Photoshop Lightroom vs Elements

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by steven_sherwin, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. Just after some advice from members who currently use or have used the above software.
    I am just wondering which of the two software systems is the best to start with for someone like me who knows nothing about photo software (I have been shooting film for nearly 20 years). Primarily I shoot b&w and want to continue to do so with the digital camera I bought recently. Thank you.
  2. lightroom will be best if you shoot a lot of images. . . if you dont and you like PS, and the way it operates you might be better off with the $50 PSE program over $300 LR . . .
  3. Not the question you asked, but Gimp is excellent and free. The learning curve is not as steep as it was a few years back. Excellent video podcasts can be found at . Maybe give that a try to find how much functionality you want and need out of your PP software. It might help you make a more informed buying decison, or you might just be happy enough with the Gimp.
  4. I have used PS Elements 7 and more recently have been trying the Lightroom 3 beta, which is available for free download (this will expire when the new product is launched, probably in the next month or two).
    I think you'll find Lightroom a better tool to work with if you shoot RAW files and intend to get quite deeply involved in post processing. Elements tends to be more hand-holding in its approach and makes it easy for you to use selected presets to make changes.
    There are also plugins that can be bought for Lightroom (I don't know if they work for Elements) that give you the capability to emulate the characteristics of different silver emulsions (e.g. Silver Efex), but these can also be quite expensive (more than the price of Elements).
  5. I have the older version of Lightroom, so maybe these statements won't be accurate. Lightroom is excellent for Raw conversion, organizing and saturation and tonal adjustments. My version doesn't allow for working in layers and doesn't have many of the tools I use frequently in PS like: layers, selection tools, Clone stamp, Eraser tool and many manipulation tools, of which many of them are included in Elements too. Lightroom is a very nice program and for what I do, I feel I need both as they are very different tools.
  6. david_henderson


    I'd imagine there's a lot of people for whom they wouldn't be alternatives. Elements isn't going to help you organise and catalogue your stuff, and there's no time to decide how you want to organise and identify your photographs than when you don't have many and can change your mind relatively easily. The other thing Elements won't do is to allow you to edit non destructively.
    On the other hand, even after editing in Lightroom I invariable find theres something I need or want to change in Photoshop before I'm ready to get a print made, put it on a website or whatever. Some of the editing tools in the PS versions just seem easier to use and work a little differently to the tools in LR. My strategy is to take things as far as I can in LR then export to a pixel editor.
    So I think your question should be "Do I need LR and Elements, or do i really need LR and PS proper?" Unless your needs are specifically for features found only on full Photoshop, then I'd suggest Elements rather than PS.
    Incidentally I like Lightrooms b&w conversion better than Photoshops though there are lots of other programmes to plug into either that make things pretty easy too.
  7. This is a rather non-specific answer.
    Get (MORE) than you think you will need. If you purchase a program with only the minimums in mind; you may find it collecting dust in a year or so as your PP requirements will no doubt change.
    Many photographers agree there is not yet a "one size fits all" post processing program.
    Some programs do certain things better than others.
    I believe most photographers (at least those serious about it) use at least (2) different programs for their needs.
  8. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this an apple/oranges comparison?
    It seems that PSE is an amateur photo editing program and Lightroom is a professional photo management tool with some non-destructive raw editing capability, and a tight integration with Photoshop CS4.
    Wouldn't a comparison of Camera Raw and/or Bridge with Lightroom be more apt? I don't have Lightroom because of my understanding that is mostly for portfolio management for professionals who need to keep track of large numbers of images, etc, and for that, (cataloging and retrieval of photos, et al) Bridge along with ACR is sufficient for me.
  9. elements has a simple organizational/catalog feature that works well for small collections of images.

    I think the reason to go with LR is if you shoot a lot and need the features of LR. If you dont, it's not worth learning a new program (particularly the part that you have to learn in order to use it) that you wont really take full advantage of. . . catalog, organizing and exporting . . .

