Top 10 wrong reasons to reject Lightroom. Explained for Photoshop User
Lightroom for Photoshop User: Keep the cake and eat it too!
Most of my friends use Photoshop rather than Lightroom. Often they complain about something that Lightroom would fix, but strangely Lightroom is something they reject. Eventually I got curious enough to dig deeper into the why. It was like a travel back in time for me, being reminded of all my struggles to make Lightroom work for me. So if you are a Photoshop User and you are thinking to look at an alternative, this Article is for you. I will show you how you can keep everything you love about Photoshop and add to it a whole lot more, that Photoshop can't do. In case you worry about being forced into the Adobe Cloud ending up with monthly payments, there is a solution too.
- Clearing the Obstacles
- New Goodies
- Where to go from here
The Top 10 Wrong Reasons to reject Lightroom
Lightroom keeps my Images in their Catalog in proprietary format and locks me into Adobe, who knows soon I am trapped in the cloud with monthly payments
The bad news is that this fear is justified considering Adobe's in May 2013 to offer new features only to Adobe Cloud member. The good news is up until today Lightroom is not part of the Adobe Cloud, but who knows in the future. The very good news is that you can set up a workflow that Adobe never can force you into the cloud. How this can be done is shown in ???
Adobe can not be trusted, this is why I can not use Lightroom
It is very true Adobe Marketing can not be trusted. All things being equal it is also wise not to choose a Software of a vendor you do not trust versus a vendor that you do. But things are not equal and it appears Lightroom is head and shoulders above the competition, at least when considering ( value for money | speed of the complete workflow | completeness of workflow ). If you spend a fraction of the time Lightroom will save you in
Lightroom has a steep learning curve, I will save time choosing a more simple program
This may or may not be true considering your shooting volume and your demand on quality. Lets look at an extreme example to Illustrate the point: If you want to print every picture you shot same way as you shot it, then use a printer with SD memory slot. After you complete your shoot, move your SD from Camera to Printer and press the print all button. No work required. But the more you want to edit your pictures as in keep the keepers and trash the trash, retouch your picture to make them shine and finally work on presenting your best shots in themed collections, such as slide shows, flickr albums or dpreview galleries or portfolios to hand out or hang on the wall, then Lightroom will become a time saver. At which point you start saving more time with Lightroom than you invest into learning is personal. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. My guess is this point is somewhat between shooting 100 ... 300 Image / month. Personally I shoot > 1000 Images / month and w/o Lightroom I would not be able to process my images in the time I have.
I am not using DNG because I do not want to lock my images into an Adobe Proprietary File format
It is always a good idea to avoid proprietary file formats. So if you shoot in JPEG, you may want to keep the original JPEG files during import, because it is more commonly supported than DNG and thus it is more archival ( will serve you longer ). ( For other concerns, please see ... ). However, if you shoot in RAW, you got it all backwards. The RAW format is the proprietary format and DNG is the standard format. In such case choose the default option to convert your images to DNG. Besides making your images more archival ( meaning increase the chances that 10 / 20 years later you still can open them ) DNG has the advantage that all your editing and retouching made to your image are saved as instruction into the same DNG file, which keeps your work more save the saving it in separate files.
I am forced to Import my Imaged into Lightroom. I do not like it
There is not difference in this regards between Photoshop and Lightroom. In Photoshop you need to copy your files from your memory card to the folder of your choosing onto your Hard Disk. This is called copying. In Lightroom you do the very same thing, but Lightroom calls it Importing. So the difference is semantic. Not functional differences in how the SW works. The only difference is that Lightroom offers a lot of additional features ( which are actually quite cool and Photoshop does not have them):
* In one swift move you can copy into two locations. Say into your working directory and into an external back up HD. Nice and save.
* Lightroom can render full resolution compressed previews. This will make your work faster down the road
* Lightroom can either copy your file as they are, or convert them to DNG to increase archival quality of your images
* Lightroom can add lots of Meta Data to all the images during imports, say your name, Tags specific to this shoot, etc. This will speed up finding images later on.
* Your Images are copied into the folder on your HD of your choosing, they are not in a Data Base. So no difference compared to working in your your Photoshop workflow
* Render Smart Preview Images ( LR 5 ). This is a biggy for me. In short this technology allows me to bring my entire Photography Library out on a tablet with say 64 GB drive and allows me to fully work on all my images. Both Editing and Developing / Retouching. When returning to my Desktop, the edits I performed on my tablet are synchronized with my Library on my Desktop / Notebook in full resolution.
You can of course choose that Lightroom does none of the extra jobs. Then you can work exactly the same in Lightroom as in Photoshop, except using the build in browser versus Adobe Bridge or the OS File Browser.
