Today’s Question: Why is Lightroom better than Camera Raw for pre-Photoshop processing?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom is not “better” than Camera Raw when it comes to processing the initial RAW captures before performing additional work in Photoshop. In fact, both will produce the exact same results.
More Detail: This question was in response to a question from an Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter last week, in which I discussed the percentage of images I send to Photoshop from Lightroom. What I was really addressing there was how important Photoshop is for processing my images. Recently, with improvements in Lightroom, I’ve found that I’m using Photoshop less and less.
The context of my answer related to the fact that I use Lightroom to manage my library of photographic images, and therefore I use the Develop module in Lightroom as the initial basis of optimizing the appearance of my photos.
That said, if you are not a Lightroom user, then you could substitute Adobe Camera Raw for Lightroom in terms of initial processing of your RAW captures. Both Lightroom and Camera Raw share the same processing engine, so you will find the same adjustment controls with both, and you can expect the same results with both assuming the same settings for all adjustments.
So, when it comes to overall image quality and the specific results you can expect, you can think of Camera Raw (in Photoshop) and the Develop module in Lightroom as being equal. The only real question is what workflow makes the most sense from an organizational standpoint, which in turn will impact your workflow for optimizing your photos.