Lightroom vs Photoshop, Which One should you Use?

In Lightroom Tutorials by Stefano Caioni Leave a Comment

Looking to post-process your photos? Wondering if you should choose Lightroom or Photoshop?

Choosing between Lightroom and Photoshop is a common quandary for beginners. Both of these are extremely popular and have their rightful place in post-production and post-processing. Let us explore the differences between the two, and analytically come to a conclusion about which one might be ideal for you! If you’re wondering who comes on top in Lightroom vs Photoshop, this is the right article for you!

Lightroom vs Photoshop, All the Differences

Lightroom and Photoshop are two of the most popular photo-editing tools out there. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. If you want to correctly understand where each tool shines, read on to know the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom.

What is Lightroom

Lightroom, or more specifically, Adobe Lightroom, is tailored specifically to the needs of the modern photographer. It has nearly all of the tools you’ll need for all sorts of image editing and manipulation. Having said that, Lightroom is so much more than just an image editing software. It lets you manage, organize, find, and import your images. You can think of it as a software that combines features of photo editing and photo management in one massive bundle. Unlike Photoshop, Lightroom does not require you to save your work. It is a non-destructive tool, and all your edits are stored in the Lightroom history. 

Related: How to Blur Background in Lightroom

What is Photoshop

Created in 1990, Photoshop was a tool that was built for basic image editing. Today, it is one of the most powerful tools and is loaded with a host of features and capabilities. It is used by people in all sorts of professions such as animation, graphic design, photography, architecture, publishing, and 3D art. With every software update, the tool only keeps getting more powerful. It’s potential is nearly limitless primarily because of numerous plugins that can be added, either from Adobe itself or from 3rd party developers.

The software lets you do a host of operations such as combining multiple images, crafting a panorama, doing away with blemishes on the skin, and even modifying the physical structure of people, making them look shorter, taller, fatter, or thinner. In fact, there is so much that this tool can do, and it is so popular, that the term ‘photoshop’ is commonly used to describe any image that has been edited but still looks quite realistic.

When To Use Lightroom vs Photoshop

With both of these tools available for use, how should you decide which one to use?

Where Lightroom Wins

Typically, if you shoot your photographs in RAW, then you should bring your images into Lightroom first, in order to manage your images. This will allow you to organize your photographs as you import them. Lightroom is the ideal tool for basic photo editing. Here is a list of operations that can be performed in Lightroom: 

  • Basic Image Editing: Basic editing tools such as adjusting the exposure, saturation, vibrance, or white balance, cropping images, tweaking the histogram, manipulating tonal curves, noise reduction, local adjustments, red-eye corrections, and others are easier on Lightroom.
  • More Advanced Tools such as Black and white conversion, noise reduction, gradients, image sharpening, and even lens profile correction are superior on Lightroom.
  • Exporting Images: The final step of any workflow is exporting the photo so that they can either be printed or posted online. One of the biggest advantages of Lightroom is setting up export presets. These presets can be used to control the size, sharpen images, and so on.
  • Organizing and Importing Images: Lightroom’s cataloging system is superior to Photoshop. Lightroom allows you to import all your images at the same time, which can be incredibly useful when you have hundreds or even thousands of images on your SD card. You can then move and organize the various photos in order to access and find them easily later on.

This software is much more straightforward and simple to use than Photoshop.

Where Photoshop Wins

However, you may often find that Lightroom does not quite offer what you need in all scenarios, and you may have to use Photoshop for those features. Here are a few of those situations in which you might need to use Photoshop instead of Lightroom.

  • Advanced retouching features: Advanced features such as pixel-level retouching are excellent with Photoshop. For instance, if you want to make an arm thinner, or perhaps a person taller, Photoshop is your best.
  • HDR: Looking to pull out exposures and highlights from different exposures? Photoshop can help you out here.
  • Composite images: Photoshop is great at slicing multiple images to create a single one.
  • Advanced healing: With Photoshop, you can use the healing and patch tools for several purposes, with better results than with Lightroom.
  • Panorama: Stitching together several pictures to make a seamless Panorama is much better.

Lightroom vs Photoshop: Can You Use Both in Your Workflow? 

Yes, you definitely can! In fact, most photographers find themselves using both software quite frequently. The best part is that both Lightroom and Photoshop are a part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. This means that there is seamless integration between the two. It is truly a wonderful experience, moving between the two software, and can make your workflow extremely efficient. In general, if you are just starting off with photography, it is quite sufficient to use Lightroom by itself. Once you master the fundamentals, you can move on to adding Photoshop to your workflow. Both of these tools are bound to encourage your creativity when it comes to post-production and post-processing. Don’t get too caught up in deciding which one to use. Try and decide based on a case-by-case basis.

Final Thoughts

Adobe Lightroom and photoshop are both incredible tools for photographers. They can quicken your workflow and make life very easy. Lightroom is the way to go if you are doing light editing. Photoshop can help with the heavy lifting whenever necessary. We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the two tools, and given you a general picture of when to use each one!

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