Line Of Distinguish Between Photoshop And Lightroom: Which One Is Better For You

Photo editing is a byproduct when you think of being a photographer. Adding to that, it is even perplexing finding appropriate software that is to be used for the same purpose. Although, photographers have a rich assortment of praiseworthy software that can be used for editing purposes, but for the ones that cannot compromise and want the best: Photoshop and Lightroom are the choices. For others, there are options such as: GIMP, pixelmator, Aftershot Pro, Picasa, iPhoto, and many more being added to the list.


Now people happen to be in the bewilderment about both the photo editing software and want to understand the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop. Incontrovertibly, both the software is trending among the top-notch photographers in the world and they do share some common aspects. But at the same time, we cannot deny the fact that there are many such major differences between these two that can be discovered in the forthcoming sections of this article. They have solutions for various types of editing needs of the photographers.

By the time I finish this article, you will be able to know about the basic line of difference and similarities between these two. Hence it will help you in making appropriate selection about the right kind of software for your needs.

OK, now let’s first dig a little in the similarity section of the software.


Well, speaking of the basic tasks, both the software are designed to help you in editing images. However, the task handling and usage of each program is very different from one another. The thing is, if you want a basic image editing solution that can help you with altering, tweaking and enhancing the pictures, you can use any of the software. The file type that is favored by both the software is: TIFF, JPEG, PNG as well as RAW- which is considered as the personal favorite of many photographers. For fine handling of RAW files, both the software are fashioned with ACR- Adobe Camera Raw Processing Engine. Thus it makes the controls quite similar to one another and so are the editing options. You can easily do things such as: adjusting saturation, correcting for lens distortions, working with curves and much more.

Well, it is in nature of Lightroom as well as Photoshop to offer a plethora of editing and manipulation tools. These tools are best suited for basic needs as well as intense editing. The essential needs could be basic cropping or adjusting exposure. And the intense adjustments can be working with filters, curves, brushes, and much more. Then they both have presets and many in-built effects that can be simply applied by making least post amendments. The effects that enjoy maximum usage are black and white, artistic styles, sepia and others. Both of the software are trending a lot and undeniably, they have the richest assortment of plus features in terms of image editing.

People like to use software with a different set of requirements as well as different tastes in software. Photoshop and Lightroom are signature brands of many top-notch photographers. Along-with the similarities, it is extremely imperative to understand the distinction between the both. So, let’s now head towards the section of this article, where you can find difference between both the highly admired software.

The Divergence

So, we will discuss all the variations one by one in this section.

File Handling:

Well, file handling is the first array of contrast among both the software. People who use Lightroom must be very familiar with the term of Catalog. The edited files are named as Catalog and saved separately. The files are saved in different location of your computer. The real image remain the same and edited image will be named as Catalog file. It is more like a book of instructions that will help you in understanding how the images are processed. All the edits are recorded by Lightroom as the log of edits is stored in database. The original image remains intact. Photoshop operates entirely different. The approach followed by Lightroom is known as Non-destructive editing and no such technique is followed in Photoshop.

The best part of being associated with Lightroom, you can make important changes whenever you want. As the records are maintained so even if you are opening the image after a year, you can resume the changes. Adding more to the pros, the instructions will give you a step by step approach about the edits. The edited image in Lightroom can further be converted to the printable image extension. You can also share the image on any social media platform or post it wherever you like. As the original file is untouched, you can make various types of changes on same image.

Lightroom Editing Workflow

Moreover the Catalog consume very less of your computer space. It doesn’t matter how many images are being converted into catalogs, the space used will be the least.

Photoshop has different ethos of operations. Photoshop make changes on the original file saved in your computer. For keeping the original image safe, you have to make another copy of the image by suing conventional approach. This is not only taxing but it will also use a lot of disk space of your computer. For further usage, the PSD will have to be saved back to the portable and usable platform such as JPEG, PNG, etc.

Photoshop Editing Workflow

Well, for someone who wants to keep the original copy, you will have to create three different files by the time you are done with the edit. Non-destructive technique in Photoshop can lead to in using a lot more space than you would have ever used conventionally. First will be the image file say RAW file. Second will be the edited file made in platform of PSD. Later you will again have to convert it into sharable platform by reconverting it into RAW or JPEG or any other.

