Do You Love and Hate Lightroom as Much as Me?

Do You Love and Hate Lightroom as Much as Me?

I have to admit it: I’ve never been on team Lightroom. This may be a bit of a low blow, but Lightroom has always seemed like the sandbox for those who couldn’t play on the big-boy playground: Photoshop, of course.

Even so, I use Lightroom every day. I import my pictures, run them through a basic preset I created, cull, and export my selected keepers to work on in Photoshop. I know Lightroom has made notable changes over the last year, so when I saw the Mastering Adobe Lightroom With Pye Jirsa class, I thought it would be a good idea to pull my sleeves up and make sure I was getting the most out of my software.

Having used Lightroom for about 15 years now, I found I knew most of what was covered in the material. I think this would be the perfect class for photographers learning Lightroom or for those who have a basic knowledge but want a deeper skill set in the software. Even so, I picked up three tips that have been great add-ons to make my editing more precise and faster. There is still one aspect where Lightroom under-performs glaringly, and I will touch on that at the end. First, what I learned.

1. Sharpening Using Radius

The Sharpening Tool has four different sliders: Amount, Radius, Detail, and Masking. In the past, I’ve only used the “Amount” slider, and sparingly at that. It’s not too long before the images look overly texturized and grainy. I do more precise sharpening in Photoshop, using High Pass and other adjustments. What I learned in the Fstoppers class was that "Radius" allows you to sharpen the area around the edges. The default value of 1.0 means that Lightroom will apply sharpening over one pixel around the edge. If you increase the radius to 3.0, sharpening will be spread over three pixels around the edge, resulting in thicker, more defined edges. This allows you to get more dramatic edges without oversharpening the entire image.

Using "Radius" on Lightroom Sharpening

2. Photo Stitching for Panoramas

You surely know that images can be stitched together in Photoshop to create expansive landscape panoramas and more, but did you know that Lightroom CC released this capability in 2021? It’s shockingly effortless and quick. Here is a video on how to stitch together images in Lightroom.

3. Selecting and Adjusting a Specific Color

Do you ever love an image, but the color or saturation are off in one color range? Maybe it was a model wearing a hot pink top, or the grass that looks more yellow than green. If you find yourself in this scenario, there is a tiny dial in the top left corner of the HSL/Color tab that will quickly become your new best friend. You can click it, and using the eye-dropper, select the specific color you would like to adjust.

Use this dial to select a specific color range and adjust it.

Now, the one thing I simply cannot understand about Lightroom is its sampling. For all the AI advances Lightroom has made in the latest versions, how is the sampling for spot correction so unintelligent? Here are a few screenshots of where Lightroom chose to sample in these no-brainer scenarios. 

Sampling examples in Lightroom. Image by Michelle VanTine Photography.

You can see in the image above it chose to sample the edge of the iguana's head instead of the grass. 

Sampling examples in Lightroom. Image by Michelle VanTine Photography .

Here again, it chose to sample the edge of the red lip for the skin. 

Sampling examples in Lightroom. Image by Michelle VanTine Photography.

In this shot, Lightroom chose to sample from a completely different pattern rather than the surrounding texture. In the Cloning and Healing section in the Mastering Lightroom class, Pye Jirsa noted: "sometimes, Lightroom doesn't do a great job at sampling." I was vindicated that I wasn't the only one who thought so.

With its new features such as layered masking, subject and sky selection, and more, has Lightroom made enough improvements for it to be a plausible all-in-one stop for editing? For me, not yet. It's just not as precise and intelligent as Photoshop is. It does a good job but not a great job too often. Though, I've started to do more in Lightroom before heading over to the big kids' playground. Lightroom feels faster and better for making broad adjustments over big batches, but in my book, it doesn't come close to measuring up to what I need to take an image from raw to deliverable. 

What about you? Do you love it? Hate it? Are you somewhere in between like I am? Are there any new improvements in Lightroom that have revolutionized your editing? How does it compare to Photoshop? Leave a comment below. 

Happy editing!

