Lightroom vs Photoshop – What’s the Difference?

Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop are both products of Adobe and a part of Adobe Creative Cloud Plan. Let’s compare and Explore the difference between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom and which one is better in 2024.

Lightroom vs Photoshop. Let's compare and know the differences between Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a popular computer software designed for editing and improving digital images and also for performing Graphic designing. It is widely used by photographers and graphic designers to edit their images and to create digital art. Photoshop is also available for mobile users with the name Photoshop Express just like Lightroom Mobile. Adobe Photoshop has more advanced tools than Lightroom and it is also very popular among graphic designers.

Lightroom is a popular and user-friendly catalog-based software designed for organizing and enhancing digital photos. First, it was called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Now, it has different variants such as Lightroom CC, Lightroom Mobile, and Lightroom Classic. Lightroom CC vs Lightroom Classic is a separate debate. Lightroom is available on Mobile, Windows, iOS, etc. Adobe Lightroom is specifically built for photo editing. It has very limited use in graphic designing.

Unique Features of Adobe Photoshop:

I’ll list down and summarize some unique features of Adobe Photoshop to clear some doubts in your mind.

1. Graphic Design Capabilities:

Adobe Photoshop has some advanced graphic designing tools that are not present in Adobe Lightroom. These tools are unique to Photoshop which makes it equally popular among graphic designers. So, whenever you are confused about “Lightroom or Photoshop?” prefer Photoshop if are a graphic designer.

Vector Shapes: Photoshop allows you to create and edit shapes that can be resized without losing quality. It’s perfect for creating logos, icons, and illustrations.

Text Editing: You can add, modify, and style text in different fonts and effects. This feature is useful for creating designs with customized text. Photoshop allows you to add, edit, and format text within your designs. You can create text layers with different fonts, sizes, and colors.

Advanced Drawing Tools: Photoshop provides a wide range of drawing tools, such as brushes and pencils, to create detailed digital artwork and illustrations.

2. Precise Retouching Tools:

Adobe Photoshop has some advanced photo editing and retouching tools. That’s why Photoshop is the right program for you if you are a professional photographer and you need more control over your editing,

Clone Stamp Tool: This tool allows you to duplicate parts of an image, making it useful for retouching imperfections or removing distractions.

Healing Brush Tool: Photoshop’s Healing Brush lets you remove all the imperfections and make a perfect version of yourself. You can remove any scar mark or pimple by using a healing brush tool.

Content-Aware Fill: This smart tool fills in selected areas with context-aware content. It can automatically generate replacements for removed objects or fill in missing parts of an image.

3. Layer-Based Editing:

Photoshop’s layer system allows you to work on different parts of an image independently. You can arrange, hide, and adjust individual layers, giving you full control over your edits. Layer-based editing is my personal favorite. It gives me control over the editing process. If I make any mistake, it allows me to correct it because I only have to remove that layer.  You can use adjustment layers to make non-destructive edits to specific attributes of an image, such as brightness, contrast, or color balance. This preserves the original image while allowing for flexible adjustments.

Photoshop also offers various blending modes that determine how layers interact with each other. These modes create unique effects and allow for overlays and adjustments.

Therefore, Photoshop is a winner in the Photoshop versus Lightroom debate.

Layer based editing in adobe photoshop

Unique Features of Adobe Lightroom:

Similarly, Adobe Lightroom has some features that are not present in Photoshop. Here are some features that are unique to Adobe Lightroom only.

1. Efficient Photo Organization and File Handling:

A catalog is a database that contains all the information about the photos. So, when you edit the image, for example, exposure adjustment, all the changes will be stored in the database, and the original image will remain intact and untouched. This is called non-destructive photo editing. Lightroom uses catalogs to organize and manage photo collections efficiently, allowing users to search, browse, and access their images quickly.

On the other hand, Photoshop edits original photos. To create a catalog in Photoshop, you have to create a separate PSD file which is quite difficult to organize as you will have more versions of your photo.

