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What is the difference between Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop?

Adobe’s editing software has been considered a must-have tool for professional photographers and creatives for years with over 90% of media professionals using Photoshop. But as adobe’s suite of tools continues to develop and grow, many would-be photographers are asking questions like, what is the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom? Or which is better for a beginner to use?
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop were designed by Adobe to do different things and as such come with a number of advantages and disadvantages over each other in different areas. This can make it rather difficult for a beginner to know which tool is best to use when they are getting started.
Luckily the London Institute of Photography, or LIoP, have put together this useful guide on the differences between Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and also explained what the two tools are best used for, helping beginners make the most of them.

What is Adobe Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is the most powerful and well-known piece of image editing software in the world. It is capable of making detailed edits to individual photos using a wide range of tools and functions. However, Photoshop is notoriously difficult to learn and can be incredibly intimidating to beginners.
Photoshop is a pixel-level editor which means it gives a much greater amount of control over the image during the editing process, but also makes it a slow process. Photoshop is not only used by photographers, but also many other media professionals such as graphic designers or animators.

What is Adobe Lightroom?

Lightroom was introduced in 2006 and its full name is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It was designed to be part of Adobe’s creative suite of tools to complement existing software like Photoshop. Lightroom isn’t as complicated and powerful editing tool as Photoshop but is much more focused on helping you manage your workflow. Lightroom comes with a database function that makes navigating between your photos much easier by using search functions and categorisation.
Lightroom also helps manage your photos by retrieving data directly from your camera, such as the time and date you took them. This makes it much easier to bulk edit your images.
H2: What are the advantages of Photoshop?
Though Lightroom may be simpler than Photoshop and doesn’t suffer from the same steep learning curve, it is understandably less powerful editing tool. Photoshop is often considered to be a vital tool for photographers and other creatives and the majority of photographers, if not all, will need to eventually master it for the following advantages.
Detailed edits – Photoshop is the most-used editing tool in the world for a reason. It has much more control over the editing process and affords the user greater creativity and options for their work.
Variety of tools – Much of Photoshop’s prowess as an image editor comes from the wide range of tools at its disposal. This range of tools also makes Photoshop useful to a variety o creative and media professionals.
Layer editing – Photoshop also allows you to layer any adjustments that you make to your photos, letting you create much shaper edits that create a much more professional look.
Enhancing Plugins – Adobe lets you install and use a variety of plugins that can automate parts of the editing process. This helps to speed up the editing process and help you complete your work or meet deadlines.
Compositing – Another one of Photoshop’s key abilities is how it allows you to combine elements from a number of photos. This is perfect for making edits to individual pixels to fix any small imperfections in a photo such as someone blinking.
Content Aware Fill – One of Photoshop’s most celebrated and popular function is the ability to remove entire objects, such as buildings or unwanted people, from photos to maintain a clean and natural-looking image.

What are the advantages of Lightroom?

Lightroom might not have the same editing power of Photoshop, but it does have a number of advantages when it comes to managing your work and making easier bulk edits to a number of photos.
Easier to learn – Lightroom has a much easier learning curve thanks to its simpler interface. This makes it far more accessible to beginners, letting them make use of the editing software much easier and faster.
Organisation – Lightroom’s main advantage over Photoshop is its detailed organisation functions. Lightroom allows you to flag images, easily navigate through them and sort them by date or time of capture, making it much easier to find the particular image you are looking for.
Editing software – Lightroom might not be as powerful an editor as Photoshop, but it still allows you to make simple edits to the contrast, clarity, exposure and warmth of your images with a range of tools.
RAW editor – Lightroom has a function that Photoshop lacks, the ability to upload photos directly from your camera in a RAW format.
Non-destructive – Lightroom generates a new version of your photo whenever you make an edit, rather them replacing the original like Photoshop. Lightroom also keeps a note of any edits that you make, letting you undo them easily.
Automated presets – Lightroom allows users to make use of presets to edit a group of photos all at once. This saves photographers a significant amount of time when editing many photos at once.

Which one is best?

Photoshop is a much stronger editing tool compared to Lightroom and sees a significant amount of use across the world. But its well-known steep learning curve does make it difficult to approach.
Lightroom, on the other hand, provides a number of advantages when it comes to workflow, organisation and making bulk edits. Lightroom is much easier to learn and use, but as such isn’t as powerful as Photoshop.
The aspiring photographer might want to put some thought into learning to use both pieces of software, as they complement each other well. There are a number of photography courses that will teach you to use both Lightroom and Photoshop.

Using them together

Adobe designed Lightroom and Photoshop to be used together to achieve different tasks. The two tools complement each other well and using both Lightroom and Photoshop gives you all of the advantages without any of the disadvantages of either.

Pricing and subscriptions

Additionally, Adobe provides both tools as part of their subscription service “Photography Basics Plan”. When purchased together you will enjoy a discount of nearly £20 a month, making Photoshop and Lightroom perfect together.
This article was written by LIoP founder Holger Pooten. LIoP runs professional photography courses in London, as well as tailored Lightroom and Photoshop courses for photographers.