LR vs Elements

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Discussions thread
DWEverett Contributing Member • Posts: 588
Re: LR vs Elements

I have both but use LR 99% of the time.  They do similar things but come at it from a different perspective.  PSE is primarily an image editor with an organizer thrown in.  LR is intended to help you with the entire process from organizing through editing to creating a print, website or slideshow.  While it does support photo editing it doesn't have all of the capabilities of PSE.

I'll describe my need and when I use one or the other and you can decide which aspects match up with what you need.  I primarily take pictures of my kids activities.  In many cases those are sports oriented and I sometimes shoot pictures of the rest of the team/friends as well.  With that, I end up with a pretty large number of images.  My wife is into scrapbooking and so many of these end up printed.  For scrapbooking standard sizes aren't required and I print at home in random sizes to efficently use paper.

With LR, I can shoot in RAW without it being any more work for me than if I was using JPEG.  I can organize and find the pictures (sometimes years later when she decides to scrapbook something).  The editing tools allow me to do everything that I personally need/am qualified to do.  I'm not great at editing so many of the more sophisticated tools in PSE are lost on me.  I also find the terminology/approach of LR to be much easier for me to understand.  It's a little hard to explain but LR is a database and so all of the pictures are "open" all the time.  When I print it's easy for me to pull multiple images together on a single page.  I believe that you can print multiple photos on a page in PSE but it's much more complex where LR was designed for people to create those type of photo packages that professionals sell.  LR also has the ability to publish the images to a website like smugmug (and others) very easily.  I'm not sure if PSE has the same capability or not.  I know it can easily export to some of them but LR actually will automatically update the photo on the web if you make any change to it on your computer.  One other basic difference is that in LR the changes you make aren't really changing the picture.  You are basically creating a series of rules that the program applies any time you view, print or otherwise do anything to the picture.  You never really change the picture.

The few times I go to PSE are when I need to add something like text to the image.  Cloning something out would be another time I'd have to do it but I rarely do much of that.

All that said, in my opinion the biggest thing to understand is that LR is a database, not an editing program.  There are lots of people who love it but many others who don't and it usually comes down to whether they are willing to embrace the paradigm that it was designed with.   The normal way people manage pictures is that they create some type of folder structure on their PC to organize things and then open individual pictures to edit them.  If they are good, they save the edited picture with another name or put it in another folder so they don't overwrite the original.  If you want to upload a picture to facebook etc., you simply browse to the location and select the appropriate file.

If you use LR you really need to live within it and let it manage the data for you.  You can still specifiy what folder to put the original image in but you should never access that file directly.  LR already has all of the pictures "open" so you don't need to open them up.  As I mentioned earlier, when you edit them you aren't really changing the original image file.  There is no "save" process -- whatever you change is automatically recorded in the database.  If you want to upload to facebook (or one of the other sites that it understands) you let it push an edited version of the file (it creates an uploads a jpeg in the background).  Where things break down is when you use the browser to access the original file directly.  It won't include the edits you've made because again, you didn't really change the file.  If you need to create a file with the edits you need to tell LR to export a copy out and then you can do whatever you want with it.  If you embrace the model, you only do that for the few pictures/situations where it's required.  If you don't embrace it, you are exporting a copy of every picture you've edited.  Folks doing the latter usually fall in the "hate it" category.  If you embrace what it's designed to do though it's a great tool.

My suggestion would be to try to find some web videos so you can watch folks using each and get a better sense of what they are like in use.


 DWEverett's gear list:DWEverett's gear list
Nikon D700 Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G SSM Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM +2 more
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