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What can lightroom do that photoshop can't?

Brian Hankey , May 08, 2009; 05:03 p.m.

Subject says it all. Thanks.


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Andy L , May 08, 2009; 05:30 p.m.

It can help you manage, index and sort your photo library.

Brian Hankey , May 08, 2009; 05:31 p.m.

But in terms of editing? I keep reading posts where people talk about fixing color in Lightroom and things like that.

Walt Flanagan , May 08, 2009; 05:59 p.m.

Download the trial version and try it out.

John Tonai , May 08, 2009; 06:38 p.m.

It should be compared to Bridge/ACR or Aperture more than Photoshop. We used Bridge/ACR at work but I prefer the interface of Lightroom more. Both programs can do editing, global color changes and some other effects that Photoshop can do, but aren't nearly as powerful when it comes to manipulations. Generally, Lightroom, Aperture and Bridge/ACR are used first, and then, if necessary, exported over to Photoshop for more intensive work.

I also recommend trying out the trial version. What you should do is shoot a bunch of shots on your camera and then go through the workflow from importing the images to printing. This will show the value of the program best.

Jeff Spirer , May 08, 2009; 06:58 p.m.

The above description doesn't reference the local editing that LR can do. I actually find the way it works better than Photoshop in certain ways, and when coupled with some of the Nik tools, I find I can do 95% of what I want.

LR also is easier to use and better adapted to a photographer's workflow. You lose sophisticated masking and filtering (I go to PS for some of the filtration) and there's no real blur function although there are sharpening functions. You need to look at what kinds of things you want to do and see how it fits with both tools.

Joseph Braun , May 08, 2009; 07:15 p.m.

PS has about 99% more control your image but LR is faster and more efficient.

Brian Hankey , May 08, 2009; 07:18 p.m.

Even considering all the batch processing stuff photoshop will do?

Colin Mattson , May 08, 2009; 07:56 p.m.

Photoshop is a 100 ton dumptruck, Lightroom is a Bobcat. They can both achieve the same basic task, but one of them's faster and more nimble at it (and it ain't the ungainly dump truck the size of a small city).

At the same time, the Bobcat won't haul 100 tons of gravel.

They've both got their place: Lightroom handles hundreds of images with aplomb and is actually made for managing image libraries (unlike Bridge), while Photoshop is the option that's slower and heavier but lets you do more.

Edward Ingold , May 08, 2009; 08:12 p.m.

Photoshop will indeed do batch processing. You can set up an action which will perform the same adjustments on as many images as you like. If you want individualized adjustments on RAW files, you can make them non-destructively in Bridge/ACR then convert them to another format through Photoshop. The type of adjustments you can make in this manner are severely limited, and then only on RAW or DNG files.

Lightroom takes this a step further, and can make non-destructive adjustments on any file type (e.g., TIFF and JPEG), not just RAW and DNG. The types of adjustments you can make are far more extensive than in Bridge/ACR, including cropping and sharpening. The way files are displayed is highly effective - an array of thumbnails which can be enlarged to full screen with one click, and to a 100% (pixel=pixel) crop with one more click. Think of it as an electronic light table with a loupe - because that's what Adobe had in mind.

Lightroom is ideally suited to reviewing and adjusting a large number of images, and make them consistent from image to image. A typical even might have several general scenes with multiple exposures in each. You can not only synchronize adjustments among similar images, but make that group consistent with other groups. You can get your arms around a large project and adjust 100 to over 400 images in an hour.

Adjustments you make in Lightroom are saved in auxillary data files without touching the original file. They are applied at the instant of viewing or when converting to another file format. That conversion process is highly automated (similar to Image Processing in Bridge/Photoshop), and locks the changes into the results.

Lightroom thumbnails (previews) are very high quality, much better than in Bridge. Furthermore, they are saved in a database and viewable even if the original files are no longer available. Lightroom is almost worth the price for this feature alone.

I use Photoshop for masking and compositing, as well spotting for dust (Lightroom 2 adds that feature), precision resampling. Sharpening is more parametric in Photoshop, and works better for me when resizing files for printing. Photoshop is also much more sophisticated for printing. I like to print "contact sheets" using a laser printer (faster, at a fraction of the cost of an inkjet or dye-sub). However, Lightroom (1.2) will not manage a CMYK laser printer, but Photoshop will. You can use a laserjet as an RGB printer, but the results are much, much better in CMYK mode.

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