Photoshop VS. Lightroom: Which Is the Right Software to Use?

As a beginner in the industry of professional photography, you must be anguish on your skill set.

After watching numerous incredible clicks on the internet which could be your inspiration too, you wanted to start clicking pics like that. However, just pressing the click button of your camera is not enough to take the clicks like that.

As a photographer, you need to have several skill sets to play. Being a professional photographer means you have to be a person with great eye while shooting, a person with aesthetic sense while retouching your clicks using software and a businessperson while satisfying the needs of the clients. Among all of these attributes of a photographer, one skill which is must for photographers is to learn the use of major photo editor software.

It is nearly impossible to have got the desired image straight out of our camera lens. To have an ideal picture, it needs some post camera processing like brightness control, color balance, toned and other important elements of image retouching. For this, we have numerous of software available in the market which are easy to use with incredible features on hand. However, there is only one king in the market and we all know its name.

From the release of Adobe Photoshop first version in 1990, Photoshop has been the most favourite software of all photographers and the designers too. Not only has the professionals, the amateurs been one of the biggest beneficiaries of this software. But due to the increasing demand of Photoshop in the photography industry, the Adobe realized that it needs to launch an entire photography needs targeted software before anyone else comes on to this opportunity. So, it releases Adobe Lightroom in 2007. This was the start of declining of the use of Photoshop among photographers, however, still, the majority photographers are still using Photoshop professionally. Due to this, a debate has started among the users of both software which is confusing the newbies of this industry. They are confused on who to follow and which software to use in the early days.

So the million dollar question is, as a photographer, which software package you require to fulfil all your image editing needs. To help you in making a better decision to start working on any of these software, I am going to discuss these photographer’s toolboxes in detail in the next lines of this article.

What is Photoshop?


Photoshop is one of the most renowned software launched by Adobe ever. Even the laymen can tell you the basic use of the Photoshop. As per the name, it is synonymous of the photo editing. This software was originally developed by keeping the needs of photo editing in mind. Though with the time its functionality started expanding and now it has become the most used software for designers, architects, publishers and photographers too.

This software is the collection of different software with unlimited features and methods to use. This pixel level editor or the raster software has all tools which can give power to your creativity and can fly with your imagination too.

What is Lightroom?


The Adobe Lightroom is not the counterpart of Photoshop but a subset of Photoshop’s features. It is a custom tailored software with all the ammunition requires for contemporary photography which covers a majority of the image manipulation tools. But, it has some other features too.

Lightroom not only helps you to edit your images but also helps you import, organize, manage and find any particular image easily. Collectively, the Lightroom is a photo management and editing tool, unlike the Photoshop which only allows you to edit and then “save as” your image in any drive folder of your computer.

Photoshop VS. Lightroom: Comparison

Comparatively, both of these software are doing perfect jobs in their places. However, it is always better to stick to any specific software instead of using different tools which can create confusions. That is why, it is important to discuss the strength and weaknesses of both these software so as a photographer, you can analyse which software is better for you.

Photoshop’s Strength:

Photoshop is the collection of numerous features and tools through which you can craft your own world. However, we can discuss its strength by keeping it in the photography parameter.

  • Layers: layers are one of the most important elements of Photoshop. It allows you to keep different images or edits on the separate layers so it can be re-edit on the need. There is no limit of creating layers in Photoshop which stored in the master file means that you can hide, modify or enhance the elements of any layer whenever you want.
  • Toolbox: with every version of the Photoshop, Adobe is adding new and useful tools in the Photoshop’s toolbox. Tools like content-aware filling, camera shake reduction effects, photo filters and automatic panoramic image stitching, you can find a tool for all of your needs on the left side of the Photoshop interface.
  • Actions: this is an extremely useful feature when you have to do the same edit in multiple images, for example, adding your watermark in hundreds of pictures. This feature allows you to record the manipulation steps and record them. After this, you can assign paths of picking the image to edit, repetition of recorded manipulation steps and then saving it in your desired location. This feature saves your time and efforts.
  • Raster Software: raster software are those software which works on pixels. Every image that you open or create in Photoshop is comprised of thousands of pixels which are smallest of physical points. The Photoshop allows you to edit even at that tiny level through which you can do limitless manipulation with any image and can get high-resolution images.
  • Blending and Compositing: because all the work on Photoshop can be done on different layers, that is why there are numerous possibilities of blending those layers together in unique ways. For example, with the feature called masking, you can protect the desired area or can perform any editing on the desired area of an image to the pixel level simply by painting out the area you want to protect or work on.
Photoshop’s Weaknesses:

