Photoshop or Lightroom

The case for Photoshop

PS is a very rich bitmap and photo editor - it can get at the RAW data if that is what you want by depending on an intermediate module like ACR or LR. It has very many tools, and the skillset you pick up with that interface brings you to a professional level that can be used to make money or seek employment as a photo manipulator or a graphic artist.

PS came from photography but also from the art world. You do not have to begin the art piece with a photo. You can make an art piece using PS from zero.

It deals with photos at a dot by dot level. It has a huge list of tools and subsequently effects that allow you to adjust the whole picture, specific regions or single dots (I think). It allows you to layer and mask the picture like a real painter with a real canvas and real paint could do.

PS Elements I think lacks macro recording so you can't record a script and play back the effect on another photo. PS CS5 can but the price is quite a bit more. LR can record a "look" based on the parameters and batch apply it to a whole bunch of other photos.

If you don't want a fat product or an onerous payment per PC (legally), use a competitor like Corel Paintshop Pro - which has a different culture and way of working, in some sense, tutored and simple - but with less engineering refinement. It is not expensive and the Ultimate package comes with some goodies.

The case for Lightroom

LR started off as a RAW reader PLUS. The plus has now been enriched with more and more features inclusive of cataloguing. It is parameter based not so much pixel by pixel based. It is probably a king in being able to draw non proprietary information out of RAW and along the way, tweak the look BEFORE handing over to PS.

Lightroom came from wanting to firstly read the RAW file and then apply overall, parameteric changes to the picture. For example you want to apply some brightness or some sharpening, very much like how Picasa works, so LR is very good at that.

Simply LR lacks the complication and thus even I could make a photo look better by adjusting a slider or two. With Photoshop I don't even know where the sliders are and which slider is better to use or am I in completely the wrong screen.

If you don't want a fat product or an onerous payment per PC (legally), use a competitor like Corel Aftershot Pro.

PS vs LR

If you want to be able to read and understand the thousands of PS articles, how-toes, magazines, web info, videos, learn PS.

If you want to be able to, with the minimum of fuss and not a deep and experienced understanding of techniques, make a picture better, learn LR.

The case for neither

Both are Adobe products - fat in size, fat in price and with Adobe activation policies and licensing. 

If you don't want to pay (in one sense, be able to walk to any machine and carry your editor with you without worrying about technical issues and licensing) use Portable GIMP, PAINT.NET (installed but I have seen a portable version) and RAW Therapee.

Remember, your camera also comes with software for photos editing.

More Info

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by or any affiliated companies.


Total comments: 4
By glox_of_box_ox_sox (Nov 29, 2012)

'The case for neither' should include for raw editors:
AfterShot Pro

They're both decent programs with unique and functional takes on UI.

By thomasnichols89 (Oct 12, 2012)

For the average Joe looking to organize his photo albums, Picasa 3 and iPhoto work great. If you want some basic edits (straighten, rotate, minor effects) the same holds true. However, for the advanced, and hobby photographer, Lightroom and Photoshop really begin to show their worth. For most, Lightroom is a great place to start. Lightroom 4 is only $149.99, and for that you get fantastic RAW processing, great cataloging, and non-destructive workflow. Once you begin to outgrow the image adjustment options of Lightroom, that's when you purchase Photoshop CS6. Photoshop doesn't replace Lightroom. It compliments it. When working in Lightroom, you have the ability to jump your image from Lightroom to Photoshop, make some complex edits using layers, masks, and all the goodies of Photoshop, and then jump back. Photoshop might be the only tool you need if you don't shoot very many images or enjoy sorting. For most, however, both is the right way to go. Great workflow + Complete edit power.

By AnandaSim (Mar 27, 2012)

Omar047, although Adobe and Adobe products are the king in photo editing, the market is very competitive. The beginners version of Photoshop CS is Photoshop Elements. You said something about "3" ? That is very old. These are Photoshop CS is now to CS 6. Elements is up to edition 10.

Photoshop Elements 10 is not expensive and is considered quite good. Corel Paintshop Pro X4 is the one I bought and it is also similar in price and I like the menu system. You an download each one as a trial and check them out before deciding.

There is Zoner Studio 14 which is free. The GIMP is free and open source but some people find it hard to drive. There PAINT.NET which is free.

I bought Mediachance Photo-Brush long ago - it does not have layers but is simple and effective. Free trial available.

By Omar047 (Mar 13, 2012)

Someone, anyone, please help me to make a choice in a beginners photoshop to improve my photos. I currently use Picasa 3 which is very basic. I need something to really help me improve my pics.

What is a beginners version of a solfware program that will help improve my photos.

Photoshop 3??
or something else?


Total comments: 4