Michelle VanTine's picture

Michelle creates scroll-stopping images for amazing brands and amazing people. She works with businesses, public figures, sports & products. Titled “Top Sports Photographers in Miami” in 2019 (#5) and 2020 (#4), she was the only female on the list both years. Follow the fun on IG @michellevantinephotography @sportsphotographermiami

Log in or register to post comments

2 words and 1 emoji: File Management 👎🏻

well said!

Really? I find file management more straight-forward with LR than I do in Capture One, for example.

Well said. It's kind of the jack of all trade master of none

I've been using Photoshop since literally 1.0. I have always had other methods for catalog management so I have never used it at all. Didn't see the point for me.

I am TOTALLY on team photoshop. Since 1.0! Wow impressive


Photoshop and LR share the same RAW converter with exactly the same features. The only advantage in LR is that you don't have to "save a file" while working on the RAW file. It is just an XMP file. In PS you have to save to PSD which eats up space. That is for RAW development. For retouching PS is still my go to.

That being said:
I never liked the idea of libraries and "importing" photos. In Capture One Pro you can choose between "sessions" and "catalogue" (libraries). I always chose sessions because I want my projects to be "contained" and lean.

But although I don't like the UI of LR at all I recently rediscovered it for me. I cannot make sessions like in C1P but I just make a new catalogue for each project and that works for me as a session. So best of both worlds because the C1P keystone tool sucks really bad. And LR/PS is still more precise for architectural photography.

Such great feedback. I've never used capture one but I've heard great things about it

Capture One changed my editing life. I could never go back. C1 is designed for workflows that speed up getting your work edited and out the door. It has features that I’ve used in photoshop but are not in LR. The ability to customize your workspace is priceless. Speaking of Prices. They are good as I only pay $150 for the upgrade every year in March. Not the initial $299.
I recently went back to LR and it felt like I was editing with a child’s photo editor. It seemed so restrictive. C1 is what LR could have been.

The advantage of Lightroom is that you maintain a pure raw workflow. Edits remain non-destructive. Panorama or HDR merges remain raw. For Photoshop, you can import a raw but then you're going to save in a diffetdnt format. You have to pick a white point. You have to de-Bayer, and you have to trust that Camera RAW is hood at your particular camera's raw conversion.

I know that. That is basically what I wrote. 😅
Since I do a lot of retouching and compositing I need the PS workflow additionally. But when I have to only "develop" a few hundred images I do that from LR directly and export as JPEGs with JPEG Mini Pro and I don't have a step inbetween which eats up space.

But when I work in PS I open the files always as a smart object. I can always go back in the original RAW file at any point. I even do that for composites with the image elements. Each composite is made of several smart objects so that I have utmost flexibility to change everything afterwards.

On de-bayer argument though you are wrong, since the ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) engine in Photoshop and Lightroom are exactly the same. All the settings you can set in LR can also be set in PS as well. They are completely identical. Only the user interface looks a little different.

The only real difference is – like you and I said – is that you have to save it as file in PS which eats up space.
In LR the RAW file just "rests" within the LR project with settings applied to it until you export it.
And if you open it as a smart object in PS all the settings are completely reversible and editable like in LR. You just have that huge file to deal with.

My personal preference is:
For "light" editing with no real retouching - and big volume of files - I just use LR and export directly as JPEGs (or whatever format).
For "heavy" editing and compositing I use PS to develop (as smart object) and retouch the hell out of it. ;)

You can use a 100% raw workflow with the ACR plug-in - no need to save a PSD until you want to go non-destructive, which is the same as Lr.
Just click "Done" instead of "Open" - your edits are saved and will still be there the you the next time you visit the file.

That is true and I have done that in the past. But you have no visual reference until you open it again in PS. I find that very cumbersome. In LR or C1P you open it and you see it – also in comparison with other images.

But everyone is doing different workflows. My workflow is like I described above:
Open in PS/ACR for further retouching and compositing.
I use LR when I have to develop hundreds of images that need not too much in individual treatment. Like an event shooting.

You could do that with Bridge/ACR/Photoshop. But I find the UI too cumbersome to do it that way.
I just don't like that LR uses no sessions like C1P. But for me I circumvented this by treating each catalogue as a session for a project.
Although I would switch to C1P if they would support a proper keystone tool.

