Adobe Bridge versus Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: Should I switch my organizing program from Adobe Bridge to Lightroom? I have been using Bridge for a number of years, but everyone talks about using LR. What criteria should I use in making this decision? I have several TB of photos that would have to be loaded into LR, but Bridge does not require loading files into its program. What am I losing by sticking with Bridge?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In my mind there are only two things (one good and one bad) that you’re missing out on by continuing to use Adobe Bridge rather than Lightroom Classic. First, you’re missing out on a faster and more comprehensive search capability. Second, you’re missing out on the learning curve involved with making sure you understand Lightroom Classic so you can gain the benefits without encountering the pitfalls.

More Detail: The key difference between Lightroom Classic and Adobe Bridge is that Lightroom Classic uses a catalog (central database) while Bridge is a simple browser without a corresponding database. This translates to both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to considering a switch from Bridge to Lightroom Classic.

The potential advantage of having a central catalog is that you can search across your entire library of photos very quickly and easily using a wide variety of criteria. You can quickly see every photo in your entire catalog that matches specific metadata, such as those captured in a particular date range, captured with specific camera settings, containing certain metadata values such as keywords, and much more.

For many photographers, including myself, this is a tremendous advantage. Trying to find photos across an entire library based on specific metadata is a much slower and frustrating experience with Bridge. For other photographers, this may not provide any real benefit, if they don’t need to be able to search across an entire library of photos based on specific criteria. I was just speaking with a friend the other day, for example, who never needs to use this type of broad search because he only really needs to locate photos based on his folder structure.

The point is that for some photographers this benefit for searching photos can be significant, and for others it may be minor or inconsequential.

It is important to keep in mind that switching to Lightroom Classic will also involve a bit of a learning curve. It is critically important that you understand how Lightroom Classic works, especially in the context of the catalog, before using it in your workflow. If you’ve not previously used Lightroom Classic I strongly recommend using resources (such as my video training courses) to make sure you understand how to use the software before you use it in your actual workflow.

I find Lightroom Classic to be tremendously helpful in my workflow. I also frankly find Bridge to be frustrating to use when I do put it to use. So, I’m very happy that I’ve adopted Lightroom Classic in my own workflow, but I also completely understand that it isn’t the right solution for everyone. I don’t recommend that all photographers switch to Lightroom Classic, but rather recommend considering whether it is the right solution based on your workflow needs.