Lightroom Vs. iPhoto


Lightroom and iPhoto are two popular image management software programs that can store, organize and edit photographs. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and each will be more appropriate for certain users depending on their personal needs. Before deciding on a product, users should consider their requirements and match these with the features of the software.

Operating System

  • Perhaps the most significant factor affecting the choice between Lightroom and iPhoto is the user's operating system. Adobe's Lightroom is available for both Windows and Macintosh computer systems, while Apple's iPhoto is available for OS X only. While there are programs similar to iPhoto available for Windows users, there is not a version of iPhoto available that will work on any Windows system as of 2009. There are some rumors that Apple is working on a Windows version of iPhoto as they did with iTunes, however.


  • Another significant consideration a user should make before deciding on a product is cost. As of 2009, the most recent version of Lightroom can be purchased directly from Adobe for $299. iPhoto, on the other hand, is bundled free with every Mac. Users hoping to save money, or those who do not need as robust an image management program, will opt for iPhoto because of its free use.


  • Professional photographers who shoot their photographs in RAW format will likely prefer Lightroom to iPhoto. While both programs can handle and display RAW files, one of Lightroom's primary purposes is the development of RAW images. iPhoto is optimized for JPEG photos, and becomes sluggish when users attempt to import RAW files. Additionally, iPhoto is not equipped with many of the RAW development tools available in Lightroom. Users of Lightroom will have more flexibility with their RAW images.


  • The retouching tools for iPhoto are focused on the needs of a more casual user. While it is capable of basic manipulation, like cropping, straightening and correcting exposure, it lacks many advanced features needed by professional retouchers, such as levels exposure correction and image layers. In addition to offering these features, Lightroom also provides a finer level of image adjustment than is available in iPhoto, such as the ability to alter the size, strength and opacity of retouching tools. However, users of alternative software to edit their images, such as Photoshop, will likely not need these additional features.


  • While both Lightroom and iPhoto permit users to apply tags and categories to their photos, iPhoto's organization system is a bit more robust. It allows users to search for images by location, using either embedded GPS information in the photograph or based on information provided by the user. Users of iPhoto can also organize photographs by event. Finally, new versions of iPhoto include a feature called Faces, a facial recognition algorithm that will automatically detect faces in photographs and tag them based on information collected from other photos.

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