Photoshop vs Lightroom

6 September 2018

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to photo editing software in the modern age. Two of the most popular options are Photoshop and Lightroom. Similar in some ways, quite different in others, it is important to uncover what each option is most useful for to develop the best possible workflow, which will produce the most successful images.

Photoshop vs LightroomPhotoshop vs Lightroom


1. Pro-grade editing

Whether you want to perform a simple touch-up or a major edit of your photos, both Lightroom and Photoshop can accomplish your goals for you. Suitable for the professional digital artist, these platforms allow for the fast action of simple tasks, such as cropping and exposure adjustments, through to more specific and local adjustments using brushes, graduated filters and tone curves.

2. Filters

Filters are the quickest way for the modern digital artist to quickly apply a pre-ordained “look” to their image, or images. Both Photoshop and Lightroom can quickly apply filters, whether you are after Black and White, Sepia, Cross-Processed, or much more.

Photoshop vs LightroomPhotoshop vs Lightroom
Photoshop vs LightroomPhotoshop vs Lightroom

3. Suitable for Professionals

Not the obvious choice for your run-of-the-mill smartphone photographer, Photoshop and Lightroom are the chosen tools of professional digital artists, or at the very least, keen amateurs. While we urge everyone to push themselves and develop their post-processing skills as much as possible, these platforms are designed with the serious photographer in mind. 

4. Adobe

As the world’s leading creative software developer, Adobe is responsible for producing both Lightroom and Photoshop. With similar layouts and philosophies, familiarity with one product will lead to a smaller learning curve when leading to the other. These also help when both products are implemented in your standard photo-editing workflow, which is very common.



Not just a popular tool for photographers, Photoshop is a popular choice for digital artists of various mediums. This sets the two platforms apart, with Lightroom being developed primarily for Photographers.

For digital artists of all mediums, including photography, Layers are an essential tool for achieving the finest level of control over image manipulation, with many layers often added and masks applied to a very specific area of an image. Layers are present in Photoshop, but not in Lightroom.

The ability for pixel-level control over images and to work with multiple images to create composites is one in which Photoshop has alone, in terms of the two platforms which we are comparing.

Photoshop vs LightroomPhotoshop vs Lightroom

As well as the cross-media friendly technologies detailed above, Photoshop includes support for text, video and 3D graphics, another area in which Lightroom does not venture.

Photoshop vs LightroomPhotoshop vs Lightroom


When performing edits in Lightroom, you can rest assured your image is protected in its original form. Through the use of layers and careful saving processes, you can use Photoshop in a way that is non-detrimental to your image but Lightroom has this feature inherently. While you are free to make as many edits as necessary to your image in Lightroom in the knowledge that your original is safe, many photographers have lost once-in-a-lifetime photos due to making irreversible changes in Photoshop.

Lightroom is designed for the easy bulk-editing of photographs. Ideal for editing numerous images taken at the same time, under the same conditions, this is a real time-saver for professionals, such as wedding photographers.

A major difference between Photoshop and Lightroom is the latter's ability as a workflow manager. Photoshop simply does not touch on this area, while Lightroom does much of this process for you; ensuring it is simple for you to import, sort, catalogue and archive your photos. 

The different versions available for Lightroom and Photoshop

In times gone by both of these programs were popular as standalone purchases but things have changed. These days, Adobe convinces you to pay for its cloud services, which at $11.99 per month is exceptional value. This cloud service package includes both Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as other Mobile Apps and Services.

Both Photoshop and Lightroom can be purchased as a standalone product through Adobe Creative 6, although this is becoming more and more difficult, and with these products not being updated for some time and with no future updates planned, the creative cloud is the way of the future.

Photoshop vs Lightroom: Which should I choose?

With the similarities and differences that we have listed above, it is easy to see why many photographers choose to implement both products in their workflow, and with both being included in the creative cloud service, it doesn’t cost you any more to use both.

Lightroom is generally the first point of call for importing and for overall or batch edits. Photoshop is used to make any critical and local adjustments to an image, as the last step before sending it to print.

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