i s'pose) and I use Lightroom together with Photoshop CS3 (which is supposed to be easier to use than Elements). Lightroom is extremely intuitive--five minutes of messing around and you've got a pretty solid grasp on how the program operates. Photoshop, on the other hand, though extremely powerful and a blast to use, has taken some pretty serious studying in order to learn.

    Lightroom is also only $99 with an academic license (lucky for me), and I think it's even lower than that if you buy multiple licenses.

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