Lightroom vs. Photoshop

Choosing the right photo editing software can be incredibly confusing. If you’re reading this article, you may already know that Photoshop is the industry standard for professional image editing, but what about Lightroom?

Lightroom is a much newer program, and its features are often misunderstood. In fact, many people use Lightroom when they could benefit from using Photoshop, and vice versa.

This article will give you a basic overview of both programs to decide which program will be best for your needs.

Let’s delve right in.

Which is better for most photographers?

For most photographers, Lightroom is the better tool. It lets you do everything Photoshop does plus more, but much faster. If you want to get a lot of similar-looking photos processed in a short time (as most photographers do), then Lightroom is your best choice.

Photoshop is better for people who want to do more advanced work (e.g., compositing multiple images together). Photoshop has some powerful tools for making selections and doing detailed work that Lightroom just doesn’t have.

So if you’re going to be doing a lot of composite work or other advanced editing techniques, Photoshop might be your best option.

What is Adobe Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editor developed and published by Adobe Inc. It is the market leader for commercial image manipulation. It has been used to create many well-known works, including movie posters, album art and video game box art.

Photoshop allows users to work on images with a lot of photo manipulation and editing. It can be used to retouch photographs, create photorealistic illustrations, remove unwanted objects from photographs, add textured effects to images, manipulate colors, and print high-resolution digital files.

But while Photoshop is a powerful tool that can be used to do some amazing things, it’s also overwhelming to many people. Photoshop is so versatile that you can use it for something different every day of the year. The learning curve can be steep. It might not make sense to invest time in mastering something that you will use only occasionally.

What is Adobe Lightroom?

So you have a ton of photos, and you’re ready to get organized. Adobe Lightroom is the perfect tool for that. It’s a photo editing and organizing software used by photographers worldwide.

With Adobe Lightroom, you can organize all your photos into albums in various ways: by date, by location, or even just randomly. You can star your favorites or flag others as ‘needs work.’ But here’s where Lightroom really shines: it also lets you edit your photos to fit any situation.

Is the sky too bright? Bring down the exposure with a few clicks. Does the person’s face look wonky? Pull up their cheekbones with the adjustment brush tool. Subject looking off-camera? Use spot removal to clone another part of their face onto the other side of their head.

Adobe Lightroom is much easier to use because it organizes all your images into a catalog. It also has presets that you can apply to your photos with just one click.

Basic differences between Lightroom and Photoshop

Lightroom and Photoshop are two of the most popular photo editing software packages, but their functions are quite different. If you’re not sure which program to use for your project, it’s essential to understand how they differ from each other.

Here is a quick rundown of their differences:


Lightroom is used for organizing and processing large amounts of photographs. It can handle raw files and provides a convenient place to edit your photos without worrying about the file format. On the other hand, Photoshop is a design program that can also be used for editing photographs. It focuses more on the creative side of photo editing.


Lightroom has a database that stores its catalogs in folders on your computer or external hard drive. Photoshop does not have its own database. It can only work with files stored in folders on your computer or an external hard drive (or cloud storage).


Photoshop was designed for graphic designers and photographers alike. It has many features and functions to help you manipulate photos. Lightroom was explicitly built for photographers who need to organize and edit large numbers of photos quickly and efficiently. It has all the tools you need to do so, but none of the extra stuff gets in the way or confuses people who just want to plug and play.


Lightroom is a non-destructive editor. When you make changes to your photos using basic adjustments and develop modules, they will be saved as separate XMP sidecar files. XMP has instructions for making changes to the original photo file when you want to view or export it again later. Photoshop makes destructive changes directly to the pixels of your photo file itself.


Lightroom was designed as a RAW converter, which works best with RAW camera files. At the same time, Photoshop can open any kind of photo file from a camera, including JPEGs, TIFFs and PSD files (Photoshop’s own file format). But if working with PSD files is your primary use for Photoshop, you should know that Lightroom also has a PSD export option.


Lightroom is designed to handle large volumes of photos. In contrast, Photoshop is designed to edit a single image at a time, although it also has batch-processing capabilities. For an all-in-one package that will allow you to do everything from basic edits to more complex fine art retouching, Photoshop is your best choice. But if you’re looking for an efficient way to quickly process large amounts of photos, Lightroom is the clear winner.

Visual interface

Since Lightroom is focused on various uses, it offers multiple modules that can be used to organize and view your work differently based on how you plan to use them (e.g., Slideshow vs. Print). Photoshop’s interface is more static, but you can customize it by creating panels with the tools you want to use most often to speed up your workflow.

Image Adjustments

Both programs allow you to adjust your image files cropping, resizing, color correction, etc. using a series of tools and menus. However, in Photoshop, the tools and menus are laid out on the screen to allow you to see all of them at once. In Lightroom, the tools are laid out in what Adobe calls panels. You can only see one set of panels at a time (e.g., Basic Adjustment, Tone Curve). An extensive preview of your image is shown in the center of the screen. Clicking on a new panel set replaces the old panels with a new set relevant to that panel set’s content.


The main difference in the basic workflows for these two programs lies in the order in which you perform tasks on your images. In Lightroom, you start by culling and organizing your photos; then you proceed to make adjustments and edits; finally, you export them for printing or uploading to the web. With Photoshop, however, there’s no specific order for performing tasks. You might decide to apply a filter, merge layers, and fix blemishes on your image all in one sitting.

Is it possible to upscale the image in Adobe products?

Upscaling an image in Adobe products depends on which Adobe product you use. The program has a minor feature for upscaling an image if you are using Photoshop.

However, it is not recommended to use photoshop if you want to upscale your image by more than 20%. If you do so, the image quality will decrease, and pixels will become visible. Lightroom is better for upscaling images in Adobe products. It can upscale your images up to 4x with reasonably acceptable results.

For better results when you need to enlarge pictures for high-resolution printing, use an online image upscaler to make them bigger without sacrificing quality. They are free and easy to use with no special software needed.

Final Thought

Two of the most powerful and popular pieces of photography software on the market are Lightroom and Photoshop. Each has its strengths, and each appeals to a different type of user. If you are looking for a way to streamline your workflow, both can do that for you. However, if you’re just looking for raw power, one of these two will better suit your needs.

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