“What is the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop?” This is one of the most commonly asked questions about photo editing software. It’s a good question to ask! Both applications are very powerful, and at first glance, both applications can seem intimidatingly complex.
Thankfully, there is a very simple answer to this question, and a very easy way to remember which program you should use for a given purpose! In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both Lightroom and Photoshop, so that you know exactly when to use which application.
Advantages Of Lightroom
Lightroom is a tool for organizing and color-correcting your photos. Lightroom uses a catalog system to organize your photos, which means you can sort, categorize, keyword, and keep track of basically every single photo you’ve ever imported into Lightroom, all in one place!
In fact, with Lightroom previews and Smart Previews, you don’t even need to keep all of your original photos on your computer when you are just browsing or color-correcting your images, or exporting low-resolution versions of those edits to share on Instagram or Facebook etc. All you really need is your Lightroom Catalog and the previews!
Of course, to actually export a full-resolution version of your image, you’ll still need to connect whichever external hard drive you may have transferred your original photos. Never delete your original raw photos!
Either way, for any photographer who has many years worth of photos to keep organized, Lightroom can save you hours of time and much frustration. That is why we highly recommend getting familiar with Lightroom, and getting to know its organization tools such as “keeper” flagging, star ratings, color labels, collections, and keywords.
Even if you only ever use half of those Lightroom features, the time you save will be immense compared to if you tried to open every single photo you ever edit in Photoshop, one photo at a time…
Advantages Of Photoshop
Photoshop is still a very powerful photo editor. However, it is also much more than just a photo editor, it is an image creation tool. This means that in Photoshop, you can create imagery entirely from scratch, or using multiple photos or other sources.
The possibilities with Photoshop are nearly limitless, and the tools are extremely powerful. You can use layers, masking, channels, selections, and of course, warping, distorting, and many different types of retouching.
This advanced manipulation capability is Photoshop’s biggest advantage, even for photographers who mostly capture single exposures, but want to do more advanced edits with those photos.
In short, Photoshop is where you should take your photos if you have some major editing you need to do to a photo, whether it is retouching your portraits & wedding photos, or completely removing, adding, repositioning, or otherwise distorting any major parts of your image. For example, fine art nature/outdoor photographers may use Photoshop to replace a sky in a landscape scene, or turn day into night, etc.
When Should You Edit Photos In Lightroom, Not Photoshop?
Simply put, use Lightroom for as much of your basic color-correction as possible. You don’t need to bother with Photoshop if all you want to do is brighten your exposure, or manipulate your highlights & shadows, or change your white balance. That’s what the raw conversion engine is for!
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