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Photoshop CS5 and/or Lightroom 3

Larry H. - Atlanta, GA , Jun 10, 2010; 04:32 p.m.

I know that this is a rather basic question for this advanced forum, but please give me some guidance--I need the help because I am seriously outdated when it comes to photo software and hardware. Thanks.

Now that Lightroom 3 has been officially released, could someone please give me a quick rundown of how Photoshop CS5 compares to Lightroom 3? What does each program do/do well that the other one does not? Can I get by with just buying Lightroom 3 or do I need to buy both?

I currently use Photoshop CS2. I have never used any version of Lightroom. I do not do heavy, complicated editing in CS2, but that's due to a combination of lack of time and proper training (those two are of course related). I am looking mostly to make RAW conversion (currently using Canon DPP since CS2 does not support my camera) and editing easier, not necessarily more powerful. (Does Lightroom 3 come with ACR?)

For reference, I am running a five year old computer with 2 GB of RAM, with I think about a 1.5 GHz single processor. I realize that this system will struggle with either Lightroom 3 or Photoshop CS5, but I'd rather not have to buy a completely new system at this time. Will my current computer be able to handle these programs at all, albeit slowly? It meets the minimum system requirements for both software packages.

Thanks, Larry


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Thomas Sullivan , Jun 10, 2010; 04:50 p.m.

I presently run CS3 and Lightroom 2.x....forget the exact lightroom update I stopped at. I find Lightroom much easier to edit RAW in than ACR (which comes with CS whatever) and Lightroom organizing system is easier than Adobe Bridge. However, there are certain things that Adobe chooses to hold back from...or can't put in.....Lightroom. Sharpening is much better handled in photoshop, extensive local editing is easier in photoshop....altho LR2 and up does allow some local editting, but I find it a little cumbersome. Color to B&W conversion and control of it is much better in LR....for me, anyhow.

a combination of LR3 and CS2 would be a pretty good combo

John A , Jun 10, 2010; 05:31 p.m.

I had no success with Lightroom and with the way I work, it could have wiped my files away--it doesn't like when a hard drive is taken off-line.

Personally, though, I think there is a big difference in processing a raw and working on an image. I would much prefer, couldn't live without, Photoshop. There are a lot of great new features in Lightroom and ACR, but the fine adjustments are done in PS and that, if it is used right, is where the magic will happen. So I am only suggesting that at least get PS. Personally, I use several different raw processors, 3 different ones, none are Lightroom. I don't know if Lightroom RAW is really all that different than what comes with PSCS5, just packaged differently and I actually find Bridge to be a great program (but I also have a data management system as well).

Justin T , Jun 10, 2010; 06:02 p.m.

I also am running a a five year old computer with 2 GB Ram. Though I only have a 1.2 GHz single processor. I can tell you that both CS5 and Lightroom 3 will work, though like you realize slowly,
Though its not bad in my opinion, seeing that I use a 5d Mark II for a camera (saving for a faster machine). Just slow on the processing part but I can live with it.
Some times CS5 tells me I do not have enough ram for a given actions but I just close out extra open files and usual it works. Bridge and CS5 work well for me and my computer just the 100% views take a few seconds but 21 MP is a ton of data to process.

I personally prefer Photoshop/Bridge/ACR way of working (so far we will see in 29 days), manage and review in Bridge, tune the RAW and do general adjustments in ACR. Only use photoshop for the heavy projects Like HDR and layers.
However I am currently examining Lightroom 3 (Just downloaded last night). I must say that lightroom 3 has improved, it seems to me at-least faster that LR 2. I am learning as I go.

You can always download a trial version or lightroom or CS5 and try for a full 30 days with no restrictions, best way to see if it is for you.

Best of luck

Jeff Spirer , Jun 10, 2010; 10:46 p.m.

I had no success with Lightroom and with the way I work, it could have wiped my files away--it doesn't like when a hard drive is taken off-line.

There is no way this could happen. LR can't wipe out your files unless you explicitly tell it to remove files, and even then, it checks to make sure you are trying to delete files. LR is better than most software in this regard. Taking a drive offline with LR simply makes the files unavailable.

fine adjustments are done in PS

Fine adjustments can be easily done in LR, you just have to know how to use it. Reading up on it helps, and lets you do fine adjustments and lets you know how difficult it is to wipe out files.

I don't know if Lightroom RAW is really all that different than what comes with PSCS5

It is. This isn't a secret, the information is readily available.

I actually find Bridge to be a great program (but I also have a data management system as well).

With LR, you get everything that is in Bridge but you don't need a second data management system. It's a much cleaner solution.

A huge advantage of LR is non-destructive editing. Everything you change in LR can be changed again except for external editing, although you can revert to a state prior to external editing. Similarly, you can create multiple versions of the same photo without creating multiple files. Much easier if you have to send out different stylizing, different sizing, etc.

Dan South , Jun 11, 2010; 01:13 a.m.

Lightroom lets you process a lot of images quickly and non-destructively. For instance, you can get one image looking the way you want it to and then copy those same changes to dozens of similar photos with a few mouse-clicks. You can even copy changes selectively, e.g. copy changes to Contrast and Saturation, but don't copy changes to White Balance and Noise Reduction. Lightroom is streamlined and fast.

Photoshop lets you modify an image in great detail, but it's a more complicated interface and the changes are destructive. If you want to keep a copy of the original file untouched, you have to save your modified version as a different file name. Photoshop gives you almost unlimited photo editing options, but they come at the price of a steep learning curve.

You can download demos of both programs for free. Try them and see.

Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Jun 11, 2010; 03:32 a.m.

If you deal with large amounts of image files at any one time, Lightroom can save you a lot of time. I understand it uses the same software engine that ACR uses, but the interface is different. Like Dan said, Lightroom allows you to make the same change to multiple images in one move. On a slow computer it will take a long time to load up a few hundred large raw photos and render full size images, but from then on it's quite fast.

I do almost all my editing in Lightroom, but also use Photoshop for the few things I occasionally need that Lightroom will not do; like anything related to layers. Since you already have PSCS2 I would not update it unless it has new features you really want. It will work fine with LR3.

Another option instead of using DPP is to convert your raw files to DNG files with Adobe's free converter, and then opening/converting them in CS2 ACR. However, LR3 has a much better high ISO noise filter than the older versions. That for me was worth the price of the upgrade.

Scott Ferris , Jun 11, 2010; 03:37 a.m.

Use LR for your storage and RAW processing, web galleries and straight forward printing, LR3 is a huge upgrade, it uses the same RAW engine as ACR in CS5, but keep your PS2 for any extra image manipulation you can't do in LR. Best of both worlds.

To tell the truth I forget how we all managed our work before LR or Aperture. Certainly not as efficiently. LR is the best $300 a keen photographer can spend on his hobby and is practically a necessity for any pro or semi pro.

Patrick Lavoie , Jun 11, 2010; 10:29 a.m.

lightroom 3 + element / photoshop any version + wacom graphic tablet = perfect digital darkroom.

For most of the user out there, Lightroom is all they / you need IF you dont have to remove / add / composite element on a image. Its is in my oppinion the best digital tool in this modern time ; )

I always suggest to people to get Lightroom first, then in need update Photoshop to the latest version IF they need it.. but i never suggest to someone to get Photoshop and maybe Lightroom.. see my point?

Patrick Lavoie , Jun 11, 2010; 10:31 a.m.

see this number to help you see how lightroom is use today ; )

% of lightroom user

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