Lightroom Vs Photoshop For Photo Editing

By | 21/10/2022

It’due south not often that nosotros write a comparison article on two products that not only work together but are too sold together equally function of a package deal. There
real differences between Adobe’s 2 big photography applications, Photoshop and Lightroom. Since chances are proficient y’all’ll subscribe to them both, nosotros’re less concerned here about telling you which one to
and more about telling you which i to
for what purposes.

What Do Photoshop and Lightroom Do, and How Are They Different?

So, how do Photoshop and Lightroom differ? In a nutshell, Lightroom is a nondestructive photo workflow, aligning, and management program, while Photoshop is a pixel-level, layer-based image manipulation program. It tin can take years to acquire Photoshop, whereas getting expert at Lightroom is fairly straightforward. Which ane is right for you really depends on what you plan to do with information technology.

Further complicating the choice, Adobe at present offers two flavors of Lightroom: The standard one used past professional person photographers is now chosen Lightroom Archetype, while the plainly Lightroom proper noun applies to the more than consumer-friendly, cloud-synced version of the software. Considering Lightroom Classic is the gold standard pro photo workflow program, we’ve called to pit that version against Photoshop, which is too clearly a pro-level tool.

Photoshop home screen

Photoshop’s startup screen shows how it’south designed for creating and working on one image at a time.

We may pit Lightroom (non-Classic) against Adobe’s consumer-targeted photo editing package, Photoshop Elements, at a future appointment. Elements offers a healthy helping of both Photoshop-style editing and Lightroom-style workflow and organization tools combined with lots of guidance, but information technology squarely targets less-technical, less-professional level users.

How Much Do Photoshop and Lightroom Cost?

With that brief background, let’southward talk pricing. Lightroom and Photoshop are available just by subscription; y’all can install them on 64-fleck computers with a minimum 8GB RAM running macOS x.14 Mojave and later or Windows 10 version 1903 and later. The Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan costs $9.99 per month (with a total-yr commitment) and gets yous both flavors of Lightroom, Photoshop, and 20GB of online storage. That’south not really plenty storage for a big collection of high-res SLR images. To get 1TB of deject storage with this plan, you’ll pay $19.99 per month. The Lightroom plan only gets you the newer flavor of Lightroom, plus 1TB storage. If you’re not interested in Lightroom at all, you can go Photoshop alone for $xx.99 per calendar month with 100GB storage. Frankly, I’m non sure why anyone would take that last option.

Lightroom interface

Lightroom is all nigh working with a collection of photos imported from your camera.

Finally, if you get the entire Artistic Cloud subscription plan, including, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and more, you’ll pay $52.99 per month. The Photography and Lightroom plans are
bachelor with a year’southward commitment; you can go Photoshop standalone or the full suite for a unmarried month, but you’ll pay $31.49 and $79.49, respectively. You can use a subscription on simply two computers simultaneously. Photoshop Elements goes for a one-fourth dimension price of $99.99, though that’s heavily discounted occasionally.

Of course, Adobe isn’t the just maker of photo software. Y’all should also consult our roundup of photo applications, which includes more-budget-conscious products like Corel PaintBrush Pro and CyberLink’southward PhotoDirector, as well as more-expensive pro-targeting software such as Capture Ane and DxO PhotoLab. The Adobe products undoubtedly have more name recognition, and certainly stand for the state of the fine art, just it doesn’t hurt to investigate your options.

Photo Import and Organisation

If you’re a photographer, rather than a designer, and importing and organizing your work are your goals, and so y’all don’t need to go any further in this article: Choose Lightroom, considering it’south designed to handle workflow. What is
It comprises all the steps from transferring image files from your photographic camera’s memory card to adjusting their lighting, colour, sharpness, and crop to outputting the last images either for online or impress.

Import in Lightroom

When you import photos into Lightroom, you tin apply tags and even effects simultaneously.

Photoshop is not designed to deal with importing and managing your photo collection. You can use its ancillary Bridge application for this purpose, just having a unmarried application makes for a more streamlined process.

Working with Raw Image Files

Both Photoshop and Lightroom can open raw camera files. These are files with extensions like CR2 (for Catechism cameras) and NEF (for Nikon) and ARW (for Sony). They are larger than JPGs because they contain more data from your camera’south sensor, allowing for more powerful adjustment of lighting and color subsequently the fact. For example, if you shoot in JPG, your camera interprets the sensor data and delivers its best guess every bit to what the prototype should wait like.

