VERDICT: Lightroom is the best program for deep color correction, photo management, and raw photo editing. Its photo editing functionality and capabilities are really impressive – Lightroom presets and brushes let you to achieve professional results even if you’re a beginner.
Lightroom is easy to use allowing you to call it not only the best choice for professionals but also for beginners.
Developers offer two Lightroom versions: Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Lightroom Classic. The first one is more simplified, but almost not inferior in functionality. Both versions are included in the Creative Cloud plan, which means they have a cloud storage support and close integration with other Adobe products.
Initially, this program was created as a professional photographer’s streaming tool that will complement Photoshop. As a result, it became a completely separate program.
In fact, it is a RAW file converter. Lightroom’s functionality corresponds to the Camera RAW module, the tools are just arranged in a different order, and their number is bigger.
When developing the software, Adobe had one task – to make it as simple as possible even for beginners. This led to the development and division of the entire interface into different modules, which already have separate tools.
In other words, when examining the interface, you won’t be shocked by the number of tools and features spread across the entire screen, as it is in Photoshop.
Histogram Module – histogram, cropping and straightening, spot removal, red eye correction, graduated filter, adjustment brush.
Basic module – the temperature of the white balance and tint, exposure, recovery, fill light, blacks, brightness, contrast.
Tone Curve Module – Highlights, Lights, Darks, Shadows, Point Curve.
HSL/Color /B&W Module – Hue, Saturation, Luminance.
Split Toning Module – Highlights, Hue & Saturation, Balance, Shadows Hue and Saturation.
Lens correction module – lens profile, distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting.
Effects module – vignetting style after cropping, amount, middle, roundness, pen tool, highlights; grain amount, size, roughness.
Adobe Lightroom imports images using a catalog with advanced metadata settings, adding keywords, changing the destination, and even applying presets when importing.
The organization of pictures is made with the help of collections, and you can also navigate through folders on the desktop.
Smart collections allow users instantly create groups of images by setting options, such as selecting shots taken with a specific lens or pictures with a specific rating.
Lightroom Library mode offers unrivaled organizational capabilities, including the ability to group images into quick thumbnail collections and intelligent photo collections that match your rating or other criteria.
Star rating, flagging and rotating can also be done from thumbnails. You may use the quick development tools in the Library mode to fix the lighting or preset effects (B&W, cross-process and similar to Instagram).
RAW camera files give you absolute freedom when adjusting images. This allows you to change the white balance to correct details in overexposed and underexposed areas and more.
The Lightroom’s profile is located at the top of the Editing panel in the General section.
Profiles are grouped into two main categories: raw and creative. The first group includes Adobe Raw and Camera Matching profiles, while Creative options include Legacy, Artistic, B&W, Modern and Vintage.
Raw profiles only work with RAW images, while the last four are special effects that also work with JPG images.
The "Mask range" selection tool can use either brightness (light intensity values) or color to clarify the choice that you have made applying the graduated filter, radial filter or adjustment brush.
It expands or reduces the area you choose, depending on the lighting or color. With the latter, you may use the Eyedropper and even a rectangle to choose the desired color.
This is great for cases where you have, let’s say, a very dark group of objects and you want to change the background, make it brighter or vice versa, darken and blurred.
The Histogram is the primary module for basic image editing. There are six different tabs, which, by the way, can be activated by hotkeys:
Crop Overlay (“R”) – this tool assists in adjusting the size of your picture, displaying it, cropping or rotating to any side.
Also, it is worth remembering that by cropping and choosing the image size settings, you may save them and use for other shots.
Spot Removal (Q) – the tool will be useful to those, who need to remove unnecessary elements from the shots. This may be skin spots (pimples, red and black dots) as well as diverse background items.
Red Eye Correction – I am sure many of you have encountered a situation when an eye defect appears in the evening shots taken in low light, so the eyes become red. This tool is created exactly for these cases.
Simply pick the size and strength of the effect you need and then apply it to the eyes. In one click, the red-eye defect will be eliminated.
Graduated Filter (M) – If you notice that the sky turned out brighter than the rest of the frame, due to which some details were lost and the shot turned out inexpressive, you should use a graduated filter.
With its help, you may smoothly change the dimmed parts in the desired area. Adjust the necessary sliders and drag the filter in the appropriate direction.
It is worth mentioning that if you go overboard with the saturation, you can ruin the shot.
Radial Filter (Shift + M) allows you to draw an ellipse in the image around the editable area of the shot.
The filter gives an opportunity to retouch separately within the selected area and beyond. It is a very powerful tool for work with lights and shadows of an image.
Adjustment Brush (K) performs the main color correction of an image: exposure adjustment, shadows, temperature, light, contrast and more. You can make changes with a brush. Adjust the needed sliders and select the desired area with the brush.
Enhance Details is a new function that is designed to refine the complex parts of the image. This is a very subtle effect. Moreover, it is not very useful for many photos, especially for those parts of the image which contain a permanent texture such as the sky.
Use the “Photos” menu (or the right-click menu) to get access to this function. Then you will see a dialog box with a detailed view of your image.
When you run it, a new DNG file is created. It is necessary to understand that this is a very time-consuming process, and in order not to get confused, check out a short video tutorial.
Lightroom presets let you make photo color correction in several clicks. These are pre-saved color settings that you can make on your own or download in the web.
