Adobe Lightroom 5 vs Photoshop CC

    By | Reviews | Software | 20/05/2013 10:57am
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    Adobe’s move to subscription-based sales for Photoshop CC has prompted photographers to look more closely at the alternatives and consider whether Photoshop is or even was the best tool for the job. So what are the alternatives? We start with a head-to-head comparison from within the Adobe family itself: Lightroom 5 vs Photoshop CC.

    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

    One of the big advantages of Lightroom is the way it combines image organisation, editing and sharing within a single workflow.

    Many of the new tools in Photoshop CC are actually part of Adobe Camera Raw 8, which is an integral part of Lightroom 5. This is the module that processes RAW files before passing them to Photoshop itself. And over the years, Adobe has been gradually adding more image-enhancement tools to Adobe Camera Raw, to the point where for many everyday image adjustments you don’t need Photoshop at all.

    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

    Lightroom 5 incorporates Adobe Camera Raw 8, as used in Photoshop CC. The new Radial Gradient, Upright and Advanced Healing Brush can be found in both programs.

    Did you know Lightroom 5 can do this?

    Have a think about the things you do most often to your images and see if they’re on this list of Lightroom tools:

    1. Crop and rotate. Non-destructive cropping and rotating, in fact. In fact all Lightroom adjustments are non-destructive – you can go back at any time to change them, remove them or add new ones.
    2. White balance: using custom presets or manual Temperature and Tint values
    3. Advanced tonal controls: Exposure, Contrast, Whites, Blacks
    4. Dynamic range control: use the Highlights and Shadows sliders to recover detail without compressing the tonal scale or affecting overall brightness,
    5. ‘Prescence’ controls: Saturation, Vibrance, Clarity (highly effective localised contrast enhancement)
    6. Curves: either with conventional control points or ‘parametric’ adjustments where you drag up or down on a part of the image to shift the curve for that region
    7. Advanced Hue, Saturation, Lightness: you can adjust all three properties for specific colour bands with sliders, or drag up and down directly on key ares of the image
    8. Advanced black and white conversions: manually adjust the mix of eight different colour bands, or drag directly on the image to darken or lighten specific colours
    9. Split toning: apply one colour to the highlights and another to the shadows – you can split-tone colour images too, not just black and white
    10. Sharpening: a more refined version of Unsharp Mask, with Amount, Radius, Detail and Masking sliders
    11. Noise reduction: you can adjust Luminance, Detail and Color sliders
    12. Automated lens corrections for most common lenses, plus chromatic aberration correction and manual adjustments if required
    13. Upright tool: one of the key features in Photoshop CS6, this can identify horizontal and vertical lines and apply automatic perspective corrections
    14. Post-Crop Vignetting: adds a controllable vignette effect to images even after they’ve been cropped with the Crop tool
    15. Grain: effectively simulates film grain and is especially useful for authentic looking black and white work
    16. Camera Calibration: if you don’t like the default rendition for your RAW files you can choose or create one that closely matches your camera’s
    17. Advanced Healing Brush: you can fix sensor spots with a single dab, or remove unwanted objects by brushing over them – another key new feature in Photoshop CC
    18. Red Eye Correction tool: though red-eye is quite uncommon these days
    19. Graduated Filter: use it to tone down bright skies and exploit the extra dynamic range of the RAW file, then use a second to lighting the foreground (for example).
    20. Radial Filter: another new feature in Photoshop CC, this can be used to focus attention on your main subject and darken (or lighten, or otherwise alter) the surrounding areas.
    21. Adjustment Brush: use this to apply localised colour, tone, clarity, sharpness and other adjustments to specific areas of the picture using masks and adjustments which remain editable
    22. Presets: sets of Lightroom adjustments for creating a specific ‘look’. Many different presets are supplied as standard, but you can also create and save your own
    23. History: every adjustment you make is recorded in a list, so that you can go back to an earlier image state if you’ve taken a wrong turn. Unlike Photoshop’s History tool, which is reset when the image is closed, your Lightroom History is saved permanently
    24. Snapshots: like Snapshots in Photoshop, these can be used to remember an image state you might want to return to or use for before-and-after comparisons – these, however, are not lost when you close the file, but saved indefinitelyVirtual Copies: if you want to try a new treatment for an image, you don’t have to create a new file – Virtual Copies use the same original image but apply a new set of adjustments – Lightroom’s adjustments are stored within its Library, not applied to to the image itself

    And the key point is that Lightroom is build around the Adobe Camera Raw processing engine. Whatever you can do with the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw for Photoshop, you can also do in the latest version of Lightroom.

    The new Advanced Healing Brush, Upright and Radial Gradient tools in Photoshop CC are already in the Lightroom 5 beta. And Adobe has publicly stated that Lightroom will continue to be a standalone ‘perpetual licence’ product for the foreseeable future. It’s not only much cheaper than Photoshop, it’s going to carry on being sold in the old, non-subscription format.

    What Lightroom can’t do

    This is also a very long list, but we’ll stick to the big ones…

    1. Layers and masks

    Lightroom is fine for enhancing single photos, but can’t do composites. For this you’ll still need Photoshop, whether you’re adding in a new sky, extracting objects from their background or producing a multi-layered artwork (though OnOne Software offers a Layers plug-in for Lightroom).

    2. Effects

    If you can imagine it, you can do it in Photoshop. It’s not always easy, and you do need a good deal of imagination, but there’s no disputing Photoshop’s dominance in image manipulation.

    3. Cloning and repairs

    Lightroom’s new Advanced Healing Brush, clever as it is, is no substitute for the cloning/repair tools available in Photoshop. It can hide sensor dust spots or blot out objects, but most repair jobs will still need the might of Photoshop.

    4. Vector shapes, type and paths

    You can use the Pen tool to create complex, adjustable selections, add type (text) to your images and create vector-based shapes and layer masks to your images. Lightroom has nothing like this.

    What we think

    This comparison might seem a little one-sided as we’ve talked a lot about individual Lightroom features and glossed over whole swathes of Photoshop’s tools, but the point is that Lightroom now does an awful lot of the everyday image-enhancement work that photographers need. The balance is shifting… you may still need Photoshop (or Elements), but you may need them less and less often.

    Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2013 at 10:57 am under Reviews, Software. You can subscribe to comments.

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