If you edit a raw paradigm file, you can change specific luminosity ranges like shadows or highlights using data from the original sensor capture that wasn’t used in the initial JPG rendering. This mode, yous can, for case, pull out the color of a bird that only appeared as a blackness silhouette in the initial JPG version. If you were to try this on the JPG, the information would have been discarded, and then in that location’s no way to bear witness that that blackbird is actually a bluebird. That’due south an extreme example, just editing with raw files as well lets you more than assuredly, for example, bring out a shadowed face while leaving the well-exposed background alone.

Adobe Camera Raw

Photoshop opens the separate Adobe Photographic camera Raw when you open raw file files, while Lightroom but displays them.

If you want to create a single-shot HDR upshot to optimize lighting across a photo’s dynamic range, y’all’ll have far superior results if you start from a raw file. Using raw files too lets you modify the white balance (colour warmth or coolness) after the fact; Lightroom offers an Auto White Balance button that can sometimes set up a colour-shifted photo.

In Photoshop you can’t just open up a raw photographic camera image directly: When you lot outset opening a raw image file, the split up Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) app pops open on top of the master Photoshop window with your image loaded. This gives you a sort of pre-editor, with adjustments for lighting, color, and sharpness. Y’all then either open the event of any manipulation in ACR in Photoshop proper for further editing.

Lightroom, on the other mitt, lets you import raw files and outset working on them without the demand for an intermediary utility. Lightroom and ACR both offer Adobe’s exclusive Raw Profiles, which determine how the original sensor data is converted to an editable image. For example, you could just apply a profile based on your camera, or cull Adobe Color, Vivid, Mural, Portrait, or Monochrome. Each tilts the result towards appropriate color and sharpness levels.

Nondestructive vs. Destructive Editing

A cardinal difference between a photo workflow application like Lightroom and a straight-on epitome editing one like Photoshop is that workflow software keeps all your originals and puts whatsoever editing changes in a database that contains all your edits for every photo. In Lightroom parlance, this database is called a
Catalog. Whatsoever edits yous brand to the photo are saved in the Itemize and associated with that image, meaning the original remains intact and attainable any fourth dimension later.

When you edit an epitome in Photoshop, you end up with a new epitome at the terminate, and you’ll only be able to go dorsum to the original if you salve a re-create. Yous can work around this Photoshop behavior with things similar adjustment layers, snapshots, and sidecar files for raw files, but Lightroom implements nondestructive workflows automatically.

Paradigm Adjustment vs. Prototype Editing

There’s a distinction between image
editing. The former means applying changes to the lighting, color, and sharpness of an entire prototype without adding material that doesn’t come from your photographic camera.
proper concerns truly manipulating an paradigm, making changes to detail areas, and adding content similar text, shapes, or other images on top of the original. Lightroom’s forte is adjustment, while Photoshop’s is editing.

Lightroom adjustments are perfect for things similar brightening an underexposed image or bringing out colors in a drab ane. You tin also utilise them to increase (or subtract) sharpness and fifty-fifty correct an paradigm based on the lens you lot utilise. Lightroom does include some local aligning tools: You lot can use a castor, shape, or gradient to modify selected areas in an image. Cropping, also, could be considered editing rather than adjusting, and Lightroom has excellent cropping capabilities.

Masking and gradients in Photoshop

Photoshop lets y’all get creative with masks and gradients.

As for truthful creative editing, that’s the domain of Photoshop. For instance, if you lot want to cutting someone out of a photograph or place them in another image with a dissimilar background, you need Photoshop, with its Select and Mask tools. If you simply want to lighten or dial up the color in a shady or ho-hum area of a photo, Lightroom can do information technology. Either can do bones things like smoothing blemishes or fixing red eyes resulting from flash.

Some of Photoshop’s nearly dazzling tools are dubbed Content Aware, and y’all don’t detect them in Lightroom. For example, if y’all have a photo scene containing people or objects you lot want to remove, Photoshop’due south Content Enlightened Fill tool can replace the unwanted object with background material it generates by analyzing the rest of the image.

Photoshop is substantially a superset of Lightroom, since it (and its ACR utility) can practice whatever adjustments Lightroom tin. On top of those, it adds the aforementioned option tools, along with many more options including Filters, Liquefy, Shapes, Text, 3D, and the new Neural Filters. These let you lot modify the expect of faces or apply an event that tin can brand a photo look like a van Gogh. For all these rich creative tools, you must turn to Photoshop.

