The eternal question: why I use Photoshop over Lightroom

lr vs ps

Right after ‘what should I buy’ comes this series of questions: why don’t you use Lightroom? And what does Photoshop give me that Lightroom lacks? Moreover, is your workflow applicable to Lightroom? I received a slew of emails recently following the release of LR CC/6 and realised I’ve never really answered any of these questions. Today we’re going to fix that.

First off, we need to understand a bit of history: Photoshop (PS from now on) was a graphic designer’s tool, not a photographer’s. Lightroom (LR) was Adobe’s first attempt at making a digital-photography-centric software package to handle the entire image making workflow from capture to output. Originally starting off as a cataloguing package with some raw conversion and processing ability, it slowly grew to include tethered capture and print modules. Both PS and LR share the same raw conversion engine: Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). This includes both the conversion algorithm as well as the interface controls – you have the same set of sliders and adjustments in a version of ACR in both PS and LR. In PS it operates like a plugin and a filter (from CC onwards); in LR it basically is your postprocessing module. There is no difference in output between ACR and PS

For a practical photographer’s purposes, there are three core differences between PS and LR:

1. LR applies changes nondestructively. PS can be either but is mostly destructive – this allows for sequential changes
Nondestructive changes mean you can re-edit without any information loss penalty at a later time. ACR in both LR and PS add up the net changes you have made at any given pixel location with whatever tools you use there, and then spit out a result. If you apply a +1EV gradient, it will perfectly cancel out a -1EV global exposure compensation at that particular point. This makes sense, until you think about nonlinear tonal transitions: if you apply a curve, then do some local dodging or burning, then the results are not what you’d expect because the order of operations isn’t taken into account. A curve that darkens will move midtones to shadows, but if you also apply an adjustment brush that lightens midtones, it isn’t clear whether you’re acting on what was the midtones before or what is now the midtones after the curve. There is no transparency to this process in ACR/LR, often resulting in unexpected and too-linear tones. It is not an issue in PS because you generally start with a flat file out of ACR, then apply your curves, dodging and burning etc. afterwards in PS where you know the order of operations is sequential and it’s obvious what comes after what. The downside of course is that there is no way to both enjoy this tonality and have a nondestructive edit. But that’s what the history pane is for…

2. LR relies on catalogs and databases; PS does not (but can also catalog via Bridge, which is included with PS)
LR keeps original images and changes/ tags separate. This means it sorts through the tag database to find files; it applies changes live to preview and then only for output; the original files are always intact. This is a good thing if you are not so organised with your file structure or if you are indecisive about processing, because it means you can keep many versions without the storage penalty. PS can actually do the same thing – you can save snapshots of a file in ACR, which are stored in a central database, and then apply them non-destructively to the original raw file. Of course, since you are using PS, you won’t be applying the same changes as in LR – the objective of ACR now being production of a starting point rather than a final file. But all adjustments available in LR are also available in ACR/PS. Bridge can replicate the cataloging function of LR for tagging, sorting and viewing without having to keep all of your files in one catalog – it works with your existing directory structure. It also means that it’s much easier to extract a file if you’re using PS – the file exists in finished, readable format accessible outside the Adobe environment. It might not with LR – you almost always have to export a readable output format. This may be a problem if you’re travelling and need access to something fast, or have a system crash. Lastly, there are limits to how large a file library LR can handle and still run smoothly – so at some point you’re still going to have to do some manual filing in the OS anyway.

3. PS allows more control over every aspect of the process, and is generally faster.
Every image is different. Every set of adjustments to reach a visually and stylistically consistent output endpoint is therefore different for each image. Though both PS and LR allow you a good degree of control globally, PS is much better for local adjustments. The adjustment brush in LR and ACR/PS no way duplicates or replaces the functionality of a Wacom and feathered dodge or burn brush in PS; it is much easier to precisely follow the contours of an object or apply changes to odd-shaped areas. On top of that, there may be situations in which an image requires multiple curves – first to bring shadows and highlights closer together (i.e. reduce contrast) and then apply a global tonal map to both increase contrast similarly across both tonal regions and smoothen shadow/highlight rolloff – you cannot do that in LR. You can have as many curves as you want in PS – destructive or not. There is also no way to separate out luminance from color in LR: you have to edit in RGB mode, which means exposure and curve changes also shift hues – necessitating color compensation afterwards. However, you now have a challenge in LR: your only HSL adjustment panel must also be used for camera calibration. In PS, you can leave camera calibration in ACR, process in LAB mode, which splits out the two, and avoid the color compensation entirely. This forms the basis of PS Workflow II. Finally, there’s output sharpening: LR’s tools are just far coarser. There is no smart sharpening or ability to not sharpen the shadows; if you want to mask and sharpen, you only have one slider for strength. And needless to say, there’s no way to sharpen for both fine detail and global contrast.

4. PS has additional functionality that is actually useful.
This might somewhat overlap with #3: however, if you want to do stitching now in LR 6/CC, focus or HDR stacking, retouching of surfaces or nonlinear spatial corrections like warping, then LR simply can’t handle it. On top of this, there’s the ability to make actions (e.g. adding a black border) and batch apply them to a large number of images; basically, anything you can do in PS you can record as an action and apply to another image – just beware of spatial-specific operations such as dodging and burning which are specific to a single image. Granted, there are also non-photogrpahic functions like adding text and drawing paths, but that is outside the remit of this discussion.

The final two bullet points are the main reason I don’t use LR: I simply cannot get the results I want directly, and even with many workarounds the output isn’t ideal. When you’ve got hundreds or thousands of images to process, you want to have as direct and fast a workflow as possible. Half a minute an image over a thousand images is a lot of time wasted that could be spent shooting or with your family.

I started postprocessing before the existence of LR. Though that may be partially responsible for my favouritism towards PS, it doesn’t explain the number of students I’ve had who were originally LR users and switched over, subsequently finding the workflow much easier. There is definitely an intimidation factor to using PS: one one hand, there are a lot of cryptic buttons and menu options, but on the other hand, it appears very bare: there are no obvious ‘photographic’ controls anywhere. Since PS is now $10-20/month (which is really not a lot for something you will use on every single image) depending on where you live, I suspect it is this confusion more than anything that stops a lot of photographers from adopting it; establishing a workflow is both critical and not easy.

I’ve been asked how I get the results I do so many times that what started out as one workflow video has now become six. They ease you into the process, then take you further: and remember, PS stays pretty consistent from version to version, so 90% of what I demonstrate in CC will also apply to CS3 or CS5.5. Here’s a summary of what we’ve got:

A: Intro to PS Workflow
The original non-LAB core workflow that explains what all the buttons in ACR and PS do, establish a logical sequence of operations, and also forms the basis for E5: Processing for Style. Covers basic B&W conversion.

A2: Photoshop Workflow II
New LAB-based workflow that separates color from luminance and tone. Includes section on the theory of curation and sorting workflow in Bridge and color management of both monitor and camera, including creating camera profiles. Also includes the raw files used in the video, and a section on B&W conversion with the channel mixer as well as applying ACR as a filter after the PS operations.

B: Photoshop for the Leica M Monochrom
Specific workflow for achromatic cameras to optimise B&W output – there is no color to begin with, so techniques in A, A2, M and E5 do not apply. Increased focus on dodging and burning.

C: Intermediate Photoshop
For the hardcore Photoshopper: those who need perspective correction, stitching, retouching and brush tools, compositing, integration of layers, warping, creation of actions, batch processing, etc.

M: The Monochrome Masterclass
Everything you need to know on how to create strong B&W images in several different styles, from capture to dodging and burning to channel mixer to make the most of the color information in a file. With a special focus on tonal linearity at shadow and highlight ends, how to create natural looking images and avoid harsh ‘digital’ transitions.

E5: Outstanding Images Ep.5: Processing for style
Best viewed together with Ep.4: Exploring Style, which covers things that must be done on the capture side (and available together as a bundle). Ep.5 is a sort of synthesis of all of the workflow tools to get you to a distinctive and visually consistent output. We cover four different styles from ‘traditional’ B&W Photojournalist to fine art color.

They are all available here at the teaching store and in various discounted bundle combinations.


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. Hi Ming,
    I recently re-visited your article, only to convince myself to switch from LR to Bridge. The main reason I am switching is due to point #2 of your article: LR relies on catalogs and databases. I’ve had my LR catalog corrupted many times in which case I would have to re-do it from scratch, only to realize I’ve lost my collections and post-processing adjustments. Now being free from catalogs and databases is quite a fresh and relieving feeling:)

    • 🙂

    • Yes, and please correct me if I misunderstand, but…

      In LR you can set preferences to write all metadata to files (xmp side-car files for proprietary RAWs, into jpg metadata-only fields and in the case of DNGs, into the imbedded metadata component not affecting the underlying RAW). Thus in LR, you can have your cake and eat it too. ACR has no option, except to write the same data in the same way to the same file formats. In LR, for those absolute purists, who want nothing to touch their filer ( including the separate xmp sidecar files or the DNG dedicated metadata space), one can elect NOT to “write to file” and only write to database….or, as described, to write to file in the same way ACR does. Thus, the bottom line, nothing is lost in LR and more options exist for data integrity than in ACR: ie if you are worried about the LR database, just set preferences to write to file in the same way as ACR always does. If you prefer higher file integrity, don’t write to file and rely on LR database. In my case, I write to file in LR.


      • No, you can choose either XMP sidecars or a central database – that’s controlled by Camera Raw Preferences in Bridge, as far as I can tell.

