Lightroom Classic versus Camera Raw


Today’s Question: Friday you recommended using Lightroom Classic instead of Adobe Camera Raw for basic image adjustments. What makes Lightroom Classic better than Camera Raw?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In the context of optimizing raw captures, Lightroom Classic and Camera Raw are essentially the same thing. The advantage of Lightroom Classic in the context of my answer last week was simply related to image management, not optimization.

More Detail: My suggestion to use Lightroom Classic to apply adjustments to the raw capture was simply related to a workflow that involves managing photos with Lightroom Classic. You will achieve exactly the same results processing a raw capture using Adobe Camera Raw or the Develop module in Lightroom Classic.

The reason I was recommending Lightroom Classic “instead of” Camera Raw in my answer was that the answer was predicated on using Lightroom Classic to manage photos. If you’re going to send a photo to Photoshop for further optimization, it is necessary (or at least highly recommended) that you send the photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, rather than opening the image directly from Photoshop.

When you send a photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, the raw processing is being conducted by Lightroom Classic, with a finished image sent to Photoshop. That finished image will be saved as a TIFF or PSD file, depending on the setting you have established in Preferences in Lightroom Classic.

In other words, if you’re using Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, you won’t really be able to use Camera Raw for processing the raw capture, since that will be handled by Lightroom Classic instead. Therefore, it is advantageous to apply at least the basic adjustments in Lightroom Classic before sending the image to Camera Raw.

But for photographers who are using Photoshop to optimize their photos, and are not using Lightroom Classic at all, there is no benefit to Lightroom Classic in terms of raw processing. Both Camera Raw and Lightroom Classic’s Develop module provide the same results. They simply involve a slightly workflow.