2. Smart Photo Search:

 We can make collections in Lightroom. They make it easy to find and access specific sets of images without searching through all your photos. Collections can include the same photo in multiple groups without making duplicates. They simplify your workflow and make it simple to keep your photos organized in Lightroom.

For instance, you can create a collection called “Family Vacation” and add all the photos from your family trips into it. It’s an easy way to keep your photos organized and quickly access specific groups of images whenever you want.

Keyword tagging in Lightroom is another way of searching your photos smartly. Add certain keywords to your photos. It helps you easily search and find specific images based on those keywords. For example, if you tag a photo with “beach” and “sunset,” you can later search for all your beach or sunset photos with just a click. It simplifies the process of organizing and locating photos, making it effortless to find the images you’re looking for in your Lightroom catalog.

3. Batch Editing:

Lightroom lets you apply edits to multiple photos simultaneously. This saves time. Batch editing is a big advantage of Adobe Lightroom. This is the main reason we are discussing Lightroom vs Photoshop. Photoshop can fulfill all your editing needs but batch editing is something you will certainly miss in Photoshop. Like bro, you can edit hundreds of photos in minutes or even seconds if you are using presets.

For example, If I want to sharpen all my Birthday party images, I can do it simply through a sharpness adjustment slider on Lightroom and save my hours of hectic work by doing it individually on all images.

Non-destructive EditingYesPartially*
RAW Image ProcessingYesYes
Library ToolsYesNo
Advanced Color EditingNoYes
Layer-based EditingNoYes
Presets and ProfilesYesNo
HDR Merge & PanoramaYesYes
Extensive Text EditingNoYes
Content-Aware FillNoYes
3D EditingNoYes

Lightroom vs Photoshop: Pricing

The difference between Lightroom and Photoshop is incomplete without talking about price. The happy news is all the Adobe software offers a 7-day free trial for new users. But, the bad news is they are quite expensive. The more value you need, the more you have to spend. There are different plans offered by Adobe, such as the photography plan, and Adobe Creative Cloud Plan. You can also buy them individually, starting from 9.99/month. Comparatively, Lightroom is much less expensive than Photoshop. Prices vary a lot depending on which plan you choose and how much Cloud storage you buy.

Tip: There is also a free version of Lightroom mod app available that contains some extra features unlocked.

photoshop vs lightrooom: pricing difference

Winner: Lightroom

Sincere Tip: Buy a Photography Plan

Lightroom vs. Photoshop: Interface

Lightroom has a very clean interface in comparison to Photoshop. That feature makes Lightroom very easy and easy to manage and organize. Adobe Lightroom has a smoother editing workflow than Photoshop. Lightroom has simple sliders. 

For example, if you want to adjust the sharpness and exposure to your images during batch editing, you just have to adjust the slider option available. Lightroom has a more streamlined workflow.

Lightroom interface

However, Photoshop is very complex and each tool in Photoshop contains a bunch of other options. Photoshop is advanced and provides more options but it is difficult to use.  So, the Photoshop interface and editing workflow are more complex than Lightroom.

Photoshop’s interface is made up of different parts that help you work efficiently:

1. Menu Bar: Like in other apps, it has options for creating, editing, saving, and more. You can also find menus for text, formatting layers, selections, and filters.

2. Tools Bar: On the left, you have quick access to tools for tasks like selecting, cropping, and painting. You can customize it by adding or removing tools.

3. Document Tabs: You can work on multiple documents at once, and they appear as tabs at the top for easy switching.

4. Options Bar: When you select a tool, this bar shows options to customize that tool.

5. Panels: On the right, you can have various panels for quick access to features. The most important one is the Layers panel, where you manage and edit your artwork’s layers.

Adobe Photoshop interface

Winner: Lightroom

Lightroom vs. Photoshop: Learning curve

As discussed earlier, Lightroom is much easier to learn because it has a clean interface and a less complex interface. So, as a beginner, I suggest you use Lightroom for image editing and then shift towards the advanced and complex interface of Photoshop. I’ve written a separate article on Lightroom keyboard shortcuts to make it more easy.