As you can see during Importing Lightroom does a lot of very useful work which most of it you would do manually anyways and the automation in Lightroom is actually saving me time
I can't quickly work on only one image, say when I am in a pinch
But you can! Exactly the same way as you do in Photoshop / Bridge now. Just Imaging the Open File Menu entry is renamed to import. In the file requester select the one image you want to work with and select the preset "Pinch". It does not take longer than open a file in Photoshop. Have an Import Setting ready with the name "Pinch" so even you stamp your images properly. Once you have more time you can find all your pinch Images and clean them out
Adobe is tricking me by moving some features into Photoshop and thus I always must have Photoshop, so why Lightroom?
It is correct that Adobe keeps tricking photographers since decades. Personally I think this marketing strategy does not work, because as a result many photographers feel resentment and distrust, which simply slows down sales or reduces motivation to pay for software. Truth is that Lightroom offers many important features that Photoshop lacks, please see the second part of this Article below. If you must choose between only one Application, Lightroom give you the much wider gamut of photography work that you can do. E.g. Smart Collections, automatically publish your work on social media sites, design and print a Scratch Book, etc. So if you can not do it in Lightroom, one option is to move on and not do that, but do something else. Or of course, you can always make a round trip to Photoshop or any other Pixel Editor for that matter.
Lightroom does not have Layers. I need Layers. Photoshop has, thus I am preferring Photoshop.
Lightroom does have Layers. You can achieve pretty much the same result with Layers in Lightroom ( with a few exceptions ) as in Photoshop, but they work different. To me, the way Lightroom works with Layers in an improvement over Layers in Photoshop. Lets compare Layer adjustments in Photoshop and Lightroom. In Photoshop you create a Layer adjustment in your Layer stack, then you adjust the parameter. A typical images as Adjustment Layers for ( Levels | Curves | Saturation | etc ... ). In Lightroom things are more direct. You simply adjust the parameters directly. Lightroom know you will want an adjustment layer, creates and manages it for you, but save you to do this grunt work. Neat! This is basically the idea of Lightroom. Work is more direct and thus more intuitive, easier to learn compared to Photoshop and it is more speedy compared to Photoshop.
The exceptions are Pixel manipulations with Layers for say Panorama Stitching, where you merge several images into one Image. This can not be done with Lightroom natively. You would either need to make a round trip to Photoshop or any other similar application or a get a plug in to Lightroom that adds the feature you are looking for.
Adobe is upsetting / confusing me in their Marketing Messages
Yeah, they are confusing me too. Lightroom team states that they are entirely different than Photoshop. Next Lightroom is renamed to Photoshop Lightroom. Then they say Photoshop is for Creative Professionals and Lightroom is for Photographers and next they introduce Shake reduction to Photoshop only and not in Lightroom. This is bad. It takes enough time ( away from photography ) to wade through marketing materials of a vendor to figure out which app you want to buy / use. Such confusion is wasting photographers time and makes you wonder if the development team is similarly confused. So this is actually a good reason to not use Lightroom. Personally I feel despite this headache Lightroom offers more features and value than its closest competitor. And for the moment, please trust me and take my word that to me the Lightroom Developer Team does not look confused at all. If anything, working with Lightroom and following their thinking has taught me a cleaner workflow.
Adobe fooled me once with Photoshop. Thus I want to avoid investing into Lightroom to avoid being fooled twice
This is a very reasonable precaution. I did my research and was very ready to leave Photoshop and Lightroom. The details of this research will be topic for another Article. Suffice to say, I believe, Lightroom offers the best deal today for an all integrated workflow. Instead I am proposing to develop a workflow which does not lock you in and for this reason protects you against tricks of Adobe to get you into the cloud. More about on how doing so will be found in ???
Top reasons to choose Lightroom over Photoshop
Small File Sizes!
When I worked in Photoshop to retouch my image until it prints really nicely, Photoshop exploded the file size from 20 MB Camera RAW to 500 MB. Give or take. When I do the same thing in Lightroom, the file is still 20 MB. This is a huge Bonus! Small files load faster, copy faster, backup faster and fit and smaller portable PCs. How is the magic done? Lightroom records all your instructions to edit the picture, such as create a new adjustment layer, adjust exposure by 0.7 EV, create another curves adjustment layer, trim the curve like so, etc. It performs all operations as per your instructions as you go in memory. But it does not save layer after layer in a multi-layered monster size PDF file. When you move on to another image, all the pixel data is discarded, only your instructions are saved in text which takes hundreds of kilobytes rather than hundres of Mega Bytes of all the pixels in layers. When you open the file, the layers are re-created again, according to the saved instructions. Think of it as a non lossy compression with a super compression ratio. Neat, huh ?
