If iTunes and Photoshop had a baby, they would name it Lightroom. Most serious photographers already use Lightroom or the comparable competitor Apple Aperture. But as more people take lots of photos, Lightroom is becoming more popular for anyone who just likes taking photos.
When reading existing articles called “About Adobe Lightroom” or “What is Adobe Lightroom”, they resorted to terms like “Digital Asset Management System” or “Image Management Application Database.” My favorite description is that Lightroom is not “a file browser like Adobe Bridge”. I am picturing people reading this and thinking…. yeah that didn’t help me. (Always good to describe a product as not another product you haven’t heard of.)
Basically Lightroom combines a great way to view and manage all of your photos with great editing functionality in one application.
Let’s break these down:
Lightroom is an awesome photo editor. This is really Adobe’s bread and butter. Lightroom does pretty much everything better than consumer photo editing products like Picasa or iPhoto. You can adjust white balance, modify exposure levels, adjust colors, fix spots and remove red eye and sharpen and crop your images. Lightroom also has brushes to selectively adjust areas of your photo.
You won’t find the same retouching, graphic design or text overlay capabilities as Photoshop or Photoshop elements, but for everyday edits they are worlds easier in Lightroom. Most consumers photographers will find editing in Lightroom more intuitive than in a similarly priced program like Photoshop Elements.
You can look at all your images in one place with editing a click away.
This is the iTunes part of the analogy. In Lightroom you are not limited to viewing your photos by computer folder. If you want a view of any photo on a certain day or date range or all pictures taken with a certain camera or any other identifying information you can do this easily in one screen.
Just like in iTunes you can listen to all of your music by genre, artist, rating, album or time period, in Lightroom you can sort and shuffle to your hearts content without worrying about the underlying folder structure. You can create playlists or “collections” as they are called in Lightroom.
Is this like iPhoto? Yup. Some things are nicer in iPhoto (and Aperture) like “Faces”. Lightroom doesn’t have automatic face recognition. Lightroom does have a little more control in sorting and searching but it is debatable on how often you will need this extra level of control. Lightroom is available for Mac and PC, so if you are looking for a “iPhoto” like experience for your PC, Lightroom is really your only choice.
In Picasa you are still limited by folder and even more annoying is that you are pretty limited to the default “date” way that Picasa organizes everything. Lightroom gives you a lot more control in viewing your photos than Picasa.
This is also better than using Photoshop Elements Organizer or Adobe Bridge. Why? Because with Lightroom you get editing and organizing in one program. Lightroom also does editing in a unique way that doesn’t make edited huge files. This makes making modifications to files easier and doesn’t chew up disk space.
Lightroom combines a lot of great things in one reasonably priced application. You can manage and edit your photos and look like a professional. Lightroom has a free 30-day trial. Give it a try.