The difference between Lightroom and Photoshop

In the world of photo manipulation, it seems like there are countless applications that are designed to help photographers get their desired effects. It can be hard to navigate through all the options—especially as many of them require a monthly fee to be operated—and discover which programs are most suited to your particular photo editing needs.

The following will explore two of the more popular photo manipulation applications, both of which are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud—Lightroom and Photoshop. Depending on what you are trying to do with your photographs, one of these programs might be exactly what you’re looking for.


The commonalities

Before we begin, it is essential to note that there are many features the two programs have in common. For example, they both allow you to work in a way that doesn’t alter your original image if you don’t want to, and both are now using Adobe’s AI and machine learning tools called Sensei. This being said, each program was designed to help artists accomplish different aims when it comes to images. In the broadest sense, Lightroom is a tool designed to help you manage and process hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. Photoshop is designed to offer greater control and more in-depth edits. It is completely possible that you’ll end up using both programs for the best results in your situation.

Lightroom is focused on photographers

Photoshop is designed to handle a wider variety of projects than Lightroom. Lightroom was built for professional photographers in particular, with the workflow of a photographer in mind. When it comes to Lightroom, there are two different options: Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic. You can read more here if you’re having trouble understanding the differences between the two. Your choice will depend heavily on the number of devices you regularly edit images on.

Lightroom is great for organising massive quantities of images

One of the big draws towards Lightroom for a lot of photographers is how smoothly it handles large amounts of photos. Lightroom is stellar at helping artists process larger quantities of pictures and get the work done more quickly. It has a library-esque catalogue that allows you to store, organize, and rate photos within albums and collections. It also has a keyword search option to help you find that one photo out of a thousand.

Lightroom is fantastic for editing photos

Altering the colour and making other enhancements to light, perspective, and sharpness is what Lightroom was designed for. It also allows you to save edit presets so you can apply the same alterations to a large number of photos all at once. You also have the option of purchasing Lightroom presets from photographers you admire in order to mimic their photo editing techniques. Lightroom can also help you make minor alterations like reducing red-eye, softening the look of skin blemishes, and whitening teeth.

Photoshop is focused on photo manipulation

When it comes to having complete control over an image and unlimited possibilities for alterations, Photoshop is the program for you. Inside Photoshop, you’ll be able to take an image and turn it into something else completely. Cinemagraphs and other trendy effects are often accomplished with Photoshop. You’re able to cut out objects within a photo or make a composite of several images. You have great flexibility when it comes to graphic design and illustrations.

Photoshop allows you to work in layers

Layers allow you to make multiple copies of an image and stack them on top of each other. You can designate one layer for colouring, one for white balance, one for the background edits, one for the foreground, etc. Because of the layer feature, you’re able to tweak each individual part of the image exactly as you’d like to without influencing the rest of the image.


Hopefully, the above information has opened your eyes to which photo editing software is best for your current projects. If you intend on working with massive quantities of images without drastically altering the photos themselves (just tweaking colour, brightness, sharpness, clarity, etc.), then Lightroom is probably right for you. Suppose you want to drastically alter an image (let’s say, making your cat appear larger than Nicolas Cage with several other images blended together in the background). In that case, Photoshop is probably right for you.

It is worth noting that both of these programs allow for a one-week free trial, so if you’re still unsure which one suits your workflow best, feel free to try them both out. It is also worth mentioning that Lightroom tends to be a little easier to pick up for beginners as working with layers like in Photoshop requires an alteration in how you think about images.

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