“You don’t take a photograph, you take one.” This makes editing an important aspect of photography. If you’re just starting out, you would have seen tons of tutorials on editing and the two most obvious options would be Lightroom or Snapseed. These apps are quite similar to each other but distinct on their own. If you ever had any confusion about which way to go, we have a detailed comparison for you.
Lightroom vs Snapseed
1. User interface
The user interface is undoubtedly an important part of any smartphone application. You don’t want the user to open the app and juggle for an hour just to discover the app. So an ideal editing app should be well designed with almost all the features just a tap away.
Snapseed has a minimal interface and you would get along instantly. You can open only 1 photo at a time. As soon as the image is uploaded, you will get 3 tabs at the bottom: Styles, tools, and export. Styles is where you will get predefined templates that you can apply to the image. The Tools tab has all the necessary editing tools that Snapseed offers. Once you are done, you can use the Export tab to save the edited photo to your phone.
Lightroom, on the other hand, has a non-intuitive user interface. If you are unfamiliar with the Adobe ecosystem, it will take some time to figure out how to get started editing.
You can import your photos into Lightroom by clicking the Add Image button on the bottom floating bar. Alongside that is the built-in camera app Lightroom. The camera app helps you take RAW photos and it also has a full manual mode. If you’re just starting out, it would be difficult to find options in Lightroom. You can also create albums to categorize your edits and photos.
Photo editing menu
Now we come to the actual photo editing part. In Snapseed, no matter what menu you’re in, you’ll be able to see the whole picture. This is important because you need to preview the image while making changes to it. Editing is super slick and gesture-based. So, brownie points for that.
To apply an edit, you must swipe left and right. To switch between the menu, you need to slide your fingers up and down.
For Lightroom, you have the editing options at the bottom of the menu. You can touch each option and use the slider to increase or decrease the effect. You can double-tap the slider to reset the effect.
Read: 10 Best Photo Editing Apps For Android
Verdict: Snapseed 1 – Lightroom 0
Now let’s move on to the main business, the real part of editing.
At Snapseed, I feel like the editing options are cluttered and loosely laid out. It would really help if they were categorized or well stacked.
Now both have essential features for tonal adjustment like Brightness, Contrast, Highlights, etc. I prefer to use RGB curves and they are present in both applications.
Snapseed has some amazing features like double exposure, stretching an image, HDR that I rarely use as they are not present in Lightroom.
One of my favorite features in Lightroom is the HSL tab. Here you can edit each color of the image individually. Snapseed doesn’t have this option and it’s a bummer. Speaking of HSL tabs, HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.
The tab consists of 8 colors with an individual Hue, Saturation and Luminance slider for each color.
Hue lets you decide the color gradient. Suppose a flower in your photograph looks yellow. Using the hue you can change the yellow from orange to greenish yellow.
Saturation decides the intensity of the color and luminance decides the brightness of the color. The slider ranges from +100 to -100.
Both apps offer selective masking, healing and cloning but Lightroom provides more control over the process, whereas in Snapseed it is automatic.
Verdict: Snapseed 1 – Lightroom 1
Snapseed would be a good app to start with if you are new to editing. Sometimes I often end up using both apps for a single edit and that’s actually the conclusion of this section. If you know what you are doing, use both! Still +1 to Lightroom for the HSL tab.
3. Handling RAW images
I wouldn’t have considered this point a year ago, but there are plenty of smartphones now that can natively capture RAW images. Even if your phone does not support RAW images, you can easily get Open camera app and start working with RAW images. BDW, you should if you are serious about photo editing.
Both applications support RAW image editing. Lightroom clearly has an advantage here. There is a slight difference in the way that both applications process RAW images. Here, take a look at the screenshots below:
This photo was intentionally taken with high exposure. The Snapseed application does not render the highlights well and you may see some details being lost in the highlights.
Camera manufacturers do not allow you to send RAW images from your camera to the phone directly through the application. So there is less chance that you will edit RAW images from your camera on your phone. However, I have done it multiple times when I have to upload to Instagram and found Lightroom to be the best.
Verdict: Snapseed 1 – Lightroom 2
If RAW is something you deal with on a daily basis, skip Snapseed, use Lightroom.
I intentionally included this section for Snapseed. You can see all your edits in terms of layers exactly like Photoshop. You can edit a layer or choose to apply the editing in a selective region with the brush.
Verdict: Snapseed 2 – Lightroom 2
I can understand Lightroom intentionally skipping layers because they want people to use Photoshop for it. Snapseed clearly gets a plus one for this.
From the moment that Google took over Snapseed, its use is absolutely free. Lightroom for mobile devices is free and pays for some features like Healing, Selective Masking, and Geometry. Pricing starts at $ 5 a month, which is expensive and most people wouldn’t go for that.
If you’ve already paid for the desktop variant, you don’t need to pay for the mobile version separately.
Verdict: Snapseed 3 – Lightroom 2
So which one to choose?
That sums up our detailed comparison of Lightroom and Snapseed. Snapseed is good if you’re getting into mobile photography and editing. The minimal user interface and quick editing options will help you understand key editing concepts. Snapseed is mobile-only, while Lightroom has a mobile and desktop variant.
When you feel like you’re ready to pay for the Adobe suite and cloud services, switching to Lightroom would be a better option.
Read: Best Photoshop Alternatives For Android That Support Layers