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12-23-2014, 07:04 AM   #1
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Photoshop Elements vs. Lightroom

Question for anyone who has compared the two, Photoshop Elements vs. Lightroom: is Lightroom more user-friendly? I've used full Photoshop (took a class) but found it WWWAAAYYY more than I needed so I got Photoshop Elements 9 about five years ago. Even PE9 is such a pain that I rarely use it.

Part of this is probably that I learned to use the K1000 (film) camera, and never did my own developing. I'd like to do some post processing beyond red-eye and lighten/darken...but rarely do with PE.

Reviews/opinions welcome!!

Thanks in advance, and happy holidays to all!
Hallie

12-23-2014, 07:14 AM   #2
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Apples , oranges. Elements is designed for image manipulation with some simple organization functions tacked on. LR is a complete image organization system with a good RAW processor,
If your primary focus is photography then LR is by far the better choice.

That does not make it simple or easy however. The learning curve is steep and you need to spend the time both to learn it and to get it setup properly. Setup is especially important, there are many little things that make it easier to use if setup first but are difficult to change after you start adding images.
12-23-2014, 07:18 AM - 3 Likes   #3
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Lightroom and Photoshop are complimentary programs not interchangeable programs.

Lightroom is built for an import through export workflow. It handles copying files from a memory card or camera, it manages a catalog of those raw files, offers robust tagging and search features, geolocating, making slideshows, exporting for web or print in addition to raw processing.

Lightroom's photo processing is entirely non-destructive while photoshop's is destructive unless you work in a specific way. Lightroom does not support layers although it does support a number of ways to create and work with masks.

I use lightroom for 99% of my photographic work. I only ever open photoshop for a few specific things that lightroom doesn't support like stitching panoramas, focus stacking and making composites of multiple images. I sometimes open an image in photoshop just to use the patch tool because that thing is freaking magic. Content aware fill is another photoshop tool that I use occasionally.

There is a 30 day free trial of lightroom. You should download it, watch some videos and maybe buy a book about it.
12-23-2014, 07:36 AM   #4
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If you use the Photography Creative Cloud plan, PS and LR are $9.99/mo for a year commitment.

I also use LR 99% of the time, although when I'm done I render my images in the "destructive" way, and then throw all the originals into an archive and never plan to open them again.

I open Photoshop when I want to stitch images, or do really cooky things. LR is the bombsauce for blasting through 300 photos from a shoot.

12-23-2014, 07:38 AM   #5
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If you are going to be editing just a few pictures once in a while, then I would stick to PSE. However if you have to edit tons of pictures at a time then LR is better. PSE version 12 has an improved RAW processor that comes pretty close to LR. It allows you to use the features Vibrance and Clarity that were once exclusive to LR.
12-23-2014, 07:54 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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Car vs. fruit

For the commute you use one. For breakfast you use the other.


Steve
12-23-2014, 08:51 AM   #7
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^^lol
12-23-2014, 09:37 AM   #8
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Hah!

Agreed!

I am an outlier who tried Lightroom, hated it and went back to PSE plus an image viewing/cataloging program because I also dislike the "Organizer" in PSE. I think the problem is that you haven't used Elements enough to develop a habitual, concise work flow. Once you have the basics figured out, you can often just follow the same, routine steps and get to the point that each image will usually take much less than a minute to process and complete, all the way from Raw conversion to final sharpening and saving. The newer versions of PSE have a vastly improved set of "Automatic" adjustments under the "Enhance" drop-down, which might help you speed things up. If you don't like what they do, you can always back out and do them manually.

There are several youtube tutorials on how to use PSE, as well as some very good step-by-step books. Try Scott Kelby's introductory book.

Until you get more used to it, you also might want to leave the program in the "Quick" edit mode, which makes basic adjustments easy. When you get more comfortable, you may want to shoot Raw and use the Camera Raw module in PSE, followed by "Expert" mode for more control but many folks never go that far. "Quick" or "Guided" edit modes are all they want and work just fine.

Really, it just a matter of practice.

12-23-2014, 10:33 AM   #9
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For what it's worth, I hated Lightroom for the first few months that I used it. But I was being taught to use it in classes for a certificate program, so I couldn't just refuse to use it. I had to learn it because I was literally being tested on using it. After I grew comfortable with it, I found that it had become an indispensable tool to me. Now, I could give up photoshop without much pain, but I can't imagine a realistic circumstance where I would stop using Lightroom.

You must wrap your head around the fact that Lightroom essentially "vitualizes" your photographs. It keeps a nice ordered file structure of your untouched raw files and provides powerful tagging, grouping, and searching tools so you never have to deal with the file system where the raws are. All of your "edits" are stored in a database. You can go back to a picture you edited two years ago, save a virtual copy with the edits you made to it, reset the file to how it came out of the camera and then edit it again. Then you can save that second edit and compare the two versions within Lightroom. Managing different versions of a processed image is as easy as naming the versions clearly. There's no need to have a number of tiffs or jpgs sitting around taking up storage space.

For people who shoot a few images every day its features may be more than they will ever really need, but for someone who shoots hundreds, or thousands, of shots a day Lightroom is an unmatched tool. You can import, tag, select, edit, soft proof, create virtual collections of images, output a collection to a web gallery and automatically upload it all from within Lightroom. However, even is you rarely or never use some of the modules or tools the basic workflow of the program is still very well designed for what a photographer actually does.
12-23-2014, 12:43 PM   #10
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I'm coming at this dilemma from the opposite side. I've been using Photoshop for many years and am quite
comfortable with it. But as I get increasingly more interested in shooting on a daily basis, I need a better
way to do bulk processing and manage files.

