Difference Between Photoshop and Lightroom

Key Difference – Photoshop vs Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop and Abode Lightroom are two great software specially designed for photo editing, though there exists a difference between them. Photoshop has become a household name as it is currently the best photo editing software around. It is obviously the first choice of a photographer who wants to edit an image. Photoshop has a massive toolbox which has to be learned in detail to be perfected. On the other hand, Lightroom is a great software with basic image editing features and an image management tools. This is a great software to start learning to edit images as its tool box is simple and easy to use. Therefore, the key difference between these software is that Photoshop is a software specially made for image editing whereas Lightroom can be considered as an image management software with an additional feature of basic image editing. Let us take a closer look at these two soft wares and find out the difference between them

Photoshop Features

Photoshop was created for basic image editing in early 1990. But as the years rolled by, the software has become complex, supporting many functions and capable of doing image editing down to a pixel. Photoshop is able to support a variety of professionals from graphic designers to 3D artists. It would be almost impossible to comprehend the massive toolbox that Photoshop encompasses just by going through an article. There are so many tools and each tool also provides editing features which enhance the quality of an image.

There are special filters that are provided by adobe and other companies to enhance images. It also has a feature to stitch multiple photos together to create a panorama, create HDR photographs, retouch images and even make a fat person look thinner and many more. Photoshop can make any photo look natural and  realistic after editing has been done. This shows the power embedded in the software and the amount of fine detail that it is able to retain.

Photoshop can be considered as the number 1 editing software that is available in the market. The Latest version of Adobe Photoshop uses the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription which the user will need to rent from a month to a year.  The software will be available until the subscription has been paid.

In the past, a perpetual license was used but now it has given way to a subscription model. Some users may be unhappy with the result, but there are advantages to the subscription model. These subscriptions come with free updates and creative cloud services. Photoshop recently decreased the price on a subscriptions which have added more value to Photoshop.

When the user decides to go for the yearly subscription, he does not get one but two software. One is Photoshop, and the other is Lightroom 5.5. Lightroom also comes with a mobile app that is free, which can be used to view photos on an iPad.

Difference between photoshop and Lightroom

A photograph edited by Adobe Photoshop

 Lightroom Features

Lightroom, which can also be referred to as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, is a subset of Photoshop that has been specially created to complete tasks and functions that cannot be done with the use of Photoshop. The special functionality of Lightroom is its ability to handle a large number of files and keep them organized at the same time. Photoshop, as we all know, is one of the best image editing tools around and is specially designed for it. But when it comes to managing those edited photos and keeping them organized, Photoshop fails and that’s where Lightroom comes into the picture.

It could be said that one of the biggest challenges faced by people using Photoshop for editing photos and Adobe Camera Raw for manipulating photos is sorting them in the hard drive. It would be a tedious task to look into thousands of photos represented by thumbnails and find the one that you are looking for. Lightroom provides the user an efficient way to organize photographs, and when images start to pile in the hard drive, Lightroom will surely become essential.

Lightroom is an image data management software which reads image data automatically from a database. Metadata includes information about ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. This information contained in the photographs are written into a database known as a catalog. Lightroom also consists of a built-in feature where additional information can be added to an image, and images can be tagged using keywords, ratings, and flags. These features make image selecting relatively easy. Images can be edited individually or in batches. They also can be exported directly to Facebook and other social media websites. Photoshop does not support indexing and tag features which gives Lightroom, an upper hand over Photoshop.

Not only is Lightroom an image editing tool but it also is capable of doing basic photo editing. Photoshop is a dedicated software specially made for image editing whereas Lightroom can be considered as an image management software with an additional feature of basic image editing. There are many tools for basic editing cropping images to fixing lens-related problems. Presets can be saved and applied to a batch of images and Lightroom has capabilities like creating slide shows, printing and exporting images to various sources.

Photoshop vs Lightroom Key Difference

A screenshot of Lightroom

What is the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom?

Difference in Features of Photoshop and Lightroom

Learning ability

Photoshop: Photoshop is hard to master as it contains many tools and which are complex

Lightroom: Lightroom is easy to learn as it contains basic image editing tools.

Image Editing Tools

Photoshop: Photoshop contains image editing tools that are complete and tailor made for expert users

Lightroom: Lightroom has 90% of the tools available for basic editing and post processing. For beginners, Lightroom would be a great option to start mastering all editing tools.

Photography Workflow

Photoshop: Photoshop mainly focuses on image editing rather than on workflow process

Lightroom: Lightroom is capable of providing a great photographic workflow, support post-production


Photoshop: Photoshop can only focus on one file at a time and usually consumes a lot of time to make edits.

Lightroom: Lightroom is an efficient tool which enable the user to process images quickly and individually or in groups. Presets also can be used to edit batch images.

Cataloging, Indexing, Searching

Photoshop: Photoshop is not an efficient application in handling the above features.

Lightroom: Lightroom is specially designed for cataloging organizing and managing images and makes it easy to find the images we are looking for.

Management Tool

Photoshop: Photoshop is a dedicated editing tool which has minimal management ability

Lightroom: Lightroom is able to folder, sub folder and batch rename files and images with the help of templates.


Photoshop: Photoshop has a mix of destructive and non-destructive editing which will make permanent changes to the original file.

Lightroom: Lightroom does editing in an on destructive manner which does not affect the original file.


Photoshop: Photoshop does not display image metadata once the file has been opened.

Lightroom: Lightroom is able to display image metadata even when the file is open.


Photoshop: Photoshop is expensive

Lightroom: Lightroom is cheaper comparatively.


Photoshop: Photoshop is an expert in retouching. There are many powerful tools dedicated to this feature like for example clone stamp.

Lightroom: Lightroom is only able to support basic retouching features.

Layer and Opacity Support

Photoshop: Photoshop works according to the above principles which give it great control over the image

Lightroom: Lightroom does not work according to the above features.

Image Manipulation

Photoshop: Photoshop supports many features like,

  • Actions which records all the steps carried out in an image,
  • Composting, which enable combining many images for editing,
  • Blending, which can blend many images together to create one image.
  • Stitch, a great feature to create panoramas.

Lightroom: Lightroom is great for making global changes to images.


Photoshop: Photoshop supports photos and a variety of graphics as well.

Lightroom: Lightroom only supports photos

Content Aware Fill

Photoshop: Content aware fill is a magical feature available with Photoshop where image parts can be removed or filled according to the need.

Lightroom: Lightroom does not support the above feature.

Raw File Support

Photoshop: Photoshop does not support RAW file editing. RAW files have to be processed with other software before bringing them into Photoshop.

Lightroom: Lightroom is a RAW file Editor

Pixel Editing

Photoshop: Photoshop has Pixel Based Editor

Lightroom: Lightroom has Image Based Editor

Both Lightroom and Photoshop are of great value for photographers. Lightroom is efficient at workflow. Wedding photographers use Lightroom to speed up the workflow and also to work with RAW files. But when it comes to advanced image manipulation like retouching, Photoshop always has the upper hand. As an image management software, Lightroom will take the cake over Photoshop for the features it offers. However, Both programs are equally powerful and well suited for the tasks they are dedicated to carrying out.

 Image courtesy:
“Lightroom6.1″ by Taloa – Own work. (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons
“electric palms – VoxEfx” by Vox Efx (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr