Many people ask whether it’s better to use Bridge or Lightroom.

I use both, for different purposes.

If I need to quickly find an image and I know its location, or I need to quickly look into a folder full of images, I will use Bridge.

However, I use Lightroom for transfering raw captures to the computer, adding metadata, ranking, cropping, and processing (developing) the raw images. I go as far as possible within Lightroom before I take a file into Photoshop, usually only for sharpening, selective/localized editing such as dodging and burning, or soft-proofing prior to printing.

The key differences between Lightroom and Bridge:

1. Lightroom is a standalone product and must be purchased separately; Bridge comes included with full versions of Photoshop.

2. Lightroom uses a powerful database to perform non-destructive editing (with unlimited undos) and provides for very fast searching within large numbers of images. Bridge is a file browser, meaning it can show you the contents of a folder and will preview files, but doesn’t keep track of the status or settings for any of the images.

3. Lightroom has a raw processing engine built-in, Bridge uses the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in. However, the raw processors in current versions of  Lightroom and Bridge/ACR are essentially identical.

Personally, for the majority of reviewing and editing my photos, I generally prefer Lightroom for its streamlined workflow and its database capabilities. But for people who don’t wish to spend the money or take the time to learn a new program, Bridge with ACR is a totally competent solution.

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