        • Malte Obbel Forsberg says:


          See e.g.
          “If you are working with DNG, JPEG, TIFF, or PNG files the XMP information will be stored directly inside your files so you will not see the accompanying XMP file in the folder […]”

          What is your view on DNG files otherwise btw? I just started converting new files on import (I use LR), and I think it seems to make sense instead of using/storing proprietary RAW formats.

          Kind regards,

          • I don’t see the need for an intermediate format since we don’t lose compatibility with future versions – it just wastes time. And there’s quite a good chance that the newer versions of software may be able to extract more information than previously; highlight recovery in the latest version of ACR is a good example of that…

            • Ming,

              But as I understand it converting from RAW to DNG is a 1:1 affair – i.e. literally no information is lost. So if ACR gets better at highlight recovery, then that will apply to the DNG file as well.

              The point of DNG is that the specification is open, so even if Lightroom and ACR don’t exist in 20 years from now (however likely/unlikely) then it will be easy to create tools to work with the DNG files. I’m not so sure that software to read my old D300 files will be available in 10-20 years…

              From an ideological point of view, I’m also more happy to work with open formats, but that’s of course a completely different point. Now if Nikon would just switch to DNG instead of their NEF so one doesn’t have to convert…

              Anyway, just my thoughts 🙂 Thanks for a great blog!


              • We can only hope that is the case – but I suspect there is no way of knowing for sure. 🙂

              • DNG is a bad idea because Lightroom & ACR are not always the best ways to develop your digital images. Sometimes I go into Capture NX-D depending on the image. I always think it’s best to leave the image file in the NATIVE format since frankly, Nikon knows more about their files than Adobe does (in my opinion). Or, if you are going to use DNG, keep the native file somewhere as backup. Since Adobe became subscription based I have been more and more hesitant to rely on their products. In ten years, will Adobe still be around? Sure, maybe, but what if they are not and no other companies want to use DNG. You cannot convert DNG back to the native format…..

                • Mike, agree with your point about not being reliant on software vendors. I think the idea of an open RAW format (such as DNG) is really great – in theory it should be easy to support it since its specifications are available to anyone. It would be much easier if everyone just used DNG. Disappointingly that’s not the case though. I think one of the reasons seems to be that Adobe has mismanaged the specification a bit. Since the format is open I’m not so concerned about future compatibility – it should be fairly straightforward to write a converter to whatever format is popular later.

  2. Hi Ming,

    Slightly off topic (but not completely): on your brushes e.g. Dodge and burn, how do you get your inner and outer brush circles to show in Photoshop? In your videos and I can see your inner Circle, which I assume is the highest density zone and your outer circle, which I assume is the extent of your feather/softness. In PS settings I am only able to get one or the other to display??


    • It’s under brush preferences – the inner circle is probably the crosshair with a bit of video lag. 🙂

      • I don’t think it’s the crosshair and video lag. In many of your videos you see distinct inner and outer circles. Maybe it’s your wacom tablet.
        The ability to see the full brush on the inner circle and then the fading on the outer circle is very valuable. Somehow you’re doing it in your videos. If I could post a screenshot I would show you clearly.

        • Hmm. I think it may be the localizer function for video screen capture – it isn’t in Photoshop on my monitor. I just have the outer circle and central crosshair. In any case, since the brush fades linearly from 0 (or your lower limit) at the edges to 100% (or your upper limit) in the middle – I’m not actually sure what the inner circle would represent.

          • Ok. Too bad. It would be really nice to see the extent of the feather as one can do in light room.
            In Photoshop, do you set your brush to display the inner full density area of the brush, or the outer boundry of the feather?

  3. What I’d really like is Phase One Capture One Pro RAW engine wrapped up in the Adobe Lightroom user interface. I recently tested both against each other and found a stark difference in the quality of the output, with Capture One Pro (v7.x) winning hands down, but getting there was a real struggle as the Phase One user interface is rather ghastly.

    The conclusion I came to was Adobe really need to work on that RAW engine.

    • That’s another tradeoff: ease of use to get to 100% of what ACR can deliver, or frustration to get to exactly the same point with C1 knowing you could go further?

      • That’s right, although I have managed to get C1 to markedly outperform LR. The Capture One RAW engine just makes stuff pop with a lot more detail in the finished product.
        For some reason the Photoshop CC interface won’t scale up on my 31″ 4K monitor when set at high resolution, the buttons and everything are microscopically small.

        • Are we talking LR (ACR)+PS or just LR? LR/ACR alone does leave a lot to be desired…

          • Just LR on its own. Frankly, it’s not very good. It’s more consumer grade than professional. PS, although capable, is not that user friendly.
            If C1 had a great user interface like LR, to be honest, that’s all most people would ever need for processing RAW files. If I used it a lot more I’d get the work flow streamlined and I guess it would become easier. Perhaps that’s what’s needed.

            • capture one does seem to have a superior raw conversion engine.
              upon import with no edits images look punchier and sharper. this also applies to exported files with no added adjustments.
              it is not entirely clear whether this simply is due to some import settings that could theoretically be duplicated in LR….but to get a similar level of sharpening in LR incurs more artifacts as far as i can tell.
              it is less intuitive than LR for sure but worth exploring imo.

              • That’s it. You see it as soon as you open the RAW file in C1 Pro, the power of the RAW engine is immediately obvious. But then you’ve got to go through a rather arduous work flow to get the best out of it. It’s anticipation of the work flow that keeps me clicking “LR” instead of “1” when I’m going to process new files.

                • my current thought is to continue to use LR for import, catalog, culling, chronological overview etc. it’s a very neat, stable, and organized system including auto catalog backups etc and i’m well used to it. then PS for compositing, panoramas, HDR, focus stacking, etc. LR and PS work incredibly smoothly together passing smart objects back and forth etc.
                  then i can use C1 to just “punch up” select images before printing/export (not to mention if i ever shift to a tethered shooting scenario C1 is the natural choice). C1 really does seem to take those d810 raw files (assuming they were shot well initially) and hone them to a fine point with minimal artifacting. then can export as TIFF to PS if need be.
                  it’s an awkward UI at first compared to LR but can be customized and has entirely effective gradients, local adjustments, loupe, color editing, keystone adjustments, etc.

  4. Hi Ming

    As a LR based PS user and after twice watching your Making Outstanding Images 1-5 and PS workflow 1 & 2 (titles may be slightly off), I understand the reasons for PS, but not the following:

    Context: you are far more experienced and thus decisive than most, to expect the same from most is unrealistic. Most prefer/need/benefit from a higher level of reverse/fix – ability and prefer to do as much as possible in LR/CR

    i. Why not do your initial curve in LR?
    ii. If the user prefers to maximize LR, why not do output sharpening and and printing in LR after local corrections in PS?
    iii. If large radius sharpening is warranted (prior to output sharpening), why not do in LR via clarity after PS dodge/burn adjustments?
    [iv. In all of the above listed videos you never explain your choice of smart sharpen using lens blur vs traditional unsharp mask or smart sharpen with unsharp mask. Ditto as to PS output sharpen vs LR/CR (whether you find PS more efficient or not, as others may prefer the other)]

    The above would permit:

    a) same CR adjustments as your recommended workflow
    b) more advanced file being imported to PS (after LR/CR curve)
    c) PS using LAB mode limited to dodge/burn with LR/CR before and after. (Yes, possible need for 2nd PS curve in some cases)

    Result: if need to redo/refine only dodge/burn (destructive) needs to be re-created. Again, in the context of users needing more than one pass to perfection (vs you with thousands of processed images behind your that make possible a single, decisive process).

    Note: single-pass post process is an EXTREMELY good goal, but many of us still require another pass or two.

    Nothing above is meant as criticism, as your videos and blog are imesearuably helpful, I’m just probing…

    Thanks Ming!!

    • … I wasn’t able to edit my post above so will add here:

      …v. Why not adjust for horizen (crop angle)in LR/CR?
      …vi. Why not apply lens profile corrections in LR/CR?
      …vii. Why not apply perdpective/distortion corrections in LR/CR?


      • v. Not as intuitive or precise as just dragging corners. Also does not easily allow for asymmetric adjustments which might be visually better but not necessarily geometrically accurate/ corresponding to a particular adjustment
        vi. I do. The automated profile is checked.
        vii. Same as v,; you can do them all together by just pulling corners in PS.

    • Well, the purpose of the videos is to remove that indecision 🙂

      i. You cannot make a LAB curve in LR
      ii. Little control over output sharpening – you do not have the same degree of granularity as with PS, and certainly no ability to fade out and sharpen highlights only (thus avoiding exacerbating shadow noise). In addition, you’d be adding another step – LR>PS>LR again. That defeats the point of an efficient workflow.
      iii. No control over clarity radius. Different subject matter/spatial frequency requires different radii to avoid haloes.
      iv. Simple answer. After trying all three options over thousands of files, lens blur produces the highest acuity.

      It is possible to do everything non-destructively in layers and with multiple bits of software, but as stated right at the beginning of all this: that is not the point of this workflow. People want to know how I get the results I get (i.e. the images shown here). What is in these videos is exactly the same process I use. If I did something different, the result wouldn’t be the same, and that would defeat the point, don’t you think? 🙂

  5. Jonathan Smith says:

    As an employee of a museum, I’ve tried Lightroom and Capture One after using Bridge/ACR/PS workflow, and dumped them both to go back to Bridge. There’s a lot of reasons above, but I’d also like to add some thoughts from an institutional perspective.

    Lightroom cannot have its catalog on a network – we shoot in a tethered studio with one computer for ingest and another for processing. I wanted to be able to have LR open on the tethered computer for initial shot checking, and then process it on the other, but the best I could do was shoot with a 3rd party tethering program and then Synchronize the folder on the processing computer. I couldn’t even turn it into a watched folder because it won’t watch network volumes.

