What is lightroom and how does it differ from ACR

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by tubedriver, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. tubedriver

    tubedriver Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 30, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Hi Guys,

    I am a Photoshop CS6 user and already know how to use Adobe Camera Raw. How does Lightroom differ from ACR. Is Lightroom basically the same program as ACR?

    The reason that I ask is because I am considering doing an HDR course and have been told that I will need to buy Photomatix (ok, I can understand why) and Lightroom. I am not wanting to buy (and probably don't want to spend the money) Lightroom if ACR is similar.

    Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The processing "engine" in Lightroom is identical to ACR. Essentially exactly the same features with some minor interface differences. Lightroom is essentially an application which combines file management, processing, and modules which cover things like book publication, printing, and distribution of files to some web based services.

    I've never used Photoshop but I understand that you can do HDR in it. My understanding is that you can pass files from Lightroom to Photoshop for HDR processing or you can use Photomatix to generate a 32 bit TIFF flle which you can then process in Lightroom, or you can even use other HDR applications like the Nik Software HDR plug in. I wouldn't be surprised to find that you can use Photomatix in combination with Photoshop and ACR but you'd have to check whether Photomatix can accept files from ACR/Photoshop and pass them back for further editing.

    If you really want to get a lot of detail on the very slight differences between Lightroom's processing engine and ACR, I'd recommend Jeff Schewe's book "The Digital Negative" which covers RAW processing in both Lightroom and ACR and flags the very occasional difference.
  3. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    ACR does everything LR does in terms of image processing, just LR adds basic local adjustment and masking stuff in a way that's more user friendly than PS does.

    Try the trial version to see if there's anything else. The major additional feature Lightroom has is content management. Basically, I can do 90% or more of what I ever use CS5 for with PS
  4. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Why buy it? The free trial lasts 30 days and is fully functional. You just need to click on the trial button each time you open it.

  5. Dan Ka

    Dan Ka Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 11, 2011
    Northeastern Ohio
    If you are only going to use Photomatix for class, you may just want to use the never ending demo version of Pro ($99) or Essentials ($39) stand-alone programs. With the stand-alone you won't need Lightroom, ACR or Photoshop, but, they both leave a watermark on the final image. (I don't know if the license allows teaching use.) If you just get the plugin then you need Lightroom or Photoshop to call the module. From Lightroom, Photomatix does not show as a typical Edit-in preset, you must "export" to Photomatix. You may want to compare features of the various versions before you buy Photomatix or Lightroom. Also check the license for teaching rights (if any are in there), and, contact HDR soft maybe they'll send you a free copy. :smile:

    Download HDR Photography software Photomatix and
    Features Comparison - Photomatix Pro compared to Photomatix plugins for Aperture and Photoshop
  6. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Lightroom is Camera Raw on steroids! As already stated it uses the same processing but is easier to use. It also has organization features and several special post processing output flows. Adobe calls each section a "module" and they work seamlessly with each other. You can do a lot more than just process Raw files with Lightroom!
  7. tubedriver

    tubedriver Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 30, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Thanks to those that have replied. I really appreciate it.

    Would I be correct in saying, "Because I already have a very thorough understanding of both Photoshop and ACR (having used both products for a number of years), I believe that there is no real benefit in getting lightroom as well. There may be some workflow differences, that some think is better, but perhaps that comes down to what you are used to?"

    I will further consider the purchase of Photomatrix and perhaps initially use the demo version.

    I am about to start an on-line course with Trey Ratcliffe of stuckincustoms.com.

    I will let you all know how it goes.
  8. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    Lightroom is a very different product than either ACR or PS.

    ACR develops raw files.
    PS offers very powerful tools for pixel-level editing using layers.
    LR does raw file development (using the same core engine as ACR), but also excels as an image catalog and management tool.

    It would be incorrect to say that LR is unnecessary because you have either of the other two.
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    One important fact about Lightroom is its non destructive nature... once you have imported a file ( RAW, JPG or Tiff) Lightroom will never touch that original file. Any adjustments you make can always be reversed at any time, and if you decide to do a whole alternative processing, then it doesn't create a massive file, just a list of the adjustments that it applies to your original file. A final file does not exist until you finally export it.

    Typically many people who have switched from an ACR/PS workflow to Lightroom ( or Aperture another mac only app that works in a similar fashion) find that they can achieve 90-100% of their PP needs without having to manage multiple large PS files.

    I am an Aperture user... and I would never go back to using PS for my everyday processing... it is so slow and cumbersome that its almost laughable

    PS still has a place for some users... but usually in more specialized areas such as retouching and compositing of multiple images.

  10. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Anything you can do in ACR you can do in Lightroom. Anything you have to do in Photoshop because you can't do it in ACR you would still have to use Photoshop for.

    That's the processing side.

    Photoshop doesn't manage your files. You have to use Bridge or another application for that, or do it manually. Lightroom manages your files. It also has the ability to publish images to the web and also to other computers, create photo books and slideshows, and some other features that ACR/Photoshop don't have.

    So it depends what you want. If you're happy with your current file management procedures and don't want any of the other features that Lightroom has which ACR/Photoshop doesn't have, there's no advantage to swapping to Lightroom. If you want to use Lightroom for file management or you want one or more of its other features, then there's some benefit in moving to Lightroom for that.

    As far as processing goes, my feeling is that it really depends on how much you use Photoshop for processing that can't be done in ACR. If you rarely use Photoshop and do nearly everything in ACR, then Lightroom can be close to everything you need and you may want to move to it simply for that. If you're doing a lot of processing in Photoshop that can't be done in ACR and you don't need/want any of Lightroom's file management or other features, then I think it's simpler to stick with what you've got.
  11. tubedriver

    tubedriver Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 30, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Thanks David,

    I am sticking with what I have got.
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