Photoshop Versus Lightroom Which is Right for You?

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As a photographer, whether it be professional or hobbyist, you have several skill sets to juggle and many hats to wear; you’ll need to be an artist when composing your photo’s scene, technically proficient with your camera and settings, and in the case of professionals, an adept businessperson who can maintain a business and satisfy clients consistently.

Lightroom versus photoshop

One of the most important roles you play as a photo enthusiast is that of image editor. Rarely do our images come straight out of the camera exactly as we had envisioned, so before release we are required to put our shots through the post-processing phase; this is where our raw photos are enhanced, adjusted, toned, and sharpened to give us the final image we want to deliver.

Although we have many tools at our disposal these days to help us through this phase of processing, the industry juggernaut has undoubtedly been Adobe Photoshop since its first version’s release in 1990. The software has been used by amateurs and professionals alike year after year, and is considered an essential part of most photographer’s toolboxes.

Through the following years, and the popularity surge of digital photography, Adobe realized the need for a tool more targeted for photographers, and in 2007, released Lightroom. This workflow-centric and management software has become incredibly popular in its own right, and maintains a massive following in today’s industry.

Post processing poll 2013 dPS

Click to see more on the survey results

So the obvious question is, as a photographer, which software package do you need? Both titles are excellent and carry their own strengths and weaknesses, so let’s drill down and examine them in a bit more detail to discover which one is right for you!

What we require in post-processing software

Rarely do we get a perfect result in camera that allows us to bypass the post-processing workflow, and even then, some editing is almost always required to prepare the photo for different mediums.

Generally, photos will need to be altered in size, adjusted for exposure and contrast, edited for blemishes or other imperfections, and possibly toned or have their appearance altered through filters, presets or other means. The file then needs to be exported in its final format, ready for the client, printing, or for web use.

Photoshop’s strengths

  • Pixel-level editing – images created or opened in Photoshop are comprised of pixels, which are the small physical points in a raster image, and are the smallest addressable elements in a photo. The software allows for editing even at this tiny level, meaning limitless manipulation is possible. Raster and vector images can be created from scratch.
  • Layers – Photoshop allows for multiple layers to be stored within a master file, meaning that you can keep different images or edits on separate layers, and then hide, modify or enhance any of those layers independently.
    3a

    Photoshop’s layers

    4a

    Layer blending modes in Photoshop

  • Actions  – an extremely useful feature, actions allow manipulation steps to be chained together and recorded, letting you recreate an entire editing process with a click of the mouse.
  • Compositing and blending – because of the ability to layer components within an image, it is possible to blend those layers together in unique ways. Masking allows you to protect specific parts of the photo from any adjustments being made down to the pixel level, simply by painting out the area you’d like to keep.
  • Huge toolbox – each progressive release of Photoshop seems to bring more and more useful tools into the mix. From content-aware filling, reducing camera shake effects, photo filters, and automatic panoramic image stitching, there is a tool for almost every task a photographer would need.
5

Photoshop Actions

Photoshop’s weaknesses

  • Steeper learning curve – with great power comes… a steep learning curve. Although you have a massive array of tools at your disposal, mastering them is something that takes time and practice.
  • No built-in RAW editing – unlike Lightroom’s native ability to manipulate RAW files directly from your camera, Photoshop must rely on a plugin like ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) or something similar in order to import and modify these files.
  • No image management – Photoshop is built from the ground up to be a powerful image creation and editing tool. Although there are batch import and export tools available to make some aspects of the process easier, there isn’t a fully-recognized  built-in management or workflow system for photographers.
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Adobe Camera Raw must be used for processing RAW files in Photoshop

Lightroom’s strengths

9

Built-in RAW processing in Lightroom

  • Built-in RAW editing – no plugin required! Lightroom natively accepts RAW files straight from your camera, and allows all of the editing you’d expect from within the software.
  • Image management and workflow centric – Lightroom was born from the desire to give photographers something better to manage their photo libraries with.  The entire program is based on creating a solid, consistent workflow that will help you make the most of the post-processing phase.