    External database – we work with a CMS that requires the photos to be in specific locations. Moving files after creating derivatives in Bridge is far far easier – in fact, I can process multiple files in ACR, and then have scripts set up for the derivatives. It’s far more efficient than processing in the Develop tab then returning to Library to Export – I know there are scripts for export in LR as well, it is just fewer steps in ACR.

    Multiple windows – my favorite command is the Move To… Current Open Windows.

    File views – order by List, Details, Thumbnail. I find LR’s thumbnails with little icons for the info less than effective. Capture One has the ability to view by lists and details as well.

    Tethered shooting – I had hoped that LR CC would up their game with tethered shooting, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority. Obviously Bridge has no tethered shooting ability, but there are so many full featured programs out there for tethered shooting that it seems an oversight to neglect it in LR. Capture One has a great tethered shooting interface.

    Adjustable Panels – you can highlight the panels you need and move them around to fit your workflow, and then save them that way.

    File renaming – one of the most powerful tools in Bridge – Find and Replace is invaluable. Add text to existing filenames also. LR’s renaming ability is weak, because it relies on tags and labels rather than filenames.

    And, you can still Label, Keyword, use Smart Collections, Add Metadata, find all EXIF data, and on and on.

    I understand that this is a particular use of the software, and that my job requires specific filenames and file locations to work, but it underscores that LR is primarily for a single computer, single user. C1 does a slightly better job in a multiple computer environment, but my attempts to create a catalog of 150,000 images made it run too slow. I still use it for its sessions and tethered shooting ability.

    Thanks for letting me ramble.


  6. Why not use LR as your RAW converter instead of ACR? Even if you don’t use all of the features it still makes for better workflow versus folders and Bridge.

    • If you started before LR and have a library exceeding 20TB, you probably already have a way of sorting that would make tagging over a million images a waste of time. I have tried using LR both to replace ACR and as a full workflow solution on more than one occasion, and it still take far longer to get the output I want – if it’s possible at all. How is that a ‘much better workflow’?

  7. Ming I think we all understand that you prefer PS over LR but i’m sure you also realise that there is a large and growing following of LR users. So from a purely commercial viewpoint how about you do your very best with a LR workflow and produce an instructional video. Im sure it would have great appeal.

  8. Richard Bach says:

    Thanks for the article, I know I’ve been curious about your stance on this for a while now. While I certainly hear your gripes about the catalog and the processing speed, there are a few points I disagree with you about.

    First off, let me just say that I am a graphics/prepress professional and I know both these tools completely inside and out, so skill set not an issue for me in the slightest. I will say that Lightroom is a much more powerful and complex beast than it appears, and it took me a ton of testing, research, and practice to get tot the point where I am with it.

    I find that a lot of things like complex tonal work, sharpening, and local adjustments are actually EASIER to do in Lightroom than Photoshop once you learn the complex interactions the tools have with each other. The workflow is totally different than Photoshop, and if you use the Lightroom tools the way you use the Photoshop tools, it doesn’t work. But once you DO learn how to use to use the tools properly there really is nothing that compares to having the full, uncooked raw at your disposal for all your edits. As far as feature set goes I find the only thing I can’t do is heavy retouching, compositing, or complex geometric edits. But thats really it. And that seems balanced out for me with the addition of tools that Photoshop does’t have that Lightroom does, like the seemingly magic clarity tool.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there is a level of depth to Lightroom’s edits and tools that many users seem to miss. While it certainly took a lot of learning, I would say that I am happier with my edits out of Lightroom than I was out of Photoshop. and I find that with lot of presets, syncing settings across multiple images, being able to preview edits in the navigator window, and other features make my editing FASTER than it ever was in Photoshop (And I’ve been a Photoshop pro for many years now).

    I’m not trying to suggest you should change your workflow; your images look great and you seem awfully efficient too. But I know for me personally, once I switched to Lightroom I have never looked back.

    • This is interesting coming from somebody with your background. How do you manage things like multiple sharpening passes, multiple curves, or maintaining color integrity without having LAB mode and without resorting to the HSL panel?

      • Richard Bach says:

        Hi Ming,

        To answer your questions:

        • Lightroom DOES have multiple sharpening passes, although its not very transparent the way it is implemented. The input pass happens in the sharpening panel in the develop module, while the output pass happens upon export. This is great in my opinion, as it ensures the input pass happens at the native resolution (like it should) and the output happens at the final exported resolution (also like it should), meaning you can export multiple sizes of an edited image all with proper final output sharpening. Also keep in mind that sharpening is one of the parameters of the brushes and the mask tools, giving you local control if you need it.

        • This may sound strange coming from Ps, but you don’t need multiple curves in Lightroom: The exposure/tone tools act as your curves for you (actually according to my tests, the tools are just editing an invisible internal curve), but with access to the whole gamut of the raw file rather than the already tone mapped image coming from ACR. The curves tool in the develop module works on top of everything, making it well suited for some finer level tonal work or some “looks”. I also think this is great, as it ensures that there is minimal banding or artifacts even with more extreme edits. The multiple curves issue is indicative of the big differences in workflow between the two software packages.

        • Due to the intelligent way the tools and the internal space work together, I find this to be a non issue. Lighroom’s internal Linear Gamma ProPhoto color space seems particularly well suited to the task of keeping color where it should be when the tone tools are tweaked. I find even if there is any kind of color weirdness, the other tools seem to “know” to correct for this. The vibrance slider almost seems like it was created for this particular purpose.

        Again, this took me a lot of work to figure out. I think its a bit of a shame that Adobe doesn’t have more through documentation on the inner workings of the Lightroom engine. There is indeed a predictable and powerful pipeline at work, we just have to figure it for ourselves unfortunately.

        • Thanks for the clarification.

          Sharpening: I’m aware of the output option, but pre-output multiple sharpening passes can sometimes be necessary if you’re working on global and microcontrast/detail sharpening – I know there’s also the ‘clarity’ slider, but it doesn’t give you any control over the radius. A situation to use this would be to get a bit more separation out of a foggy/low contrast scene, for instance. Depending on the spatial frequency of elements in the scene, clarity might create haloes.

          Not sure I agree with not needing multiple curves. For an image whose histogram looks like a double-humped camel, there’s a big difference between a single curve and using recovery sliders at the shadow and highlight ends, and using one curve to push things closer together then another one to allocate final contrast. I’ve not found a workaround for this that ‘looks’ right yet.

          Color spaces/shifts: you may be right on this; the earlier versions definitely produced candy color but it seems to be much less of an issue in ACR8+ if the camera is profiled right.

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            This is *very* interesting.

            Multiple curves,
            don’t they in the end add/multiply to one final curve?

            Considering how to find this final curve with minimal loss of the raw file information,
            is this (in principle) just as possible in both these different structures of editing (except for possible differences in loss of information),
            or is there a difference between the sets of possible results?

            An ordered set of editing tools has, of course, to fit the photographer’s way of seeing.
            If some preferred tools to influence the final curve should be non-associative or non-commutative, then they would only fit in the PS structure.

            [ Maybe they can’t be that (as they probably are all continuous and invertible), the mathematics of transformations of curves is beyond me.]

            • Presumably yes, but the transformation is definitely not in a linear way, and it’s very difficult to replicate with a smooth single curve and multiple points because of the terminal points of the curve still mapping to 0/0 and 255/255.

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                I see.
                And I forgot the endpoints, moving them is not invertive.
                So you can’t start in LR by setting your endpoints?

          • Richard Bach says:

            All just a difference if workflow in my opinion. I used to use multiple curves for everything and suddenly I find myself getting similar results with a recipe of Lightroom tools. One advantage I see of this as there is much less “tearing” than there are with multiple curves, as the image is isn’t being essentially tone mapped several times from the already rasterized image that ACR spits out. Its just one set of edits applied upon the final raw conversion.

            Same for sharpening. The real intelligence of Lightroom’s algorithm’s shine when sharpness is brushed in in conjunction with the global settings, it just takes some practice. On the note of clarity it must said that that is surprisingly complex tool. It works wonders when used locally, as the effect is very different depending on the spatial frequency of what the tool is working on. If you don’t touch the global slider, and brush in clarity locally, it really does some amazing things and without the halo artifacts. It’s particularly good at separating low frequency detail in my opinion.

            Its all tone mapping and sharpening at the end of the day. Just different tools to arrive at the same result. As long as we’re happy with the images we’re getting!

            • Without having your wealth of experience, Richard Bach, I agree that if one wants to get the most out of LR, understanding how brushes work is key. I’ve gotten used to applying creative sharpness via Sharpness brush after reading Schewe’s Digital Negative, and use the Detail panel only for capture sharpening now. I think Schewe mentioned at some point the sharpening brush in LR works much like the Smart Sharpen filter in Photoshop. In combination with sensibly applied local clarity subjects can really pop. What I’m still having trouble with is dodging/burning. In analogy to PS’s shadows, midtones, highlights, I neglect LR’s built in brush presets for d&b that only apply EC basically, and brush in +/- shadows or highlights. However, I haven’t really found a proper way to raise or dampen midtones. Exposure works to drastically, despite its non-linear nature, and for now clarity seems to be my best bet for working on the midtones, a point curve with pegged shadows, and highlights being a close second after clarity. What’s your take on this?
              Amongst many other things I learned from MT’s video is to use a low amount/high radius USM for contrast. It creates an effect similar to Clarity but much more subtle, and more natural looking. I cannot seem to replicate this in LR so easily.

