If you are new to photography or are simply doing research to find out what editing programs to buy, there are several things to take into consideration when going to purchase them. I use Photoshop and Lightroom, oftentimes simultaneously. While I value them both for separate reasons, I think of them as almost two different systems.
I almost think of the program usages as macro vs. micro. You can bring large quantities of images into lightroom, apply basic edits to them, move through them quickly, all while being able to keep them organized. Once this initial process is completed, I take the images into photoshop for more detailed editing. I think of photoshop as a magnifying glass or a surgery table. This program allows incredible editing and attention to detail, where lightroom focuses more on lighting, exposure, filter application, etc.
Photoshop is an amazing program. It originally began as a simple editing software, but has grown into a much more comprehensive software, now accommodating graphic designers, architects, animators, publishers, photographers and 3-D animators. In this program, I am able to detail surfaces, blemishes, object removal, and any other highly detailed image-augmentation that often times needs to be done in post-processing. From perspective warping to cloning surfaces.
Lightroom is a database-driven image management software, which amazing for editing large quantities, or batches, of images. It processes images in batches, as well as reading and displaying metadata ( i.e. camera, captured date and time, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance and more). It can accomplish a fair amount of first-round edits, such as cropping, changing exposure details, tonality details (saturation, shadows, sharpening, noise reduction luminance, contrast, color, fill light, brightness, clarity, etc.). I find that I can accomplish most of my editing in this program, as my goal is to always be as specific as I can in-camera, to eliminate as much post-editing as possible.
As much as I love Lightroom, especially for specific images like product shots, I almost always finish editing with Photoshop.
I would recommend beginning with Lightroom, as it is overall an easier program to use, as well as less expensive. But eventually, if you are doing a lot of editing, I would recommend taking the plunge and having both programs to further improve the quality of your final images!
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