Photoshop Express or Lightroom – which is the best app for editing photos?

Adobe has long set the standard for image editing software – Photoshop has virtually become synonymous with professional editing. Although Adobe’s mobile apps for photo editing have been around for a few years now, there’s still some confusion about the differences between them.

Adobe Photoshop Express and Adobe Lightroom are both great choices of apps to edit photos, each has different strengths and weaknesses that will suit different types of needs. Let’s figure out which is the best app for editing photos.

Adobe Photoshop Express

As the official Adobe Photoshop mobile software, this is one of the top choices among photo editor apps. While, as you may have already guessed, the mobile version of Photoshop doesn’t offer nearly as much control over your images as the desktop version, it’s still an incredibly powerful tool.

The app covers our basic editing needs with contrast, exposure, color temperature, white balance adjustments, and so on. It also includes filters and blend effects for a quick, one-touch edit.

More advanced features include color noise reduction, perspective correction, and the Dehaze function to remove atmospheric fog and other kinds of light distortion. The spot healing tool we know and love from the desktop version allows for professional portrait and selfie retouch on the go.

Balanced Auto option provides a decent job correcting perspective. In most cases it works great, however, you can always tweak the final result manually if needed.

Other functions include adding borders, text, vignettes, and watermarks, as well as quick fixes – such as removing red-eye from portraits and group shots. Interestingly, the app also features collage functionality, with the ability to apply uniform filters and adjustments to all images across the collection. This is a great tool for social media, photo album covers, and one-shot portfolio teasers.

Adobe Photoshop Express is available for: iOS 11.2 or later and Android 4.4 and up. It’s free to download, with an in-app purchase of $10 per month required to access premium features. You can try out the paid content with a 3-day free trial; they include items such as additional text styles, filters, and collage themes and advanced healing tools.

Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor

At first glance, Lightroom is something of a simplified version of Photoshop Express where mobile photo editing is concerned. The editing experience provided by the app is based primarily on presets and profiles, as well as color, tone, and exposure adjustment.

However, Lightroom provides more detail-oriented, selective adjustments and advanced tools such as the healing brush (available in the Premium version only).

Also if you want to adjust perspective on your shots, you have to buy the Premium subscription.  Adobe Photoshop Express has an advantage over Lightroom if you want to use the free version and have access to the healing brush, and perspective correction.

As for me, interface of Lightroom seems more logical and appealing. Moreover, Lightroom has more advanced features such as Curves, Color Mix (analog of HSL in Express, but available in the free version) and Selective instrument. Even more important, Lightroom correctly shows all interface elements in horizontal position as on the screenshot above. Photoshop Express only shows a slider setting of a current active instrument (tested in iPhone Xr, iOS 13.3)

The other key difference between the two apps is that unlike Photoshop Express, Lightroom uses a library-style system to save your edits, enabling you to preserve multiple forms of your images. It also features the advanced export functionality of sharing your edited images directly to social media and other platforms (such as Flickr), which Photoshop lacks.

Adobe Lightroom contains powerful instrument Curves to precisely adjust contrast and even control each RGB channel. You can use Curves for creative purposes, for example, if you want to split tone an image by adding various color tones to the shadows and the highlights.

Really great features like Color Mix and Custom White Balance available in the free version. You can easily tweak Hue, Saturation and Luminance of each color. By clicking on the small puppet icon under the Mix button, you can choose a grey area on the shot and put the point to it. Thus white balance will be adjusted accordingly to that area. However, the result not always come perfect, so you can use Temp slider to additionally correct the white balance.

The bottom line

Adobe Photoshop Express

  • Healing Brush and Split tone instrument is available in the free version
  • Auto perspective function is very useful
  • A lot of various presets
  • Incorrect work in a horizontal position (iPhone XR, iOS 13.3)
  • Premium features almost not enhancing the usability of the app
  • HSL instrument available only in the paid version

Adobe Lightroom

  • Precise control of exposure, contrast and colors
  • Supports RAW formats
  • In-app camera shoots in RAW
  • Advanced features like Curves and custom white balance are available in the free version
  • Well-organized photo library
  • Easy process of creating your own presets
  • Batch editing
  • The perspective adjusting is available only in the paid version

I realized that Lightroom is more suitable for my needs: more flexible instruments to edit the images fast and precise, organized workflow, better UI.

What app do you prefer to use? Share this article with friends if you find it useful and stay tuned for more application comparisons and reviews.

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