              One important aspect remains though: time spent in post. Even if LR allows to be “nearly” there, or is better in some regards than PS. All the edits you, and I mentioned take A LOT more time, while being a matter of seconds in Photoshop. And that’s not even taking into account the speed, or slowness for that matter, LR crawls down to when working heavily with brushes, and masks.

              • Hi Flokon,

                I think the key is to use the tools in conjunction. The tools are so conditional and “smart” in their way of working that they really act differently depending on the image and other settings. Clarity acts very differently depending on where the contrast + exposure sliders are set. There is a predictable logic to this though.

                For example, with your midtones issue, have you tried dropping the contrast a bit on the brush while increasing the clarity + highlights? it definitely has different effect than clarity + exposure. It raises the highlights you want, keeps the extreme ends of the highlights untouched, and gives a bit of separation and punch. This is another one of my favorite things about Lightroom: the fact that you can use a single brush but with as many parameters as you want.

                Non-linear is a great way to word it: Lightroom is definitely non-linear, and Photoshop is very linear and mathematical. The exact reason why I use Lightroom for photography but would never use it for graphics work. Again, just different tools. Speaking personally, I think Lightroom is just as fast once you wrap your head around the fundamentally different way the tools work. There are also tradeoffs as far as processing speed goes. Lightroom may get a little laggy with a lot of brushes + masks (though who knows with the new openGL in Lightroom 6…) but I’ve spent many wasted minutes watching progress bars as Photoshop resizes images that I then have to resharpen before printing. I could have just exported the same image from Lightroom in no time. Six of one, half dozen of the other I suppose.

                PS: I LOVED Jeff Schewe’s Digital Negative book, my favorite software book of all time!

                • +1 on his Digital Negatives Book, also his “The DIGITAL PRINT Book” is excellent !

            • Agreed – the tools don’t matter, the end result (and consistent achieveability of that end result) does!

  9. Hakan Lindgren says:

    Hi Ming,
    I’m not sure if you are still reading and responding to comments to this article, but if you do, I would like to ask you about white balance in Photoshop. Managing white balance in a raw converter like LR is easy – there’s an eyedropper tool and two sliders (blue-yellow, red-green) right in front of me. If I want more precision, I can shoot a colour test chart, create a camera profile and load it into LR.

    But I have never understood how I should correct white balance errors in Photoshop. There seems to be no simple way to do what I can do in 5 seconds if I use LR. Could you tell me something about this?

    • Opening a raw file in PS brings up the ACR interface, which is similar to LR. You can do the same thing – just click with the eyedropper, or in current versions, select an area you’d like to read as neutral grey. You also have the same two sliders for color temp and tint. Making a profile is the same, too – you can move the HSL sliders to match a color checker and then save that as a camera default.

    • For non-raw files in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer also has droppers for establishing neutrals. You can white/highlight balance or select a mid grey object to balance or a shadow/black. You can even use two or all three droppers sequentially, to correct for color-crossover, which is when the shadows have a different color cast than highlights.

      • This is a good solution if you’re not sure where the crossover points is, but it doesn’t have the same degree of control (and can sometimes land up worse if a lot of your image happens to reside in a crossover zone and you move one slider one way and the other in the opposite direction).

  10. Franco Morante says:

    Interesting and timely article Ming.

    Reading through the comments reminds me of ‘The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones’ debate. Personally, I grew up with a passion for The Beatles and didn’t care too much for The Stones, but now that I’m older, I listen to The Stones more frequently than The Beatles.

    A similar thing happened to me with Photoshop and Lightroom. While I agree that the PS/Bridge combo is the ultimate tool, I find myself using Lightroom more often nowadays – it’s like Bridge on steroids.

    Again, thanks for your continual stream of quality articles Ming.

  11. Like you, I also started long before LR existed, converting the RAW files from my Canon 10D using DPP and then editing them in PS. When LR came out, I already had a well-established workflow in place so I didn’t really warm up to LR’s ways of doing things.

    I only changed my workflow a little later on when I started working with RAW files from multiple cameras, since switching between RAW converters for different would naturally produce inconsistent results. But I went with Capture One instead of LR (because it came free with the Leica DLUX4), and have since then been a C1 + PS user.

    While I like the concept of cataloguing in LR, I never really liked its implementation of putting everything in a singular database-style catalogue. For one, it’s not sync-friendly: so if I had to jump through hoops just to merge catalogues after editing different files on different machines, I’d rather not spend the trouble getting into it.

  12. Did this article basically say that Lightroom isn’t *the ultimate*? Who didn’t know that?

    Secondly, I get the impression that the comments mainly seem to apply to people whose *entire life* is photography. Like the author.

    I keep thinking that the challenge for people who have a life in addition to photography, is not to have complex workflows backed by 20 years of training. The challenge is to have a general purpose workflow that is very simple and does not leave one disappointed, plus an entirely different workflow for ‘the special ones’.

    • You’re missing the point entirely.

      Those of us who ‘whose entire lives are photography’ simply don’t have hours to spend on one image, because the state of the market means that you’ve got to be finished and on to the next project fast if you want to earn a decent living. I’ve long said that speed and simplicity are my chief objective too, and LR fails because it doesn’t fulfil that. It takes far longer to finish an image in LR than PS.

      Funnily enough, I do have a very simple workflow which I’ve been sharing with everybody here for the last three years. It takes about two minutes per image if you have a slow computer. It has about six or seven steps in total, and with minor variation is what I use to produce everything here. That’s not for the ‘special ones’, but it is a distillation of 10+ years of experience. How about giving it a try?

      • It was quite a few years ago when I tried to use PS to do my photo processing — and I failed to master even the basics of that program. I felt quite the idiot — perhaps rightly so. Magazine how-to articles (tried quite a few) in one hand, mouse in the other, constantly opening PS Help — going nowhere fast. When LR came out, I ‘got it’ — and I also ‘got’ the advantages of tagging for me, as I tend to use multiple tags and a folder structure simply fails unless I make multiple copies of images or of thumbnails — imagine the time it would take.

        Although you say rightly that pros like yourself have less time to ponder over individual images, they also have the commitment to master complex software enough to use it quickly. Some of us enthusiasts have to prioritise our interest, or simply aren’t equally interested in all aspects of the photography process, and I for example rather prefer my hobby time with with camera in hand and subject before me, thinking of creative options at the front end, and less time mastering complex computers. Much as I enjoy the image adjustment and review side, mastering complex software just isn’t part of it.

        I don’t think I’m alone — so I think there’s a subset of photographers who are better served by LR over PS.

        Having said that, your article is really interesting, because frankly I feel locked in by LR and didn’t know that Bridge can do tagging, and would love to have a process that leaves me ‘unlocked’. 🙂 But OTOH your comments in 3. about HSL adjustment panels and camera calibration and LAB mode, I didn’t even understand. I’m probably not at the right ‘level’ to read your blog, not yet anyway.


        • I suspect the articles were more damaging than helpful. The few I’ve seen have definitely overcomplicated things for the sake of ‘looking advanced’ – and not being genuinely helpful (simplicity, after all, does not sell magazines. Neither does honesty, but that’s another story).

          I agree that the whole process is still more complicated than it needs to be – for amateurs or pros. Few pros have the time or commitment to go through the whole experimentation phase; I’m probably an exception rather than the rule. But that’s one of the reasons why I’ve condensed what I know into a simple-as-possible workflow that works for as many people as possible…I’m not surprised it doesn’t make sense as a written description – that’s one of the limitations of the medium – hence the videos. I’ve yet to have anybody come back to me saying it still didn’t make sense afterwards 🙂

  13. Well, “horses for courses”, I guess. Everybody has their own needs and reasons for either approach. I appreciate seeing yours.
    Just out of curiosity, I’d like to ask:
    – how often do you take a photo that doesn’t need post processing (not often, I guess, if your always shooting raw)? Just wondering if you ever have that ‘moment’ of saying “that’s how I took it and it doesn’t need much tweaking”
    – do you ever get the feeling, as your workflow gets more refined, that your optimising what your doing, to get the end result, but that the process may inhibit seeing new ways of looking/seeing/doing?
    As I say, just a couple of questions I’ve felt the need to ask after reading your (most insightful) article.


    • 1. Never and always – that’s a tricky question because on one hand, the camera is never going to get it right – every situation is different and you cannot have one size fits all settings. On the other hand, if you’ve got to do that much work to ‘save’ an image, then you didn’t get it right to begin with. 🙂

      2. No, because one of my fundamental considerations for workflow is that it has to be able to support as much flexibility in output as possible. Different clients want different things and I myself shoot personal work in several distinct styles. I can’t have a workflow that only works for one and requires something so different for another that I have to start again; that’s just impractical time-wise. Using my workflow I can replicate any look I’ve seen – I’ve tried several times as part of the development process, too. It’s not a very useful universal workflow and I wouldn’t release it as such if it doesn’t take other photographers’ needs into account. Everybody shoots differently and has (or will eventually have) their own style.

  14. I found one can easily merge LR and PS in the way described in your video tutorial A2. I set up an editor template for PS with JPGs. Then I start curating in Lightroom, prepare the Raws in LR just like you did in ACR and then hand over final editing to PS. It seems that LR is passing the Raw with the adjustments and runs the ACR engine in the background (LR is not creating the JPG in the background and passes it to LR). Then just complete editing in PS, flatten image and save. At this point PS creates the final JPG and leaves the Raw untouched.

    This editing workflow is not really saving time compared to Bridge/PS but gives the advantage of the catalog that I still like (my catalog will not grow to your dimensions in a lifetime :-)). I then give the JPGs – that are conveniently stacked with the original – a color label to support duplicating the final images into separate folders with the help of some magic LR plugins by Timothy Arms or Jeffrey Friedl.

