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As the Adobe suite of tools grows larger, many would-be photographers have asked us at LIoP the question, Lightroom vs Photoshop? The reality is, both programs have advantages and disadvantages which will depend on the type of photographer you are and what you need the software to do. As the younger, lighter program, Lightroom has an ease which can be highly beneficial for those just starting out, but most professional photographers know that Photoshop is the most important tool in their arsenal for achieving the perfect picture.
Primarily an image management suite, Lightroom (full name Adobe Photoshop Lightroom) was introduced to the Adobe family of software in 2006 as a simpler photo editing tool with a lot more focus on workflow management. Unlike Photoshop, Lightroom makes databases of all your photos and makes navigating a large number of images much easier through stronger search functions and categorisation.
Lightroom is able to pull data automatically on each image, including date and time of capture, camera make and model, resolution and much more. This makes it easier to organise a set of photos all at the same time and extra functions like flags, stars and keywords allow for even more detailed collections.
While these are all functions you won’t find on Photoshop, Lightroom has far weaker image editing abilities. There are still plenty of editing options in Lightroom, but for more detailed or larger editing activity, you’ll need the help of Photoshop.
The most powerful and well-known image editing software in the world, Photoshop is so widely used to edit images that the verb ‘to Photoshop’ is part of our everyday language. Although initially a simple image editing software in 1988, Photoshop has now developed into a full editing suite used by photographers, animators and graphic designers.
Because of this, the range of techniques editors can use is vast and can often be overwhelming for the uninitiated. However, if you want to remove objects, remove skin blemishes or alter the shape and size of elements, Photoshop is unparalleled.
Photoshop is a pixel-level editor, allowing complete control over every inch of each image. This means that only one picture can be worked on at a time, making the editing process for a large range of images a time-consuming process. This and the fact that it’s often a destructive image editor can make working with Photoshop more disorganised and difficult to manage.
To have a more organised workflow when using Photoshop, it’s often necessary to use Adobe Bridge alongside it, whereas both editing and organisation happen in the same program in Lightroom.
Photoshop and Lightroom are often used together as part of a photographers editing process, but for those just starting out, picking out the best software to start with is a good idea.
Advantages of Lightroom over Photoshop include:
While Lightroom may be suitable for beginners, Photoshop is still a vital tool in the professional photographer’s arsenal.
Advantages of Photoshop over Lightroom include:
Because it’s a much stronger tool, Photoshop should basically be used whenever things can’t be edited in Lightroom. Whether this is due to much more detailed or complex edits, the need for HDR editing or removing objects completely, the strength and speed of Photoshop makes these tasks much easier than Lightroom.
However, as previously, mentioned there is no ‘Lightroom vs Photoshop’, as these tools work best when used together. Lightroom is effective at creating a simplified workflow when editing large groups of pictures, but each image in Lightroom can easily be edited in Photoshop as you go along. Using both tools in synergy will allow any aspiring photographer to get the best of both products and create more sophisticated and polished images.
Additionally, Adobe no longer sells retails versions of Lightroom and Photoshop, instead offering both as part of their Creative Cloud Suite, which costs £10 per month. This means that, for those who sign up, there’s no need to make the choice!
While Lightroom is a simpler version of Photoshop, it can still be a steep learning curve for new editors. Check out our Lightroom and Photoshop courses to see how LIoP can help you gain a better understanding of both tools.