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Thread: Lightroom & Photoshop

  1. #1
    mastamak's Avatar
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    Lightroom & Photoshop

    I upgraded to Photoshop CS6 several months ago and as part of the package I was able to get Lightroom at the same time. I am a reasonably proficient Photoshop user and whilst I have never used Lightroom I have a general understanding of what it does. But I notice in several posts on this forum that members talk about transferring images from Photoshop to Lightroom and vice versa and speak as if this is a normal part of their processing technique. I am struggling to understand why this is useful. I would really like to start using Lightroom if there is some advantage in doing so but at the moment I can't see why I would want to do so if I can process OK in Photoshop. Can anyone clarify?

    Grant

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Simple; there are things that you simply can't do in Lightroom that can be done in Photoshop. It is a workflow that works, but is not one I use a lot.

    ACR and Lightroom do much the same thing when it comes to processing, but Lightroom does have a few more tools. With ACR we have to jump into PS for some of these functions.

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Hi Grant

    Photoshop CS6 consists of Adobe Camera RAW v7 (ACR) , Bridge and the main PS editor. Lightroom 4 consists of the Develop section and the Organise section.

    ACR and the Develop section of Lightroom are very similar. They are fundamentally RAW processors but can also be used to edit jpegs. (To do this with PS, right click on the image in Bridge and select Open in ACR). Also they are both parametric editors - ie the adjustments are not burnt in to the image but simply stored as a set of instructions which are applied whenever the image is opened.

    Bridge is an organiser of sorts , somewhat like Windows Explorer where you have full control over how you organise things. LR4's organiser is more sophisticated and I believe it can do a lot of organising automatically if that is what you want. It's not something that I'm keen on however.

    So if you have both CS6 and LR4 and you like the organiser in LR4, then you may want to use LR4. However if you don't want to use the organiser in LR4, then you can do all you want in CS6. If you are processing RAW images, you will do the initial editing in ACR and then Open the image in PS. A lot of folk including myself find that they can do most of what they want for straight-forward editing in ACR. I often just use PS for a bit of extra sharpening (PS has a lot more sharpening options than ACR/LR) and re-sizing.

    Dave

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    The reason why you should think about using Lightroom is not for its tools for processing photos - as explained above you can use Camera Raw for that - but for its catalogue. How do you organise your photos at present? Take a look at what LR can do for you in that domain and if you consider that you don't need a dynamic system for organising your photos - which of my photos did I take in 2012 in New Zealand? - then stick to Photoshop and ACR. If you do decide to use LR's catalogue system then it's fairly logical to use it's processing tools too, but that will be up to you. If you do then you'll realise that some tasks can't be performed in LR, and for these you'll need to go to PS. Doing that - moving a photo from LR to PS and back to LR - is very easy, very convenient, very useful.

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    James G's Avatar
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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Hi Grant,
    I use both LR4 and CS6.
    As Manfred said, Lightroom has 'different' tools from CS6. I prefer to use LR when I have a lot of images to process quickly, I find it easier to apply changes to groups of images simultaneously. I also find that it has more tools in the print package option. It also allows me to apply/switch image styles styles rapidly and it allows me to prepare images for web presentation. I find it somewhat easier to catalogue and index images , particularly when applying keyword descriptions.

    I use CS6, to work single images that I particularly want to print. I find I have more control with ACR in CS6 and when it comes to masking sharpening etc, I have more control and selectivity in making changes to the image.

    As someone who started in a 'wet chemistry' darkroom nearly 50 years ago, I find that Lightroom is much more a photographer's darkroom process, and well within my comfort zone. CS I found more of a challenge since it has come straight from the 'digital' stable and was developed for Graphic designers as well as photographers. As such, it is not as 'darkroom' orientated, but it has a phenomenal number of tools to enable just about any tweak or manipulation you could dream of. As a result the learning curve is longer than with LR.
    Having said all that, I use both packages, but still prefer to capture images in camera that need a final 'polish' for presentation, rather than any major work in either CS or LR.

