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Adobe Lightroom vs Photoshop: Which Should You Use?

May 11, 2021 In Design

A picture is worth a thousand words, and no one knows that better than designers. However, with so many robust editing applications available, it’s not always easy to decide which platform will give you the tools you need to complete your vision.

Today, we’re breaking down the major advantages and disadvantages of two applications beloved by photographers and designers: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. While both platforms are excellent options for image editing, each one is slightly better suited to different aspects of the design process. We’ll help you figure out which one is best for you.

Photo Editing

Lightroom was built specifically with photographers in mind, making it an incredibly helpful and intuitive tool for photo editing. Lightroom allows you to mass import a huge number of photos at one time, but still makes it easy to navigate between projects with convenient database organization. Lightroom’s editing automation is especially beneficial for designers. Once you download (or create) a photo preset, you can apply it across as many photos as you wish, which can significantly cut down your editing time. When you’re ready to print, Lightroom’s printing module will help you send off large numbers of photos at once with ease.

Photoshop offers a huge range of graphic design capabilities, one of which is extensive photo editing. While Lightroom is limited to primarily lighting and color corrections, Photoshop can handle much more detailed edits. Its healing tools can eliminate skin blemishes and even remove entire objects from photos to create a more cohesive picture. If someone was blinking in an otherwise perfect photo, Photoshop is the tool you need to swap in an eyes-open shot. Unfortunately, though, Photoshop does not support RAW images, which means photographers may need to add an extra step to their process to convert to a Photoshop-friendly format.

Graphic Design

Because Lightroom is strictly a photo editing application, it will not be the most complete tool available for complex graphic designs. If a photo will be the focal point of a print design, for example, Lightroom may be a great tool to use to nail the lighting and colors. However, Lightroom doesn’t offer layer editing, which is a critical element of most graphic designs.

On the other hand, Photoshop was made for more extensive graphic designs. As we discussed earlier, its compositing tools can edit out imperfect elements and add in bits from other photos to piece together the best possible image. With options to add text, shapes, overlays, and more, designers can use Photoshop to add as much additional information and visual interest as they want. If there are multiple photos you want to feature in your piece, you can add or blend them all into one design. Creating these kinds of details and icons is simply not possible through Lightroom. If you’re looking to create unique and complex graphic designs, Photoshop will provide endless options to facilitate your creativity.

Ease of Use

Though Lightroom doesn’t offer such a broad range of editing features, this does make it a bit easier for new users to learn. Most designers are able to smoothly maneuver around Lightroom’s interface, and those who have used other photo editors in the past may be able to master all Lightroom’s tools quite quickly. One of the best things about Lightroom is its organization and grouping capabilities. It makes arranging collections of photos and keeping track of separate projects simple, which will save you valuable time when searching for individual images in the future.

The endless features of Photoshop are wonderful for expert editors, but it may take newer designers some time to get a hang of the it. Each editing tool contains specific options to achieve your desired design, but this can make it confusing and time-consuming to learn which feature you’re looking for and how to use it. If your goal is primarily to color correct and add attractive filters to photos, Photoshop may take more time to master than it’s worth for you. However, if you do invest the time in learning Photoshop, it will pay off with expertly composed designs.