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Lightroom Review

Why Lightroom trumps Photoshop for me...

By David Fleet

lightroom review

I thought I'd write a brief Lightroom review to sum up the reasons why I use it for my post-production work. Like all software, it has its pro's and con's, but Lightroom is a really valuable resource that can sometimes be eclipsed by the popularity of Photoshop.

Lots of photographers use either Photoshop or its abbreviated Elements version. These are both great and its easy to find a plethora of tutorials and information on them. But there's much less out there on Lightroom, so I'd like to introduce you to it here.


Why do I use Lightroom?

There are several key reasons why I really like using Lightroom (currently version 3), which I'll discuss specifically below. I'm a professional landscape photographer and produce my own fine art prints for sale and gallery display.

My aim is always to capture images as close to how I want them to look in-camera, without having to spend more time than necessary editing them on the computer.

So what I need is software that has a simple but effective workflow, with all of the tools that can take my images from the original file to finished product. Lightroom does the trick perfectly! But I want to tell you about the specific pro's and con's in this Lightroom review. So, let's take a closer look at the key pro's...



1. Brilliant organization

So first up, Lightroom makes it incredibly easy to upload images to the computer, and then organize them into a neat library. My photos are extremely easy to index and find in Lightroom, which makes for a nice efficient workflow.

You can create different catalogues of images. So something I do, for example, is to make a new catalogue each year so that I don't end up with a really bloated one that slows performance down.

lightroom review

'Smart Collections' are another really useful organizing tool. They know which photos to add to a the collection automatically, based on criteria that you set. So, for example, I have a Smart Collection of my landscape photos which immediately takes in images that have a) been edited, and b) have the keyword 'landscape' attached to them.

lightroom review


2. Handy 'modules' - especially for printing!

Lightroom 3 also uses a really nice 'module' system. This basically simplifies the workflow, as you move through from one module to the next as an image progresses.

You start out by choosing your 'keepers' and then move into the 'Develop' module, where adjustments are made to ready your photos for the printing stage.

lightroom review

From there it's on to the printing stage, which, for me, is one of the real benefits of Lightroom 3. The 'Print' module allows you to print in almost any way you want.

You can choose from pre-set page layouts or make incredibly easy adjustments to borders, margins and layouts and then save them as templates for later use. This feature alone saves you from having to purchase expensive RIP software for creating complicated custom layouts.

lightroom review


3. Simplicity that spares your hard drive!

Another major benefit of using Lightroom 3 is that you don't have to process and save a TIFF or JPEG version of every file that you have finished working on, as you do in Photoshop.

Instead, Lightroom keeps the original Raw file and simply makes 'non-destructive changes (the adjustments you make), which it then saves in a separate file.

By doing this it preserves a lot of space on your hard drive, since you only ever need to retain one copy of your images and then just create JPEG's or TIFF's for specific purposes.

This is a tremendous benefit, as all photographers know how easy it is for images to mount up and slow your computer down. So it will definitely save you money over the years by not having to purchase additional hard drives.


Ok, so all that's great! But now it's time for this Lightroom review to have a look at what it's not so hot for. What are the major downsides of Adobe Lightroom...?

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1. Not great for super detailed adjustments.

Lightroom 3 does not match Photoshop for the ability to make very fine, detailed adjustments at the pixel level. For example, if you had an image with fairly complicated areas of lens flare that you need to remove, Photoshop would be much better equipped to do so. Photoshop's 'layers' system is a great method for making careful changes which, Lightroom does not have.

That said, 95% of my work in Lightroom involves using the 'clone' and 'heal' tools, which can deal very effectively with most things.

2. No good for video editing.

If you need to edit video then Photoshop is the way to go. because Lightroom is not equipped for that.



So, that's my introductory Lightroom review. In the end, it's a question of choosing the right editing software for you. Photoshop is brilliant, but because it is so well known people can sometimes overlook the other options. There are loads of people, like me, for whom Lightroom is the ideal solution.

It makes your life as a photographer nice and simple and minimizes the amount of time you'll have to spend in front of the computer. It's a breeze to always store my images in organized collections - it's mostly automated after all - and my hard drive never gets over-loaded because of the brilliant saving system. The printing module is also woth its weight in gold!

The Lightroom Series:

1. Lightroom Tutorials Home
2. Lightroom Review

1. Importing Photos to Lightroom
2. Organizing Photos in Lightroom
3. The Lightroom Develop Module
4. Editing Photos in Lightroom 1
5. Editing Photos in Lightroom 2


Have Your Say and Share Your Photos

Photoshop v Lightroom: Your opinion. So which of Adobe's post-processing options takes the prize for you, and why?

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