    • That works too. No idea what the intermediate file format between LR and PS is, but I can only assume it would be the same as ACR to PS.

    • I also tried it the way you work, jgeenen. However, the JPG I get from “Save As” in PS doesn’t show up in my catalogue (I have to import it seperately). It seems files edited in PS only get sent right back into my catalogue when I choose “Save”, and that creates large TIFFs, which I don’t need when I have the untouched RAW anyway. Or am I missing an option somewhere in how those apps handle files?

      • First, create an edit rule for jpgs and PS, then – in PS – just hit “Save” (not save as): it will not overwrite the existing raw but create the desired result. If it is still creating TIF, then you have used the default PS edit profile instead.

        • Thanks, I tried that, but PS will open an 8-bit raw then, and from my understanding you should work on the 16-bit files, and at last have it converted to 8-bit through saving as JPG. Or is there no difference? At least that’s what I got from MT’s Photoshop II video.

          • Flokon, for LR to automatically detect an edit done in PS, you simply do Save, not Save As. The file gets saved as a PSD, with your filename from LR plus the suffix “-edit” added to it, and automatically shows up in LR in the same folder as the original RAW file. You do not want to use a lossy file format like JPEG for editing intermediates ever. JPEGs are only for sharing files to websites, etc. JPEGs are always 8-bit, never 16-bit, and introduce compression artifacts, even at 100% quality. The PSD file will retain all the information of the original RAW file, but be larger because it is mostly rasterized, and stores information less efficiently than the RAW file. Be sure to set PS to use the ProPhoto ICC color space for editing LR files, which is the same color space LR uses.

            If you do save as to make files to folders in your LR catalog from PS or other programs, the fastest way to get them into the catalog is to then go into LR and do a Synchronize Folder. This will bring up the file import dialog and you can add new keywords. Be sure to make an import preset that applies no development preset to synchronized files (zero development changes), and select this for synching files. If not LR will use the last import settings which might be a camera import profile, which might apply development and file-naming changes.

          • Also, I assume you are using the LR command to Edit in Photoshop command or shortcut to send files from LR to PS. That is the way they are meant to operate for full cooperation between the two applications. If you do an Export from LR instead, you can also send 16bit TIFF or PSD files to Photoshop, but LR will not detect and add the edited & saved file from PS if you send the file that way. If you do decide sometimes to do exports to PS, make sure to export with 16 bit, ProPhoto RGB, and either TIFF or PSD format.

            I do most postprocessing development in LR 6, then send photos to PS CC, usually for compositing several images together, then take them back to LR for printing and web sharing (I much prefer the LR print engine which has intelligent output sharpening that applies sharpening based on output size automatically, plus I can easily tweak composited files curves and color balance). For most of the time I send files to PS using LR’s Edit in Photoshop. The exception is cropped RAW files that I usually have resized as PSD exports from LR, to snap into special PSD template files I have for making diptychs and Triptychs. See: for examples of this rather specialized workflow’s web output. If you are doing single images, there is little reason to go the Export route from LR to PS, when the Edit In Photoshop route is so much more automated.

    • This is exactly the workflow I’m aiming for – glad it works smoothly for you!

  15. Very timely article, Ming. What with LR CC being released, and the community jumping on its new features again, while offering nothing new (HDR, seriously?). Funny thing though is, that very new LR release showed me how sloppy I’ve become having this sophisticated DAM in place, with my not caring about anything. LR’s new face detection was a real eye opener (pun intended). It took LR the better part of two days to index my catalogue for faces. When I went through a few individual persons I realised how many unprocessed shots convolute my catalogue. And all because of the “I’m coming back to it later” mentality. However, I hardly ever come back. Usually, there’s just not the time, nor the right mindset to revisit sets.
    Before I can make the switch to Bridge though, I need to thin out images. It’s going to be like cleaning the Augean stables.

    Another advantage of PS other than speed that I realised after watching your video is training of perception, and visualization. LR is streamlined to process globally, and I truly belive that that’s rubbing off on someone’s vision. PS on the other hands needs me to perceive the differences in tone for dodging/burning, (shadows, midtones, highlights), the difference of saturation, and luminance when it comes to colour, and so on. With all of LR’s sliders in place it’s easy to take a hit&miss approach to images. The “let’s see how this turns out” approach is not what photography is about in my opinion. With PS you need a clear vision of the photograph that your image should become in the process. If that’s not the case you literally get nothing out of it.

    One problem remains though, and that is my SmugMug account which is a breeze to organize from within Lightroom. Or maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, and there’s a way to access it from PS or Bridge too.

    Excuse my rambling but ever since LR CC has been released on Tuesday with only some lacklustre superifical features, I am seriously doubting my LR workflow more, and more. Your article was just on time.


    • LR is for people who either really don’t have time or don’t have the inclination to push themselves further. It can be easy on first glance, but cannot produce perfect results or consistency of style beyond the trendy and immediately obvious. You simply cannot do any meaningful local adjustments (though you can do some local adjustments). You’re right: it encourages experimentation rather than clarity of vision; non-destructive edits and sliders never force you to really commit to anything, and as a result the whole output becomes rather weak.

      There are upload plugins for bridge, but there’s no reason you can’t use LR for cataloguing, do the basic (i.e. ACR) adjustments there then export to finish in PS.

      • david mantripp says:

        I think it is rather more subjective than you give it credit for. I don’t much care for Lr as a tool, but I wouldn’t be as dismissive of it’s vast user community as you appear to be, Ming. Also, I don’t look at your photos and exclaim, “hey, there’s a guy who is clearly a Ps genius and doesn’t limit himself with that Lr tomfoolery”, just “here’s someone who makes great photos” :-). Ps does nothing to limit experimentation or to encourage “clarity of vision”. You can easily spend years in Ps pushing sliders around without really thinking about, as you can in any other processing tool. And there’s nothing in Lr that _forces_ you to be indecisive. Hey, if there was an “indecision-killer” plug-in on sale, I’d be the first to buy it. I think.

  16. Erling Maartmann-Moe says:

    Ming, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on Capture One, especially after the new 8.2 version. I find it has more “bite” in its RAW conversion than LR, and an interesting workflow, but every new software takes time to learn to appreciate.

    • Haven’t had a chance (or need) to try it – plus there’s still no proper dodging and burning, so it would at best replace ACR…except slower.

  17. In terms of organization, there seem to be two schools of thought – those photographers who don’t use database catalogues and never will, and those who find them invaluable…. I’m in the second category for a number of reasons and find lightroom’s organisational approach invaluable – even though I also maintain a structured file hierarchy and know pretty much where all my files are “physically” located too. Being able to build smart collections based on keywords, is great for creating sets / albums, but I realised it’s also great for workflow too – I apply a set of keywords on import which equate to steps to perform, then I can see exactly what needs to be done on which photos.
    I guess it would be different if I were a full time photographer, but I don’t necessarily work on photos every day, and months can go by in some cases before I find the time to process some sets of photos. So I find lightroom invaluable from an organizational point of view. It’s also good for managing photos on external hard drives. I have to work off a laptop and I can review and adjust the metadata of files that aren’t physically connected and lightroom will update them later.
    But, I’ve never really been happy with the develop side of things. Some things should be easy but aren’t (adjusting white balance is easy, for example, but consistently matching white balance across multiple cameras?), some things are more complicated than they need to be (correcting perspective distortion), and some things I just don’t understand (B&W conversion). I generally just hack away at the sliders until I get something vaguely approaching what I remember….
    So I picked up your PS A2 video, in the hope of defining for myself a proper PP workflow. I’ll continue to use Lightroom for the organisational capabilities, but PS where it makes more sense. I haven’t finished watching your videos but seems great so far! I was right in thinking you’d have a clearly defined, efficient process with no wasted time – a lot of PS videos on youtube are based around “look at this cool feature” rather than “here’s how you review and process 3,000 files without going crazy”.
    PS – how many photos did you have in the catalogue where lightroom couldn’t cope? I find very conflicting reports over how large the catalogue has to get before it falls over – I am up to 120,000 with no issues on a not particularly high end machine.

    • Thank you. Yes, my PS workflow is pared down to the bare minimums required for quality and efficiency – the whole set of file I curate and process on the PS Workflow II video would probably take about 15-20min if I wasn’t talking through it at the same time.

      My total catalog is somewhere in the 20TB range 🙂 I suspect it’s the very large individual files that throw things off – I have some client work that’s regularly in the low GB range because of layers, and others like the Forest series might be up to 30GB because of resolution.

      • Yes, thinking about it I had problems with a few stitched panoramas, and they weren’t *that* big, maybe one or two GB. I guess you also regularly hit the limit on JPG size, and other things too – those forest images would really challenge my PC!

  18. Tim Auger says:

    Surprising how many people find the concept of LR difficult to grasp. Personally I have several Lightroom catalogues – one for each country in which I have taken shots. It’s easy enough to arrange material in whatever folder structure you like, provided you do it through Lightroom. There’s no need to keep all your photos from the year dot in one monster catalogue. Moving pics around from folder to folder externally, and then trying to get Lightroom to catch up, is a nightmare, of course. Easy enough to edit individual shots in Photoshop as an external editor via Lightroom. The key wording, captioning and other sorting functions of Lightroom are a boon.

    • It isn’t difficult to understand; the *providing you do it through LR* part is the kicker. It simply isn’t reliable across multiple machines.

