The answer seems to be that it really depends on what you’re looking for and on how much time you have available. I was an amateur when I first started using Lightroom, and I’ve been shooting mostly digital ever since. So it may be that if you are shooting with an expensive DSLR, the basic capabilities of Lightroom make it a good option. But if you are using an inexpensive DSLR and want quick workflow and control over your settings, then I think the benefits of Lightroom as a beginner are much less robust. I know I’m not the only beginner with a $250 laptop shooting only on the Internet!
Let’s explore more!
When I started out with Lightroom, I mostly liked the concept of “seamless and intuitive integration” for photo editing, but the interface still needed work. When I was at Digital Camera Academy, I was one of the first to try out the online Lightroom presets with the Adobe Photoshop CS3 online editor. My first time using it, I was thrilled to discover that it was more streamlined and efficient than Photoshop. I was using both in a very similar way, using the tools and settings I had been working with for two years (and my own preferences for more grain in my photos). In fact, it was actually that same feeling, that the same tools and process I had been using for years, suddenly fit me quite well in this new format. I can say that with the exception of editing photos, I found Lightroom to be much more intuitive, than Photoshop, and the interface was much like Photoshop.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, once I started to shoot with Lightroom, it was less of a surprise to learn a bit about the underlying techniques. For example, I was initially blown away by the ability to move my lens, and to change the contrast and saturation settings of my images automatically. There were a few moments when I wasn’t sure if Lightroom had a good understanding of the overall workflow behind a good image (which it does, but it seems to be changing a lot!)
But after working with a lot of Lightroom presets and being a beginner for a while, I realized what is necessary to use Lightroom to get the best out of the system. A first step towards this “best out of the box” is to take care for these fundamentals. If you want to be a good Lightroom user today, you don’t have to work within these limits. You can get to know the Lightroom
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