    If you can afford both, that would be the way to go. . . I'm a full time pro and i NEVER use PS4 but on occasionally use PSE for a few simple things. . . ON the other hand, i'd be a wreck without LR but constantly sorting and adding images so for me the processing power of LR is the key . . . otherwise i would not have taken the time to develop a completely new and different way of thinking about image management and storage, which you will HAVE to do with LR. . .
  10. LR and PSE are too different tools, with some overlapping functionality.
    LR is really a workflow management tool that also does an excellent job at light editing. PSE is a stripped-down version of PS, and PSE is an amazing at heavy duty editing. I use both and find that LR covers 95% of my needs. My recommendation is to start with LR and see if that gives you enough. LR works seamlessly with PSE so you can easily add on PSE later on. With digital photos, you'll find that you take a lot more pictures compared to print, and it is crucial that you have a workflow for how you manage those images. LR provides that out of the box.
  11. One last thing - if you have a student in your immediate family (spouse, son, or daughter), you are eligible for a student discount, which is quite substantial on LR. I purchased LR for less than $100. Of course, for now, you can download the LR3 beta for free (I'm not sure when that ends)
  12. To expand a little on barry's comment:
    Lightroom is a image management program, with a few image-editing things built in to make it possible to do simple things without leaving one program and going to another. Many people find its tools adequate for the relatively slight editing they do. However, the heaviest users of something like Lightroom or Aperture, are also going to be working in Photoshop as well.
    Photoshop is the most powerful image-editing program. Learning it is a never ending-process, and not the least advantage of Photoshop Elements is that it starts you on that learning experience.
    If you name your files with meaningful names, use folders (sub-directories) sensibly, and so on, image management is not so important unless you are shooting commercially. Many of us find even the simple tools for management in Adobe Bridge to be adequate for our elementary management tasks; and this is so for me, although I have over 50 years of images to keep track of. Since I am not selling images commercially, I don't need complex management tools.
  13. The other thing Elements won't do is to allow you to edit non destructively.​
    Could someone expand on this comment? Does this mean that once editing changes to an image are confirmed they cannot be undone? Thanks
  14. Of course, PS Elements is "destructive" if you don't keep your original file intact and save a changed copy back to the original file name and location. Just use "save as" as you go along, and you can have as many states of editing as you want with any program.
  15. david_henderson


    The benefit of Lightroom in the area of non-destructive editing is that you see listed each and every change you have made to the original file and at any time you can go back to any point of your choosing. No need to save copies, no need to make and save multiple layers. No clogging up your computer with copies and layers in an attempt to create lots of "going back" options.
    That said, as I've indicated some of the tools in LR aren't IMO as useful as those in PS. Certainly cleaning and cloning are things that I'd much rather do in PS/Elements than in Lightroom which sis why I contend that for me anyway neither LR nor PS/Elements is complete as a standalone image organiser/editor.
  16. Steven
    I may not be as tech savy as the above responders but I too have been asking myself your question these last couple of weeks and here is what I have done. Got the beta version of LR 3 (years ago I bought LR 1.4 but never did anything with it). Then I was looking at someone's blog who turned me on to LR "presets". I have spent so much time in the last 2 days sitting and my computer and playing that my back is killing me but I can't pull myself away. I have been going through some RAW files (even the ones that I thought were so so) and applying these presets and I'm blown away. I too LOVE black and white so I have been turning my average color shots into amazing B&W's. You wouldn't believe the number of presets available for free. Try this website for yourself:
    12 Black & White film emulation presets for Kodak B&W films! | PresetsHeaven
    That is just one set of many but it will give you the look of all types of old Kodak film types, Tmax, Tri-X, Plus-X, you name it. There are ones for Fuji, Ilford and a ton of custom ones that people have gone through the painstaking time to create themselves and then everyone just shares them for free. Another of my favorites are the ones that will turn color shots into that old look of color film from back in the 60's-70's. These are fun as well and all of the sudden you sort of have the William Eggleston look on whatever you choose. Also, after you've applied the preset you can also make a few of your own adjustments for example, if you like a little more contrast than what the preset gave you, tweak it. There are SO many of these freebies out there that I haven't begun to discover them all. I just love B&W so I got stuck on those these last few days.
    Everything I'm suggesting so far is FREE (until of course, the beta runs out on LR3). I am NOT a computer guy at all but even I have figured out this little bit on my own and I'm having so much fun tweaking photos. The only caveat with these presets is they are developed to work with RAW images for the most part. They will work on a jpg but RAW is where they shine.
    Good luck, you could have alot of fun with this and then make a decision down the line on LR3.
  17. thanks to all for your advice - most helpful

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