      • Frans Richard says:

        I use LR on both a Mac mini and a MacBook Pro without any issues. Of course you need to take some steps. I quit LR on the Mac I’m working on and then sync with the other Mac with ChronoSync before I switch. ChronoSync synchronizes all files (I exclude the Library and DropBox folders; I’ve also set LR to save preferences in te Lightroom folder) on my Macs so that both become essentially identical. Then, when I open LR on my other Mac, LR opens exactly where I left off when I quit the program.
        As long as you are disciplined enough to quit & sync before switching, using LR across multiple machines works just fine in my experience.

  19. david mantripp says:

    I guess if you’re happy with a rigid file/folder based structure then Bridge can work as an editing environment, which personally I find far more critical than a processing environment. I was using Media Pro before Bridge existed, and indeed Adobe Fetch, before Bridge or Media Pro existed, and some form of asset management tool which supports a degree of management and organizational abstraction is crucial to my mindset. I appreciate that my mindset is unique to me (and I’ve been badly spolit by extensive exposure to the superb DAM tools in Aperture), but I’m still a little surprised to see so many willing to be led back to the Dark Ages pre-Lightroom, or indeed pre-Aperture.

    Not that I use Lr anyway, but I would have thought that anybody buying into CC would be better off at least using the Library Module in Lr rather than Bridge, since you’re paying for it anyway! I find Bridge useful as, well, a bridge to InDesign, but apart from that I find it a very confusing bodge of an application. It’s interesting to observe that it started out as a souped-up file browser, but eventually got so feature heavy that Adobe introduced Mini Bridge, which is basically the same as Bridge 1.0. Any bets on Micro Bridge turning up in 5 years’ time? 🙂

    • Actually, I wanted to move over to LR for cataloging when it was first released and my catalog wasn’t that big. But at that point it still required you to put everything into one massive library, and working on multiple machines was far more complicated than just unplugging and replugging a portable drive. A lot of things in the catalog just broke, so I gave up and went back to a folder structure. For the way I work (20 TB+ catalog on multiple drives, multiple machines, quick file extractions required or having to take a catalog to a client for them to pick images) it just seems easier and more robust to stick to the directory structure. If you don’t shoot much or only use one machine, there’s no reason not to use LR for cataloging.

      • Frans Richard says:

        I’m not sure about the first version of LR, but since version 2 LR does not require you to put everything in one massive library. You can, but I would advise not importing your photos into LR, but importing them leaving the photos in their original place. This is an important choice to make when you import photos into LR. That way you can organize your photos in any folder structure you like that can be accessed outside of LR. LR will create a reference to that folder structure to make the photos visible in LR, including the folder structure. The one thing you should be aware of is that, if you want to make changes to that external-to-LR folder structure, you should do that from within LR, otherwise LR wil lose track and restoring that doesn’t always work properly in my experience.
        As I posted before, syncing photos and LR catalogs amongst multiple machines works fine if you take the neccesary steps.

        • Well, that’s an improvement. But I honestly don’t have the time to continually evaluate every version of a program that will never fulfil my needs anyway – especially when there’s already a workflow solution that works. 🙂

          LR actually has file size limitations which I don’t encounter in PS, too.

          • david mantripp says:

            Honestly, I’d say that to curate any non-trivial image collection you need a cataloging process. But the important thing is that that process needs to be conceptually independent of whatever tool you use (or don’t use). Lr can help (probably, personally I bailed out at v1), but the key point is “help”. If you just chuck everything in without thinking about it, you’ll end up with one unholy mess. What I like about such tools from a curation point of view is that they allow you to create, modify, switch between, rotate, various different perspectives on a collection of images, which helps a lot in developing the concept of a coherent sequence. Bridge does allow this to some extent, but as it is essentially a file browser, it is quite limited. You also need such an application to be very responsive so as to not get in your way. Personally the only two I’ve found really satisfactory in that respect are Media Pro (obsolete and neglected) and Aperture (almost off life support). CaptureOne is improving and imho already better than Lr, and PhotoSupreme is promising but has a vertical learning curve and some strange glitches. So on that front, I really do think we’ve gone seriously backwards.

  20. Rich Southgate says:

    A very interesting read Ming, thanks as always. This is a very timely debate for me; I’ve been considering the possibility of moving to Lightroom, partly because of a module that reportedly converts GPS longitude and latitude values to IPTC location (City, Region etc) metadata automatically. This would be quite a time-saver for me. I’ve yet to find anything that will do this with Bridge or Photoshop – the products I currently use. However, I’m struggling to be convinced by Lightroom. Its lack of layer support, LAB mode etc means it’s of limited use to me. My organisational workflow is relatively simple and, whilst Lightroom might streamline this somewhat, I’d inevitably be jumping to Photoshop a lot. If anyone knows of a product that can (simply) convert GPS data to IPTC location information and automatically populate these fields via Bridge or Photoshop, then the debate whether or not to move to Lightroom would be over for me.

    • You could use LR solely for cataloging/importing/tagging and then move to PS for editing?

      • I have found that LR and PS work seamlessly together. Make ACR adjustmens, export to PS for editing, do edits, save and close the file. The file goes back to LR catalog as TIFF. If I want to continue editing, I can send it back to PS and it retains all layers! Works very well. As a bonus, I can use LR in place of Camera RAW Filter for some final tweaks. When I’m ready to export to JPEG, I do it as a batch job from LR.

        • Basically, LR and ACR have the same development tools with a different GUI, and LR adds cataloging, printing and file sharing that ACR does not have. I don’t think there is anything in RAW development that ACR does that LR doesn’t do, but the GUI is better, I think.

          LR also has some interesting plugins I use that are incompatible with PS, such as the Adobe DNG Flatfield Plugin, which is essential for fixing corner color casts with Leica M9 and M files and certain wideangle lenses I have.

          I am also lucky to live near the New England School of Photography which has an excellent instructor on Lightroom (and Photoshop), Sue Anne Hodges. Her Lightroom class was great at explaining everything from how to set up your catalog to developing, printing and exporting files from RAW to other formats. I suppose I should take her Photoshop class some time, I’m self taught in Photoshop, and I’ve never used LAB mode, so I’m not sure what it can do that the HSB color sliders and curves in ACR or LR can’t do. I like the fact that you can now make the curves in LR act much more like a Curves adjustment layer in PS. You can switch LR curves from the default region mode to a bezier-point mode, and go into the separate R, G, and B channels now. It’s not quite as powerful as the PS version but it’s 95%.

          • Hi

            Yes, Sue Ann at NESOP is VERY good. She is even more expert in PS than LR. I encourage you to take her PS and Advanced PS classes. I believe she is the director of digital media at the school.

            As to LR vs PS curves and LAB vs LR/ACR adjustments, Ming’s PS v2 Workflow video is EXTREMELY well presented. After taking several of Sue Ann’s classes, I know to greatly respect Ming’s workflow…I don’t think she would disagree: she teaches the benefits of LAB. Ming’s video is VERY clear and straightforward to follow. It presents well the advantages to LR/ACR ->PS and draws well defined (and expertly derived) lines between the two. No, curves in LR are not the same as LR/ACR base raw processing ->PS LAB curves and beyond, workflow…again as described by Ming, the formula/workflow is very easy to follow/understand/do. Of course practice makes perfect. I am in that phase of the workflow shift.


            • Thank you!

              • No, thank YOU!
                After many classes/workshops with excellent teachers, including Sue Ann Hodges at NESOP, George Dewolf at Maine Media Workshops, Steven Johnson at Mono Lake, Paul Caponigro in Camden Maine, several at Santa Fe, I find your depth of knowledge, clarity and guidance to be the guiding light (greatly complemented by the wisdom from those above). I’ve invested ( intentional use of word) in all your PS and Outsatnding Images series 1-5 videos. While combined not inexpensive (and for many users not all required to learn deeply) I find the cost vs benefit ratio to be unmatched (again not taking away from the great learning above).
                Great job Ming!! I look forward to more and hope you stay with us for years to come ( but appreciate the sacrifices you make for that…I’m VERY happy to give a little bit back and truly encourage others to view his videos for the modest price vs gain received!!)

            • Mr. Cole! Fancy meeting you here! It seems the learning curve for photography is without an end point for all of us. Though I am able to get very good results with what I know now, there’s always some technique that I don’t yet know. Something that might help with getting a nicely composed but technically troublesome negative or DNG into a useable state.

              • …actually I’m a different Caleb than that one, just a mere student. Please say hi to Sue Ann from “workshop Caleb”
                Take care

  21. I’ve been dithering over the purchase of your PS workflow videos for quite a while now, primarily a matter of cost relative to my resources. (No, they’re not expensive considering the amount and quality of content; it’s just that I draw from a very shallow well.)

    But, the time has come to make a decision. Are the two videos on workflow integrated and the earlier one reasonably up to date? Would I spend time learning approaches in Workflow I which are then superseded by Workflow II? My software is CS6 and is unlikely to change.

    • Mike, I just purchaser PS workflow II last week. I was using LR exclusively and had zero prior experience with PS, so it took me a while to find some of the tools. Once I found them, I had no trouble following Ming’s lecture. PS workflow II shows the complete workflow from the start, so it’s basically a stand-alone lecture that doesn’t require watching the earlier workflow video.

      I highly recommend this video, I’ve only spent about 10 hours practicing with this workflow and my images are already starting to turn out much better than before. I took a small catalog of old pictures that I edited with this workflow and then compared to previous exported versions. The difference has been an eye-opener. I still need to get my cameras profiled correctly to get the most out of it.

    • A: Intro to PS really explains in great detail what all of the buttons do and uses CS5.5 (ACR6); Workflow II expounds on theory and curation and uses CC (ACR8). There are some slight labelling changes between the two, but they are complimentary rather than superseding one another. Workflow II is already at nearly 4h, and as condensed as possible – I don’t want to test then patience of the audience 🙂 Both workflows are applicable to CS6 (ACR7), and there’s a $110 bundle for the pair.

