Lightroom vs Photoshop

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jerry_curtis, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. I have Photoshop CS5, but am just at the beginners level. I often hear about Lightroom. What is the difference between them? Can LR do things that PS can't?
  2. Lightroom (IMHO) is designed as a Database first and a photo editor second. It has added more features and functionality that PS has but still (IMHO) isn't at the same level as PS is in terms of editing.
    On the flip side - the database (organizer) in PS5 is a bolt on - it just doesn't work as well as Lightroom's.
  3. If you are not shooting that much Lightroom might not be such an investment unless you want to get it anyway. I seldom shoot more than 10 to 15 in each outing with my DSLR so an early version of Photoshop does fine for me.
  4. I don't think David has it right. The differences are:

    1. LR is parametric, which means that all image changes are kept as list of parameters, and are applied only when the image is to be rendered. That list can be changed at any time, and the order of changes is immaterial. The original image (raw, JPEG, TIFF, whatever) is not altered.

    2. LR is a complete solution, including asset management, image editing, printing, slideshows, web sites, and more.

    3. LR is specifically designed for photos; PS is much more general.

    4. LR mostly edits the image as a whole, whereas PS can edit pixel-by-pixel. (Not entirely true, as some LR edits apply only to selected parts of the photo.)

    5. LR's is designed for efficient processing of large numbers of images; PS is focused on manipulating individual images.

    The two work together, in that one can edit an image in the LR catalog in PS, and then have the results automatically stored back in the LR catalog.

    Fine-art photographers, who shoot relatively few images, but work hard on each one, need PS, especially for its plugins, so they might as well start with PS. If they have few images, they may never need anything else (other than plugins). (PS comes with Bridge.) Everyone else should start with LR, as they need asset management, etc. Many photogs will never need PS if they have LR.

    I don't recommend the raw processor that came with your camera because it will take time to learn, and then won't work on any other brand of camera. (I have a mix of Canon, Olympus, and Nikon.) LR and PS handle all brands. I also don't recommend Aperture unless you know you will always use a Mac, all of your co-workers will use Macs, and anyone you ask for advice also uses a Mac (and Aperture). The Adobe community is much larger, and a larger community is more helpful. (I use LR and PS on a Mac.)
  5. IMHO, the key factor as Marc points out in his point #1 is that LR uses a non-destructive workflow. Plus, if you're doing large numbers of files, you need LR for its batch capabilities. If you're working on small numbers, then PS should be fine.
    There are tons of videos online on how to use PS. NAPP has some of the best.
  6. Jerry,
    PS and Bridge (which you have as well because it comes with PS) is actually more powerful than LR. I use all three.
    Ultimately what is better suited for your use should be dictated by the post work you are doing. For many jobs I don't leave LR, where I just have comparatively simple edits. For many jobs I need PS, for those times LR can't do the job.
    If I could only have one it would have to be PS and Bridge. If I could do all the editing I need in LR then I'd prefer to only use that.
    Bridge actually has some advantages over LR as an asset manager and there is no need to ever irrevocably edit your original image by only using PS to edit.
  7. My (digital workflow) life changed forever after I started using LR :) Gone were my days of seemingly endless slaving over each individual wedding photo, even after carrying out some initial filtering in Bridge. LR affords me an exponentially faster workflow than PS ever could.
    I use PS+Bridge when I want to run some specific batch actions that I've set up; watermarking, resizing for web, etc. or when I want to give a particular photo some added TLC...but by and large my primary editing tool is now LR. Within version 3, I have found the B&W conversion tools superior to PS's, so I now rarely (if ever) do any B&W conversions in PS. The tools for tonal range management are also more "eloquent" in LR, IMO.
  8. I use both, I prefer ACR to lightroom for RAW manipulation.
    I prefer, it's not even close, CS5 to lightroom for photo manipulation.
    Lightroom has it's place, it's a great catalog, it's light on the walletbook for RAW manipulation (same engine as ACR), but it's a musss less featureed environment.
  9. Scott, what are Bridge's advantages as an asset manager? (I've been using PS + Bridge for some time. Recently
    added LR and am still sorting out how they all fit together.)
  10. I find its strongest advantage is it "sees" everywhere you point it without importing. I can look through folders I don't want to import into my LR catalogue.
    Also I can dump huge folders onto my system and look through them much quicker. I also prefer the EXIF search capabilities, for instance, where do I use a 24-70 zoom most often, in Bridge that info is readily available at each mm of focal length, I can see it in LR, but not as a group only by lens and then looking at each image.
    Where I have graphics that are inside folders with mixed file extensions, I find Bridge does a much better job of giving me the info I want, besides I don't want mixed non photo folders within my LR image folder structure.
    As a pure 100% photo image cataloguing and library tool, LR is "better" than Bridge. If your work is only photos, the ease and efficiency of the LR workflow, even if you have do do some editing in PS, makes for a very efficient set up. If you can do a lot of your post processing in LR then it is well worth the money. Don't underestimate the amount of editing you can now do in LR either, it has become a very good photo adjusting and editing tool.
  11. If you Google™ this site, you will find all the arguments, ad nauseum.
    I personally agree with David Haas. The two tools differ in what their main function is and what is 'added-on' functionality for convenience.
    Photoshop is an image editor - that is what is was designed for from the start and that is what it is arguably the best in the world at. I wonder why they called it "PHOTOshop"? It is in fact a specialized tool with great, even immense, power.
    Lightroom, on the other hand, started out as a way of keeping track of a large number of images.
    Aperture is the Macintosh native equivalent, although there is a version of Lightroom for the Mac.
    If your needs in editing are modest, LR will certainly do as an image editor, but that's not why it exists.
  12. "If your needs in editing are modest, LR will certainly do as an image editor, but that's not why it exists."
    You need to keep up with the times JDM, LR has become a very powerful image editor with a plethora of available plugins to enhance functionality in almost any preferred area. I would say 60%, or more, of the time I don't leave LR. Heck you can even do layers in it now!
    Bridge was designed as a way of keeping track of large numbers of files too, the question is not really PS vs LR, it is PS + Bridge vs LR, that question is a lot more nuanced.
    Jerry's question is what additional functionality can he get from LR over his current PS + Bridge software. If he had no software I'd say get LR and PS Elements, as he has full PS and Bridge already LR offers very little extra for him.
    The best money he could spend is at, join there and watch some amazing tutorials on how best to utilise the software he has.
  13. Scott, good points. Thanks.
  14. Scott, on the other hand
    maybe your needs are modest by my standards, how do you know? I would guess this would be easier if we would avoid snide pokes.