    8

    Lightroom’s image management system

  • Simple and easy to use – since Lightroom doesn’t have the huge toolbox found in Photoshop, there is MUCH less to learn. Everything from the tools available, to the interface itself, is simple and easy to manipulate.
  • Presets – a photographer’s dream; imagine having the ability to string together exposure levels, contrast, and toning, and then save those to a handy file. Then imagine you can have unlimited variances of these, and apply them to any photo with a click of the mouse. Welcome to Lightroom’s presets! Photographers around the world share these online as well, giving you limitless potential options for your photo’s look and feel.
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The power of Lightroom’s Presets

Lightroom’s weaknesses

  • No advanced editing tools – because Lightroom wasn’t intended as a full-on raster editor, most of the editing functions Photoshop users take for granted are not present here. With the exception of a few basic tools, you’ll want to use Photoshop in situations where heavy image editing is necessary.
  • No layer management – the powerful layer system in Photoshop is non-existent as well. Effects and modifications can be stacked on an image, but there is no real separation of image segments or any ability to use blending modes.
  • Photos only – again, Lightroom is intended as a workflow system for photographers, meaning you’ll only be able to import existing photos and modify them; there are no raster or vector image creation tools to be found here as there are in Photoshop. Lightroom is assuredly one-track minded.

 

Adobe Creative Cloud logotype with icon RGB vertical

Creative Cloud and pricing models

Up until fairly recently, Photoshop would have had one additional disadvantage compared to Lightroom, and that would be price. In the past, purchasing Photoshop could set you back $400 to $900, depending on the version and any discounts you could use.  Comparatively, Lightroom could be had for less than $100. The huge up front cost made buying Photoshop outright a financial strain for budding photographers on a slim budget.

Those days are gone, thanks to Adobe’s awesome cloud and subscription program. As of the last release, all of Adobe’s main products have been converted to cloud-based programs and are all rooted in the new Creative Cloud subscription model. Generally, $20 per month will give you unlimited access to one Adobe title, such as Photoshop or Lightroom, and ample cloud storage, enabling you access to your files regardless of where you were. $50 per month will give you access to Adobe’s entire Creative Cloud suite, which is quite a deal.

This year, however, Adobe unveiled their Photography Program, and if you haven’t already gotten involved, you might want to take a look. For less than $10 per month, Adobe gives you Photoshop CC AND Lightroom CC, along with the aforementioned cloud storage. It’s an unbeatable deal, and eliminates the need to pick and choose which image program to use.

Which one is right for you?

Since pricing is no longer an issue, the choice as to which program to use for your photography work comes down to what is most important to you.

Use Lightroom if…

You value a smooth clean workflow more than infinite control over the editing of your images. Having said that, Lightroom is no slouch when it comes to processing photos, and you can recreate almost any look using the controls available to you in this software.

The presets provide an endless array of styles, and thousands more are available on the internet. Lightroom’s clean, efficient interface will allow you to process those multiple wedding or portrait shots quickly and consistently, and make managing all of those photos simpler than you could have imagined.

Use Photoshop if…

You need more control over your images. Photoshop can do it all, but of course the cost of that is a higher learning curve. Quick presets are not what the program does best; instead, it offers complete image editing with masks, layers, and a multitude of other tools, giving you all of the options you could ever need.

At the end of the day…

BOTH titles can be an integral part of the post-processing workflow.  Like anything else they both have strengths and weaknesses.  Fortunately, with Adobe’s wonderful new Creative Cloud subscription model, you can enjoy both programs, and employ the advantages of each within your workflow, without breaking your bank.

For more information and tutorials on both programs check out these dPS articles:

Read more from our Post Production category

Tim Gilbreath is a natural light photographer, writer, designer and musician with a love for nature and the outdoors. He's also a retro/pop culture aficionado, and although he was born and raised in Houston, Texas, he has called the Florida west coast his home for the last 13 years.

