Do You Need Photoshop/Affinity Photo If You Have Lightroom?

As I mentioned last week, the lack of recent updates is attributed to the fact that I just purchased a copy of Affinity Photo and is playing around with it. Oh, and there is my real-life day job of course. ๐Ÿ˜›

The topic of today’s blog post is to answer a frequently-asked-question: Do you need a full-featured photo editor such as Photoshop (PS) or Affinity Photo (AP) if you already have a copy of Lightroom (LR)?

After dabbling with Affinity Photo for nearly two weeks, I finally have a good answer and recommendation.

If you are an enthusiast photographer, LR is quite sufficient. In fact, LR may be all that is needed even for selected paid work such as event photography or journalism. You could do weddings and portraiture with LR as well. To be honest if I tried to do a blind test on images from these photography genres, most of the time I could be making blind guesses for which images were processed with LR only and which went through PS/AP.

However, note that I used the term “most of the time” above, not “all of the time”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There will always be that handful of hero images that will shine even brighter if you used a more feature-rich editor such as PS/AP during post-processing. Of course not all hero images need PS/AP to shine, so this is all subjective to the appearance of the image itself.

We really have to give credit to LR for how easy and convenient it is to use such that replacing it with PS/AP actually results in additional operational and man-hour costs. You could be spending that time and energy doing other things! That opportunity cost in time matters to both photographers doing paid work and enthusiasts spending their precious free time.

One example where the expanded set of features, precise selection capabilities and layer functionalities of PS/AP is vital is in commercial and advertising work. The requirement for clean and precise elements in a picture is important, so that plays into the specific strengths of PS/AP and makes them highly valuable.

The final recommendation is this. If you get paid for your photography, it does not hurt to have a copy of PS/AP with you. You may not need to use them for all of your output, but you would be glad when the need arises and you could make a hero image shine even brighter. If you are an enthusiast, how you choose to spend your free time and resources is entirely up to you. If putting that extra shine on an image makes you happier, by all means do it! I just want to caution again that the differences between LR-only and PS/AP-processed images are not always obvious. So do not be disappointed if you or your audience do not notice the changes. Do what you like and enjoy yourself. – WY

2 thoughts on “Do You Need Photoshop/Affinity Photo If You Have Lightroom?

  1. I think this makes a lot of sense. As an event and journalistic photographer (school, church, community), I’m in the photo production business. I welcome lovingly tools that make it easier to deliver a ton of photos efficiently. I have Nikon and Canon cameras (V1, 6D), so the workflows are slightly different. I start by culling the latest big barrel of RAW images, using Faststone Image Viewer, a wonderful tool that lets me display thumbnails on one monitor and a large image on the other; this way, I can quickly work through the thumbnails and delete any baddies or send them to a Seconds folder with two taps of the M key (Move).

    I open the Keepers folder in the wonderful Nikon Capture NX-D for Nikon, or Digital Photo Profession 4 for Canon. I make color, exposure, and sharpening corrections here, using the “save current settings” function in the Canon/Nikon program to quickly adjust images shot in the same light. When I’m satisfied with the basic corrections, I run the whole kaboodle through Perfectly Clear, which does a really good job of fine-tuning most of the images, but not all (e.g., teeth whitening applied to an upper lip!). If something needs further work, I’ll open it in PS.

    The point is, I’m fairly happy with my workflow, and grateful for these tools. However, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at photos in the Canon 6D Flickr Group, by reviewing maybe 10 pages at a time during work breaks. Wonderful stuff indeed! But it has emphasized how much I would love to improve my skills at producing those Hero images that Au mentions – the photos that would be worthy of a paid portrait or corporate brochure job. In other words, I’d like to “improve my eye” and learn to produce the results in eye-sweet final images. Adobe’s PS/LR tutorials tend to be too artsy-fartsy for me; probing the details but not emphasizing basics for photographers who need to work through a heavy volume of images. Where to learn? Hm… I’ve been very grateful for Au’s Capture NX-D tutorials, but it would be lovely to see some how-to’s for applying that last touch of polish.


    1. I don’t use PS, but there are a couple of portrait tutorials for Affinity that should work similarly for PS.

      Just take a glance at those specific to portraiture. They are quite to-the-point and gives you a good idea of what you can do with PS/AF on portraiture. After looking through a few of these you will come to understand how those big advertising images with perfect flawless faces are produced. ๐Ÿ˜›

      TBH, at a certain level images are processed by a dedicated team of Photoshop-ers. Which is why many commercial work want your RAW files – their magical team can PS your final work better than you can.


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