Agreed on Capture One Pro. It can be quirky on some things but I use it for the vast majority of my raw processing. I do use Photoshop to finish some. C1P keystone tool is much better in the latest update but yea not the best.

I try the C1P keystone tool every update. I agree with you but it still is not as precise as in LR. And you cannot "unlink" the 4 "guidelines" (I don't know their real name). And it still lacks the loupe in LR.
Otherwise I would be switched completely. Since I like many things better in C1P and it is still faster.

I share this grievance with the C1 keystone tool... So, so much better in LR!

I have to try C1 again for architectural photography, but it's really hard to break from the seamless integration between Lightroom and Photoshop (open as layers in Photoshop). I use 'stacks' in Lightroom to combine all the frames I take for one composition (that are later opened as layers in PS to composite). I do love that you can have multiple shots up at once in C1 and can easily make adjustments. Normalize tool is also killer.

I tried but found that Capture One met all of my needs many years ago.

I've heard a lot of great things about it also but I haven't taken the plunge into that yet

It's so much more faster and lightweight!

The only thing I miss from LR is cloud integration for mobile/client galleries.

Maybe you need to uninstall and reinstall, or upgrade your hardware. I just built a new PC with non-top tier parts, and LR absolutely flies.

Always had top tier specs, atm Ryzen 3900X, 32GB RAM, NVME SSD. LR ist just poorly optimized.

LR to start. Photoshop to finish. Hard to think of many working photographers that couldn't use both (or something similar)

That's exactly what I do.

I used to be a big Lightroom person but shortly after it went to CC it got slow as molasses. I've tried using it on multiple pc's from laptops to beefed out gaming desktops and it is just soooo damn slow. I can't get more than 10 images in before it bogs down and lags. I can barely even move a slider with out it lagging. It makes it difficult dial in the settings you want. Because it's so slow just browsing though your images takes forever too extending the time it takes to complete the images and removing any enjoyment from the editing process. If I press the right arrow key it takes any where from 5-15 seconds to proceed to the next image depending on how many images I have already edited. The last time I tried light room was about 2 years ago so I don't know if they have fixed that by now but I have already moved on to Capture One and Affinity Photo. I actually like them both much better than Adobe as they just seem to work better for my needs. retouching in affinity photo is crazy good. I can't believe I only payed 50 bucks for it. Also the Adobe Cloud CC app manager is super slow and crashes way too often. Adobe software just got in the way of me completing shoots so I got rid of it. I know adobe works great for a lot of people but i have no earthly idea how they get it run well enough to finish anything.

Something doesn't sound right. I have a 4 year old desktop that I upgraded to 16 gigs of RAM and changed the standard drive to an M2v SSD and have no problem with LR slowing down. Granted, it's not the fastest program, but after I updated my drive, it sails along at the same speed the whole time I'm processing. And, I have yet to have it crash.

Something is deffo wrong. I'm not sure if I need to change some setting or what. The specs of beefiest PC I had it installed on is 2.5 inch SSD, 32gb of ram, RTX 2070 (non super) GPU, and a Ryzen 7 2700 processor, 1000 watt PSU. I mean there's gotta be something going on if that can't run light room right? I gotta say though. Light room rarely crashed on me. It would just get super slow every time i used it and take forever to perform actions.

I should have qualified my statement just a bit. I've never worked on a really fast machine like you mentioned, so I'm not so sure the speed that my current desktop is really all that great. I came from a Win7 machine that was pretty much constipated, so when I did the upgrades to my current processing desktop, it was like going from a Ford Focus to a Mustang GT. :-)

Hahaha a constipated windows 7 machine lol. That gave me a chuckle XD. I remember going from a standard HDD to my first SSD The SSD alone is a massive upgrade and you have an M.2 drive which is likely faster than what I got. I bet it feels like a sports car! I only upgraded to 32 gb of ram for a space game i play. before that i was on 16 gigs of ram and it worked great!

I've got a somewhat similar setup (i5-11400, 32GB, RTX 2070 Super, 850W PSU), and LR is consistently quick as can be. Just edited a party overnight in an hour or so, and have another to edit right now.