    James

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    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    James, an excellent comparison i cant add anything to it.

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by James G View Post
    I prefer to use LR when I have a lot of images to process quickly, I find it easier to apply changes to groups of images simultaneously.
    Just checking that you're aware that you can open multiple images in ACR at the same time and then either adjust them all at once or synchronise the edits from one across 1 or more of the others?

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    I use both Lightroom 4 and CS5. I find Lightroom excellent for most simple adjustments and then transfer to CS5 if I need to make more complicated layer adjustments to my images. I find the Lightroom catalogue system far superior

  9. #9
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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Thanks Colin. I do use it on occasion. Just me, I'm in the habit of using ACR/CS for singleton or stacked process. I tend to use LR for "event" shoots , family occasions etc.
    Of course, I did forget one other major factor if it comes to choosing between LR or CS. LR is much cheaper. Having both is a luxury.

    For anyone in the UK I noticed that Staples are offering LR for 69 for a limited time. This is comparable to Elements. CS6 is around 600+

    :-) James

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Hi Grant,
    PS and LR are different objects, with one common thing: the ACR engine.

    PS is a photo editing software and does not handle RAW files directly. These must be first developed, i.e., converted. ACR was developed as a module to open RAW files in PS. For this reason the ACR engine is not part of PS, but used as a plugin.

    LR, on the contrary, develops RAW data, with a little capability of photo editing. LR can be seen as, and was developed as, a UI for Camera Raw. This is why LR and ACR offers the same set of tools.

    One important difference one should keep in mind is that while LR offers a (growing) capability of photo editing, the editing done in LR and PS are different. In the first case the photo editing is seen as a set of developing instructions to be applied to the RAW data when producing the final printable Jpeg or Tiff version. So you do not modify the original RAW data. PS work on the developed Jpeg or Tiff, and actually modify the Jpeg or Tiff data. So LR editing is not destructive while PS it is. Consequence of this are the so called side-car files produced by LR and/or ACR where developing instructions are written. PS does not need extra files because it modifies and overwrite the original file.

    Bridge is basically a file browser. It also uses ACR as plugin to convert the RAW when you invoke PS for editing.

    LR uses an internal database, and it is really a superb product for pictures organization and handling. Especially if you have to handle a large number of pictures, or you work with different computers, say a laptop when you travel and a main computer, because of its capability of synchronizing databases.

    I shot Raw and I use LR for picture handling, selection, developing, and some basic editing. The file is then shipped to PS for fine tuning picture editing, and then back to LR for archiving and printing.

    When I travel I create a new catalog on my laptop or external hard disk. I then use this catalog for handling the photos while I am not at home. Once back at home, I only have to synchronize the new catalog with the main catalog to have all my photos stored it right place with all the basic adjustments I did. This saves a lot of time and work. Clearly you can have something similar with ACR, but it is more involved since you have to handle by yourself the side-car files.

    PS and LR work really well together, and offer a powerful PP workflow. But, unless you do not need the specific capabilities of LR (or PS), you can well live with PS (or LR) alone.

    Andrea

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Grant,

    You have gotten some good answers. I would add just a couple of things.

    LR, on the contrary, develops RAW data, with a little capability of photo editing.
    I disagree with this. Lightroom has been improving over time, and the current version has extensive editing capabilities. For example, it has excellent tonality controls, a good curve tool for contrast adjustment, an excellent clarity tool, good sharpening, good noise reduction, powerful tools for conversion to black and white, corrections for several types of distortion, and more. Apart from image stacking, which I do in an entirely different piece of software (Zerene), the large majority of my photos are edited only in LR. In addition, it has soft proofing and a very good print module, with built-in output sharpening.

    However, there are lots of things LR does not do. For example, LR does not let you work on selections, and you can't create layers and blend them. Some of the specific tools are much better in photoshop--for example, the clone tool. Photoshop also allows finer tuning of some editing. For example, you can increase contrast in a luminance-only layer, which LR does not allow you to do.

