Today’s Question: If I understand correctly Adobe Camera Raw includes all of the adjustments found in the Develop module in Lightroom. If that’s the case, is there any reason I should consider using Lightroom to process my images rather than continuing to rely on Camera Raw?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The Develop module in Adobe Lightroom Classic does provide the same adjustments found in Adobe Camera Raw, so you could achieve the same results with either. Therefore, in my view the only reason to consider using Lightroom rather than Camera Raw is to take advantage of the image-management (and sharing) features available in Lightroom.
More Detail: When it comes to a comparison between a workflow that revolves around Lightroom Classic CC and the combination of Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, and Camera Raw, in my mind the key differentiator is the overall workflow.
As noted above, Adobe Camera Raw provides the same adjustments available in the Develop module in Lightroom, so there isn’t a real advantage in terms of using Lightroom instead of Camera Raw for optimizing your photos. Quite frankly, many (though certainly not all) of the organizational features available in Lightroom are also available in Adobe Bridge. So you could absolutely manage and optimize your library of photos using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop, rather than Lightroom.
To me the key advantage of Lightroom relates to the catalog that is used to manage the information about your photos. To be sure, if you haven’t learned to truly understand how Lightroom works, you can create a huge mess in your Lightroom catalog. That is perhaps why my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom” video course (included in the “Mastering Lightroom” bundle at https://www.greylearning.com/bundles/lightroom) has been my most popular course on GreyLearning.
In addition to the use of a catalog for managing your photos, I consider Lightroom to provide a more seamless workflow solution. These are the key reasons I prefer to use Lightroom to manage my own library of photos.
Ultimately, I think the decision about whether or not to use Lightroom depends on your workflow priorities. If you prefer to have a streamlined workflow that is especially helpful when you need to work seamlessly with images across a variety of different folders, I think Lightroom provides a good solution. But if you want to avoid the use of a catalog for managing your photos, the various tools that revolve around Adobe Photoshop certainly provide options suitable for many photographers.