21 Reasons to Use Lightroom

March 2, 2010 | Jon Canfield | Photography Techniques | 26 Comments | |
21 Reasons to Use Lightroom Image

1. Lightroom is built for photographers.

While Photoshop has everything you might need, it also has a ton of features you don’t need, like 3D rendering, video tools, and vector graphics. These extra features mean more disk space (about 1GB for Photoshop compared with about 100MB for Lightroom).

2. Lighter processing requirements.

Lightroom runs fine on a laptop or lower end machine. True, it will run better on a faster machine with more memory, but I have no trouble at all using Lightroom on the road with my laptop – a situation that has Photoshop plodding along.

3. Excellent image management.

Lightroom import can make duplicate copies of your images, one for the catalog, and another as a backup, even doing so in different formats (say raw for the catalog and DNG for your archival copy). Applying keywords and metadata to your images on import is easy, and you can apply processing presets as well.

21 Reasons to Use Lightroom

4. Strong searching and organizing.

Because the Lightroom catalog is a database file, it’s easy to find all your images, whether by keyword or metadata such as camera type, ISO, etc. Lightroom also lets you create collections that make it easy to group similar images together. The Smart Collection will automatically add images to the collection based on criteria like keywords.

21 Reasons to Use Lightroom

5. Logical Workflow.

Lightroom is organized into modules – Library, Develop, Web, Slideshow, and Print. You only see the features that make sense for that module, making Lightroom both quicker to learn, and faster in performance.

6. Excellent conversions.

Lightroom uses the same raw processing routines as Adobe Camera Raw, meaning most digital cameras are supported, and the conversion options have been through a number of improvement cycles.

7. Non-destructive workflow.

No edit in Lightroom will permanently modify the original image. Regardless of file type – JPG, TIFF, DNG, RAW, PSD, all editing in Lightroom is non-destructive. Changes are stored in either an external XMP file, or in the Lightroom catalog file as a list of adjustments. You can go back at any time and undo or modify those adjustments.

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#1 Palette

Why is an ad for Lightroom 2 being front-paged now?

3:09 pm - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#2 Charles K

I’ve been using Apple’s Aperture for some time now, and frankly, find it more intuitive.

4:13 pm - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#3 Jon Canfield

I certainly didn’t mean for this to come across as an ad for Lightroom, but rather a piece on why I find Lightroom to be more useful for my workflow than doing it all in Photoshop. If Lightroom 3 were available, I’d cover the new features in depth.

To Charles, I also like Aperture, especially with version 3. I don’t personally find it to be more intuitive, but it has some features that I wish Adobe would consider - particularly the publishing and proofing options.

5:16 pm - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#4 Graham Hind

An interesting and useful article. There are still a few things Lightroom can’t do, like perspective correction. The one other thing I am beginning to question applies to both Lightroom and Photoshop, and that is the abilities of the Adobe Raw converter. Sometimes - just sometimes - the manufacturer’s converter is radically better. That said, the Adobe converter at least has the virtue of covering a very wide range of RAW formats. My real desire to like Aperture is constantly frustrated by Apple’s very limited conversion list and their insistence on supporting relative esoterica like Leaf and not supporting popular cameras.

7:13 pm - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#5 ricardo

The Industry loves only one reason…

Raw is all about that…
you do not even know photography. If you just know how to start a camera (on /off)...it’s ok…
.RAW do the rest…
Helped by LR….

8:32 pm - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#6 Fotograf Mirza Oezoglu

I’m using Lightroom since the beta Version. I love it! As a professional Photographer I am using it every day and after every Shooting. Thank you Adobe!

8:35 pm - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#7 David M

I really like LR, and don’t disagree with anything you have said, except I do have problems with printing.  The lack of soft-proofing makes it a non-starter for printing, but worse, colour management just doesn’t seem to work right on my mac.  I always go back to PS for final printing.

The workflow is different, and I prefer working in layers when making localized adjustments.  Then there are the plug-ins, like noise ninja and photokit sharpener. The former has a stand-alone, the latter relies on layers so doesn’t work.

Fortunately for the majority of my work, I only make minor global adjustments, and LR is great for this, especially with the Web module.

The major benefit is the digital asset management aspect of Lightroom, although I do note performance issues with large libraries.  I now separate my work by calendar year (about 15000 photos a year) which is a bit of a drag when looking for photos across several years.

12:39 am - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#8 rob

When Aperture and Lightroom were both in version 1.x, I have used them both side-by-side, to get the idea about their features, usefulness, performance, intuitiveness, etc. Lightroom has won with no hesitation on my part. Since then, both apps matured, but I still prefer Lightroom.

And - like Jon - I would love to see Lightroom offer options for publishing (for example, printing photo-books, portfolios, calendars, etc.).

@ricardo - Did you have too much Prozak today? ;)

12:43 am - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#9 Mandeno Moments

Lightroom would have to be fantastic to match the fantastic price of US$299 :).

Photoshop Elements is US$80, and Gimp is US$0.

My point is this: you don’t have to spend a small fortune to get very capable software.


1:29 am - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#10 bract.us

I just recently download lightroom v2.0 and the performance of this version drastically improved compared to older version.

6:13 am - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#11 rob

@Mandeno Moments - obviously, you don’t know what Lightroom does, if you compare it to Elements or Gimp. We welcome all educated comments, but yours is just a trolling… kind of like ricardo’s.  :)

10:47 pm - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#12 Mandeno Moments

@rob - I’m certainly not trolling, and all I said was that Elements and Gimp are very capable. They may be less capable than Lightroom, and nothing that I said implies otherwise, but they are very capable.