  • JvW

    Let’s say I go for the Adobe CC Very Special Only For You Offer Ends August 31 of $9.99 per month, or 9.99 euros a month ($13.38, why?) and stop paying after a year. By then I’ve paid $119.88 or 119.88 euros ($160.64) and I have nothing, and the cloud closes. Or I continue, but what is it going to cost me then, special offer?
    Just for example, Paintshop Pro Ultimate would cost me less than 100 dollars/euros, and would still work after a year. After two years too, as long as I want. While reading the advertisement above and the blurb on the Corel site tells me that Paintshop Pro has all that Adobe CC has.
    A professional photographer can deduct the cost of the Adobe subscription while an amateur can’t. She or he pays every month, rents, it never becomes their property and stops working if they stop paying.
    Of course, Adobe is a great product, industry standard for professionals and all that, but I think it would be a great service if someone really reviewed the also rans for the amateur, instead of pushing Adobe like everyone else.
    Just my $0.02 or .02 euros ($.03) in Adobeland.

  • Keith Starkey

    My problem with Photoshop is that it’s really written with graphic artists in mind; that is, the nomenclature is something trained graphic artists will know and understand as well as those who aren’t “graphic artists,” but have a natural aptitude for that kind of stuff. If Photoshop were written along the lines of Lightroom’s layman approach (which I don’t know if that would have been possible), Lightroom would never have been needed, other than for image managment.

    So when I looked at Photoshop, I thought, “There’s no way on God’s green earth that I can ever learn this, much less remember what I learn,” and that put me out of the game, period. When I looked at Lightroom, I thought, “Holy processing, Batman! This is written for people like me: a plain, ol’ joe (though even graphic artists can use it and make it sing).

    Finally, yeah, it would be nice to learn a handful of Photoshop tricks that can really help a photographer, but in the long run, I have no desire to doctor up my images enough to justify either the time or the cost. For some, yeah, they need what Photoshop can offer a photographer, but for folk like me, I’d rather just use Lightroom.

    Just my .02 cents (I’m really broke!)

  • Amaryllis

    I don’t like CC. Period. I think it’s dumb to have me pay for something like that continuously. I bought CS5 for school three years ago. 350$ in Canadian dollars because it was for students, and that’s it. No 240$ a year for ONE program. 350$ for Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and other programs I don’t even use. And it still works now, and I don’t pay for it anymore. So I think it doesn’t matter that CC is ‘less expensive’ now, in the end you pay more if you want to keep it.

    That said, I personally use LightRoom for the quick RAW editing that it allows you to do. I don’t believe in heavy image processing, for a photo at least. For graphic design, sure, but not for photography. I do know how to use Photoshop though and it’s excellent only if you actually need the editing tools, to whiten teeth for example.

  • Etpan

    Thanx for this article and for the poll, it is very interesting. I’m surprised that Capture One and DXO are in “Other”, I would have thought they are more used.
    Your list of strenghts and weaknesses seem complete. I have just 2 comments:
    You begin the article with “As a photographer, …” and then say as weakness that Lightroom is “Photo only”… so it’s not a weakness, isn’t it?
    Second comment, like other said, I don’t share your mind when you say that the new cloud/rent offer “is an unbeatable deal”: personnaly I absolutely don’t need Photoshop. I use Lightroom for 99.5% of my pictures, and Gimp for some very rare exceptions. So I don’t see why I would pay the double price for this offer compared to the “old” lifetime licence program.

  • Fair enough, many feel the same way especially non-pros. As for whiten teeth, FYI I do that in LR! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just use the adjustment brush in a small size, set to increase the exposure a little, highlights +, and saturation down. You have to play with the numbers a bit and I usually paint at 30% flow. I do eyes the same way – but VERY subtle, no vampire eyes. And a sparkle to the iris of the eye be increasing shadows +, saturation +, and clarity +. Try it!