While having all the possibilities, tools, features and image effects, Photoshop does have some weaknesses which are hard to overcome even in 27 years of its first launch.

  • No Built-in RAW editing: every photographer prefers to take most of his pictures in the RAW format of the camera. This format allows you to edit your image without losing any of its quality which mostly happens while you edit a simple jpeg. For this, Photoshop doesn’t have any built-in feature. The Photoshop users a plugin for that called Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) or other plugins like that which not only opens the image but allows you to edit it to some extent.
  • No Image Management: as we discussed earlier in the introduction of both these software, Photoshop doesn’t have any image management feature. After processing every image, you have to keep all the images on their right positions manually. Moreover, it doesn’t have any plugins for that like the plugin for RAW images which makes the photographer job a touch harder than the Light room users.
  • Detailed Learning Curve: Photoshop is an easy software as compared to some of the other image editing software available in the market but it is not simple enough for every layman. It requires effort and time to learn the right use of all the tools of this software. Moreover, it requires the years of practice to master all the features and tools of the Photoshop so you can get the desired results out of your picture.
Lightroom‘s Strengths:

After reading the strengths and weaknesses of the Photoshop, most of my readers must have made up their minds for either using Photoshop for their photography or not. Those who still want to know some more and the positive sides of the Lightroom, here are few strengths of Light room.

  • Built-in RAW Editing: because Lightroom is entirely for the needs of the photographers, that is why there is no need of any plugin for the RAW files. Lightroom accepts the RAW files straight from your camera and also allows you to edit as much as you want within the software.
  • Workflow and Image Management: the purpose behind Lightroom development is to give a better software to photographers which can fulfil their needs. That is why Lightroom is the only software with photo library in it. The entire programs of the Lightroom are based on creating a solid and consistent workflow required in most of the post-processing phase.
  • Presets: a software with useful presets can make your work much easier. It is like a dream of having a preset that can control your exposure levels, contrast and toning. With that, you have this liberty of choosing various alike presets that need only drag and drop to apply on any image. The Lightroom is the home of numerous presets which all are ideal for the photographers. Through this, a photographer can give limitless options for his photo’s look and feel.
  • Short Learning Curve: you will not find any long toolbox on the left side of the Lightroom. There are numerous features in the Lightroom but all are easy to understand and use. The interface is simplest of all Adobe software and easy to manipulate too.
Lightroom’s Weaknesses:
  • Photos Only: the purpose behind the development of Lightroom is to assist the photographers only. That is why you can only import the existing images in it and can only modify them. This is one track minded software with no features that can allow you to create vector or raster image as this job is for the Photoshop.
  • Not for Advanced Editing: if you are not good enough with your camera and you images require detail or advanced editing, in such scenario the Lightroom is not going to help you. The Lightroom is an entire raster editing software which doesn’t have most of the Photoshop features that we use for advanced editing in any raster or vector image. With the exception of few basic tools, you will need Photoshop help to rescue you for advanced editing.
  • No Layers: you have no liberty of working on different layers and then enhancing or modifying them separately when required, unlike Photoshop. All the effects and modifications that you perform can be stacked on an image but then you will not be able to modify any of the effect done on the image.

Final Words

Both of the software are doing wonders in their positions. There are numerous names in the photography industry who are using Photoshop and there are also those who prefer to choose Lightroom as their image processing software. This all depends on how better you understand the software and how much you can take out from that for your image. Analyse your skills on the basis of both software’s strengths and weaknesses and you will find out which software is right for you to use.

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One Comment

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