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Beginner Question. Lightroom or Photoshop?

Discussion in 'Adobe Processing Products' started by Zeke_M, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. That sums up my question.
    A local college is offering online Intro classes for both PS Classic and LR Classic.

    Both PS and LR have given me epic headaches.
    In order to go forward in this infernal hobby I feel I must brave Adobe to get better images.
    I shoot a lot of images but I have very few keepers.
    Some folks say PS because of my low keeper rate.
    Others say LR because eventually I'll have more keepers.
    I'm leaning towards PS.
    What say you all?

    Proof that I do have a keeper from time to time.:D 
    DSC_0336_01 - Copy.jpg
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  2. We could argue about whether any picture of a cat is a keeper but we won't;) . Your picture is very noisy and more light could have been directed on the cat from the direction of the camera.

    If you can't get a decent picture out of NX-D, with which this one was processed, then the post processing program being used isn't your problem. NX-D does a good job or nef interpretation and though clunky, it can make a good number of adjustments to a picture. A good keeper rate starts with getting things right when you press the shutter button.

    If you do want to get something more friendly and/or complex there are alternatives to Lightroom and Photoshop that were discussed here over the last couple of months. Do a search for DXO Photolab and On 1 Photo RAW 2018. There are other options out there, too.

  3. TonyW


    Jan 15, 2010
    Assuming from your post you have both, it really depends on your image goals. Ideally you may want to learn both.

    Keeper rate is likely to have very little to do with post work and more likely to do with camera operation.

    Lightroom is probably the easiest to learn as its develop module is really just Adobe Camera Raw which you will work on in Photoshop in any case. It has excellent Soft Proofing and a great Printing pipeline, arguably easier and better than PS. Not forgetting of course it’s role as DAM.

    Photoshop is at the pinnacle of photo editing and is a deep and complex program that can take years to master. It offers a wealth of tools many of which you may never use in day to day photo editing. But if you are intending to delve into compositing, restoration, basic 3D, high end retouching then you will not find anything better.

    Another view
    Photoshop vs Lightroom
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  4. Growltiger

    Growltiger Administrator Administrator

    The programs do very different things and complement each other. So the best answer is "BOTH".
    (By the way there is no such program as PS Classic so far as I know.)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Depending on how you learn, considering using the tutorials at Lynda.com to get an excellent introduction to Lightroom, Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw, which is a plug-in to Photoshop. After doing so, you might be in a position to more easily decide which program if any of them are a good fit with you and whether you would want to follow those tutorials up with a classroom course.

    Your small percentage of keepers probably has a LOT more to do with understanding details such as composition, light, your camera body and lenses than understanding post-processing software.
  6. Many camera stores and clubs offers LR courses. If you like to learn that way LR is easier to learn.
  7. I don't even know what Lightroom looks like - all my keepers have been sooc jpegs with maybe a levels adjustment in Photoshop Elements. Nothing to do with software.
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  8. Thank you for the responses.
    I think I'm going to put the photo gear away and quit photography for awhile.
    It's not fun anymore.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  9. That's a good choice if it's not fun. It's better not to use disposable time doing something that's not enjoyable.
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  10. For my way of doing things:

    95% of the time Lightroom is the tool of choice, 5% Photoshop CC.

    I started out when Photoshop was the only tool in town...Lightroom didn't even come up on the radar, so I learned PS first. Today, I would go Lightroom first, then PS CC.

    I use PS CC when I need to deal with things using channels, composite images and adding text.
    I just started helping out some organizations with some their graphic design, so am leaning more onto PS now...but photo related, Lightroom and a few plug ins really do the bulk of the business. Not only is Lightroom a capable editor and DAM, but I find its ability to batch up edits really saves me a TON of time on some shoots.
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  11. I start with Lightroom and make most of the basic global adjustments (i.e., exposure, contrast, vibrancy, set a white and black point). From there, I open it in Photoshop and make most of my local adjustments. I find Photoshop easier to use for making more precise edits. At the end, I apply sharpening (usually in PS).

    While it's important to get it right in camera, I believe that post processing is a critical step in the vast majority of cases to get the most out of an image. The "keeper rate" is something that varies by photographer and depends a lot on the threshold one applies to judge the quality of the image. For me, the keeper rate would drop by at least half if post processing wasn't available to maximize what I wish to accomplish with a file.