    This has been threshed out time after time.
    The only reason I continue to join the fray is that so many Lightroom fanboys continue to push it as a complete replacement for Photoshop for beginners, which it is not.
    I have no objection to being enthusiastic about Lightroom, but it really isn't for everybody.
    I frankly think many people who do not have to manage a vast library of images would do better to begin learning the more powerful program by starting out with the nice, inexpensive Photoshop Elements (list $100US) and working their way up to the full Photoshop package ($600 and up) if needed, or to Lightroom ($300US) if they find management of their image files to be their major need.
    of them are available at amazing discounts if you are in education, of course.
    Gee, I guess Adobe only keeps Photoshop™ in their inventory to satisfy old fogies like me.
    I personally find Photoshop plus Bridge to be all I need, but I already had my images organized long before they were digital, so that worked for me.
  15. JDM,
    That is why in my first response I said "what is better suited for your use should be dictated by the post work you are doing".
    You might think I made a snide poke, I would say that as a long term user of one of the two solutions you are not as current as I am who is actively using both. Do I think my needs are modest by your standards? No, not in the slightest, you are a retired teacher/archaeologist, I am a middle aged professional who pays his mortgage with his camera! Don't forget I also said "60%, or more, of the time I don't leave LR", by inference that means around 40% of the time I have to, LR can't do all I need. But LR3 is not LR1, it has become a very capable image editor and I can do far far more in LR3 than I ever could in a well equipped newspaper darkroom.
    But I don't understand your picking on me, I also said "If I could only have one it would have to be PS and Bridge" which is exactly what you have. You just are not up to date with how good LR3 is, for regular photography it is plenty good enough as an editor to do almost everything most people will need.
    You said "The only reason I continue to join the fray is that so many Lightroom fanboys continue to push it as a complete replacement for Photoshop for beginners, which it is not." Funny really because I have never said that, even in this thread I said "If he had no software I'd say get LR and PS Elements, as he has full PS and Bridge already LR offers very little extra for him" I think you are tilting at the wrong windmill here my friend.
    Best wishes, Scott.
  16. As a long time Photoshop user (v. 3.05) and having recently added LR, I find that LR really doesn't offer me much. Virtually all of my images go into PS for the type of work I do. I suppose if I ever start shooing large blocks of frames where the same cookie-cutter global, batch adjustments can be applied then I may find LR to be more useful.
    The same goes for the database functions. I have about 20,000 images already categorized and keyworded, and, while LR is no doubt a powerful solution, in my case it's searching for a problem to solve.
    I am also highly pissed that LR cannot read or catalog PSD files unless one has saved them with Maximize Compatibility enabled (file bloat, anyone?) Given the huge number of legacy PSD files I possess, the idea that I'm going to open them all and resave them as PSD MaxComps or layered tiffs is a non-starter. I may migrate to the tiff format for future work, but that doesn't help me now.
    Maybe in six months I'll feel differently about LR. Right now, I find it anything but indispensable.
  17. The batch processing functions in PS are far more powerful than the ones in LR.
    Again "[for someone who] has full PS and Bridge already LR offers very little extra". If you have a non LR compatible library of 20,000 images I can't think of one good thing LR could do for you.
  18. I use LR as my default editor, even if I only have 12 images to process. I oly use Photoshop if I need to use layers, text, spot edit, or resize. I think of Photoshop as my 'mastering' program.
    Lightroom is faster and easier, and the fact that it shows you all the images at the bottom BEFORE you save your changes makes it much easier to get consistent images. Before I had LR, I would occassionally get a random darker or lighter image because I was editing from memory; that doesn't happen anymore, unless I want it to.
  19. Scott, I just erred in putting your name on the whole response. Only the first couple of lines referred to you specifically - and as you pointed out, your take on the situation is not so different from mine after all is said and done.
    Of course, you might be surprised what old, retired archaeology professors can do in Photoshop. You may pay your mortgage with it, but I have the leisure to play with it all day long when I want :)
    The rest of the message was specifically to the issue of what a beginner should do first.
  20. JDM,