    I find it far easier to edit in LR. The fact that the edits are entirely nondestructive is helpful, because you can undo things at any point. You can make virtual copies, edit them differently, and compare them. You can select any adjustments you want and copy them to any other image or images that have open thumbnails. It does not alter your raw image, so that is always safe, and it does not clutter your disk with additional files in other formats unless you need them for something. When I get stuck and need photoshop, I tell LR that I want to edit the image in PS, and it just appears (after a long wait for photoshop to open). However, I always go back to LR when it is done because I find LR's options for exporting and printing very easy to use.

    Dan
    Last edited by DanK; 17th March 2013 at 11:58 PM.

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Dear Dan,

    I basically agree with you, my original sentence was "little, but growing". I should have erased by mistake "but growing".

    Cheers
    Andrea

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    mastamak's Avatar
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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Thank you all for your helpful advice. After reading the comments and fiddling a bit more with LR I can see the advantages of the LR catalogue which would have to be an improvement over the manual system that I currently use. I think I will give LR a go if only for the catalogue facility.
    Grant

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by mastamak View Post
    Thank you all for your helpful advice. After reading the comments and fiddling a bit more with LR I can see the advantages of the LR catalogue which would have to be an improvement over the manual system that I currently use. I think I will give LR a go if only for the catalogue facility.
    Grant
    Keep in mind though that by default LR stores all edits and all metadata in that single catalog - so it very much becomes an "all eggs in 1 basket" thing. Regular backups are a good starting point, but things get messy if - for example - a database corruption occurs with some earlier work but goes unnoticed and in consequence new work gets appended to the database and the corruption is rotated through all of your backup sets - you then have an issue where you can't not restore because you'll lose your earlier edits - and you can't restore because you'll lose your later edits.

    There are ways to recover, but my STRONG suggestion is to use the DNG format and have LR write parametric data (ie image edit data) direct to the DNG file so that the image and the image edits are all in the one file and can be backed up or restored at will.

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Keep in mind though that by default LR stores all edits and all metadata in that single catalog - so it very much becomes an "all eggs in 1 basket" thing. Regular backups are a good starting point, but things get messy if - for example - a database corruption occurs with some earlier work but goes unnoticed and in consequence new work gets appended to the database and the corruption is rotated through all of your backup sets - you then have an issue where you can't not restore because you'll lose your earlier edits - and you can't restore because you'll lose your later edits.

    There are ways to recover, but my STRONG suggestion is to use the DNG format and have LR write parametric data (ie image edit data) direct to the DNG file so that the image and the image edits are all in the one file and can be backed up or restored at will.
    Colin I do not quite agree.

    It is true that LR stores data in one database, but you can take backups on regular basis, and store a copy of the database on different hard-disks. So you do not have all your eggs in one basket. You can also save all your parametric data in the side-car files, as you save them in the DNG format. This is what I always do. The only difference is that you have one file if you use DNG, or two files if you use side-car files. The two solutions are then rather similar. If you prefer to use the DNG format, you can convert the RAW files while loading them into the LR database, so all our edit data will be stored into the DNG and not in the side-car file. But apart from personal taste, DNG or RAW+side-cars, offers basically the same functionality for backing/restoring image and image edits.

    However, if you are worrying about catastrophic events, the use of side-car files is to be preferred over the use of DNG. If something bad happens while saving data into the DNG file making it unreadable you loose all your data, RAW+parametric edits. Indeed, while the DNG format does not modify the RAW data, when writing the parametric edits one necessarily DOES MODIFY the DNG file with both RAW+parametric edit data. So you are really putting your eggs into one basket. On the contrary when using the side-car files the RAW files are really unmodified. The parametric data are written into the side-car files leaving the RAW file untouched. So if something bad happens you may loose the parametric edit data but your original RAW data are safe.

