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I've been happily using Photoshop and Bridge to manage and edit my digital photos. I'm aware that Lightroom 3 was recently released, and decided to take a look at it, since Lightroom has been widely promoted in the past few years. I haven't used it before.

I've read the specs, but I'd like to hear from those in the know: what benefits, if any, does Lightroom provide over the Photoshop/Bridge combination? I'm particularly looking for benefits to workflow.

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It is sounding like LightRoom is a nice workflow-oriented package, so I think I shall trial it and see what I think! –  Grant Palin Jul 21 '10 at 17:10
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5 Answers 5

up vote 20 down vote accepted

One big workflow benefit is that you're in a single application. Importing files, performing file management, keywording, editing, publishing, and printing can all be done from a single interface. In some cases you're literally one key press in moving between modules.

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Do changes to images in LH propagate back to Bridge, and vise versa? I'm talking about RAW editing, metadata changes, etc. –  Grant Palin Jul 18 '10 at 1:45
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No, they don't, but if you're using Lightroom I don't know why you would use Bridge. I'm pretty sure there aren't any functions that Bridge will do that can't be done in Lightroom. –  ahockley Jul 18 '10 at 2:36
    
Just curious, had to ask! –  Grant Palin Jul 21 '10 at 17:08
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I used LR for about half an hour yesterday and was sold. –  Nick Bedford Aug 15 '10 at 21:31
    
Unless I am missing something, I do not like LR because it uses its catalog to sort pictures, I by far prefer to organize my files in old plain folders. –  Paolo Mar 16 '12 at 11:40
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While Photoshop+Bridge generally offer the same capabilities, Lightroom is packaged and designed in such a way that all those capabilities are far more accessible. In Photoshop, you don't have at-hand access to the histogram, tone curve, white-balance (color balance), and exposure tools all at once. There are a wide variety of other photography-related tools that are also available at your fingertips in Lightroom, where as the same tools or operations may require a sequence of activities to find and use in Photoshop. Some tools offer capabilities that are not found in Photoshop, like the new camera lens profiles of Lightroom 3.

Workflow is better with Lightroom, as your library management and development are all in a single application. You don't have to switch back and forth, and many library-management activities can be performed from Lighroom film strip on demand. Additionally, Lightroom provides to additional workflows for generating web sites and slide shows, as well as a very rich workflow for print management. The printing capabilities of Lightroom are pretty extensive now in version 3, providing tools to print booklets with multiple prints per page in artistic layouts very easily.

Overall, for a cheaper product, Lightroom really outshines Photoshop as far as digital photo editing goes, despite the fact that both tools offer the same capabilities. Lightroom just makes it a whole lot easier and quicker.

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It's a lot cheaper.

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Haha, very good point. –  Nick Bedford May 10 '11 at 5:17
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I like to use the analogy I got from a few folks at Adobe:

PS was built by a team of image processing computer science folks and later improved with the addition of a bunch of graphic artist types. There wasn't a clear definition of WHO the product was designed for, photographers, graphic artists, designers; pros or amateurs. Bridge was bolted on the side as an attempt at catalog management by the same type of folks.

LightRoom was built by photographers, for photographers. Period. Now being part of Adobe, and part of the PS product line, they were able to reach out to and tap into that core team of really smart computer science types to do the low level bit twiddling work, so it's awesome at that. But the product had a single design point, a single customer base, and a single driven purpose.

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+1 for an excellent answer - you've nailed the core distinction very concisely. Photoshop does everything for everyone and thinks like a mathematician (e.g. in the names of its layer blend modes). Lightroom just does photography stuff for photographers and thinks like a photographer. –  Mark Whitaker Aug 28 '11 at 19:31
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As well as being a one-shop stop for the vast majority of your photo management and editing needs, for me the key difference between Lightroom and Photoshop is the fact that Lightroom is non-destructive and works on RAW files. That is that all of the changes you make simply add notes to the file (Meta data) telling Lightroom what changes to make when you export the image. Only then is the Raw file converted to produce a jpeg/tiff image. You still have your Raw file managed within Lightroom for future alterations without losing the benefits of being able to process the Raw file.

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[..] key difference between Lightroom and Photoshop is the fact that Lightroom is non-destructive and works on RAW files So does Photoshop. –  Znarkus Sep 18 '11 at 12:35
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