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Photo editing software - What's best?

Sara Sanders , Sep 30, 2008; 12:44 p.m.

Hi there. I am currently searching for the best editing software. I have downloaded a couple of free trial versions (Lightroom 2, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6) so that I could try them out before I had to purchase one. I'm leaning more towards Lightroom 2 after several hours of playing with both. However, I'm hoping to be able to get some opinions before I make my final decision.

A little background - I own my own event photography business. I'm doing mainly weddings right now - and I'm already booking up pretty fast for next year. I'm a huge fan of editing my photos after the weddings to fit the bride and grooms' tastes (B&W, Sepia, Focal B&W, etc.). I need a program that is going to be relatively easy to edit a lot of photographs ((I try to take around 1000 shots per wedding), yet still gives me plenty of tools to work with.

Between the aforementioned programs, which one do you like best and why? If you don't use either program, what program do you use and why do you use that one?

Also - I love to use tools like Focal B&W (where only one part of the picture is in color), soft focus, etc. However, I am having a hard time finding those on Lightroom 2. How would I go about doing something like that?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.



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Conrad Erb - Philadelphia, PA , Sep 30, 2008; 01:12 p.m.

Response to Photo editing

sara - make sure you try photomechanic. I find that the most processing time is spent finding the good from the bad files and comparing - photomechanic is the fastest raw browser I have found.

on the other hand, 1000 shots per wedding sounds pretty low to me. I'm more of a 2000-4000 shot kind of guy.

Hooman B , Sep 30, 2008; 01:46 p.m.

Response to Photo editing

LR 2 - couldn't live without it. I use 100% and occasionally export to PS for some things. Its just such a complete program. I shoot RAW, import the RAW in, flag the good stuff, edit from there. You just can't beat it, in my opinion. I'm sure there are plenty of people happy with Aperture too, so you should check that out as well.

Steve C. , Sep 30, 2008; 01:58 p.m.

Response to Photo editing

I'd recommend ACDSee Pro 2.5. I've been using it for years. It's half the cost of Lightroom (only $130), has an incredible RAW engine, does batch processing, image management, and I use their tools for 95% of my editing. And, since most of what I shoot is JPEG, I use their shadow/highlight equalizer tool extensively. It's the best shadow / highlight tool you'll find anywhere, because it lets you adjust specific ranges of brightness within your photo, without disturbing the other levels. You can bring up just the shadows without disturbing the highlights. It gives you very fine control. And, they have the same equalizer tool in their RAW converter too, which is built in to the program.

Also, unlike LR, you don't have to "import" a folder of images to work with them, and then export them somewhere else. You simply navigate from folder to folder, and thumbnails are created on the fly, similar to any other file explorer. It's much faster and easier.

You can download a free 30 day trial from their website, just google it.

David Wegwart - Denver/CO. , Sep 30, 2008; 02:02 p.m.

Response to Photo editing

LR2 is becoming my most used PP tool.

Raymond Valois , Sep 30, 2008; 02:23 p.m.

Response to Photo editing

ditto ... "... LR 2 most used photo editing tool !!!! ..." since I've been shooting RAW.


Christopher Hartt , Sep 30, 2008; 07:45 p.m.

LR2 is the 'quick and dirty' version of Photoshop CS3. If you're serious about the craft, master CS3.

David Schilling - Chicago, Illinois , Sep 30, 2008; 07:57 p.m.

Photoshop CS, or CS2, or CS3 is the industry standard.

Stu Nowlin , Sep 30, 2008; 09:21 p.m.

Shooting RAW and about the same number of shots that you do (1,000+) per wedding I use LR 1.4.1 (am migrating to 2). It saves me an incredible amount of time working up proofs for the client and for my web site.

All images I put in albums and sell are further refined with PhotoShop CS3. I can create incredible images here but it takes time and this care with final images pays off with the prices I have established.

The RAW processor (my choice is LR, but it may not be your choice) prepares an acceptable proof. Only PhotoShop gives me the quality and individuality I demand for all my clients.


Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Oct 01, 2008; 12:42 a.m.

A dedicated raw processing program like LR2, ACDSee, or CU1 is great for getting through a high volume of images, but I don't see any of those programs as able to completely replace a dedicated image editor like Photoshop. For some images and some features (like the spot color you're looking for, etc.) you need a real image editor. Photoshop Elements ($100) is the low end version of Photoshop CS4 ($700), but you need something like this at times. Other options in the Elements price range are PaintShop Pro, and Picture Windows Pro. Full blown CS4 is the standard though.

I think an event photography business needs both types; fast raw processor, and dedicated image editor. But if you can only afford one, it has to be the image editor, because it will also process a large amount of files (slowly), but the raw processor can't do many things you will need it to do.

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