Photoshop vs Lightroom: Which one is Best for Photo Editing?

computer running photo editor software

Photoshop and Lightroom are similar photo editing programs. Adobe makes both and they allow you to editdigital images. But what do you need to know about the differences?

Photoshop vs Lightroom: How to Know Which is Right for

The simplest answer to whether choose Photoshop or Lightroom is “it depends.”

Each has its advantages and is beneficial in various circumstances. Knowing the pros and cons of each and applying that information to the specifics of which you are working makes it easier to choose the right photo editing program.

What are the differences between the Photoshop and Lightroom?

Features and Benefits of Photoshop

Photoshop is one of the best-known photo editing programs. Adobe created the application and it set the standard for photo editing software.

Originally, it was a simple program and as they made advancements, it expanded and became more functional. Nowadays, Photoshop is popular with graphic designers, photographers, animators, and publishers.

Adobe Photoshop offers a wide variety of options. It’s a pixel-level editor, so you’re able to work with each pixel and alter your images. You can get up close and personal with every little dot of color that makes up your digital image.

Features and Benefits of Lightroom

Photo Editing

Lightroom is also a photo editor from Adobe. It offers many of the same features as Photoshop but it is specifically designed for photographers. Most professional photographers find it includes all the tools they need for their work.


Lightroom also offers more than Photoshop or other photo editors available. With Lightroom workflow, you can organize, import, manage, and find images.

It’s not just an editing tool; it’s a photo management tool. You can run a significant portion of a photography business using the software.

Non-destructive Editing

It’s also a “non-destructive” editing program. Photoshop is not. What this means is you don’t have to save your work at every step when you’re editing with Lightroom.

It features no save function, and it automatically saves all edits in a Lightroom catalog, so you can go back and see the changes you’ve made and work from your original or any step in the editing process.

The Workflow of Lightroom

There are varying opinions
on this but many professional photographers and those who are familiar with
both Lightroom and Photoshop believe that Lightroom offers a better workflow.
Lightroom offers users the ability to:

  • Create collections
  • Move multiple images
    or files on your hard drive
  • Add keywords
  • Print books
  • Create slideshows
  • Share your photos
    directly to Facebook

It’s also possible to copy or sync an edit to multiple shots at the same time. You can also create presets and apply them to common settings across a group of photos.

Best of all, it’s easy to do and many people believe it’s much easier to use than Adobe Photoshop. This is a huge time saver, especially for photographers who shoot a certain type of event, like a wedding, or a certain style of photo, like a portrait.

Lightroom vs. Photoshop: How to Choose

Choosing between Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom is about determining the needs of your project. If you do a certain type of project more than another, you can steer your choice toward the software most suitable for the majority of your work.

With Lightroom, you’re able to do most of what you can do in Photoshop. You aren’t sacrificing anything, you’re just determining how much photo management you need with editing.

So, for example, if you shoot mainly raw photos, Lightroom is likely your best option. It excels at editing raw photos on its own, whereas with Photoshop, you’ll need Adobe Camera Raw. Lightroom also allows you to organize all of the digital photos as you import them.

photographer at desk with camera and photoshop

Lightroom offers plenty of basic photo editing options including:

  • Cropping
  • Exposure
  • White balance
  • Tonal curves
  • Histogram adjustments
  • Black and white conversion
  • Red-eye correction
  • Spot removal
  • Local adjustments
  • Gradients
  • Sharpening
  • Lens profile correction
  • Noise reduction
  • Saturation
  • Vibrancy

Anyone familiar with working with Adobe Camera Raw can make the transition to the Lightroom photo editor without much effort.

In fact, Lightroom is easier to use and is great for beginning photographers since Photoshop is known for its steep learning curve.

Does Lightroom Make Adobe Photoshop Obsolete?

editing at a photo studio

Though it might seem as if there is no need for Photoshop now that Lightroom exists, that isn’t necessarily the case. The best time to use Photoshop is when you can’t use Lightroom since there are situations where Photoshop is better.

Most of it comes down to the type of photo editing you are doing. Sometimes, there will be situations where Photoshop is suitable and for other cases, there is rarely if ever a reason to use Photoshop.

When to use Photoshop vs Lightroom

Specifically, Photoshop outperforms Lightroom with the following:

  • Advanced Retouching allows for pixel-level control or the ability to alter a person’s image.
  • Composites, where you are slicing and dicing multiple images into one.
  • Panoramas, if you need to stitch multiple photos to create a single panoramic view.
  • HDR, when you want to blend images and work with shadows and highlights from multiple exposures.
  • Advanced healing, which includes actions such as removing blemishes, whitening teeth, removing small objects, etc.

Lightroom can also do some of these things. Photoshop just does them much better.

Making Your Selection

So what happens if you understand what Lightroom and
Photoshop can and cannot do and you still aren’t sure which will be the best
investment for you?

The fact is there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to Photoshop vs. Lightroom. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.

Many photographers use both regularly and combine them for a set of comprehensive editing tools.

In most cases, Lightroom is a better option for beginners. You can start there with the intention of adding Photoshop later once you’ve mastered Lightroom and identified where it’s reached its limits in your workflow. But for many, Lightroom is enough.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lightroom and Photoshop

Which is better for a beginner photographer Photoshop or Lightroom?

Lightroom is easier to learn. It’s great for organizing your photos as well as simple editing like correcting issues with lighting or color. Photoshop is more powerful, but has a steeper learning curve.

What are the things Lightroom can do that Photoshop cannot?

Lightroom is a photography workflow tool which also has image editing capabilities. It has the ability to import and manage image files, add metadata, handle backups, in addition to simple editing. Photoshop is primarily a powerful photo editor.

Is editing on Photoshop harder than Lightroom?

Generally, Lightroom is easier to use for photo editing that Photoshop, since it offers simpler adjustments. Photoshop is much more powerful, therefore there are more advanced features to learn.

The post Photoshop vs Lightroom: Which one is Best for Photo Editing? first appeared on Photography Spark.

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