  22. Looking to purchase some of your PS videos soon. Do you go over the use of Wacom products in any of the videos? From what I’ve seen they are THE way to go for photo editing. Also do you have any plans to do a film to digital workflow video? Medium format and large format film is just plain fun to shoot. Digitizing the film is a chore at best. Thanks!!!

    • I explain the function of the Wacoms (and yes, they’re indispensable for fine local control especially for dodging and burning) but since a lot of features are product specific, it makes no sense to do what would be effectively a product demo video. If you have a tablet, and enable pressure sensitivity on the brush in PS, that’s really about it. It isn’t particularly complicated.

      We wanted to do a film to digital workflow, but again it didn’t make sense because of the number of variations involved – how you shoot, what film, how you develop, how you scan etc. I could show you what I do down to the last detail step, but the problem is some elements may not be available locally thus rendering the whole thing useless. It’s very dependent on variables which are not easily controlled.

      • Thanks for the response. That all makes perfect sense. I didn’t even think about all the variables with a film to digital workflow. I guess this is because I only scan b&w. I have also reduced my film and developer choices greatly. Even with only 2 types of each the variables are many. Color is all done at the lab. Thanks again.

  23. I hate Lightroom even in its newest 6/CC version still very slow…….definetely just use C1 Pro 8 & PS …nothing better than this….did I have to say more….???;) And its the only thing from P1 which could everybody afford….their software….

    In my next life IQ 250 with its touchscreen& nice wireless triggering to C1, wifi plus a nice setup of large aperture leaf shutter primes 1/10000, 1/1600 flash sync and 16 bit color depth anything more you need??? Not really maybe GPS built in 😉

    House and nice mid-class car or digital media format back+ lenses? Thats the question, tough one for a photographer at least…;)

    • Not so tough a question. If you can commercially justify it, then the camera will be a revenue-generating asset enabling purchase of house etc…otherwise, I think the answer is no…

  24. What has always kept me away from PS is for a small increase in control of edits I receive a massive file from photoshop! Often 200mb or more for one image. Maybe I’m doing something wrong (am I?), but with LR I get a small side car file no matter what edits I make. It makes me crazy that I get “perfect” edits for the MASSIVE file, or I get close enough for web use and sharing, even 8×10 to 12×18. When I go to 24×36 or larger I break out the PS to clean up edges or local sharpening. I will admit, I do VERY few edits on my photos, don’t usually need that much, and if I am heavily editing something I begin to wonder how I could have made the original better and if the edits are worth the heavily processed look I am left with in the end.

    • Because LR applies those edits additively, PS applies them sequentially so it has to save intermediate states. The results look very different. However, if you know what you’re doing and are happy with the final results – why do you need to save anything other than the final JPEG12 or TIFF?

  25. great topic well covered as always.
    i use both PS and LR for different tasks so am not as dedicated one way or the other.
    that said you certainly make a strong argument on selective sharpening (and other items). sharpened skies, shadows, and other low/non detail areas of an image are certainly undesirable and PS is designed to avoid it using masks, layers, etc.
    on a more basic level tho LR is almost insanely intuitive and easy to use and can achieve very nice results with almost no specialized knowledge, whereas PS is obviously a more intimidating and complex program.
    either way…keep up the informative articles.
    well done.

    • PS is definitely intimidating if you don’t have a guide. I was lucky enough to have a very skilled mentor – otherwise I’d probably not even have considered it! I suppose that’s true of any tool with this level of flexibility.

      • no doubt.
        i’m not embarrassed to admit I had to take some lessons just to get started and make sense of all the tools some years back.
        it’s a massively “deep” program compared to LR.

        • The latest versions have movie editing and 3D printing capabilities too – it’s pretty amazing, actually. But far more than any photographer needs!

  26. Thanks for writing this, it offers some good insight into your process. As for me, I would like to point out the main reasons why I spend most of my time editing in Lightroom instead of Photoshop:

    – Cataloging and browsing tools are conviently available and available at the same time as editing tools
    – Raw conversions and adjustments are one integrated module, not a two step ACR to PS approach, where ACR looks like its from 1995 and doesn’t allow me edit the raw conversion as an adjustment layer in PS
    – Copying and applying settings and doing conversions is more convenient in Lightroom
    – I expect the new panorama feature to save me a lot of time; just select the photos and blend them, no jumping between apps.

    But there some things that limit Lghtroom:

    – Local adjustments are only useful for one or two crude adjustments, PS is the way to go for local adjustments.
    – Complex operations do not sit well with LR for the reasons you mention. Here I mean sequential editing and complex color and contrast adjustments.
    – Likewise, very delicate controls such as carefully adjsuted sharpening, small contrast adjustments and such are not the forte of LR.
    – Once the image is loaded, PS is fast. LR still has room to improve in terms of editing speed
    – LR often leads to a bit jumping back and forth between the library and editing view

    But despite the caveats, I have for a while preferred to do the bulk of my work in LR and the move to PS to do the finer adjustments. This stems from the fact that I don’t usually need to spend much time on local adjustments. Obviously the scales tip if a lot of local adjustments are needed and most issues I list are not fundamental, i.e. they coudl be fixed by re-engineering the software.

  27. Interesting that you find actions in PS an easier way to apply edits made on one image onto other images. I found them extremely cumbersome to create, with multiple windows and cryptic checkboxes (but maybe that is an area where PS has improved in the last ten years). In Aperture and LR I had never needed to look up how to apply an edit from one image to another, in PS I needed to do so.

    I also wonder if the limitations of non-destructive processing couldn’t be easily removed by (a) LR applying its edits in the order the adjustment bricks are sorted and (b) giving the user the possibility to change that order. And of course (c) allowing the addition of extra copies of an adjustment brick as Aperture does (or did).

    • No, I only use actions for very specific repeat operations like applying borders or resizing and adding watermarks etc. There aren’t any cryptic windows or checkmarks: make a new action, record, do your thing, then hit stop. That’s all.

      A), b) and c) would easily solve most of the limitations of LR (except for those local-specific adjustments). But it might also add confusion: how would you easily know adjustment brick/pane comes before which gradient or brush etc? I think it is unlikely Adobe will include that because that functionality is provided in PS, and for the most part, the audience for LR doesn’t even know what they’re missing. That, and the fact that LR and PS are part of the same subscription package anyway for those who do…

      • “But it might also add confusion: how would you easily know adjustment brick/pane comes before which gradient or brush etc? ”

        Do you mean with that that less experienced users wouldn’t know what the best order is and that they would fare better by letting LR decide what the order is? Note that Aperture has (c) which includes (a) for the duplicated adjustment block. So this is not something that would be unprecedented in non-destructive editors.

        • If you let LR decide, surely that defeats the point of having re-orderable adjustments to manage tonality and we are back to square one? As it is now, notice that you can apply nonlinear adjustments like exposure on a gradient or local adjustment, but not control the order in which they are applied – it would be the same problem again.

          • Of course, I just don’t understand what you mean with ‘adding confusion’ if (a), (b) and (c) were to be implemented. In other words, I don’t see any downside of implementing them.

  28. As a user of PS since version 2 and DeBabelizer before that. DeBab allowed one to convert files resize and a few other PS like functions. There were also a few other ‘scanning utilities’ that covered things like tone control and saturation which were issues when preping images for print media especially those that were scanned from films.
    I would like to have a good working relationship with LR but I feel it is missing much. I purchased version 4 and upgraded to 5 and it has not improved hardly at all. The major change was the ability to import files from applications like DXO and export to plugins. The round trip into PS still lacks a degree of simplicity which it should have. The data base is limited when compared to Aperture and even an AUD $22 a light ingestion app is in many ways easier to adapt to. Bridge with a bit of thought can be an excellent cataloguer and the tools for file management are some of the best around but not quite as good as the ‘Better’ suit of tools but good non the less. So with an organised approach, key words and multiple sort functions Bridge can be as good as LR.
    Outputting files is also pain in LR compared to Batch preperation in PS.
    I use LAB and LR doesn’t support it so that is another pet hate and another trip into PS slowish even on mid level Mac with the maximum RAM and a Tb SSD.
    I don’t want to go to CC, Adobe have had something in the order of 20K out of me over the years. So whats the PS replacement going to be? I spent a week with Affinity photo its a new PS like application coded from the ground up not the 20y/o behemoth I am familiar with. Its very fast on large files, it has all the features of PS including LAB plus some operational tasks that are more functionally logical than PS. Its in beta at the present and many Plugins don’t quite work with it yet but that feature is promised. Price wise its a bargain. It seems to treat DXO tif files quite well. I want to try it with Photo Mechanic and after that when I next upgrade my Mac I won’t have to worry about PS compatibility any longer as PS CS6 is getting long in the tooth.

    • Very well reasoned and thoughtful article from Ming Thein (as usual):

      I’m in with Michael ward on Adobe having had my wallet for xx years – haven’t tried Affinity; my current workflow is PhotoMechanic -> LR and sometimes PS. I’m considering cutting out LR, but OTOH LR preserves the color coding and rating from PM, which saves enormously on curation time.

      On another note: I’m considering buying the PS videos, on this site – but maybe there should be a bundle, as there seems to be a number of bundles already; say:
      A: Intro to PS Workflow
      A2: Photoshop Workflow II
      C: Intermediate Photoshop
      M: The Monochrome Masterclass
      E4 Exploring Style
      E5: Outstanding Images Ep.5: Processing for style

      What do you think ?


