I looked through the forum and didn't see a thread concerning this, so if one exists and I'm doubling up, I apologize.
All Ive been using for processing my RAW images is Bridge CS3 and Photoshop, but Ive always wondered about Lightroom. Does anyone have an opinion on the bridge vs. LR debate? Should I stick with what I'm doing because it works, or is there a better way to go about it?
Both Bridge/CS3 and Lightroom both use Adobe Camera RAW to convert RAW files, so fundamentally there's very little (if any) difference as to actual RAW conversion. If what you mostly do is use a "browser" (either Bridge or Lightroom) to look at your RAW images, then open them in CS3 to edit them, you won't see any difference in the quality of converted RAW image that winds up in CS3 whether you get them there through Bridge or Lightroom.
*In general* Lightroom is designed for "global" (all-image) editing, while CS3 has many, many more options for "local" (specific areas of an image, mostly using layer masks) edits. CS3 has considerably more options and flexibility than Lightroom does when it comes to editing -- but if you don't use all of the options that CS3 provides, then there's not much point in paying for them, is there?
Lightroom is overall a considerably better organizational tool -- especially for large collections of photos -- than Bridge is. Lightroom has some specific editing features that are one-click operations in Lightroom, but that would take a fair amount of work in CS3.
Different tools for different purposes. If you main workflow consists of the kinds of adjustments that are available in ACR (white balance, mild global sharpening, lens corrections, curves and levels, saturation, etc.) and you don't do much heavy editing, then Lightroom could save you a lot of work and make things easier for you -- on top of it's excellent organizational functions. If you do a lot of heavy localized editing to your images in CS3 -- that Lightroom can't do -- then there's little reason to buy Lightroom *on top of* Bridge/CS3, unless you want or need the organizational functions.
Paul, thanks for the great info! I have always wondered what the big difference them was, and finally got around to asking. I appreciate it!
I agree with Paul. I have both CS3 and Lightroom v. 2. The only thing Paul didn't mention is that Lightroom, and other DAM applications, can manage offline photos as well. With larger and larger files, many of us are resorting to archiving files either on DVD or on external hard drives that are not continually on or even connected to the computer. What Lightroom can do is maintain a catalog of those images, and all the search and organizational functions apply. Find sometehing you need that is offline, Lightroom tells you where it is, and all you have to do is either connect the drive or pop in the DVD. Bridge doesn't do that.Lightroom v. 2 also has a smart collection function. Similar to smart playlists in iTunes (we all own a iPod, right? ), you can set up parameters, like ratings, or EXIF data, or keywords, and when a photo meets those parameters, it is automatically added to the collection.Just some extra info.
I've used both setups, and I find LR--especially LR 2 because they added local adjustments--to be a far more intuitive, and pleasurable experience. In fact, Lightroom 2, is the best image editing/organizing software I have ever used.