Lightroom or Photoshop: Which Should I Use?

When it comes to your post processing, you now have a multitude of choices when it comes to the software you use to process your images. New photographers ask me quite often whether or not they should use Photoshop or Lightroom. While I don’t have an answer for everyone, I’ll tell you what I do know.

Serious photographers are definitely going to want a powerful tool to process photos. Lightroom is an incredible piece of software that not only allows you to process and develop your photos but it also provides some incredible organization features too. Lightroom 2 offers some cool features that used to only be available in Photoshop, like the Adjustment Brush. It allows you to do some light retouching work like skin softening and teeth whitening. You can also do spot removal, crop, and straighten in Lightroom. Additionally, Lightroom includes Web and Print modules which take the “tech” part out of creating cool web galleries and printing your own images. However, if you have heavy retouching work to do you will have to go to Photoshop. The good thing is that Lightroom and Photoshop work together very well which makes the two a perfect pair.

Photoshop is the industry standard software currently in use for photo retouching and correction. There is a whole host of plugins available for Photoshop, which means that you don’t have to be a Photoshop whiz to exploit some of it’s powerful features. However, you’re pretty much on your own for organizing your digital image files. It comes bundled with Bridge which helps with organization, but there’s a reason that it’s free. Photoshop is a must have for correcting problems like color cast, removing love handles and bags under the eyes, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, and the list goes on. You can also use it for adding text to your images or creating graphics. Those types of things you can’t do with Lightroom.

So what do I do? I do about 80 percent of my work in Lightroom and I try and only go to Photoshop for more serious work like I mentioned above. This allows me to speed up my workflow and keep it as streamlined as possible. I use presets for repetitive tasks to also keep my workflow nice and quick.

Here’s how it really breaks down: Lightroom is $299.00 and Photoshop is $599.00. If you know that you aren’t going to need the hefty lifting that Photoshop provides, then you could probably get away with using only Lightroom. If you’re on a limited budget but need to perform serious retouching, then Photoshop will be your ticket. If you’ve got the money to burn and you need (or want) the best of both worlds then get ’em both. Any way you go, there’s no wrong choice when it comes to Lightroom and Photoshop. They are two very powerful tools that can make the most out of your time in the digital darkroom.

For great tips on using Lightroom check out Lightroom Killer Tips.

For great tips on using Photoshop check out Photoshop Killer Tips.


One thought on “Lightroom or Photoshop: Which Should I Use?

  1. And don’t forget, you can try them for FREE. If big daddy PS is too much there always is Photoshop Elements which over the years has grown up quite respectfully. And it’s much cheaper, $100.

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