    Please don't shatter my long held mental image of you, I don't want to think of you sitting in front of a computer, I want to think of you looking after all those film cameras, a far more satisfying thought. I'm wondering how long it will be before I have time to enjoy my modest collection of FD gear, all now unused but bought for work.
    Warm regards, Scott.
  21. And not only film cameras - When I'm doing what I still call professional travel --the difference now being that the IRS will no longer let me deduct it :( -- I nowadays mostly shoot digital. When I come home with many pictures, then comes the "Joy of Photoshop". :|
    Oh, and I am not "picking on you". I am disagreeing with you, sometimes. that's all.
  22. JDM,
    I agree with what your comment on the way to learn a set of tools. I started out with the full version of Elements 8 that came with my Printer and I used it to learn as much as I could. My personal choice was to then purchase Lightroom because I wanted something with more organizational qualities to it but I wasn't ready to spend all that cash on PS. I find I'm perfectly comfortable doing bulk edits and most of my work in Lightroom but having Elements helped me learn why the tools in Lightroom did what they do. Also it's nice to have those to revert to if I have one or two photos that need extra work or attention.
    It really is all about what you need for your style of shooting so I don't think there truly is a definitive answer.
  23. Lightroom when I'm processing hundreds of shots from an event. Select/reject. Prioritize. Color balance and crop. Most retouching. Render a set for proofs. Render another set for prints. Delete all files for the rejects. It's fabulous for this.
    Photoshop when I want the ultimate control for a specific image. Layers. Blend modes, manipulation. Too many to name. It's fabulous for this.
  24. If you are going to use PS (I have used a number of generations and currently have CS5) be prepared for a learning curve. PS is a very powerful program and it takes a significant effort to learn to use it well. I enjoy the post processing process and will frequently create numerous versions of the same image. As others have pointed out, PS changes the image. For that reason I save the PS image as a new version and retain the original image in its unaltered form.
  25. Both are photo editors, both are catalog programs. Lightroom allows you a greater flexability when it comes to choosing that one of two phots from hundreds and thousands photos you might have on your drive. A nice feature of lightroom that I don't think anyone has mentioned is the ability to choose and create photo presets. You don't even have to click on a preset to see how the photo will be affected, you only need to hover your mouse over it and see the effect right away in the preview window. You can now launch several programs while still in lightroom and when you are done editing the photo comes back to Lightroom (or a copy, depending how you choose it) ready for further editing.
    I do about 85-90% of all post work in Lightroom with other plug ins, and the rest (such as High Pass Filter which I love) in PS 5. Lightroom has evolved over the last few years, I have used all versions of it, and the new de-noise tool work great ( a feature that was not a part of the LR 1 asn LR 2). On the other hand PS 5 has now the content aware tools that make allow you to remove unwanted objects from photographs with much ease and mostly pretty accurate.
    To sum up, it you shoot 100 photos a week, you should be fine with PS 5, if you shoot 1000 photos a week, get Lightroom as well, you will then wonder how you managed with out it.
  26. I downloaded the trial LR version 3 but did not get the hang of it. I am so used to ARC and I have not been very efficecient at mass processing. May be somebody can point out a better way with LR. Here is the way I do it with ARC:
    1. I grab let says fifty RAW files of the same shooting to PS. In ARC, I do the "select all"
    2. Make adjustment for unsharp mask, noise treatments, recovery, saturation, etc... this affects all fifty files selected.
    3. I go to each of fifty files and make final adjustment for exposure mostly and then other noise treatments if need to (most of the time don't have to because of same shooting settings).
    4. When I am done, I do the "select all" again and then do "save all"; sit back and do something else until all saving is completed.
    Does this sounds like it can be improve in LR? please advise...
  27. In lightroom, you process your first file, then select all the files, right click--->develep setting-->and I don't remember the exact item on the menu, I don't have LR in front of me , but it something like apply setting to all. A box will pop up and there you will have all setting that you have done to first picture checked, hit Ok and then you are done. I would suggest, and so does Adobe and number of books, that you start your adjustments on the top of the menu with WB, Exposure and so on in that order...

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