Except color correction, presets can be saved for other modules and functions. For example, you can use them at the end of the process when exporting photos, automatically apply a watermark, etc.
Lightroom is a simplified analog of the Adobe Lightroom Classic version. The program has an easier-to-use interface and control, but it is almost not inferior in functionality.
Lightroom has a simple interface. It includes what Adobe Product Director Tom Hogarty calls “progressive disclosure”. This means that when you start using the program, the interface is simple and then it displays more complex tools if necessary.
When you run the software for the first time, you will see Lightroom screensaver. Then the window is being filled with all the photos that are on your computer.
You can switch this feature to view the list of contacts and sort the images by import date, capture date, or changing date.
Lightroom does not have any modules. Instead, there are several hidden icons on the left and right side. This approach has its drawbacks, for example, you cannot display several functions on different panels at once.
Fortunately, this problem can be fixed by switching from the Auto Mode to Manual Mode. Double-clicking on a tile-like thumbnail opens a picture in full-screen mode. If you double-click again, you will be taken back to the gallery mode.
When you click on a full-screen photo view, the image is zoomed to 100%. After that, the cursor changes to a hand, allowing you to drag the image around. All other settings are identical to Lightroom Classic version.
You can import photos in Lightroom almost the same way you did it in previous versions. However, I noticed that the speed of operation is higher than in Lightroom Classic, and I can’t understand the reason.
By clicking on the “+” button, you will select the source folder or drive, which contains the photos you need. When you import images from a camera SD card, you will see a grid of all images that the card contains.
Unlike the previous Lightroom release, this iteration does not allow you to view a photo in full size before importing it.
Using Lightroom as a color correction tool, you will get all the necessary lighting adjustment sliders: Exposure, Contrast, Glare, Shadows, White and Black, Clarity, Vibrance and more.
Dehaze is also available and works well, although ClearView from DxO PhotoLab works better without adding color shades. I also like the “Curve Adjustment” option in the standard Curves control.
A well-designed Auto Mode works really great, but it seems to me that it overdoes with the HDR setting. Shadows and bright areas of the photo were properly configured, without touching the shadow pattern.
Lightroom allows you to apply filter effects using the “Sets” button which is located at the bottom of the window.
You will have access to a quite large list of color settings: black and white, grain and vignetting. I like that Lightroom allows seeing the effect in real time just by hovering over the filter.
The "HDR Merge" tool is a new and, as for me, a “raw” tool. It offers only three features: the “Auto-Align” and “Auto-Adjust” checkboxes (auto-enhance) as well as the slider to eliminate side effects (to remove moving objects from the merge).
If you use Alien Skin Exposure to merge, you will not get all the options, such as B&W and Artistic. However, this is suitable for those, who just want to receive a balanced image.
The Panorama Merge tool is similar to Lightroom Classic tool and gives a nice, smooth result. However, comparing with Photoshop or Elements, these applications provide more features.
Lightroom is designed for you to edit photos from any device continuously. The main difference between Lightroom Classic and Adobe Lightroom is that in Lightroom Classic you will use the files stored on your computer, while Lightroom is designed to work with the cloud storage. You can work with the same photos on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Adobe Lightroom Classic is designed for professionals, you can create collections and customize metadata. Also, this version has more extensive manual settings.
In turn, Lightroom allows you to add photos only to the album. This makes it easier and more intuitive compared to the Classic version.
With “Smart collections” in Lightroom Classic you can organize photos sorting them by rating, keywords or flags.
Lightroom mobile app is free. You can download the mobile app without a subscription as well as without Creative Cloud membership. This means you will not be able to synchronize your Cloud storage with other devices.
The interface is optimized and redesigned. The tools perfectly suit the interface design. One of the main features is an excellent HDR and curves capabilities. Lightroom app supports RAW files, Lightroom presets, but it does not support batch image processing.
In addition to the common features, Lightroom can also serve as a storage for your photos and a full-fledged digital album. Simply download Lightroom to your mobile device, log in to your account, create an album and use it.
You can configure the app to automatically download everything that is transferred from the phone to Lightroom Cloud storage. Moreover, you can search, filter and tag your images.
In addition to all these options, it is possible to use the built-in camera, which includes exposure compensation and white balance tool.
Get the official Lightroom version by subscribing with Creative Cloud. The “Photography” subscription offers 2 Lightroom versions (full and limited), Photoshop CC and 20GB of Cloud storage. The price is $9.99 per month.
The “Single App” plan gives you access to Lightroom, 1TB of cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark.
By subscribing to "All Apps", in addition to Lightroom, 100 GB of cloud storage, Adobe Portfolio, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Spark, you get the opportunity to use all the programs of the Creative Cloud family, including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Illustrator, InDesign and 16 more programs.
If 20GB of Cloud storage is not enough for you, Adobe offers to expand it to 1TB by paying $10.
If you use Lightroom Classic or Lightroom, download these Lightroom filters to change your photo and make it pop in one click.
This preset is often used to create a pastel look. If a photographer uses it correctly, the model will look natural in any picture. The skin will literally become soft.
This preset is aimed at making the picture slightly sharper. The colors become rich and more vivid. This preset works great with bright images taken in natural lighting.
If there are too many shadows in your photo that distract attention from the main subject, use this free matte preset.
This plug-in will fill the shadows with red giving a light and delicate matte skin tone. It is perfect for portrait images with a large number of green or blue objects in the picture.