1:04 am - Thursday, March 4, 2010

#13 ALT Designs Blog

I’ve been hearing a lot about Lightroom lately. So far, I have not made the switch from Photoshop. After seeing all the features here… you’ve definitely peaked my interest..

I think I just may have to check this out.

2:03 pm - Thursday, March 4, 2010

#14 Sean Arbabi

Wow, such a mix of comments- Jon’s a great photography and teacher- and no, we don’t work together, but I’ve known of Jon’s work for years.

This is a great article covering some wonderful aspects of Lightroom- and no I don’t work for Adobe- I love Apple too and use Aperture 3 as well.

This article gives so many ideas on ways to use this program-which is great. I’m a 20 year pro and I can always learn just a bit more from articles like this.

And Ricardo, recognize that digital photography has opened many doors to create great images- sure, many don’t use it all that well or still need help on creating an eye for photography, and may overuse programs such as this, but these programs have also given us soooo many things we could have never done in the past.  I know since I started on film in the early 80s.

Great job Jon- I wrote a piece on How to Survive the economy as a photographer for PhotographyBlog last year- hopefully most enjoy the free info!

7:46 pm - Thursday, March 4, 2010

#15 rob

@Mandeno Moments - Sure, they are both capable in what they are intended for. But Lightroom’s functionality adds huge benefits of importing, cataloging, archiving your photos, creating slideshows and web galleries. One may even argue that those are the most important functions of programs like Lightroom and Aperture.

Neither Elements nor Gimp can even start to compete with that and that’s why they can not be included in comparison. Even Photoshop does not posses all those benefits. On the other hand, both Lightroom and Aperture lack many fundamental features of Photoshop. They are not meant to replace Photoshop. They are entirely different programs…

10:42 pm - Thursday, March 4, 2010

#16 PJ

I’d rather see a comparison between Bridge and Lightroom, i’ve been using Bridge for ages and just downloaded Lightroom, as far as i can tell there’s not much between them.

10:39 pm - Sunday, March 7, 2010

#17 rob

No, PJ, there is little in common between Bridge and Lightroom. These two apps were developed for different reasons and purposes. The only other applications that you can compare Lightroom to are Aperture and Lightzone (so far).

6:45 am - Monday, March 8, 2010

#18 PJ

sorry Rob but I can’t help but see loads of overlap with the two: file organisation, slide show creation, web gallery creation, image printing, and then there’s ACR (which is inside Bridge as well as photoshop) which has all of the options and more than lightroom for photo editing. In fact a quick flip through the list shows that there’s only a couple of things in this list that aren’t in Bridge/ACR and those (things like the database) I find more of a hindrance working on multiple computers. Why would I want to import a database when Bridge just reads all the files that are there. I wasted so much time importing photos into lightroom.

12:13 pm - Monday, March 8, 2010

#19 rob

Well, to sum it up in few words, Bridge is a browser and Lightroom is an archiving/cataloging/backup/correcting/printing/web publishing tool. Of course, that is a simplification…

ACR has the exactly same engine for developing photos as does Lightroom, but - obviously - lacks all other characteristics of Lightroom.

Lightroom takes plug-ins from different manufacturers. That allows it to use many add-ons - just like Photoshop (although plug-ins have to be made specifically for Lightroom). Example: the NIK suite of applications, Photomatix, etc. work from within Lightroom.

One of the huge advantages of apps like Lightroom and Aperture is ability to create virtual copies of an image for making different versions or sizes of the original file, using only few kilobytes of disk space rather than multi-megabytes per image.

Interestingly, personally, I consider the concept of Bridge a big hindrance in my workflow - to the point that I stopped using it. Normally, for 90% of my everyday needs, I use only Lightroom. Photoshop gets the other 10% of work - mainly for jobs needing selections, layers, channels, compositing, etc.

11:11 pm - Monday, March 8, 2010

#20 Alex

I use IDImager (http://www.idimager.com) to manage my large collection of photos, and find it extremely capable.  It is less expensive than LR.

6:09 am - Sunday, April 18, 2010

#21 Tord S Eriksson

Have for a while used both Aperature 1, 2, & 3, and Lightroom 1 & 2, and I must say that I prefer the latter.

But I still do quite a lot work with GIMP, which still is free, and bug-free (not so with Aperature), but Lightroom will be the basic of my editing soon!

8:34 pm - Monday, April 26, 2010

#22 Bryan

i have used all the above mentioned software and light room is the best and contrary to what others are saying $300 is reasonable and welllll worth it

7:39 pm - Monday, November 1, 2010

#23 Jim

You guys are fooling yourselves. Every serious photographer needs Photoshop. Period. Why pay the extra 300 for Lightroom when everything you need and more is in Photoshop/Bridge?

9:34 pm - Thursday, October 6, 2011

#24 Tord S Eriksson

I forgot to mention Phocus, Hasselblad’s photo editing software, that as yet is totally free!

11:33 pm - Thursday, October 6, 2011

#25 Tord S Eriksson


This is a very competent piece of photo editing software, that doesn’t cost anything, is totally free, gratis, and with no string attached!

9:12 am - Friday, October 7, 2011

#26 Nick

@Jim Have you converted over to Lightroom yet? lol Love LR4 its amazing!

10:46 pm - Wednesday, November 7, 2012