      • There are bundles for PS – A/A2, A/A2/E4/E5/M (A can be added to any A2 bundle for $30), A2/C/M, A2/C, E4/E5/M/A. The reason C isn’t in most of the bundles is because it goes much further than most users typically need; I’d suggest getting A/A2/E4/E5/M first, then only seeing if you need C. If you do, you’ll already know it and it’s likely you’re not going to need a lot of the others.

  29. What Lightroom is good at is sorting through your pictures, comparing them, deciding which are worth editing, etc — the Library Module. It just seems easier and a bit faster to use than Bridge.

    As you point out, ACR in Photoshop can do everything that the Lightroom Develop Module can do, but it’s just easier to do in Lightroom, as you go, if you have a large number of pictures to do than in Bridge. The differences are subtle — in principle you can do similar things in iOS and Android, but they have a different feel. Same in Lightroom v Bridge+ACR.

    If all you ever do is global edits and a few rudimentary local adjustments, Lightroom will get you there faster. For pictures that need individual touching up and a lot of localised adjustments, there is nothing better than Photoshop.

    But all this is a matter of personal workflow preference and, since you get both applications with the Photo Bundle, there is no difficulty in trying both.

    I would be more interested in a comparison with other raw converters (notably Capture One, DXO, Iridient Developer, Photo Ninja, etc) which have even weaker local adjustment features than ACR/Lightroom, but which can give better starting files for Photoshopping. Personally, I have never found their image production advantages to uniformly beat ACR/Lightroom, and they tend to have a narrower range of lens correction features, auto-keystoning, etc.

    • Actually, the two biggest challenges of third party developers are speed and consistency of workflow: you might get a 2% better file, but only for some cameras; and then your workflow change from camera to camera and that’s just a big no-no when it comes to producing images that can sit comfortably together. And then you have the issue of different UIs, too. I don’t imagine I’d be better or more consistent even if the software potential was higher, but I needed to remember how to use four or five packages. Of course, this might not be a problem for some, but if you regularly use different hardware, then a lot of the third party converters are non-starters.

      • I guess I am wondering whether it is 2% or 10%+. If it was 10%, I’d use it 100% of the time, to get a file to push into PS for finishing, as you advocate doing with ACR.

        • Well, for me it’s more like 10% – plus the time saved in workflow (not so much actual compute time). If you’ve got a hundred files, 1min is substantial…and 100 is a very very light week for me. 🙂

  30. jcruddas says:

    Hi Ming,

    I have really enjoyed using the workflows explained in your instructional PS videos. But I really love LR for its cataloging features (I’m not keen on bridge).

    I was wondering if there are any key differences between Lightroom and ACR for the parts of your workflow before entering PS. If not, then maybe it would be easiest for me to take care of cataloging and RAW conversion in LR and then using the “edit in Photoshop” option to re-join your workflow for the increased local control etc. (I believe that LR continues to catalog PS processed files as copies of the original in it’s library module). What do you think?

    I’ve also been considering a wacom tablet as you seem to regard them as near essential. Any recommendations on models, features, etc?

    • Thanks. No, as far as I can tell, the front end of ACR is the same as LR – so you could do that if you wish.

      As for Wacoms, it really depends on screen size, but the basic Intuos models are the best bang for the buck – sensitivity and tip feel is great, and they’re very cheap. I’m using the larger one with my 27″, and the smaller one with my 13″. (Links here to B&H / Amazon)

  31. Christian Stocker says:

    Perfectly agree with you and like your blog a lot. Except of the statement PS beeing faster as LR. There was a recent testjng on that from a german computer magazine (ct or chip), with the following result: LR has been developed new from scratch and is generally faster. PS has a lot of features resulting back from tens of years which have not been altered. They are chanced incrementally and oftenly don’t even make use of more then 1 processor core or don’t use the graphic chips of your computer. The magazine came to the conclusion that when buing a new computer not the amount of cores is important but rather enough ram size according to the resolution of your photographs.

    • Christian Stocker says: 6 min, german language

    • Sorry, I should have been clearer: it isn’t the compute time that’s slow, but the working time because you need to do a lot more steps to get to the same point. It isn’t a code thing: it’s a UI one.

      • Frans Richard says:

        I suppose UI speed is about personal experience, UI attractiveness about personal taste. Before Lightroom I used PS (up to CS3) but always found the UI confusing. There are so many ways to do something in PS you can spend a lot of time just figuring out which tool to use. The PS learning curve is quite steep I think. LR is a lot easier to learn in my experience and can do 99% of what most photographers need, including local edits. For me it is not only speedier in performance, but in use also. I also like having everything in one place/program. I very seldom use CS3 anymore.
        As for just using both LR and PS because they are bundled in CC, be aware of what you have after you stop paying… exactly nothing. A standalone version of LR will just keep working (as long as a new OS version supports it and as long as you don’t buy a new camera; but then, we’re not gearheads are we? 😉 ). Upgrading LR every year or so costs a lot less than a CC subscription and if you skip a version now and then the costs are even less.
        I would like to suggest LR is a better starting point for a beginner. It could also turn out to be the only thing you need.

        • It’s easier, but limited. Depends if you just want an immediate solution or intend to progress further and grow and may well have to learn CC again – it’s easier to learn from scratch than un-learn LR…

          As for speed, it isn’t the compute time. Steps in PS that take one brush stroke require lots of clicking and sliding bars in LR – how is that faster?

  32. Perfectly agree Ming, thanks for talking about this eternal battle between LR and PS.
    I have to say that my PS workflow did get a quality and speed quantum leap since I bought on1 plugins.
    They allow to make in an easier way what can be considered very complex by the average PS user.
    I have also been using NIK plugins but I find them a little on the “aggressive” side for original files … though I still use Silver Efex for BW conversion.
    Any comments on PS plugins in general ?

    • PS plugins are best avoided precisely because of the reasons you mention: lack of control. It seems somewhat pointless to go from LR to PS for control then give that up to a third party, no?

      • Not if the third party plugin can do what I want better than I can myself. I went through Vincent Versace’s book on B&W conversion. The one where he spends seven chapters explaining different methods of conversion in great detail, creating photoshop actions, etc. and then in chapter 8, he brings out Silver Efex, and shows how the previous 180 pages of work can be done in a dozen steps. The understanding I got from doing the process manually informs my decisions and process on every B&W conversion, but I still use Silver Efex, because it’s faster, and I get better results with it than I would get on my own.

        • Hmmm. I’ve yet to see ANY Silver Efex filter that can replicate what I want consistently across images shot under different conditions; they all come out looking as though they were put through a canned style. And no, it doesn’t take a huge number of actions and steps – I’ve never had to use more than the channel mixer, a couple of curves and dodge and burn brushes. It’s all in the Monochrome Masterclass video.

  33. I think it would be useful to have more explication regarding the term “destructive edits”. That word — destructive — kept me away from Photoshop for a long time, although it is now my main tool. If you start with a raw file, information in the file is not destroyed by what you do in PS. If you use layers for adjustments, the image (in the Background layer) is not altered. Yes, filters can be “destructive”, but that can avoided by applying them to copies of underlying pixel layers, or by using smart filters. True, it is not as easy to return to some previous editing state in PS, compared to LR, but is seems to me that the idea that PS edits are “destructive” is overstated. Your comments, Ming, please.

    • People are typically afraid to make any changes because they are not incrementally undoable or easily modified at intermediate points in the flow without undoing the operations that follow. To me this is the main strength of PS: there are tonal operations that MUST be sequential to ‘look right’. LR doesn’t get that. And if you have an adequate guide through the intimidating complexity of PS, it’s not so intimidating at all 😉

    • Frans Richard says:

      I suppose the idea that PS does “destructive edits” come from people that edit the original JPEG from their camera and then overwrite that file. If one works that way, then yes, PS is “destructive” because you can never undo such an operation. Even worse is when this is done on an uncalibrated monitor. Then, when the prints come out all wrong and PS can’t fix that, PS is blamed for being “destructive”.
      Of course nobody reading this blog works that way because we have been so well educated by Ming! 🙂

      • The ACR tags are written in exactly the same way as LR – XMP or central database. And then you can save layers and history inside PS itself…surely that is less destructive, if anything.

  34. Thank you for the information. I still have a lot to learn and this will definitely help me out.

  35. I agree with you. I am long time PS user. Tried LR but hate the interface. Uninstalled forever. I can get great result from PS than my friends using LR. Many photographers shooting RAW format believe LR is only the way & hardly explore PS,s Raw filter. PS & Bridge is my way.

  36. How does Bridge catalog????

    • You can add keywords and then filter by those, for starters. Bridge was the catalog a long time before LR even existed and most of the same functionality is duplicated (just not well explained).

  37. Hey Ming I shoot 35mm film and I use LR. I have PS 6 but never use it. I wasted money so far. I’m wondering if your ps videos would be beneficial to me. I usually stay away from my computer because I don’t like LR. I probably know the answer I would just like to hear it from you. Thanks.

    • Film to digital workflow is pretty specialised and depends heavily on how you’re processing and scanning – processing negs to print is not the same as processing to scan; with one you want more contrast, the other you actually want less to put it within the tonal range of the capture device. I’d say your problem is likely because LR is not very well suited to the film to digital conversion. I have not found a solution that doesn’t require multiple curves yet…

      As for whether the PS videos will be useful – they do not specifically cover film to digital, but the digital workflow is very flexible and well established.


  1. […] either, I’ve just read short statements in some of your posts. I am assuming you have read this post. It isn’t so much ACR vs LR as PS vs LR, and LR’s extremely poor handling of dodging […]

  2. […] thinking to help us develop images in this natural, neutral sort of style. Thank you. However, I don’t use LR, and there are no presets: it is impossible to have a one size fits all for every different […]

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