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I've heard about Adobe Lightroom before, but never really understood what's so great about it, or why you'd pay for it when you can get Picasa for free.

I know Lightroom probably has more sophisticated editing options, but what are they, exactly, and how to do they compare to Picasa? Why would you use one over the other? Is Lightroom better for streamlining editing workflow, but Picasa is better for organizing & tagging photos? And would you ever use both programs?

Basically, what are the differences between Picasa and Lightroom?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

There are several features that I think are just awesome in one or the other. Depending on your needs, one of these features will make you (usually + some other things) go towards Picasa or Lightroom.

Lightroom:

  • Integration with other Adobe product (Photoshop, InDesign, etc)
  • More sophistication in editing (somewhere in between Picasa & Photoshop)
    • Color correction, CA correction
    • NR & sharpening
    • Exposure & WB adjustments
  • Can do batch processing

Picasa:

  • Arguably faster (much faster for me)
  • Integration with Google product (Blogger, etc)
  • Simpler editing tools

So, if your workflow deals with more Photoshop, other Adobe stuff, Lightroom is the way to go. If you need more editing tools but don't want Photoshop, go Lightroom. Other than that, like me, I went for Picasa.

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LR is much more sophisticated in editing, especially with local adjustments. Picasa has face detection which is one feature I miss in LR. –  Eruditass Aug 8 '10 at 14:30
10  
The biggest difference was forgotten... Lightroom is non-destructive, it does not modify your original files. You can have multiple edits of the same files and revert to the originals any time. –  Itai Oct 26 '10 at 14:08
12  
I'm pretty sure Picasa edits are also non-destructive. –  user677 Dec 1 '10 at 14:20
2  
Using recent versions of Picasa to add captions, keywords etc results in the loss of Manufacturer Makernotes in EXIF, including a lot of information about camera settings used for the shot. Really old versions of Picasa didn't have this problem. So some Picasa operations are destructive to some data in the image file. –  RedGrittyBrick Dec 16 '11 at 21:59

My Experience

This is just my personal experience, but I can tell you that when I tried the 30 day evaluation of Lightroom (it must be 3 ? years ago now), having been using Picasa for a couple of years, I was just blown away by the difference.

Lightroom just packs so much into the application, and does it so nicely. Picasa is great, and I still recommend it to people starting with digital photography, but Lightroom just takes everything to the next level.

I realise that I'm not giving you a point-by-point explanation, but if you're even thinking about using Lightroom, try the 30 day free trial. this is the link.

I hope you'll give it a try and find out for yourself.

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2  
After using Lightroom for years, trying to use Picasa is like trying to edit photos in Adobe Photoshop Express on my phone. –  dpollitt Dec 16 '11 at 15:51

if you want serious photo touch application then picasa is no match for lightroom, light room has highly sophisticated but user friendly options that can make your image look more better, but if you are only concern to photo management and web publishing then picasa is good it is lightweight However you can directly upload picture to flickr through lighroom which will come in handy.

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You can directly upload to flickr from picasa by installing a couple small addons. Picasa2Flickr - picasa2flickr.sourceforge.net flickr uploadr - flickr.com/tools/uploadr –  Jody Dec 30 '11 at 15:09

Programs like Picasa, iPhoto, ACDSee, are pretty much all most people need. They let you sort/manage your photos in a way that lets you find them again, either by searching (e.g. for keywords you've added) or just sorting them in a way that makes sense to you. It's a big step up from having a bunch of folders of badly named photos on your hard drive.

Programs like Lightroom and Aperture are the more "Pro" versions, where you can do much more serious editing, tagging, processing, etc and automate a lot of actions that might be useful for providing your photos to someone else (e.g. export a series of photos at a specific resolution with a common naming system).

Generally, I tell people to get one from the first category (Picasa if they're using Windows, iPhoto if they're on a Mac) if

  • they just like taking photos but don't modify them afterwards; or
  • they own a point & shoot (and not a high end DSLR)

    (not to be elitist or anything, but generally speaking people with a cheaper camera are probably more interested in capturing the memories rather than editing/managing their photos)

  • they don't know what Lightroom / Aperture actually do; or

  • they've never opened up PhotoShop to edit a picture

    (again, generally speaking if someone's not used some serious photo editing software or doesn't even know about it, they probably don't need photo management software like Lightroom or Aperture)

Whereas I'd recommend the latter for someone

  • who is really interested in the technical aspects of photography
  • who doesn't use their camera on the Auto settings

    (they're probably the sorts of people who'd find the capabilities of a more professional photo manager interesting if not helpful)

Remember that with all the extra functionality of the more professional photo programs, you also have a more complex interface with more things you can break, so if you're unsure, I'd say try using Picasa (or another from that category) and if you need to make adjustments to photos often (that Picasa just can't do) then think about switching.

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protected by John Cavan Jul 1 '13 at 2:38

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