I wonder what the heck I'm doing wrong? Maybe it's how my libraries were set up?

I also had to update my drive because I was having the same problems with the crashing. It seems the later versions require more RAM

C1P is definitely faster. I always make a test with certain computers. On my iMac 2020 (128GB RAM + 16GB Graphics card) it takes about 11-12 minutes to export full resolution JPEGs from 500x 45 megapixel photos.
in LR the same takes about 20-21 minutes for the same task.

I am curious how long my M1max will take (when I finally get it). But I guess the ratio between LR and C1P will be roughly the same. Hopefully only both faster. I think of C1P as the DaVinci Resolve or FCP vs. LR as the Premiere Pro. Adobe is always slower compared to its rivals.

And if C1P is able to resolve their issues with the keystone tool I would switch to C1P finally.

" I think of C1P as the DaVinci Resolve or FCP vs. LR as the Premiere Pro."

Hey that's a pretty good way to look at it. I understand your dilemma with the keystone tool. I had a similar situation with pano stitching and HDR merge with C1P. I only recently was able to move all of my work solely to C1P because their version 22 finally added Panorama Stitching and HDR Merge. I could have done those in Affinity but it never really worked all that well for me in affinity. like when affinity gets a stitch right it's pretty good but it seems like it has less margin for error than photo shop, so i just used Photoshop pretty much only for stitching panos and HDR merges until C1P 22 came out. Now I'm complete free of adobe and it feels pretty great to not be stuck under a rental contract.

I’m in the minority here. I have fully left Lightroom Classic for Lightroom CC. I just embraced it flaws but kinda boosted my workflow as I carry mostly an iPad Pro nowadays.

Well your work is stunning so whatever your workflow is- it's working!

LR Classic > PS. I do some global adjustments and remove all sharpening in LR and everything else is handled in PS.

Same here!

When I moved from film to digital I realised that I'd be shooting a lot more, so needed a digital asset management program. I can't remember the DAM app I settled on, other than it didn't handle raw files.

When I discovered Lightroom (version 2 I think), wow. Game changer.

Still used PS for a lot of edits back then, but less and less as LR improved.

It's rare now for me to use PS, except when printing and sometimes when using a sharpening or NR plugin. I know I could do that in LR, but it feels more natural to me to use PS. Also printing in LR isn't great in my experience, but that could be due to how I think.

So, short answer: Digital Asset Management drew me there, the power of it kept me there.

Capture One and Affinity Photo for me, LR looks awesome but I don't want to pay subs.

One thing I love about LRC is stitching and merging to HDR.
I'm pretty sure LRC has done stitching since well before 2021. What did change more recently is the ability to merge to HDR and stitch simultaneously. Previously, these were separate processes, which was a PiTA. Now, I can shoot a vista in segments for stitching, making an exposure bracket of each segment, then just select all the frames and let LRC sort it out. Nice!

One thing I hate about LRC is its modality.
I never had to switch modes in Aperture. The constant interface changes as I move between culling and adjusting are maddening. Adding insult to injury, keyboard shortcuts are different in the various modes. And, to really pour salt in the wound, LRC doesn't have a facility for customizing keyboard shortcuts. Talk about user-hostile. Aperture suffered none of these oversights.

The Aperture feature I miss most is the 3-up view, where the currently selected image is in the middle of the screen and the previous and next frames are to the left and right of it. This made selecting the best image from a burst really easy. LRC's Compare view is a sad, awkward and wholly inadequate wannabe.

I use LRC basically for two things: HDR stitching and DAM. All my RAW processing is done with DxO PhotoLab, which integrates nicely with LRC and does a far better job on noise reduction and lens corrections.

Good observation on the modality. I never thought about how tedious that is- I guess because I've never used the non-Adobe software. I would definitely say that LR has never impressed me. I was glad that I took the course though just to make sure I was up on things. The HDR and stitch was a surprisingly cool discovery for me.

about once a year i look at all the alternatives.. i've been doing that for about 5 yrs now. I havent found anything better at the moment.

Capture One is good.. but is it good enough for me to change everything i'm doing and my workflow that i have in place? nope.. everyone screams of better raw processing and better colors. I just dont see it.. but i'm not shooting weddings or models where skintones and true colors are essential.

