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The Most Popular Photo Editor: Lightroom

Updated on October 20, 2014

What is the Most Popular Professional Photo Editing Software?

The answer is now Lightroom just this year passing Photoshop, which discontinued their stand alon program for a cloud based platform fora $20 monthly membership at Adobe Photoshop CC [Digital Membership]. Photoshop CS has always been a VERY expensive program and pirated versions became a problem for the company. An online version is more economical and practical for some people.

Adobe makes both programs so in their eyes it really doesn't matter. Adobe Lightroom is the economical photo editing software which will take your photos to a whole other level. Especially if you are shooting RAW.

I have loved photography, ever since I was a kid, and always had a camera nearby. As I've grown older my photography passion is now closely followed by my photo editing passion. My goal when I edit photographs is not to make a picture something it's not, but to tweak it to get the best representation of what I say in person.

My favorite photo editing program is Adobe Lightroom, for many reasons which I will touch on briefly, but I wanted to know what professional photographers used to edit their photographs. So I answered the question...

"What Post Production Software do you Use?"

This question was posted on the Digital Photography School website the beginning of 2014 and over 22,000 people participated. The official results were just released. The winner, with 32% of the vote, was Adobe Lightroom, followed be the other two Adobe programs, Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements.

If you're asking yourself "Is Lightroom the right program for me?" think about the following questions. Are you a portrait photographer? Do you take dozens of photos in a single photo shoot? When you travel do you take event photographs, say at a parade? Do you shoot in RAW? If you answered yes to any of these questions then go with Lightroom.

If you take a single photo here and there, or like to spend a lot of time merging photographs, creating collages or designs, then choose Photoshop or Elements.

My Favorite Lightroom Features

There are too many lightroom features and benefits to list here, and many more people have written reams of information and tutorials on how to use Lightroom and why you should use Lightroom over Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

  • Open up shadows and details in foregrounds that are too dark
  • Decrease "noise" in a photo taken in dark lighting when ISO goes over 800 (I have a Rebel, noise is an issue)
  • Ability to repeat editing settings you used on the previous photo
  • Applying gradient to restore color and decrease blown sky exposures.
  • Batch processes multiple images taken in same location (as in my nighttime concert photography)
  • Batch keyword, meta tag, and sort multiple images for easy sorting and referencing later

I'm a visual person, hence why I love photography. So Instead of writing and telling you everything I love about Lightroom I will just show you what this digital darkroom program can do instead.

Example of Before and After Photographs using Lightroom

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Example of an over exposed (too bright) photo adjusted in LightroomExample of an under exposed (too dark) photo adjusted in LightroomExample of correcting white balance in Lightroom. The snow in the original photo on the left has a yellow green cast.Using Lightroom to turn a color photo to Black and WhiteDecreasing jpg artifacts and decreasing noise using Lightroom.Increasing the brightness, clarity, and vibrancy of a photo. You can edit jpg photos in Lightroom, not just RAWFixing a "flashburn" photo where the flash was set for long distance and I took their photo from 8 feet away, Lightroom to the rescue
Example of an over exposed (too bright) photo adjusted in Lightroom
Example of an over exposed (too bright) photo adjusted in Lightroom
Example of an under exposed (too dark) photo adjusted in Lightroom
Example of an under exposed (too dark) photo adjusted in Lightroom
Example of correcting white balance in Lightroom. The snow in the original photo on the left has a yellow green cast.
Example of correcting white balance in Lightroom. The snow in the original photo on the left has a yellow green cast.
Using Lightroom to turn a color photo to Black and White
Using Lightroom to turn a color photo to Black and White
Decreasing jpg artifacts and decreasing noise using Lightroom.
Decreasing jpg artifacts and decreasing noise using Lightroom.
Increasing the brightness, clarity, and vibrancy of a photo. You can edit jpg photos in Lightroom, not just RAW
Increasing the brightness, clarity, and vibrancy of a photo. You can edit jpg photos in Lightroom, not just RAW
Fixing a "flashburn" photo where the flash was set for long distance and I took their photo from 8 feet away, Lightroom to the rescue
Fixing a "flashburn" photo where the flash was set for long distance and I took their photo from 8 feet away, Lightroom to the rescue

Quick Start Guide to Lightroom

Lightroom Video Tutorials

One of the best ways to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom is to watch and learn from other people. I'm a very visual person and the internet is full of very good Lightroom tutorials for not only beginners, but advanced photo editors.

If you are used to Photoshop Elements, Lightroom operates a little differently with slightly different terms and vocabulary to learn. For example you don't open files, you import files, and you don't edit your photos, you "develop" your photos, much like in a darkroom.

Top Five Features in Lightroom

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)

This Scott Kelby Lightroom guide has the highest number of 5 stars on the Amazon book list. He is regarded as an authority on Lightroom and can lead everyone from a beginner to a professional photographer through what can seem to be an editing maze.

Scott is the editor and publisher of the popular Photoshop User magazine and President of the National Assn. of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). In addition to being the co-host of a live weekly photography talk show he also is co-host of "Photoshop User TV".

 

10 Things Every Beginner Should Know About Lightroom

10 Hidden Gens and Secrets of Lightroom

What Photo Editing Program Do You Use?

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    • profile image

      jduck1979 3 years ago

      I use Corel Paintshop Photo Pro X3 + Corel Paintshop Photo Pro X5.... on the basis I blagged them as Freebies through Amazon's VINE reviews program.

      I mostly use it for re-sizing when I need to upload to pics that are fussy about file sizes, but occasionally try arty-farty things like converting photographs to look like a drawing / painting.

      On the rare occasions I use my Samsung Netbook to edit pics I use "Micrografx Picture Publisher 10 DCE" (a really old one blagged off a computer magazine cover disk and what I used on the desktop before I got Paintshop Pro)...... for some reason Paintshop Pro wouldn't install on the netbook, so I use this instead. Also have Google's PICASA 3 software for editing pics, but never really been able to make sense of that one.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      I use Corel Paint Shop Pro. It really helps being able to edit your photos and pictures.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Stopping by to let you know this was featured on the Review This blog. http://reviewthispersonalreviews.blogspot.com/sear...

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      I do very little editing on my photos. Looking at your examples makes me wonder if that is a mistake. I just use the basic Microsoft Office Picture Manager most of the time, but I do use Picasa to add text on photos.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      I primarily use Photoshop. Not too long ago I did use Lightroom on a free trial basis. I like it and can appreciate the benefits.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      @Ruthi: Oh my! Muy apologies for the lighthouse photo comment above, I meant that for mbgphoto's blog post! What I do like best is your black and white of the ape!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      @Ruthi: FYI...I discovered your article via mbgphoto's article on the Review This! blog.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      I've been using Corel Paint Shop Pro for years, doing about the same thing to my photos as you show here for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I love what you did with the lighthouse photo, especially the clone technique, which I've only used a few times. I need to remember to use that more often!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I have been using Lightroom for about 3 years and I'm always learning new techniques. it is such a versatile program.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 3 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      I use Paint Shop Pro and use it just the way like you use your Lightroom.

    • DChance LM profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago

      I have used one program in the past. I like to make the photos look just a little better.

    • georgepmoola2 profile image

      georgepmoola2 3 years ago

      None. I enjoyed reading your lens, however.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I have used lightroom for a couple of years. It has so many great features, I have only just begun to learn them all. Thanks for a good review and a reminder that I need to watch a few more tutorials to brush up on my skills.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Great review. Thanks for including pix that show the difference. I've heard a lot about lightbox, but now might just have to add it to my wish list!