  • Jon-Michael Moses

    This is comparing apples and oranges, compare photoshop and Corel. Or, Lightroom and Aperture, or even Bridge. Photoshop is a digital developer and Lightroom is a digital media manager they are different and that is why Adobe offers them together. I feel as though you are confusing people who might be new to the digital workflow. They need to have both of these types of programs, whether they get them from adobe or someone else. I should have known the author is a little behind the curb when he advertises himself as a “natural light photographer.” I’ve never seen un-natural light, there is available light and supplemental light.

  • Then LR is perfect for you! It’s my program of choice 95% of the time too. I jump to PS if I need to add text, do something with layers, or do some really advanced retouching which isn’t often.

  • That is why they still offer LR as a purchase stand alone product – https://www.adobe.com/ca/products/photoshop-lightroom.html – upgrades are only $79.99 USD so pretty reasonable if you only do that say every 2 years.

  • I’m with you there, as well!

  • Absolutely, sounds like LR is made for you! It definitely has workflow-centric advantages on its side.

  • You are correct, they are different. But on a basic level, they can serve similar purposes, would you not agree? It is entirely possible to perform basic modifications to a RAW file using Lightroom exclusively, and have your efforts result in a finished product. In fact, many people do this without the use of Photoshop.

    Incidentally, if you Google “Natural Light Photographer”, you will be find countless references to natural light, and how it is utilized in photography; it’s not a term I created on the fly. If you are using studio lighting indoors, that is not natural light. It is artificial, that is the distinction I’m making.

  • Jon-Michael Moses

    That’s the point they serve different purposes, and a beginner needs to understand that difference. I use Lightroom and Aperture everyday in my workflow, but they are the start of the workflow, photoshop is used like a digital developer-the darkroom. I would not compare them since they are both necessary to be successful in digital photography. A photographer needs a cataloging & Raw converter (Lightroom) and then Photoshop, a pixel manipulation software. If anyone really wants to learn about this go to asmp.org and learn about digital workflow and save time and money. They should be encourage to use both types of software, not necessarily from Adobe.

    Natural light might be common but inaccurate and creates false perceptions in beginners. You can equally search google and find just as many articles. A photographer needs to always understand they manipulate light to create their images. Sometimes this is in the camera or like Ansel Adams, in the camera and the darkroom.

    All light is natural no matter if it create by a electric bulb or the chemical reaction of our solar system’s start.

  • Keith Starkey

    Personally, I don’t see the difference between apples and oranges being the issue, since, it seems, that most professional photographers who use Lightroom only need Photoshop for about five percent of the work (this apart from image management.) This wouldn’t be the case if the programs as polarized as night and day.

    In reality, Photoshop is much more than just for photographers, but Lightroom is for photographers. Additionally, not every photograph at the professional level has to be photoshopped. Amazing photographs are sometimes very raw in their adjustments.

  • freeopinions

    Well, I have been using Photoshop since version 3.0, when they also said it was too hard to learn, (I learned the basics from a book in a week ) and I have been using it for photography ever since. Using the Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) has never been a problem or a drawback for me. They automatically install right along with Photoshop, are completely integrated, and work seamlessly. Bridge is a cataloging program, not a database like Lightroom, but it has a search function, assignable keywords, and is linked to ACR so that you can open and edit any raw file without ever knowing you are using a “plugin.” ACR is of course the same engine used in Lightroom, so the editing of raw files in either is the same experience.

    As for the subscription thing and the Cloud, I’d much rather have a perpetual license, aka ‘the old way’ and pay once for upgrades that I think I need, rather than paying every month for the rest of my life, or having to forego upgrades; but for $10 a month I can handle it for now. It’s about corporate greed first and foremost, and making the most money for the least amount of service to the customer. I don’t respect that, but as an individual I can’t change it, and I feel that the myriad of things I can do with Photoshop above and beyond just applying oh-so-clever special effects with a click is worth the price of admission, at least until it becomes too much of a financial burden.

    Anyway, Lightroom is now included at no extra charge in the Photographer’s package along with Photoshop and Bridge, so if I decide that there is any advantage to using it, and since the “learning curve” is so easy, I can always do that, right?