The tools in Photoshop, on the other hand, take a lot longer to learn and understand. Photoshop tool contains further and further options. They’re super powerful and have what seems like an infinite amount of options per tool. With this program, you get supreme control over your image editing, but the learning curve is higher and steeper than Lightroom. Layer-based editing makes it more complex.  So, Photoshop is difficult to learn.

Winner: Lightroom is highly recommended for beginners.

Lightroom vs. Photoshop: Editing capabilities

In simple words, Photoshop has more advanced photo editing capabilities. Besides photo editing, Photoshop has graphic design capabilities. Now, the question is why we need Lightroom if Photoshop has all the advanced editing capabilities. the simple answer to this question is that There was a need for a tool that could perform Photoshop functions in a simple layout. So, on the highly demanding request of photographers, Adobe released another tool in 2016, that targets photographers only. Lightroom contains all photo editing tools in a simple layout without any fancy extras.  Photographers can easily edit and manage their photos and can perform batch editing at a high speed.

Photoshop was not built for photographers. So, the interface is not user-friendly. Photographers use ACR to make basic adjustments like Lightroom. To get ACR mode, simply go to Filter> Camera Raw filter and import the image from Bridge to ACR. Layer-based editing and advanced editing tools I discussed previously in the unique tools of Photoshop make it a perfect choice when you need more control over your editing process.


Summary: Both Lightroom and Photoshop have their own pros and cons and can be used for different purposes with their different potential and capabilities. However, Photoshop is much more capable and have more functions as compare to Lightroom.

Lightroom vs. Photoshop: Action and presets

Photoshop offers “Action”. Photoshop action is just like a recipe that we give to Photoshop to work on our project step by step. We can control action at any step. After performing an action, we can still add some changes using layers. 

For example, I apply Photoshop Action: “Vibrant Pop” to make colors brighter and more vibrant. It will automatically apply increased brightness, boost saturation, sharpen the image, add a vignette for focus, and the result will be bright and vibrant colors.

While similar but a little different concepts of presets are used in Lightroom. Presets are pre-adjusted parameters from famous photographers that you can apply to your images with a single click. The only difference is it is not the script of steps and you cannot change the steps.

Pros and Cons of using Photoshop:


  • Extensive and advanced photo manipulation tools
  • Robust graphic design capabilities
  • Allows for detailed retouching and compositing


  • Steeper learning curve, especially for beginners
  • Not as tailored for photo organization and management
  • Overwhelming for basic photo edits
  • Mobile version may not have all the desktop features

Pros and Cons of using Lightroom:


  • Non-destructive editing workflow
  • Efficient organization and management of photos
  • Mobile app
  • Synchronization across devices


  • Less focus on graphic design compared to Photoshop
  • Limited vector and text manipulation


If you are a graphic designer, go directly to Photoshop. Or If you want to organize your images and use presets, use just Lightroom. For best results, I suggest using both. Start with Lightroom, do some basic adjustments, organize your images, and then move to Photoshop for advanced retouching. To export images from Lightroom to Photoshop, simply use the Lightroom shortcut, Cmd/Ctrl+E, or go to Edits>Export and then export to Photoshop. I hope you have now reached to the point where you can decide for yourself which is better between Lightroom and Photoshop.


Can Lightroom perform all the functions of Photoshop?

In the case of photo editing, Lightroom almost performs all the functions of Photoshop. However, layer-based editing gives you more control over editing. In the case of Graphic design, Lightroom is far behind the Photoshop.

Should I start with Lightroom or Photoshop?

As a beginner, you should always start with Lightroom. First, learn Lightroom and then move to Photoshop.

Is Photoshop more powerful than Lightroom?

Yes, Photoshop has more advanced photo editing and graphic design tools than Lightroom.

What is the difference between Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop?

Adobe Lightroom Classic is popular for Raw file processing, non-destructive photo editing, and batch editing. While Photoshop is popular for its Graphic design capabilities. In the photography plan, you can get both Lightroom and Photoshop.

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