    Cheers
    Andrea
    Last edited by kris; 19th March 2013 at 06:35 PM.

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    It is true that LR stores data in one database, but you can take backups on regular basis, and store a copy of the database on different hard-disks. So you do not have all your eggs in one basket.
    I'm afraid that I disagree with your disagreement!

    As I said originally, the backups don't help unless you spot the problem immediately; if a corruption only affects older work that you don't notice for several weeks or months then you can't restore the database prior to that point because (a) the corrupted database will probably have been written through all of your backup rotations (assuming you actually rotate backup sets, which many people don't) and (b) if you do restore back that far you've just lost all your edits from that point forward. The alternative is having to muck around exporting portions of databases to try and reconstruct 1 good database which carries considerable risks of further data loss to those not used to doing such things.

    With regards to DNG -v- sidecar files - we can probably debate this until the cows come home, but in my experience, having the edits in the same file as the data means they're all together and can be backup up using conventional backup techniques quite safely - and subsequently restored without issue (unlike LR databases) - I know of many people who have lost edits when the sidecar files have been accidentally deleted or moved and subsequently lost. Other than that, I agree - the functionality is similar. But to my mind it's like storing 2 parts to a cooking recipe in different locations - when one is useless without the other there's no benefits to keeping them apart - it only increases the risk that they'll end up separated permanantly somehow.

    Yes - you can instruct LR to store parametric data in DNG or sidecar files - I said as much - but it's not the default and as such not something most people are aware of ... they just blindly accept the defaults - load all data into the catalog - and think they're safe because they backup occasionally - not realising the danger they're in until it's too late.

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Colin we are basically saying similar things.

    The problem of data preservation is an old and big problem. Different strategies have been developed in the years to deal with it. Clearly you do not know you have a problem until you do not hit it. This is why a safer backup strategy is to do full backups on regular basis keeping the previous backups, i.e., not overwriting the previous database backups. This comes at a cost, time and space. As far as I know the LR strategy is a regular database integrity check plus full backups stored by date. So even if the corruption spreads on backups, you may hope to have a sufficient old backup to recover the corrupted data.

    Said that, I agree you cannot rely only on this backup, and you better save your data, either using DNG or side-car files. And this is what I regularly do. My remark was not on DNG vs side-car files, both have pros and cons. My remark was just to say that with DNG you have one file which is modified at each edit, so if it gets corrupted you can loose both the RAW and the parametric edits data, unless you have a backup somewhere. Using side-car files only these are modified, so if something goes wrong you loose only edits and not RAW data. This comes at the cost of dealing with two files. I agree. I personally use both, DNG and side-car files, depending on my needs, to have the best of both solutions. I never saw any difference in backing them up using conventional backup strategy, once you know you have one or two files to backup.

    Yes, you are right, many people just accepts blindly the defaults, which may not be the best setup. Others do not clearly know what a tool is really doing. This is the main problem, but this is a question of knowledge. As with every tools you have to learn how to use it to have the best, and save yourself from bad surprises. But that's is another story.

    Cheers
    Andrea

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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    Colin we are basically saying similar things.
    Good!

    The problem of data preservation is an old and big problem. Different strategies have been developed in the years to deal with it. Clearly you do not know you have a problem until you do not hit it. This is why a safer backup strategy is to do full backups on regular basis keeping the previous backups, i.e., not overwriting the previous database backups. This comes at a cost, time and space.
    But therein lies the problem - if you restore an old prior-to-the-corruption backup then you've just lost all edits that you did after that backup (ie all more current work). The only alternative at that point is to start trying to merge good sections of two or more databases; for sure that can be done, but I've seen clients muck things up to the point of data being unrecoverable trying to do that under stress. And on top of all that, I really can't se any advantage in keeping parametric edits in the database anyway.