  • Khaz

    I’ve always been under the impression that LR is for the weak. Recently I’ve been been… binge shooting.. I am feeling weakened from having to process hundreds of exposures and contracted pixelitus. It’s like neurological color noise in my vision.

    Do you think LR may help my photo sickness? I’m nervous about changing medications because of withdrawal symptoms. Missing sliders, vital habitual options, etc. but I can’t quit taking pictures cold turkey. I’m taking bracketed shots of my cats head right now over and over just to stay fixed. I know I’m going to just merge them all to HDR PRO because it’s part of my problem.

    I need to know, can LR help me through this tough time?!

  • Craig Crowder

    I definitely fall in the Lightroom group. And, Photoshop is an amazing tool. But I have problems with the Adobe licensing model. The current pricing structure is not too bad, in fact, it’s pretty good. But I could see that changing at any moment. The bottom line is that I don’t like the idea of renting the software on a month to month basis. Most of my friends reply that there really is no choice. But the fact is, there are choices.

    There’s a product called Darktable, which has a very similar look and feel to Lightroom. It’s free, and open source, and will import XMP files. Further, GIMP is a very capable tool for post processing. Currently, it’s only capable of 8 bits per channel. But the next release will include 16, 24, and 32 bit per channel capability. And, it’s capable of layering, Content Aware repair, and is set up for non-destructive editing.

    As a result, I use Lightroom as my primary tool for post processing. If I need to do something that requires layering, I use either GIMP or Photoshop. In the event that I need to shift away from Lightroom and Photoshop, I can export my settings to XMP files, and use Darktable combined with GIMP. While not every thing that’s saved in an XMP file will cross over into Darktable, some development settings will, and all of my categories will. So, I can recreate my database of photographs fairly quickly.

    Dark table only runs on Linux and Mac OS. GIMP will run on Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.

    So, right now my primary development tool is Lightroom. GIMP, or Photoshop, is my secondary. And finally, Darktable is my fallback option in the event that Adobe screws us over with their licensing model.

  • Becky Poirier

    I don’t want to use the “cloud ” or pay a monthly fee. I am a hobbiest. I purchased both Lightroom and Photoshop CS5 a while ago ..I went to update the photoshop on my laptop so I could take a class and am having trouble doing so..will they support the programs already purchased?

  • freeopinions

    People have been making the argument that there is “something just as good as Photoshop” for nearly 25 years. They then usually go on to say that their “just as good” app doesn’t do this or that, but there are workarounds, or it’s coming soon, or you don’t really need that. I’ve tried most of them, including GIMP, and I know that there’s a reason that Photoshop is the industry standard.

  • Capixaba

    Lightroom = Bridge + ACR
    Photoshop has both and is even better, faster, & complete
    I’m sorry….

  • Barry E Warren

    Nice read and info, I have lightroom 5.3 which is ideal for some of the work I do. But not into paying someone or something to store my photo’s. I am ,and so is everyone else capable of storing there own on hard drives, memory cards etc. etc.etc.you can take them with you where ever you may go. Most of the time I will use windows 8 photo editor just to add a little to the photo I took. The majority say 98% come out of the camera the way I want them. Take the time and set the camera up to get it right.

  • Fred

    I use both Lightroom and CS . Both have a place in my workflow. Now my only grip is with Adobe’s business plan to use a subscription based model for updates to LR and CS. Many photographers ( that I know) don’t want to use this service, we have always had the option to purchase an update when we need the improved version. Oh well guess I will look at other image processing tools when my current versions cannot be used because of changes in technology ie operating systems, new cameras, etc.

    JMHO

    Fred

  • jb

    as a chemist I have to say that any type of light that is used to ajust or improve sth is artificial. the only natural source of light is the sun. In a chemical reaction you can control the time and intensity of light by adding or removing reagents. If I’m right and my textbook was allow to published, by using a large filament of tungsten certanly it will issue more light than a short one. On the other hand, the sun gives the same amount of light every single day and it is only affected by clouds giving a natural light more or less intensy. If you are able to make a chemical reaction that will issue light forever, it might be called natural and earn a Nobel prize afterwords. Remember that even radioative elements have a time to reduce its light issued.

