Advanced Editing

Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom or both?

Written by Gayan Gunawardana

Learn why many photographers around the world choose Adobe Lightroom over Photoshop to process their digital photos. Some use both.

For more than 20 years, Adobe Photoshop has been considered the defacto standard when it comes to digital image processing. Originally targeted for graphic designers but also used by photographers, Photoshop is still an all encompassing program offering more features than may be required by many individuals.

Apart from having a very high resource requirement to run Photoshop successfully (which might require an upgrade to your existing computer system), the cost of Photoshop is quite steep. The price may be prohibitive for many amateur photographers.

Although Adobe recognized this fact to a certain degree and released Adobe Photoshop Elements that is a stripped down version of Photoshop at a lower price, it was still aimed primarily at graphic designers who want to do lot of pixel level image manipulation work.

Photoshop has sophisticated tools for complex image selections, painting and retouching. Lightroom, while it does not have the image manipulation capabilities of Photoshop, is an all-in-one program that has editing tools plus features to organize, manage and showcase digital photos.

Photoshop or Lightroom…or both?

Experienced users can process the vast majority of their shots in Lightroom without ever having to go to Photoshop. However, some use Photoshop for extensive editing and advanced retouching to selected images that can not be done in Lightroom.

Lightroom main screen

If you use both programs, the good thing about Lightroom is that after changes are made images can be opened in Photoshop and the changes made in LR remain in the files. Then when changes are made to files in PS, they are saved onto the LR file. So file management between the two programs is easy.

Photoshop main screen

As we point out in an overview of Adobe Lightroom, the program may very well be the only software you ever need for your photography and it is this versatility that has attracted the admiration of photographers to it. As one photo forum participant put it, “I started with Photoshop alone, but now wouldn’t be without Lightroom. If I had to choose only one program, it would be Lightroom.”

A photo editing software alternative is a service such as Adobe Creative Cloud. According to Adobe “Creative Cloud gives you the world’s best creative apps — and they’re always up to date — so you can turn your brightest ideas into your greatest work across your desktop and mobile devices.” Fees for the service varies.

About the author

Gayan Gunawardana

Gayan Gunawardana is a Houston based photographer who's interests include landscapes, street photography and portraiture.

Trained as a Chemical Engineer, Gayan started his own company in Sri Lanka. In 2009, he moved to Houston Texas with his lovely wife to read for his MBA at the University of Houston.

Gayan considers him self as an advanced amateur photographer and currently shoots with a Canon DSLR. He believes that a good photo is 50% composition, 30% technique, 15% post processing and only 5% equipment. Gayan's interest in photography started in 2005 and has been growing steadily. It occupies an ever increasing portion of his time and he's loving it. :)

5 Comments

  • Danny, the article was meant to give a very basic overview of each program. We’ve embedded a video that should provide the information you requested, as well as help others and you decide which (or both) to buy.

  • As LR is a combination of: BRIDGE + ACR. I chose to work only with Photoshop.
    ADOBE create LR cause the learning Curve of PS is too long…
    and LR is just abut to drag sliders, so easy, with PRO results.
    Notice, the results are PRO, not the program…cause you even do not need know photography. just need to see and drag sliders…
    PS is much more complete…
    I use only compact cameras G10 and .JPEG

    cheers

  • I’m afraid that after reading this article I’m no wiser as to the differences between Lightroom and Photoshop. Perhaps a table would help, showing what can be done in one or both programs. Plus some actual examples, with before and after photos?