I currently have PSE12, an upgrade from PS6. I simply could not justify the cost of the CS upgrades over
the years. PSE12 is an many ways more advanced than PS6, but also severely handicapped in a few key
areas such as CMYK support. And the Organizer included with PSE12 is kludgy at best; I hate it.

I'm keen to give LR a try. The standalone version of LR5 is certainly affordable. Does LR5 offer CMYK
support? Silly question, but if I import a CMYK file into PSE12, will it be preserved or automatically
converted to RGB?
12-23-2014, 01:14 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvdtvdtvd Quote
Does LR5 offer CMYK
support?
Nope, only RGB.
That said, after your Lightroom work is completed, you can create a Photoshop droplet and have that do the CMYK conversion. You would probably need to upgrade to a current version of Photoshop from the near-ancient one you are using.
I'm curious about the context of your needing to convert to CMYK? I assume you have specific ICC profile(s) for your print provider?

M
12-23-2014, 04:55 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Nope, only RGB.
That said, after your Lightroom work is completed, you can create a Photoshop droplet and have that do the CMYK conversion. You would probably need to upgrade to a current version of Photoshop from the near-ancient one you are using.
I'm curious about the context of your needing to convert to CMYK? I assume you have specific ICC profile(s) for your print provider?

M
Just to be clear, I'm currently using Photoshop Elements 12, not Photoshop 6. So, I have a very current
editor that does not offer CMYK support.

When you say 'create a Photoshop droplet' I assume that requires full PS, not PSE. As for need, it's an
assumption on my part based on requested output whenever I do send something to print. The last time
I had promotional materials printed, (earlier this year, after I had upgraded to PSE12), the printer accepted
the files as RGB with the caveat that they couldn't be responsible for color inaccuracies. In the end, the
printed material looked fine for what it was, (low resolution business cards and event flyers).

I'll confess that I'm still quite minimally knowledgeable about the print side of the equation. My assumption
has always been that CMYK output is ideal to ensure true blacks. If this can be disregarded by having
the specific ICC profiles necessary, all the better.
12-23-2014, 05:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvdtvdtvd Quote
The last time
I had promotional materials printed, (earlier this year, after I had upgraded to PSE12), the printer accepted
the files as RGB with the caveat that they couldn't be responsible for color inaccuracies.
These days just about all printers can handle RGB files. Unless there is a required CMYK-based printer profile, there is no need to convert out of RGB. Let the print service handle it. They have to post CYA words, but the electric fence is turned off.

I haven't used Elements in almost two decades (was a corporate beta tester of the original Photoshop in the late 80s), but check to see if there is an Automate menu choice under File. Then it will lead to droplet creation. In reality, I don't think that's necessary if you don't have a legit requirement to output in CMYK.

If photography is your primary use, then I'd suggest you go with Lightroom and then perform roundtrips to/from PSE as required. The interface is elegant. If graphic arts are more your working deliverables, then stay with PSE. Lightroom is very much a photography tool.

M
12-23-2014, 05:33 PM   #14
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High end four color toner based digital printers can print very close to the entire sRGB color space these days. Ink jets can print a wider gamut than sRGB. Some can approach Adobe1998.

If you are going to have trouble with a toner based system, it's likely to be with light blues and greens. If you see grays that aren't gray and you know they are in your file then the most likely problem is that the printer either isn't calibrated, it has drifted, or there's been a sudden change in humidity or temperature that has pushed it beyond it's ability to recover.

If you are a photographer and your printing is being done digital there's absolutely no reason to use CMYK at any point in your workflow. Your capture device is RGB. The display you do your editing on is RGB. The RIP on a high end copier or ink jet does an extremely good job of producing colors that are as close to whats in the file as the machine is capable of. Converting to CMYK just adds in a step where software can make mistakes.

If you are a graphic designer and you know that the thing you are designing is going to be printed offset and process then you are probably working in Illustrator and made a CMYK file right at the beginning. If this is you, you are already a pro and don't need to listen to me. lol.

As an FYI, "good" blacks are usually, but not always, K only blacks for offset process printing and inkjet (many ink jets have multiple black and even gray inks) but "rich" blacks for digital. The creative suite really likes to make blacks "rich" which is just a black with CMY in it. This causes problems for novices. For an ink based printing system it's quite easy to make the density of a rich black so high that the ink warps, or actually dissolves, the paper. You usually don't want to go high than about 200% coverage.

On a toner based system, the printer will increase the temperature of the fuser to deal with high coverage levels so the toner is thoroughly bonded to the paper. K only blacks tend to look bad when printed digitally so rich blacks are more often the "good" black for that printing method.

As usual, if you are having your printing done by a professional, go talk to them. They will tell you exactly what sort of files, color spaces, etc to use to get the best result from their gear.
12-23-2014, 08:13 PM   #15
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Miguel and Homo_erectus, thanks for that clarification on the printing process. It would seem there is much
to catch up on. My printing needs have been minimal the past dozen-ish years while my creative interests
were focused in ceramics. As my interest in photography reemerges I anticipate a need/desire to print
larger and with more fidelity. I had assumed the lack of CMYK support in PSE to ultimately mean I would
have to find another editor at some point. It would seem that is not strictly the case.
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