  • RealityCheck

    $9.99 per month? I’ve been struggling to pay the $50.00 per month since signing up for the single user business plan. I have been paying that since the monthly subscription plan was first unveiled. Is Adobe really going to let my one person small photography operation convert that to the “photographers plan” for 1/5th the price?

  • Andria

    The monthly charge cloud option sounds like a ripoff especially if you already have a photoshop version to upgrade at half the cost of a new buy. At 20 dollars a month, they get 200 dollars every 10 months instead of the one off 200 dollar payment for an upgrade. Also I want to keep my images on my own equipment not put them on someone else’s storage where they can be accessed by other people. Don’t try to tell me that this doesn’t happen, I’m a computer consultant and this necessitates access to data in whatever form.

  • Karen Quist

    Why is there always someone who feels the need to make negative comments and get so personal? I think this is a great article, and I wish I’d read it before installing both programs. Photoshop does my head in, and Lightroom serves over 90% of my photographic needs, although I’d like to master some of Photoshop’s editing tools. especially when editing portraits of mature subjects. Thanks, Tim.

  • Thank you for reading and the comments Karen ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hi Andria…you’re right, any cloud-based system is susceptible to intrusion; and the cloud-based image storage isn’t mandatory to use the software, so you can definitely choose not to use it.

  • They did for me…although I had the single program subscription. I was allowed to “upgrade” to the Photographer Plan, and get the PS/LR bundle at $9.99 per month.

  • I’m on that train with you Fred; both pieces of software have a place in my routine as well, that’s why I’m really loving the Photographer plan Adobe has created. It’s not for everyone, of course.

  • Thanks Barry! Sounds like you’re already setup for what you need. And great point….get it right in-camera, reduce the need for extra processing later.

  • Yes Becky, they will, but of course, all software has an end-of-life, so at some point, you’d need to make a decision moving forward.

  • Alot of people share that view it seems, Craig. And it’s a valid point. We know the internet world is going the way of cloud-based solutions, so it wasn’t too surprising for Adobe to go this route.

  • LR is definitely the less-involved choice for your workflow. Once you have your presets the way you want them, and familiarize yourself with the adjustment options available, processing becomes a breeze.

    I feel your pain, sometimes using LR feels TOO “simplistic”, as if I’m cheating on Photoshop. But give it a try, sometimes a little simplicity is just what the doctor ordered ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Absolutely, now that they are bundled for ten bucks per month, there’s no excuse not to learn both and use each for its own strengths.

  • Thanks for reading!

    I say that from a digital graphics point of view; I didn’t start as a photographer, I’ve been a digital media designer and web developer for 18 years as well. I was making the point that a weakness for LR (and a strength for PS) was the fact that Photoshop allows you to create raster images from scratch, as well as modify those images; it’s the industry tool for creating web-ready graphics. LR simply wasn’t made for that purpose.

    Again, I appreciate the comments ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I think we’ll just agree to disagree. I appreciate you reading and getting involved ๐Ÿ™‚

  • For those who can’t afford the Photoshop/Lightroom prices (or who would rather not pay), you could consider the alternatives of Gimp/RawTherapee – both free.

  • Craig Crowder

    Well, I have both and I use GIMP. In a lot of ways, I find it to be preferable. The real barrier for photographers is that it’s 8 bit limited. So, this is not a confrontational push back or a troll, I’m just offering information.

  • Craig Crowder

    The point is, that if photographers thinning that there is no other option, that’s bad. If Adobe thinks that there’s is no other option, that could be terrible, in light of this licensing model. So, when do you realize it or not, programs like GIMP and Darktable serve two functions in the photography community. First, they are a viable option to Adobe’s commercial products. And secondarily, but providing choice and competition, they keep Adobe’s prices in line.