The basic process says that the initial two steps are the same in Photoshop and Lightroom. The difference is when for Photoshop an extra file is used. On the other hand, Lightroom make all the changes in second file, converting it in catalog that is a sharable platform. Moreover, the size of catalogs is quite small as compare to the files converted in Photoshop. Just images, three different files for every edit of single file, this is the drawback of Photoshop. In the facet of file handling, Lightroom is a win-win over Photoshop.

Editing Tools:

Users of Lightroom are not untouched with the fascinating nature of option giving the software to the users. It’s like a huge playground where you can enjoy with your pictures; convert them from ordinary to extraordinary. It could be a shark of the sea but at the same time, we cannot forget the massive presence of Photoshop where huge edits are concerned. As the user discover their editing needs, they can make a better decision about which software will serve best to their needs.

It is about a decade ago when Adobe company felt that Photoshop is not for everyone as the kind of features this software have, the photographers don’t need it for their small set of requirements. All in all you can say that Lightroom is child software to Photoshop that is needed by photographers for their needs. Considering few features of Photoshop and a complete packaged deal of Lightroom; both can be assimilated as the same.

Adobe Photoshop is massive with colossal range of filters and brushes and many other essential features that allow you to make all sorts of amendments in the images. The process takes place on layers where all the edits are stored.

Photoshop Layers

As the layers are created for each edit, the modifications also become quite easy. All the layers are independent from each other, hence letting you to make convenient amendments. Lightroom on the other hand is less flexible. The options are not too much either, when compared to Photoshop. Both the software consist a history tool that allow you to take a peep into the former edits that you have made. This tool is more useful with Lightroom as Photoshop edits are already stored in the layers and these give you more control to make the edits, whenever required. Therefore, while we are speaking of the software that is versatile and give you more editing options, Photoshop is a sure win.

Let’s discuss this aspect while taking in consideration an easy example:

Suppose you want to add a vignette to a portrait. Now we will discuss that how this could be done by using Lightroom and Photoshop. Well, it is quite easy as you just have to click at the “Vignette” option and make basic changes. The alterations could be of the dimensions of the middle portion, the time lapse when the Vignette is meant to fade away and other parameters. It is the most approached solution that comes in frequent use of all the photographers. For extreme usage, the option of Radial Filter can also be used. It will give you a lot more options to process the task, leading you to full control.

As far as Photoshop is concerned, it would require an addition of another layer, commonly known as Adjustment layer. The adjustment layer is more commonly known as levels and rest of the task is performed on the levels created. The levels are then adjusted in such a way that required areas are darkened and rest of the areas is highlighted. Mask is applied to the layer, only to darken the outer edges. Opacity can be changed in multiple ways. You can also change the Blend Mode or apply Dodge and Burn layer for further alterations. All in all, what I meant to describe is that Photoshop can give you way more control than Lightroom and is rich in bringing multiple options to make desired edits.

All in all, if you want to jump into a huge pool of options, Photoshop is the software that has got solution for all sorts of editing situations. On the other hand, Lightroom is small software but it has got every necessary option that a photographer might need to make edits in the picture. That is why it is quite popular among the photographers.


Well, Lightroom is coded in such a way that it takes care of your files right from the beginning to the end. As it is particularly designed for photographers and photo editing enthusiastic, it manage all the tasks skillfully, right from the importing the pictures, organizing them, making required changes and sharing the images.

Lightroom Library Module

This software also allows you to search for the images easily with the help of the keywords. Also it keeps track of all the images. There will be hardly any photographer who has installed both these software and use Photoshop for the editing purposes. Most of the time, Lightroom being the easy and manageable option, professionals prefer using this software for editing tasks.

Photoshop on the other hand do not perform any of the similar tasks as that of lightroom, when it comes to the workflow. You will not enjoy the feature of file transfer. It will not organize your images or create photo books. The power of Photoshop is only for the editing purposes. You can get hardcore functions where editing is related. But there are other loopholes that can make people head towards lightroom than choosing Photoshop as the prime editing software.

The Verdict:

After taking a clear look on the similarities and differences of both the software, it will be you to decide which one will suit your requirements the best. If you just want software that can help you in making edits and polish your photography, Lightroom is the options for you. But, if you need software that can open a large pool of experimenting options for you in terms of editing, you cannot find any better option than Photoshop.

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