After Lightroom substituted Camera Raw, and the latter became a simple plug-in for other softwares, there is still an unanswered question - what is the main difference between Camera Raw vs Lightroom and which one to choose?
Adobe Camera Raw used to be the most indispensable software for photographers, mainly because it was the only software that could work with RAW file formats. Now, however, it is a simple plug-in added to such programs as Adobe Ps, Adobe Ps Elements, and Bridge.
Does Camera Raw still have the same efficiency? Do we need Adobe Camera Raw today when we have Lightroom? Well, I have studied the topic in detail and ready to share my opinion.
If you want to get specific results, you may re-edit the file any time, by changing white balance, tonal range, contrast, saturation of colors, and sharpness. After using Camera Raw to alter an image, the original Camera Raw data are preserved. The changes are saved as metadata in an accompanying file, in a database or in the file itself (in case it’s in DNG format). Adobe Camera Raw doesn’t change or damage the original photo. This type of editing is known as non-destructive, similar to the one you can do in Lightroom.
The main peculiarity of Adobe Camera Raw is that it allows you to get the maximum information about the photo.
You can use Camera Raw in Adobe After Effects and Adobe Ps as an outside module, or as a plug-in in Adobe Bridge. It allows all of these apps to import RAW files and work with them. Adobe Camera Raw program can be used to work with JPEG and TIFF files as well.
Possibility of deep image retouching with Photoshop. Unlike Lightroom, Camera Raw is very convenient because in case you need to do photo retouching or remove any object from a photo, you don’t have to open other programs. Since Camera Raw is a Photoshop Plugin, you can easily switch to Photoshop and work with layers, do retouching, and apply overlays.
Non-destructive photo editing. Just like Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw supports non-destructive image editing. This feature allows you to change the image without damaging the original file. Hence, you can perform an unlimited number of edits on the same photograph.
Possibility to convert files. Having opened the Camera Raw file in Photoshop, you can convert the image into other file formats, like PSD, JPEG, Large Document Format (PSB), TIFF, Cineon, Photoshop Raw, PNG or PBM. From Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw dialog window, you can save edited files in Digital Negative (DNG), JPEG, TIFF, and Photoshop (PSD) formats.
Inconvenient work with plug-ins. Camera Raw actions are saved as standard .XMP files, while Lightroom saves them in its own .TEMPLATE file format. Thus, converting actions from one software to another is very tedious and time-consuming, which includes having to copy every single actions with the help of settings. Surely, you can create your own settings and save them in Camera Raw, but the fact that you cannot install ready-made professional actions is quite disappointing.
No sorting tools. Comparing Camera Raw vs Lightroom, I can’t help mentioning that the latter won me over with its feature of image sorting. Even though Camera Raw has batch photo post-processing option, its functionality is less effective than that of Lightroom. In Adobe Camera Raw, you can’t rate the images, add hashtags or color codes for convenience. However, I should mention that Camera Raw was never designed for that in the first place.
No export directly from Camera Raw. Although Camera Raw can convert your files into the necessary format, you need to switch to Adobe Photoshop before exporting them.
In Lightroom, you can do almost anything – adjust exposure, white balance, curves, convert to grayscale, regulate sharpness, reduce noise, vignetting, and remove chromatic aberration.
Lightroom uses its own database, it can store images in a catalog regardless of the individual file location on your PC. Lightroom also allows you to use a keyword and tag search, which makes it incredibly easy-to-use even for a newbie.
Convenient catalog system. Lightroom creates a catalog file that includes all your images and their alterations. If you used Adobe Camera Raw, you would need a separate file for each image.
Convenient sorting. Although there are some similarities between Lightroom and Camera Raw, the latter, however, does not allow you to use flags, star ratings, and color tags. In Lightroom you can also create collections, using which it is possible to sort files according to various topics.
Batch picture editing. Yes, you can do batch image editing both in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. However, and my experience proves it, performing various batch photo editing actions is more convenient, faster, and easier in Lr. You may use presets for these purposes.
Speed and responsiveness. Another advantage of Lightroom is its speed. Camera Raw is a separate plug-in, which means it will put additional load on your PC. So moving sliders and curves can take up much time. Lightroom doesn’t need to open additional windows so one can say it’s more optimized and can work without lags even on a weak computer.
No advanced image retouching. Quite often, professional photo processing presupposes advanced image retouching, which means removing skin imperfections and moles, change body shape to make the image look perfect. To start photo retouching in Camera Raw, you need to switch to Photoshop and then return to Camera Raw if you need to continue color correction. In Lightroom, you can do basic picture editing 9that is sooo long) but unfortunately, it is far from what Photoshop offers.
No photo merging tools. When you work in Adobe Camera Raw, you always have a possibility to return to Adobe Photoshop and combine different parts of photographs, stitching and merging them. However, in Lightroom, you are limited to a basic set of tools.
You can get both Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom under one Creative Cloud subscription. The best choice is the Photography plan, which includes both Adobe Photoshop, and Lightroom. This is the most affordable variant, but you will get only 20GB of cloud storage. Buy paying $10 more, you can increase that storage to 1TB.
If you need only one software, you can choose the Single plan. It includes 100GB of cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark. However, you can also increase your cloud storage to 10TB.
When it comes to Lightroom Single, it’s quite different. This software has 3 main plans:
Lightroom was developed specifically for photographers, i.e. the professionals, who need to edit large numbers of images daily (weddings and events). They have no time to work with every single photograph separately, their task is to get as many high-quality images as possible ready for publishing in a quick way.
Despite the fact that Adobe Camera Raw has similar features, it is connected to Photoshop, and its main task is to give you a single perfect professional image. It is not as fast but is very efficient.
Both programs are amazing raw photo editing platforms that will help you enhance your images professionally. Generally speaking, it is very difficult to say which one is better. Each program is great in what it is meant to be used for. The choice depends on your personal preferences. If you only work with RAW files and need to use layers and masks, if you love editing each photograph separately and take your time with it, then Adobe Camera Raw is definitely your variant. However, if you need to do photo post-processing fast and usually work with large numbers of shots, then go to Lightroom.
Lightroom and Camera Raw have a large database of presets with which you can quickly create an interesting effect in your photos. I have selected several freebies from our store that you may use for free.
This preset will work amazingly with all photos with harsh light. It will make the skin look softer and more delicate, but will keep it look natural.
This free preset will be the perfect tool for images with low contrast. It will make them sharper and more vibrant while highlighting all the details. Corrects white balance in 1 click.
If you want to turn a boring portrait or selfie into an attractive fashion shot, get this preset. It will instantly add bright colorful accents to your studio photos. I recommend using it with images, in which you want to emphasize the dramatic mood or feelings of your models.
By making the edges slightly darker and the center brighter, this Ps action will create a bright and sharp picture in no time. It is highly recommended for fashion and street shots.
Add a magical touch to your baby photo enhancing skin and overall lighting. To get the best results, use it with the shots taken near the window.