    My remark was just to say that with DNG you have one file which is modified at each edit, so if it gets corrupted you can loose both the RAW and the parametric edits data, unless you have a backup somewhere.
    After it's been modified and subsequently backed up I doubt that many would do much further editing -- and if they did then they should be backing it up again. It's unlikely any corruption could occur unless the file was being edited, and if corruption did occur then it's more likely to be spotted since it'll probably be being edited at the time. And yep, I've seen some beauty PSD corruptions.

    As much as I tried to like LR (I bought it!), I'm afraid it just irritates the heck out of me -- it just seems bloated - inefficient GUI - and with far too much "window dressing" compared to Bridge + ACR used together.

  19. #19
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Colin and I are on the same page on this one. I find that the database structure of the Lightroom design is what I consider to be a fatal flaw (and I did do a lot of IT / Systems work a number of years back, so I do understand DB design and industrial strength disaster prevention approaches). With a single monolithic database, one puts all one's eggs in a single basket, and as Colin correctly points out, any corruption in the database will result in replicating this issue in subsequent backups. There are obvious ways of building checks and balances into the database software, but I don't see any signs of even the simplest validation and data recovery techniques being implemented; if they have them, Adobe has not shared this information with the public.

    The only workaround I have found is to set up a separate database on a project basis; rather than putting everything into a single large database. A commercial photographer could set up a new database for each different assignment / contract and at least isolate the risk. Unfortunately, the way Lightroom is designed, this has not been made easy (and frankly Adobe could have implemented this quite easily). The program has to shut down and restart every time we load a new database. Not elegant, but it works.

    I will also agree with Colin on the kludged up user interface. I’ve used Lightroom since version one, and its roots are really both a cataloguing tool and an automation tool for simple adjustments, for instance setting white balance over a series of images shot under the same conditions. It seems to have evolved into a reasonably sophisticated non-destructive PP tool for non-technical users; but is hindered by baggage of its original intent. Unfortunately, Abobe is between a rock and a hard place on this one. With its fourth version of this software, it has a large and loyal user base that have gotten used to the idiosyncrasies of the software and user interface. It cannot correct some of the serious shortcomings of the software without alienating them.

    On the other hand some of the features, sophistication and implementation of some of the tools are better than those found in Photoshop. I’m thinking about how the gradients and sample points / history are shown.

    I go back to using Lightroom every few months (I have it on my laptop and use it while I am on the road), but revert back to the Bridge and Photoshop out of pure frustration.

  20. #20
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    Re: Lightroom & Photoshop

    Dear Manfred and Colin,

    I think we are moving away from the original question, which was more or less: I have both LR and PS, and I never used LR. Can someone explain me what is the usefulness of using both?

    I do not want to sell or convince you, or anybody else, to buy Adobe products. I was just answering to this question giving fair, unbiased, technical answers. I am not questioning the good or bad things of LR and PS. Nor I am saying you must use LR, or LR is the only possible strategy of dealing with photos. I was just trying to explain the difference between the two products.

    I also noticed that the use of DNG or RAW+side-car files offers basically the same safety in terms of backing/restoring data. Stated differently, the strategy you use with DNG it is exactly the same you use with RAW+side-car files, with the only difference of 1 or 2 files to deal with. Indeed the side-car file method is also used by others software, e.g., DxO Optics pro. Then it is up to you to choose which of the two solutions to adopt, with LR, Bridge or any other software that has the capability of handling both solutions. My was a simple technical answer.

    So I noticed that while with DNG file you are touching the file with both RAW and edits data, with the side-car files the RAW data files are untouched. So, even if the probability is remote or infinitesimal, the DNG are in principle more prone to a complete data lost.

    Finally, I agreed that you cannot rely only on LR databases and its backups. I know that recovering a corrupted database from old backups can be a pain. Clearly there is no reason to save edits in the database. But if you use LR it does save them in the database. That is a fact. As it is a fact that it is better you do not rely only on this database.... This is why you have to save your edits explicitly using the DNG or side-car files. With the only difference that with DNG this is "automatic", with side-car files you have to configure LR.

    Cheers
    Andrea

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