A head-to-head comparison.
When to use Lightroom.
After you've imported your files, move to the Develop module to enhance and edit photos. Here you can tweak your settings to improve every aspect of your photo. Enhance the light and color, correct perspective, sharpen, and add creative effects to make your images shine. Lightroom presets are a time-saving feature that makes light work of applying the same settings to one or countless images, known as batch edits. You can create your own presets or download a wide variety of presets via the Discovery Interactive Edits feature. Without moving to Photoshop, you can also whiten teeth, reduce red-eye, and use a healing brush to remove blemishes.
Lightroom uses non-destructive editing, which means you can make changes to a photo without permanently altering the original file. If you work with raw files, you’ll benefit from the flexibility raw images give you when editing, without losing the original data. The same goes for beginning work in Lightroom with JPEG files.
When to use Photoshop.
Like non-destructive Lightroom workflows, you can work in a non-destructive manner in Photoshop by taking advantage of Layers and Smart Objects. Build upon your image using layers and layer masking, which you can adjust and refine, knowing that the layers contain your image's original information.
You might have a layer for your color or white balance adjustment, a layer with a moody sky, a layer with a blue sky, and so on, all stacked on top of your original image. Layers can present a learning curve compared to Lightroom’s universal adjustment sliders, but they are excellent for managing post-production work.
Put them together for a dynamic duo.
Knowing the differences between Lightroom and Photoshop will help you pick the best image editor for a given project, but in many cases, it’s not an either-or decision. The two are designed to work seamlessly with each other. You can process a photo in Lightroom and then press command E or control E to pass it off to Photoshop, where you can fine-tune it.
Photoshop and Lightroom are both excellent photo editing software options, but they’re not the only ones out there. Photoshop includes Adobe Bridge, used to manage many file types, and Adobe Camera Raw, which features the same world-class image processing engine as Lightroom. Or you can take your edits completely mobile with Adobe Photoshop Express and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for mobile. Discover all the photography apps included in the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan.
Ultimately, the choice between Lightroom and Photoshop comes down to the goals of your creative projects and your personal preference. Frequently, the answer is to use both. Now that you know the differences between the two, you can design your workflow to create the photos you want. The best way to discover what works for you is to have fun and experiment until you find your perfect editing process.
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