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Photoshop vs Lightroom: Which Adobe photo editing app is best?

If you’re looking for a new app to edit your photos, you’ve likely come across Adobe’s Creative Cloud in your search. 

Photoshop and Lightroom are two of the most popular Adobe CC program and are generally considered to be the industry standard when it comes to photo editing and manipulation. 

We’ve compared Photoshop and Lightroom in this guide to help you decide which app is best for you. 

Pricing 

If you only want to subscribe to one service, then Lightroom is around half the price of Photoshop at $9.99 / £10.42 a month with 1TB of storage for an annual plan. This is compared to $20.99 / £19.97 a month for Photoshop on an annual plan, or $31.49 / £30.34 with a cancel-any-time monthly subscription. 

Lightroom isn’t available on a rolling monthly basis, making it the less flexible of the two despite its lower overall cost. 

However, if you don’t mind less Lightroom storage, you can get both apps for a similar price by taking advantage of Adobe’s Photography Plan. With this offer, you get Photoshop, Lightroom and 20GB of storage for $9.99 / £10.42 a month for a year, or 1TB of storage for $19.99 / £20.84 a month for the same length of time. Like Lightroom alone, the Photography plan is only available on annual plans. 

If you’re looking to access other apps such as Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and InDesign, you can pick up the complete Creative Cloud library for $54.99 / £51.98 a month for a year, or $82.49 / £71.98 a month rolling. 

All of the above are available with a free 7-day trial, so you can try them out before committing, and Adobe offers deals for students, teachers and businesses. 

App and device support 

Photoshop and Lightroom are available on Windows devices running Windows 10 or later and Mac devices running macOS Big Sur or later. 

You can also install Photoshop on an iPad, while Lightroom is supported on Android and iOS devices – including the iPhone and iPad – as part of your plan. 

Adobe also offers a free, more limited version of Photoshop for your phone with Adobe Photoshop Express. 

Interface 

Both Photoshop and Lightroom have dark grey interfaces by default. This is something you can change in your preferences on Photoshop if you prefer to edit in “light mode”, but we couldn’t find an equivalent on Lightroom. 

Photoshop interface
Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop places a large number of tools on the left side of the app so you can reach them easily, with layers, adjustments and colours on the right. At the top, you’ll find the menu bar with access to all the file and image settings, along with filters and plugins. 

Lightroom interface
Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom has a similar look but with a simpler (and less intimidating) layout. The editing controls are positioned on the right side of the app, while access to stored images is available through the menu bar at the top of the screen. 

Adobe offers plenty of helpful hints and tutorials laced throughout both apps, so you needn’t worry about feeling lost about all the different buttons and functions. 

Features

Despite their similarities, Photoshop and Lightroom are designed to address slightly different needs. 

According to Adobe, Lightroom is best for managing and processing large numbers of photos that on your devices with its simple functions, storage and organisation options. 

Photoshop, on the other hand, offers greater control for more expansive edits and image manipulation. This includes erasing background objects, adding colour adjustment layers and compositing multiple images together. 

Both programs allow you to make non-destructive edits, though you’ll need to use the layers function to do so in Photoshop. 

Adobe recommends using both apps as part of your workflow, however, both work perfectly fine alone. You definitely shouldn’t feel as though you need to subscribe to both if it’s not in your budget as both can be used alone to edit your images. 

Lightroom is geared toward helping photographers edit and organise their workload, whereas retouchers and artists will appreciate the editing freedom that Photoshop delivers. 

You can find a complete list of all the features available with each app by heading over to the Adobe website

Lightroom and Photoshop
Image: Adobe

Verdict 

Photoshop and Lightroom are two very capable apps for photo editing, and you’ll find you’re able to do a good amount of editing in either program. 

Lightroom is designed to be used to process and edit your images first before you make more complex manipulations with Photoshop. 

However, if you’d prefer to stick to one, Lightroom is ideal for photographers with a hefty backlog of photos to organise and edit; while Photoshop offers a more diverse range of tools for artists and image retouchers looking to make flawless edits.

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