To many amateur photographers the need to process and edit their files, often imply saving for the expensive Adobe Photoshop Software. The ultimate in image editing, Photoshop offers many incredible features. Lately, however, Lightroom has provided a different option that amateur should seriously consider.
One should view these software as we did, when we dealt with, using film. Once you have captured your images on the media, film then, digital information now, the next step would be the darkroom where you would process your film. The current equivalent is now your Digital image processor. It often gets confusing as there are so many choices. The first option is to use the software that comes along with the camera. Whether you are using a Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, all this manufacturers usually provide some kind of editing software. Iphoto or similar also may be a nice option. Picasa has also given photographers a very good, free alternative. However, assuming that you do not shoot Jpegs, and have opted for the higher quality Raw files, you will find that your options for quality raw converter quickly shrinks.
The industry standard for Digital Image editing, is Photoshop. It includes The Camera Raw Plugin to convert Raw files from a multitude of camera manufacturers into any types of format you would like. The problem with Photoshop is that it is expensive and may have features that you will never use, ever! So you end up spending money for extra stuff instead of using it for exactly just what you need. What has been an incredible feature in Photoshop is the possibility to do Local Adjustments! so once and image was convert from RAW to a PSD or Tiff it could be adjusted in any manner you would like. Editing with layer mask is extremely useful for selective and local adjustments.
So Photoshop offers 1/ a "Browser" application, allowing you to navigate through your folders, rate, rename and order your photographs 2/ Camera Raw, an advanced Raw Converter to process the files and the digital image editing software and 3/Photoshop itself. and enormous softa=ware full of adjustments, selection tools etc.
A few years ago, along came Apple, who, because they saw an opportunity with photography to offer an "All in one Software", expanded on their amazing and free software Iphoto and produced Aperture. Think about it, could a photographer live without Photoshop? Of course! Lots of the time all you need is process, minor adjustments, export, print and save. Aperture was launched and was immediately of interest to many photographers as they could go through the entire photo process with one software. Aperture was essentially a Digital Asset Management Software(DAM software) with the option to View Folders, rate, rename and order your photographs, process, and do minor image editing. The software offered a light table, the option to produce inexpensive books and had a built database that would allow to sort and find (manage) images with large libraries of Photographs. Needless to say that Adobe freak out and soon created Lightroom and really, (I hate to say that but it is the truth) copied everything Apple had done and repackaged it into a cross platform. Both these software Lightroom and Aperture have come a long way. With Aperture losing a lot of ground due to the fact that Lightroom is cross-platform. Lightroom 3 is an amazing piece of software and even though I am still fighting to work with it, I do believe that it is an awesome tool.
Photoshop is an Digital Image Editing Software, and cost around $400-$500. It offers a wide range of editing options, from adjustment tools to selection to text etc. Multi layered images for composite images. It has the Camera Raw Plugin, which, uses the same processing engine as Lightroom does. I repeat the SAME processing engine! Photoshop also includes Bridge, which is an advanced browser software. I often look at Lightroom and Bridge as the same with the only differences, and I believe these are major in my day to day:
Lightroom, Digital Asset Management software, and cost around $200.00. It is designed as an "all in one' Software. Your darkroom, light table, filing cabinet, Web Gallery creator, Print manager etc etc. Above all, since you are importing your images and dealing with a strict catalog structure, in order to be successful, it allows for large image libraries to be managed easily. Keyword help you find your images in a blink of an eye. Adobe has also included an option to export a video from your sideshow. Remember that
So which software should you purchase, Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom?
Well if you are a serious photographer, either a pro or advanced amateur I would say purchase Photoshop. There isn't anything that you can not do in Photoshop that Lightroom will offer apart from the DAM (Digital Asset Management). To that I would say to stop for an afternoon and devise a plan that would allow you to create a plan so you can organize your files properly. Or wait till you have a few hundred dollars extra and time to learn anew software and purchase your choice of Digital Asset Management (DAM) software. Photoshop will manage your editing and if not, you can do your editing in Camera Raw without the import option that will save you time. Plus you will have the possibility of editing Video and creating multi layered images for composite images.
If you are an advanced or serious amateur that is looking for "an all in one" software, then Lightroom may be your choice. It is cheaper and will do everything you need, even without the fine editing feature that you will have in Photoshop. Lightroom will give you excellent controls over processing, managing and editing your photographs and you will be totally satisfied, plus, it will force you to be organized by defining a clear structure to your image library. If you do a lot of travel, Portraits, and weddings, where you do not need to have exact (to the pixel) selection or create multi layered images then you will be fine. It has all the features you need. Its raw processing engine is excellent, as well as the various option for web galleries and printing. Mac user should not exclude Aperture that still offers other features not found in LR.
In the end these are two different types of software: One is a Digital Asset Management Software and the other Digital Imaging Software. And even though they both have common features they should be used for their specific purpose. I hope this will help, let me know if you have any question and best of luck!
A few years ago I purchased Nikon NX. A Image Editing software produced by Nikon. The product was amazing and offered a new approach developed by Nik Software called Upoint Technology. I won't go into all the details but you could say that at the time it was pretty advanced and forward thinking. Since then Nik Software has developed into the very successful company that offers a line of editing software that will compliment Photoshop or Lightroom.
At The Photo Plus Expo in early November, I purchased the complete Nik Sofware suite for Lightroom (used as a plug in). After some minor adjustments, due mainly to the fact that I was not an advanced Lightroom user, I started using the plugin and was blown away by the quality and depth of the software. Viveza 2 Allows extreme control of all color changes, Silver Efex Pro brings your B&W to a whole new level of quality and Color Efex Pro offer a huge range of color Filter presets. I would definitely recommend this suite. The Suite also includes HDR Efex Pro which I quickly looked at and was also impressed with. In the end this Nik Software complete suite will save you time and expand your ranges of option to output your photographs and I think for the price it is totally worth it.
Click on the Image Below to view a sample of efects that can be achieved.
You can check Nik Software here. Keep in mind that you can try this software for free for a 15 day trial.
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