  12. I'm also a 95% LR 5% PS guy.

    LR can make a so so picture good, a good picture great, and a great picture fantastic. It can also make a great picture awful if it's overdone. It won't fix poor composition or blurry/mis-focused shots which is something I think every photographer deals with every day.
  13. Hey, Zeke, before you make that drastic a step you might want to ask yourself why it isn't fun anymore. Is it because our weather sucks this time of year and you can't get out? I can sure relate to that! Is it, perhaps, that you have not yet mastered the camera enough to have a good starting point? (see Desmond's post above) Or might it just be your frustration that you think your "stuff" isn't "good enough"?

    The combination of all the tech required at both the camera end and the post-processing can be incredibly daunting, especially if you are trying to do this on your own.

    I don't know your background, or exactly where you are in our area, but there are some very good camera clubs around that might be a good place for you to go and meet folks of all levels to help you move forward.

    Feel free to drop me a line if you are interested.

    Now, as far as the software goes, my personal suggestion is that it is far more important to find a program that fits the way you think, than to try to force yourself into something that you find obtuse. This can take some time to download the different trials, just don't limit yourself to LR and PS. There are a lot more out there than you might think that are quite good.
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  14. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Thanks for a great reply Bill!
  15. I have learned so much from the forums I belong to (Nikon Cafe and Cambridge in Color) and have seen others' photos improve through the comments of other members. Sometimes the issues are related to in camera issues and other times to post processing. If you have enjoyed photography in the past, be sure you know what is making it less enjoyable now. I use PS and am now learning LR. But even after many years there is much more to learn, both for post processing work and for attention in camera. I just keep inching along and finding new ways to learn and improve. Keeper rate is not a metric I even consider.

    I agree Lynda.com is great for learning. There are also so many other videos on the web that are helpful. My advice is take photos, do the best you can, get them up on a forum and take the comments to heart and as a way to focus the next step in your learning. Don't expect folks to just say, " oh what a wonderful shot!" Where is the learning and growing in that?

    Look at others photos and sometimes grab them and do some post work on them to see what might make them better. Then there is no pride of ownership and you can learn a lot.

    Agree with Mike that if its not fun, don't do it. But think about what made it fun in the past and might be missing now.

    I like the cat! If I were to do it, I would use the dodge tool in PS to provide the adjustment to light that is missing. It would take 1 minute but took me a while to learn to use well!

    I am also in the soggy Pacific Northwest (Seattle) but there is much that can be done anywhere!

    Best wishes.
  16. The same for me. Even so, I can understand how it could affect how much a particular person enjoys photography.
  17. While keepers are nice, for me it's the experience of photography that is most important.
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  18. The same for me, Nick. I am very fortunate that I enjoy every single part of the process including imagining the photo, releasing the shutter, culling the photos, post-processing them, cataloging them and making and viewing slide shows of them.
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  19. nu2scene


    Sep 27, 2007
    Las Vegas
    There is a difference between taking pictures and photography. Taking pictures is what you do with a small P&S camera or iPhone, it's quick simple easy and fun. You don't think too much, you point-shoot and that's it.

    Photography is planning, preparing, thinking, composing, framing, working your exposure, learning, studying, buying equipment, using a computer and software, dedicating time and effort to the craft etc. If that is not fun for you, you will probably not enjoy photography. It takes years if not a lifetime to become good. Even then it all depends on what your idea of good is. Didn't Ansel say something like if he gets 12 decent images in one whole year he's doing well? Or something like that anyway.

    The taking pictures people, think that if they buy a camera they'll be able to get better images, just because they bought a better camera. That will most likely not be the case. You will probably take even worse images with the better camera because you now need to have some understanding of what you are doing, and what you will need to do. If you don't want to dedicate the type of time and effort needed to make better images, sell your gear and find something you'll enjoy more. There's no sense in punishing yourself in a hobby you don't like. I did that for a while trying to play a keyboard and finally said, it's just not worth the effort, to sound like a 5 yr old struggling with Mary and her little lamb. Gave the keyboard away and moved on.

    If you decide you like photography and want to learn and improve, then stick with it and learn as much as you can. For me, I'd say learn both LR and PS you will probably need both. You can learn how to use those programs in many different ways. You can take a class, or read some books or watch videos. For me, I would either watch videos or buy a book and read. Kelby's videos are great and so are the videos on Lynda. These are huge programs and it'll take you years to master. But the good news is you don't need to master it all to get going. Learn what you need when you need it, as you need it. Take it in small chunks and it's not too hard. But the thing is you have to want to do it.

    Good luck!
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  20. I teach beginning digital photography at my local community college. I teach camera skills and Lightroom. We briefly look at Photoshop. Hands down, take the Lightroom class first.
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