RAW file newbie, Camera RAW or Lightroom?

Explorer ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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I'm an old film dinosaur that is just getting into taking my own digital images. (I've used Photoshop extensively for pre-press work)

I'm a bit confused, which is the better program to process RAW images, it seems like the PS Camera RAW plug in and Lightroom do pretty much the same thing when it comes to processing RAW images. Help me understand the difference and why you would use one instead of the other.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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For raw processing they do the same job and use the same core engine.

 

Lightroom though gives you a great cataloguing system which can work independently of where you store files on your PC drives. Personally, I use Lightroom as I like that catalogue.

 

Dave

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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As Dave says, they do the same thing. It's more of a workflow choice.

 

Lightroom is streamlined for high-volume/high speed work. That's when the catalog organization shines and lets you work must faster and more efficiently.

 

If you work on one image at a time, ACR will probably work best. Used like a file browser, the Lightroom catalog is clumsy and awkward and basically just in the way.

 

Personally, I disliked Lightroom in the beginning, then it grew on me, and now I simply couldn't function without it. It's brilliant if you come back from a shoot with 500 files on your card and quickly need to make sense of it all - compare, sort, synchronize adjustments, etc.

 

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Explorer ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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Thanks for the replies, good to know that they are esentially the same. If I can get my head around Lightroom I may utilise on an upcoming trip whereby I would upload to my Adobe cloud everynight. I'd also like to utilise Portfolio during my trip but find that program doesn't seem to have much in the way of tutorials. Thanks again.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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If on version parity, they are not essentially the same, they are identical in terms of processing and editing. You can bounce back and forth between the two with the same raw and rendering instructions. When you ask Lightroom to Edit in Photoshop (from raw), LR actually hands off the raw and instructions to Camera Raw to process. 


Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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I'll add an alternative point of view.  I have tried Lightroom several times, and even paid good money for version 2 back before Creative Cloud, but I always felt stifled by not having immediate access to Photoshop, and I have used Bridge to catalog (DAM) for many years before LR came along.  So that's what I do today.  That included shoots where I had cards from 2nd and 3rd shooters with up to 2000 images to process.  Thankfully, those days are behind me, and I only take photographs for myself nowadays.

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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I use both. I really don't like processing my images in Lightroom, but I do like the catalog system and keywording. However, I don't want to catalogue and keyword everything, and I like using Bridge to quickly sort out images, rename and move them. This, of course all messes up the catalog in LR. So I tend to put images into LR when I have a final edit and I want to keyword the image. I mainly did this for the thousands of genealogy images that I have.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 10, 2022 May 10, 2022

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Hybrid approach. Lightroom for raw files, Bridge for RGB files.

 

On disk, raws and RGBs are organized in separate, but exactly mirrored folder trees. So either can be used on both.

 

Some compromises may be necessary. For me, I've sacrificed full and current keyword searchability for RGBs. I just can't manage to keep the RGB part of the Lightroom catalog up to date at all times, not as long as I also use Bridge. But the corresponding raw files are always keyword/metadata-searchable in Lightroom,  so I can easily find out where in the folder tree any given file is.

 

The important part is to remember that anything you do in Bridge requires some action to make sure Lightroom picks it up.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 11, 2022 May 11, 2022

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It does depend a lot on whether you tend to work on one image at a time versus sets of images, because working on sets leads to some of the reasons I work in Lightroom Classic. I like being able to keep multiple images visible in Survey mode using the Secondary Display on my other monitor as a consistency reference while editing the main image in the Develop module.

 

Camera Raw uses a single window with only has a small filmstrip for comparison. Although Bridge has a number of multiple image views, they cannot be used while the Camera Raw window is open because the two are not as well integrated as Lightroom Classic. Also, except for the Masks panel, Camera Raw cannot take advantage of multiple displays.

 

If entering and managing metadata is important to you, that can be done by both Lightroom Classic and by the Camera Raw + Bridge combo. The difference is that in Lightroom Classic you simply switch modules, but if you are editing images in Camera Raw + Bridge and want to switch to metadata editing you have to exit Camera Raw to Bridge. Then, if you want to edit an image again, you have to open Camera Raw again. There can be a lot of going in and out of Camera Raw. In Lightroom Classic, it’s just a quick module switch back and forth. The options and keyboard shortcuts for entering keywords are far more extensive in Lightroom Classic — for me, it’s more productive.

 

Another aspect is whether the modules of Lightroom Classic will be useful to you. For example, the Camera Raw + Bridge combo does not have an equivalent to the Map, Book, Print, or Web modules. You can of course print through Photoshop, but that involves opening another application. And Photoshop does not provide the multi-photo print layouts that Lightroom Classic offers.

 

Both have snapshots (different versions within the same image), but only Lightroom Classic has virtual copies (different versions stored as separate catalog instances of the same image).

 

Exporting in Lightroom Classic is centralized through the Export dialog box. In Camera Raw, you use the Save button/command, in Bridge you use the Output or Workflow panels; a symptom of them being two rather different and not completely unified applications.

 

For some, a major factor is finding files. Bridge is more of a file browser; it sees only files on currently mounted volumes. Lightroom Classic is based on a catalog database, so its catalog can remember imported files that are currently on unmounted volumes. So if you’d like to work with a set of cataloged images including some on hard drives 4 and 7 that are unplugged on the shelf, Lightroom Classic can show you their filename/metadata, the paths to their volume/folder locations, and (if generated) their previews, and if you want to be able to edit the originals, you just grab those hard drives off the shelf, plug them in, and Lightroom Classic will reconnect to those originals.

 

The main advantage of Bridge over Lightroom Classic is that it can work with non-photographic file types too, because it supports the entire Creative Cloud. For example, if you also want to manage InDesign, Illustrator, and After Effects files, Bridge can do that. Also, you can open multiple Bridge windows set to view different folders. Lightroom Classic can view only a single source at a time (files in one folder or one collection, or the combined content of multiple selected folders/collections.)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 11, 2022 May 11, 2022

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Just one thing to add. I do use Lightroom for both raw and other files and rarely use Bridge. But to clarify, it is Lightroom Classic that I use - not the predominantly cloud based Lightroom. I suspect that is the case with a few others that have replied in this thread.

 

Dave

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 11, 2022 May 11, 2022

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Yes, LR Classic.

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