I’ve been seeing a lot of debate on whether Photoshop or Lightroom is a better all-around photo editor. Both are excellent photo editing software, in my opinion. But I think we naturally love to create competition. I’ve already formed my own opinion about the matter and to me, it honestly boils down to the type of photographer you are.
If I had to choose, I would certainly choose both because I think they both excel in their own way. So here is my honest, simple review of both software and which one you should invest in going into 2020.
Photoshop was the first editing software I was introduced to. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of Lightroom when I started in photography. At the time, I was not interested in photo editing. I just wanted to take pictures. The thought of nitpicking at my work was daunting and the idea of learning a foreign software was overwhelming. However, after watching countless YouTube videos I realized that photo editing was part of the creative process.
As I learned photoshop, I became less overwhelmed and more interested in what Photoshop could do. Not only was I able to color correct my photos, but I could retouch skin, remove objects, add backgrounds, etc. I realized Photoshop was a powerhouse and that with a little skill, I could transform my photos into something that wasn’t even in the original picture.
That realization was fun. However, most of my work (if not all) does not require me to use Photoshop to that degree. It’s nice to know those extensive capabilities are available but I realize I only need it a small part of the time.
Favorite Tools on Photoshop: Clone Stamp, Spot Healing Brush
I was introduced to the simplicities of Lightroom a little while after photoshop and fell in love with it. One of my favorite things about Lightroom is how simple it is to manipulate your photo. You don’t really need to watch a bunch of YouTube tutorials on how to create layers, render images, lock files, etc.
When I’m shooting, my goal is to perfect the image as much as possible in the frame. This process allows me to not have much work to do in post-processing. Lightroom’s simple nature and how well it gets the job done for me is why it is my preferred editing software. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best but that it is the best for me right now.
Favorite Tools: Clarity, Temperature, Grain
Photoshop or Lightroom?
Once again, I would have to say that the best tool depends on what you’re shooting or what you hope to accomplish. For instance, if you’re shooting a landscape but the sky is really washed out to the point that you can’t color correct it to beauty, then you may want to use Photoshop to swap out the sky. At the same time, if you just want to add more color to your landscape photo, Lightroom is obviously the best choice.
For those that are into fashion and portrait photography, you may find that both platforms make sense for you: Photoshop to retouch skin and Lightroom for any color corrections.
Though I don’t use Photoshop as much anymore, it’s something that I know I need to keep around. There will be times where I need to remove an object out of my photograph, retouch someone’s skin or resize a photo for print. However, for my day-to-day editing, Lightroom is my go-to.
I think it’s best for photographers to make a list of what tools are most important to them to help them decide which software is the better choice or whether they need both. Here is my list:
- Simple and easy color corrector
- Some sort of healing tool for skin purposes
- The ability to resize images and change resolution for printing purposes
- Ability to save my presets for future use
Obviously, you need to do more than just those four things to effectively edit, but understanding what’s important for you will help you see which software will be more useful. For instance, both Photoshop and Lightroom offer a healing tool but I find that Photoshop helps you edit skin more naturally through separation frequency, which is not something you can do in Lightroom.
My current Creative Cloud plan includes both Photoshop and Lightroom for just $10 a month, which is a great value. Don’t forget to take advantage of the free trials Adobe offers as well. Tell me, which editing software do you prefer?