Layers vs. Subconscious Layers

One of Photoshop’s major innovations and differentiators is its support for layers. These can be likened to placing a plate of glass with some consequence or image on top of some other, for a superimposition. Serious Photoshop practitioners are skilled at using dozens of layers to create an finish-result image. Photographers can too use Adjustment layers to utilize lighting and color adjustments that tin be turned on and off separately from any other adjustments—you lot tin enable or disable layers at volition.

Lightroom hides layers from you, and this is one of the main reasons for the program’s beingness: Photographers who just want to process their photos (just as in the by they’d use a
darkroom) don’t want the added complexity of thinking about and managing layers.

Text, Shapes, Drawing, and 3D

Photoshop’southward text options are deep, with things like stroking, glow, and even glyph editing, which lets you change parts of characters. If text is your main work, then y’all may desire to skip Photoshop in favor of Adobe Illustrator, which works in a more than text-friendly vector file format. Vector images tin be resized without losing sharpness, something that’south very important when working with text.

Drawing in Photoshop

You tin can employ a multitude of cartoon and shape tools in Photoshop, something that’s not possible in Lightroom.

Shapes, as pattern elements, are well supported in Photoshop and absent-minded entirely from Lightroom. Again, if shapes are your thing, Illustrator may be the mode to go. Drawing and Painting are similar—look to Photoshop, or even to Adobe’s fantabulous Fresco iPad app.

3D modeling in Photoshop

Photoshop even includes 3D image editing.

Photoshop likewise includes powerful 3D modeling design capabilities, which tin be useful not just to designers but to game developers and technical illustrators. The plan offers 3D primitives, texture mapping, and back up for 3D printing.

Lightroom’s text capabilities are relegated to adding a watermark to your photo, and it doesn’t include any tools for adding shapes, drawing, or 3D modeling. For photographers, that’s perfectly acceptable, but creative and technical prototype designers need the added tools in Photoshop.

Mobile Editing

If you demand to do photograph or epitome editing on the run, Adobe offers capable apps for both Photoshop and Lightroom, with the latter being more mature. The visitor only started offer Photoshop for iPad last twelvemonth, and though it lacks major features of the desktop plan, it integrates well with it—yous can relieve your work as cloud documents and open them on either platform.

The Lightroom mobile apps let you both edit and shoot photos from the devices, which extra command over shooting. On the iPhone, the Lightroom app adds the ability to relieve shots as raw camera files and offers nearly all the adjustments institute in the desktop. Android natively lets users save in raw image format, but the Lightroom app for that platform, too, offers the full array of image aligning tools.


Tethered shooting is when your camera, usually continued with a USB cable or wirelessly via Wi-Fi, sends photos to software on your calculator equally presently every bit you shoot them. This allows you to see the full-size images and to start working on them, cataloging them, or sharing them immediately.

Tethered photo shooting with Lightroom

Photo of tethered shooting, courtesy of

Lightroom Classic is your go-to for tethered shooting, while Photoshop doesn’t have this capability. Nor does the newer, consumer-friendly version of Lightroom. Other software that supports tethering includes Capture One, CyberLink PhotoDirector, and ON1 Photo RAW.

State-of-the-Fine art, Ever-Evolving Tools

Occasionally, Adobe adds new state-of-the-art features only to Photoshop. Examples include the Camera Shake Reduction tool (which, in testing, turned out to exist less magical than it initially sounded) and the recent Neural Filters tools, which use AI to alter faces and apply art way transfer to your images.

Despite this, Lightroom gets plenty of update dearest from Adobe. The Enhance Details tool, which landed last twelvemonth, processes raw epitome data to depict out more sharpness. Lightroom also got a bully Texture slider, and more recently, new color grading tools and local hue aligning tools arrived.

You Don’t Need to Choose

The option between Lightroom and Photoshop is not a conclusion of which product you should
buy—both come up with Adobe’s $9.99-per-month Photography Plan subscription—simply rather a thing of which you should
The answer may well be to utilize both. For getting the images from your camera carte du jour, organizing them, and fixing the lighting, crop, and color, Lightroom is your go-to. For deep epitome manipulation like removing people and objects from a photograph, calculation shape and text overlays, and applying artistic filters, you’ll want to use Photoshop. Cull Lightroom for pure photography needs, and Photoshop for design and creativity.