As far as lightroom goes.. I shoot Sony A7r's. it can be slow.. but building smart previews and culling in the Library Module instead of the develop module makes a huge difference in terms of speed. Like others have mentioned. Its a tool.. i have a tool box full of tools.. Lightroom is one of them. Photoshop is amazing but i dont want to edit every photo in it. Luminar is a great plugin, Mastin Labs makes great presets, Exposure x7 has some nice effects too. You just gotta pick the right tool for the right job.

I'd love to find a better photo management/file management system.. but lightroom does a pretty good job.

On the topic of HDR Merge and pano stitching. As much as i love using capture one and i really dig their new additions of those features and they work really well C1 does a terrible job of making sure you know how to make those features work. It is such a simple issue that causes this problem. I had issues with trying to get the HDR merge and pano stitching to produce a completed dng file after the preview because it would never complete. Come to find out you need to go to the library panel and make sure you are in "All Images" before you use those features. The problem is there is no documentation that I've been able to find that tells you this AND it defaults to recent imports in the library panel right after you import your images setting you up for failure right off the bat. I spent months trying to figure out why the merge and stitch features did not work in this upgrade I paid for. I finally got in contact with some one through their youtube channel and they explained to me that I was just editing out of the wrong library. In Lightroom you don't have to worry about that. You just import and awaaaaay you go. I really don't understand why HDR merge and Pano stitching can't work from recent imports. That makes no sense to me.

Yep same sentiment. Not wowed, but it's kinda just the basic get step one done tool for me.

Personally? The moment I moved to Capture One I saw a dramatic improvement in not only the way I edit photos but how they turn out.

In Lightroom you add +10 to anything its already oversaturated, over exposed etc etc. Capture One just gives you so much finer control to the point where you have to deliberately over/under expose an image by using multiple layers. Color management is also a dream.

Also Capture One has layers. Even if they are limited. This makes masking sooooo easy. Lightroom Masking you lose your mind. Never mind the fact that Capture One has so much better sharpening and denoising Algorithms. Its not even a comparison. Lightroom Defaults look horrible compared to Capture One's default sharpening and denoising (Which is both more clear and less noisy)
However that being said, Lightroom is extremely good at cataloging and only cataloging.
Everything else is mind blowing how backward it is.

I think the only thing saving Lightroom for many photographers is the fact that (For some reason) certain plugins like Negative Lab Pro are only compatible with Lightroom CC.

If Adobe Bridge was slightly better there would be no reason to use Lightroom for catalogs at all.
Adobe makes 500 pieces of software all for the same thing with gutted features and IDK why.

Lightroom is just Camera Raw + a decent Adobe Bridge. The problem? Photoshop has Camera Raw built in and there are other cataloging software solutions like Capture One and Adobe Bridge.

So why not just improve Bridge and integrate it into Photoshop???
I honestly see no reason for Lightroom Photoshop and Bridge to co-exist.

Fact Photoshop is just better. Add Batch processing to Camera Raw in Photoshop and integrate Bridge into Photoshop and you have something Lightroom could never even hope to achieve. Decent Editing + Decent Cataloging.

I agree. Capture One is FAR better at most things. And, because it's not an Adobe product, you don't get the bloatware that Adobe is famous for. I removed PS and LR etc. from my computer using Adobe's recommended removal tool and doing some further hunting in the OS to get it out. Despite this, a recent update of a Topaz product spotted some Adobe remnant and wanted to install itself as a plugin. So, it's a trial to get Adobe off your computer. Beyond that, Capture One continues to make improvements with each new release: HDR and panorama for example. I'll pay more for a better product like Capture One. The only downside to Capture One is the limited availably of plugins. But, I'm OK with that.

Why does Adobe Bridge even exist honestly? I can't think of one good reason. Interesting suggestion there at the end

Exactly. Why do you need three programs? Some genius at Adobe thought, "if we make three useless programs and sell them as a package, we'll make a ton of money". Shockingly, the public fell for it and Adobe makes money. Proof that a sucker is born every minute.

More comments