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Suggestions for Improving the Ecosystem

Explorer ,
Mar 26, 2023 Mar 26, 2023

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I am a creative photographer and I use Lightroom Classic and Photoshop (and Camera Raw) extensively in my workflow. They are, I believe, the best programs in their class and I cannot imagine functioning without them. I am, however, frustrated by inconsistencies in their interfaces. In Lightroom, for example, you adjust contrast by placing the cursor on the slider and then using arrow keys to increase or decrease contrast 5 values at a time (or 20 if you hold the Tab key). In Photoshop, however, adjustments are made by putting the cursor on the adjustment name, and then using arrow keys to increase or decrease contrast by 1 value at a time (or 10 if you hold the Tab key). I find the disconnect maddening.

I am frustrated as well by functional differences between Lightroom and Photoshop. Recent releases of Lightroom have seen dramatic improvements its interface and functionality, especially selection and masking, content-aware remove, color grading, tone curve, and the color panel. Increasingly I find there are things I can do in Lightroom but not in Photoshop. In Lightroom, for example, I can easily adjust the luminance of eight colors or use Tone Curve to adjust the luminance of colors in highlights, lights, darks, and shadows, things I cannot do as easily - if at all - in Photoshop (e.g. using Camera Raw as a filter, for example, but that is cumbersome).

I hope Adobe will consider porting many of the improvements in Lightroom's interface and functionality to Photoshop, admittedly a challenging undertaking. Perhaps Adobe fears that improving Photoshop would cannibalize sales of Lightroom but I doubt that would happen. Whatever similarities might result with respect to their interfaces and functions, the programs would remain fundamentally different: Lightroom's catalog-based workflow and non-destructive editing and Photoshop's use of layers and its many advanced editing functions will always set the programs apart; they will always meet different needs and appeal to different users.

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5 Comments
Community Expert ,
Mar 26, 2023 Mar 26, 2023

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As you say: "they will always meet different needs and appeal to different users". That's why they need to be different applications, that are separate, but that also work well together.

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Community Expert ,
Mar 26, 2023 Mar 26, 2023

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The differences between Photoshop and Lightroom are because they work on very different types of data. Each is optimized for efficiency; if they were more similar, each would be less efficient at what they do.

 

Photoshop is a pixel editor, Lightroom is a parametric raw processor. A mask in Photoshop is pixels, a mask in Lightroom is instructions.

 

They are not intended to be interchangeable, they are primarily intended to be sequential. The effective way to use them is to process the raw file as far as you can in Lightroom, using the full sensor data from the camera - then take it to Photoshop for pixel edits that can't be done in raw processing. By then you have a reduced data set and you can't go back.

 

A 14 bit raw sounds like less data than a 16 bit RGB file, but the secret is the linear encoding vs. gamma encoding. Linear encoding means there is room for a much wider dynamic range. The camera sensor can record a lot more highlights and shadows than you can fit into a gamma encoded RGB file. Effectively, you're processing 14 stops of dynamic range into 8 stops or so. That's why you can't go back.

 

Each does a specialized job.

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Community Expert ,
Mar 26, 2023 Mar 26, 2023

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And now, thanks to expert D Fosse, you have a clear answer steverap1! 

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Community Expert ,
Mar 26, 2023 Mar 26, 2023

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Well, don't know if it's clear, but it's the way it is 😉

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Explorer ,
Aug 19, 2023 Aug 19, 2023

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Sorry, been away for quite a while The comments are helpful but do not really address the issue I raised. I understand that Lightroom and Photoshop are and must remain different applications; indeed I value their differences. My complaint has to do with differences in the way some aspects of their interfaces function. As I noted, I find differences in the ways in which sliders are used - a core function - frustrating and I see no reason why their uses cannot be standardized. Am I missing something here? 

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