    Anyway, Tim, your point is well made it. Cloud licensing may be the way of the future. Personally, I’m not convinced that it has to be this way. This will only be a viable option for Adobe as long as we, the purchasers, are willing to put up with it.

  • You’re absolutely right about that Craig. There are definitely alternatives to Adobe’s offerings, and I agree, that can only be a good thing for everyone.

  • Great post – I love both Photoshop and LR, I also love Capture One Pro. So when I’m shooting tethered with 35mm I use LR. When I’m shooting tethered with my Phase one digi back I use COP. Then I use Photoshop for all my final edits and compositing with layers.

  • freeopinions

    It never occurred to me to take you for confrontational or a troll, and if Gimp works for you, use it in good health. But you just proved my point in your reply: “The real barrier for photographers is that it’s 8 bit limited.

    If and when the day comes that I can’t justify paying monthly for Photoshop, I’ll look into something else. At my age, who knows how much longer I’ll be doing anything…

  • Saint Telemachus

    I love GIMP for image manipulation, but how could one use it for photo processing considering its small color palette?

  • Steve

    Great write up Tim! I originally purchased LR as a stand-alone app but have since gone with Adobe’s photographer CC package to gain access to PS. I use LR as my image management system (images stored/archived locally) and for my image exporting needs, especially adding copyright info, watermarking, keywording, editing EXIF data, etc. When I had to replace my long time vendor for online image sales I was pleasantly surprised how many services offered LR integration for uploading & managing hosted images. This has really helped to streamline my workflow in this area.

    Over time I’ve also found that, so long as the image coming out of the camera is on solid footing, LR can handle about 85% or more of any post processing needs. Especially when used in conjunction with 3rd party software that interfaces with LR via plug-ins. I use OnOne’s “Perfect Photo Suite” but there are many to choose from. Again, having a correctly exposed/composed image to start with is critical to reach this threshold. If youโ€™re trying to resurrect images from the dead, LR isnโ€™t going to be the solution.

    For the remaining 15% of those post-processing needs, when I really have to dig deep into the image to make major adjustments or add specific effects, PS is indispensable. Yes, itโ€™s a steep (endless?) learning curve and I’ve found I have to continually practice to keep my skills sharp. However, when I have to get an image “just right” for a client (or myself) the results are well worth the effort

  • Thanks Christina! I use both as well, almost in the same manner, PS for layer stuff/compositing and any fine-tuning that needs to be done.

  • Thanks Steve, I really appreciate it! I agree, the learning curve is steeper for PS, but it definitely has some depth that goes beyond LR’s feature set, good for “finishing up” if you prefer to use LR’s presets and RAW adjustments.

  • abrianna

    i am another one who won’t do the Cloud o rent software for editing. I have LR5 and I use onOne Perfect Photosuite 8 which allows me to use layers, masks, change backgrounds, etc… i have the entire suite but you can just get the Layers module to work as a LR plugin. Only thing it does not do is text so if I need that I go to GIMP.

  • Darryl Lora

    In all this battle between Lightroom and CC where does that leave us Elements users. Please correct me if i’m wrong Tim but I don’t think you have ever put anything out there for us Elements users since you have been on the DPS team. At the very least Elements has layers and masks. All your tips seem very oneside.

  • Good point Darryl, perhaps an Elements write-up will be coming in the future, I think that’s a great idea! Thank you for reading.

  • Actually, I think Illustrator is a better tool for graphic designers. Adding simple text in photoshop is fine. But I’ve even imported my images over to illustrator if I’m doing something more elaborate with the text and I need to play around. PS is all that I use. But i’m not a people photographer. I do fine art and deal with one image at a time. If I ever got into portraiture, I would definitely use LR! Adobe Bridge handles my file management when it comes to narrowing it down to a specific image I want to use. I’ve tried using LR for this but it’s more than what I need for just browsing photos. LR is great for those just starting out and is really straight forward!

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