True lossless working
When you want to work lossless in Photoshop, you copy the layer and then you work on the copy. This not only takes more time, it also blows up your file size. In Lightroom instead you do your thing and it is always lossless. Lightroom manages in such a way to not bother you / using your time and it does so in the way of saving instructions instead of creating duplicate layers, which is why files size always remains small. And best of all, you can not make a mistake which will cost you your original. In Photoshop you can loose your original data easy enough. I did so a few times in Photoshop. In Lightroom I never managed to loose my original.
More Intuitive working
Some things in Photoshop are truly powerful, yet are taking long time to learn. Take curves. Lightroom can do the same thing, but more intuitively presented. Once you come from Photoshop, this might seems complicated because it is different, something new for you to learn. Once however you need to teach someone Curves in Photoshop or in Lightroom, you will have much less headache to make your student "get-it" in Lightroom. For new-comers Lightroom is simply easier to get.
Lightroom can do things, that Photoshop can not. Collections are such a case. I shoot ( Fine Art | Street Photography | Product Photography | My Family ). Whenever I edit my shoot, I tag the images, which is quite fast to do. Next I am creating collections. Collections I have in my Street Photography sections are ( Dragon Boat | Yellow | Black Sheep | Chinese Rest | .... ). Dragon Boat contains my shots of various Dragon Boat festivals I attended, Chinese Rests contains picture of people who I found sleeping in the ( for western people ) most unusual poses. I think you get the idea. When you go out on street photography shooting, you never know what you get. After you come back home you tag your images and you create smart collections, that automatically fill up with the images of the same tag. So after a while you have more than 12 strong images in a smart collection, you can think of how to publish them. This would never work in Photoshop. Imagine you have a guy sleeping on the dragon boat and it is a strong image. Would you then move it into the Dragon Boat folder or the Chinese Rest folder ? In Lightroom one Image can have as many tags as you want and can show up in as many collections you want.
Automated Publishing / Sharing
After you slaved over editing and retouching your images and you create a wonderful collection, then comes the moment of presenting and sharing. Lightroom has tools build in for Slide Show, Scrap Book Printing, Portfolio Printing and uploading to your social website of choice. E.g. yours truly dpreview has a Lightroom Plugin to upload your latest Album as a dpReview Gallery, with just a single push of a button. A real time saver.
Lightroom integrates nice enough with Photoshop, or any other Pixel Editor
For the things you can't do in Lightroom you still can make a round trip to a Pixel Editor of your choice. Lightroom does so in an elegant way. The hand over can be done with a push of a button ( after you configured it proper once ) and when you are done in your Pixel Editor, your image is returned and stacked with your Lightroom copy.
Editing your images works like you did with slides on the big light table
Before digital I was shooting slides. After getting my images back I put them on a big light table. Next I stacked similar images to reduce to unnavigable hundreds of images to tens of stacks. Next I moved all stacks aside and focused on only but one. I spread all slides of a stack out and tried to pick the best. I had one magnifier glass, under which I could compare two slides. This comparison always had a winner and a loose. The looser went back to the stack, the winner was used to compare to the next candidate. Quickly the best shot of this stack was determined and carefully set aside, the already examined stack was moved into the corner and the next stack was treated the same way, until each winner per stack was determined. I carefully put all stacks aside and now only the winner per stack remained on the table. Finally the order was determined, and then I put them in the tray for the slide projector. After going digital, everything was better, except for one thing. I missed my editing on the Light Table. It was fast and intuitive and with Photoshop I never came even close to go through 300 images in half hour and have fun in the process. With Lightroom my Light table is back, and it is more comfortable and more fun than the original.
Why this Title
I was totally shocked about the Photoshop Nightmare and my conclusion was to jump ship right now, question only was how to do in a way to minimize my losses. Curious enough, my conclusion was to jump to Lightroom. But in an extreme cautious and contemplated way. As the saying goes. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I was not ready to invite Adobe to rip me off a second time with Lightroom, especially after they have been so vague if Lightroom will be going cloud yes or no. However, when going through many comments on these topics I found a huge amount of resentment of Photoshop Users towards Lightroom, mostly based on misinformation and misunderstanding. I am hoping with this Article to solve this misunderstandings and allowing the reader to gain a better understanding and thus allowing him to make a better informed decision. While I was writing that Article, I saw a great presentation of LR5 on dpreview. But all comments where those of rejection of LR due to feelings of upsetness and fear of getting burned again by Adobe. Thus this Title was chosen to attract those who want to reject Lightroom.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.