14 Replies Latest reply: Oct 16, 2009 2:40 PM by kwdaves-WfiRTh RSS

    What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?

    nancy6107

      I'm trying to decide between Photoshop Elements and Lightroom--both for a Mac. They seem to have very similar photo editing features. Could anyone tell me some of the differences so that I can see which would be better for my work? One feature that I have to have is the ability to add text to a photo. In Photoshop I can do this with the text tool and layers. Is this a feature of Lightroom too?

        • 1. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
          J McWilliams Community Member

          Adding text is possible, but limited in LR.

           

          Both apps have a 30 day trial period, and to describe the differences would take reams. In general, LR is designed for digital photographers, whereas PS and PSE have much broader reaches, but aren't so honed in on new images as is LR.

           

          Conversely, tell us what and how much you shoot, what your goal is, etc.....

          • 2. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
            DdeGannes MVP

            My view is that Lightroom is a program designed to provide for optimizing the processing and management of RAW files from digital still cameras.

             

            PS Elements is designed for the cataloging and editing already processed digital files.

             

            They are not the same but provide complementary features. If you do not shoot with your camera in RAW mode there is no real need for Lightroom IMHO.

            • 3. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
              Canon_Ron

              Element supports Layers, Lightroom does not.

               

              You won't be able to stitch photos together or create animated GIFs with Lightroom.

              You won't be able to select areas of the photo to apply changes to in Lightroom that are irregularly shaped.  You get a round brush. That's it.

              While Lightroom supports Metadata keywords, adding keywords to photos is much easier in Elements.

              If these are the kind of things you want to do, get Elements.

               

               

               

              As the previous post indicated, Lightroom is more of a photo touch up utility. You're basically playing with color tone, highlights, exposure values, gradients, etc.  You can apply these to a single photo or a group of photos at a time.

              • 4. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                Jao vdL MVP

                You won't be able to select areas of the photo to apply changes to in Lightroom that are irregularly shaped.  You get a round brush. That's it.

                 

                Try to actually use the brush as this is quite untrue. It is a very simple way to make quick irregularly shaped effect masks. You can even make it only go to certain tints, making it operate like a magic selection brush.

                 

                 

                While Lightroom supports Metadata keywords, adding keywords to photos is much easier in Elements.

                 

                 

                You're kidding right? The keywording in Lightroom is very good and very easy. Try using the metadata spray can, the keyword tabs, the automatic associations, etc. It is far better thought out than what you get in Elements.

                 

                As the previous post indicated, Lightroom is more of a photo touch up utility. You're basically playing with color tone, highlights, exposure values, gradients, etc.  You can apply these to a single photo or a group of photos at a time.

                 

                It's more a different way of working and more photographic than a pixel editor like Elements or the real Photoshop. I used to swear by (adjustment) layers in Photoshop, but Lightroom allows me to do the stuff I used those for far quicker, more space and resource efficient and with usually better results. The only times I go to Photoshop now are for images that need a lot of cloning touch up (extremely rare), where I need to combine multiple images from different exposures, or when I need to do softproofing.

                • 5. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                  Gordon Cahill Community Member

                  Ligtroom is far more like a cross between Bridge and Camera RAW than anything like Elements. LR is designed to work with and process larger quantities of RAW files. It also works with TIFF and jpeg but these are secondary to RAW. LR has some local adjustment ability, with limited brushes and tools. LR has sophistocated databased library structure that allows search and keywording functions even when images are off line. LR allows easy batch editing and synching of RAW settings to multiple files and the creation of multiple 'recipies" in RAW conversion without the need to create multiple files. You don't need to make jpegs to create a simple web page or print files from LR. It will do these directly from the RAW files. LR is completely non-destructive. Exporting an image will make a new file with the changes you specify. Nothing you do will alter the original file.

                   

                  Elements is for pixel pushing. It allows far more local controls, and manipulation at a pixel level compared to the mostly global controls of LR. In other words it's easier to work on individual parts of an image in Elements. Elements is designed for you to spend more time on an individual file compared to LR which is designed to work on larger quantities of files in a less intricate manner. Cloning, etc are easier/more powerful in Elements. Elements supports stitching and layers. Elements lets you work with text and images. LR does not in any meaningful way (except maybe adding a watermark). Making changes in Elements and then saving the file will permanently change it.

                   

                  In a nutshell if you're working with larger quantities of images you may prefer LR. However you'll probably still need a pixel editor (like Elements) occasionally. If you work in lower image quantities then Elements is the way to go. You'll still have Bridge to find files/process raw files, but not files that are *offline*. I would suggest Elements first and then add LR when you need its powerfull organisational/search/RAW conversion/non-destructive workflow abilities.

                   

                  Gordon

                  • 6. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                    Gordon Cahill Community Member

                    "You won't be able to select areas of the photo to apply changes to in Lightroom that are irregularly shaped.  You get a round brush. That's it."

                     

                    That's not actually correct. You can make (read: draw) a mask in virtually any shape you want and apply changes to only that area. Certainly the functions available are limited compared to Elements but it is possible.

                     

                    Gordon

                    • 7. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                      kwdaves-WfiRTh Community Member

                      PSE is essentially a somewhat simplified, less powerful version of CS primarily aimed at beginners to enthusiasts. It does have adjustment layers and mask and a text tool for adding text in its own layer. One of the capabilities it lacks is that its version of Camera Raw does not have the targeted adjustment tools the CS version of Camera Raw has.

                       

                      The Lightroom 2 Develop module has the same capablities as CS4's Camera Raw, including targeted adjustments tools that are alternatives to adjustment layers and masks for editing parts of an image. Unless I have missed something for the last two and a half years, the only way of adding text is in the slideshow module and I don't find it the least bit user friendly.

                       

                      Try both.

                      • 8. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                        nancy6107 Community Member

                        Many thanks to everyone who answered. Your information was very helpful in deciding that Elements is the program for me. I don't shoot in RAW format and the text tool is important. The photographer in a course I took recently recommended LR but I'm glad I asked here before buying because his needs were obviously different from mine.

                        • 9. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                          dj_paige Community Member

                          PSE for the Mac has no Organizer (the equivalent of Lightroom Library). You would have to use Bridge on the Mac as an "organizer" with PSE.

                          • 10. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                            MikeLeone Community Member

                            On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 11:44 PM, Jao vdL <forums@adobe.com> said:

                             

                            >> While Lightroom supports Metadata keywords, adding keywords to photos is much easier in Elements.

                            You're kidding right? The keywording in Lightroom is very good and very easy. Try using the metadata spray can, the keyword tabs, the automatic associations, etc. It is far better thought out than what you get in Elements.

                             

                            There's an automatic association feature to LR keywords? Don't think

                            I've ever heard of that.

                            • 11. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                              Jao vdL MVP

                              Look in the keyword suggestions section under the entry field. It

                              automatically suggests associated keywords used often in the same images or

                              images close together based on the ones you have already tagged. It actually

                              works. If I tag an image with "fall color", for me it immediately suggests

                              the associated keywords "leaves", "fall", "aspen", "mountains", etc. because

                              I used those in some combination in another image before. You just click on

                              the keywords and it adds them and suggests more keywords that could be

                              appropriate.

                              • 12. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                                kwdaves-WfiRTh Community Member

                                Better Bridge than the Windows PSE Organizer.

                                • 13. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                                  zyboo Community Member

                                  re: PS Elements is designed for the cataloging...

                                       While Lightroom supports Metadata keywords, adding keywords to photos is much easier in Elements.

                                   

                                  I'm a Mac user and understand that the latest PSE8 for Mac does not support cataloguing, nor keywording.

                                  These points therefore look non relevant for me.

                                  • 14. Re: What is the difference between Lightroom and Elements?
                                    kwdaves-WfiRTh Community Member

                                    The Mac version of PSE8 comes with Bridge.