When I pull out my Pix­el for a pic­ture, I have to pick which app to tap: Google’s An­droid cam­era (which odd­ly seems to have no link) or Adobe Lightroom’s. The choice isn’t hard, but is in­ter­est­ing.

Let me lead with some ac­tu­al pic­tures. In each case, the G-cam is first, the Lr-cam sec­ond.

Howe Sound at dusk (G-cam)
· · ·
Howe Sound at dusk (Lr-cam)

Howe Sound at dusk.

Our cabin at dusk (G-cam)
· · ·
Our cabin at dusk (Lr-cam)

Cabin over­look­ing Howe Sound, at dusk.

The dif­fer­ences are sub­tle, and prob­a­bly on­ly mat­ter if you’re go­ing to be us­ing a re­al­ly big screen or piece of pa­per for de­liv­ery. If you’re the kind of per­son who cares, click-to-enlarge and, be­fore I talk about the dif­fer­ences, see if you have opin­ion­s.

What’s dif­fer­ent · The G-cam:

  1. Has an auto-HDR which, speak­ing as a long-time HDR hater, works pret­ty well.

  2. Auto-shares ev­ery­thing for free to Google’s on­line photo-space which I guess used to be part of G+.

  3. To pull on­to my com­put­er for edit­ing, I down­load from on­line.

  4. Starts up faster, un­der a sec­ond.

  5. Shoots video.

The Lr-cam:

  1. Shoots raw DNG files.

  2. If you’re a Creative Cloud sub­scriber, the pix show up in your Light­room “Synced Photographs” file, au­tomag­i­cal­ly.

  3. You can ed­it or delete them on the phone, on your com­put­er, or via the We­b, with a re­mark­ably sim­i­lar reper­toire of con­trol­s. Delet­ed pho­tos van­ish from ev­ery­where, and the ed­its are prop­a­gat­ed ev­ery­where too.

What’s the same · Both cam­eras have nice­ly in­tu­itive GUIs that are easy to fig­ure out. Both have pret­ty de­cent on-device edit­ing too. In par­tic­u­lar, both make it easy to di­al in ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion (i.e. brighter/­dark­er) by slid­ing a fin­ger on the screen.

Light­room is maybe a lit­tle eas­i­er to get wrong; from time to time I ac­ci­den­tal­ly hit a con­trol I wasn’t aware of and get a weird hyper-colorized or exotic-blur ren­di­tion. Check out this pic­ture out a win­dow at the Ama­zon Van­cou­ver of­fice; cool ef­fect­s, but you’d have to take some pret­ty good drugs to see them.

View from the Amazon Vancouver office

What mat­ters · I should note all the pho­tos were shot in fail­ing Novem­ber light, and none of them are un­touched; I gave them a rea­son­ably thor­ough Light­room treat­men­t, ex­cept for I didn’t touch the col­or a bit. Ob­vi­ous­ly you can do quite a bit more with the Lr-cam DNG than the G-cam JPG. Which leads me to:

First of al­l, for ca­su­al capture-the-moment snap­shot­s, the G-cam wipes the floor with the Lr-cam. It shoots faster and ap­plies HDR taste­ful­ly. It’s like this: Straight out of the cam­er­a, the Lr-cam shots look OK un­til you put them be­side the G-cam shot­s; then they look dingy and life­less.

Wel­l, ex­cept for, the Light­room shots are DNG and have a whole lot more room for cor­rec­tion. A minute or two’s work and they’re about as good. In gen­er­al, I find my­self bump­ing the con­trast a bit, eas­ing off the high­light­s, and black­en­ing the black­s. But not al­ways; each pho­to has to find its own path to its full po­ten­tial.

When I’m done, they don’t look ob­vi­ous­ly bet­ter than the G-cam’s out­put, but they cer­tain­ly look dif­fer­en­t. Ob­vi­ous­ly my opin­ion dif­fers from that of the pro­gram­mers who built the G-cam pro­cess­ing log­ic.

Two things stand out, start­ing with col­or. Check that first shot of Howe Sound, in par­tic­u­lar the ocean it­self. The G-cam gives it a love­ly painter­ly touch of soft-green, while Light­room sticks to a pret­ty pure grey. I see it more like Light­room does, but I don’t ac­tu­al­ly dis­like the G-cam ef­fec­t; if I liked it more I could get it with white-balance slid­ers on the Lr-cam ver­sion.

The sec­ond is fo­cus. The G-cam does a bet­ter job of di­al­ing in the fore­ground fo­liage, sac­ri­fic­ing a bit of de­tail out in the wa­ter; the Lr-cam shows in­di­vid­u­al rip­ples. But they do about the same on the back­ground car-ferry, which is a lit­tle sur­pris­ing. This is a mat­ter of pure taste, and while you can fix col­or you can’t re­al­ly fix fo­cus.

On the sec­ond pho­to, the big dif­fer­ence is the col­or: Lightroom’s greens are green­er, the G-cam’s soft­er. Wow, I say “big difference” and it is, when you’re flip­ping back and forth on a 15" Reti­na screen; but in the blog pre­sen­ta­tion you have to look re­al close. If you ac­tu­al­ly care, maybe open the click-to-expand in ad­ja­cent tabs and flip back and forth? For what it’s worth, once again I think the Lr-cam is righter.

Which to use? · If I’m in a hur­ry and need to cap­ture a mo­ment or record a fact or what­ev­er, G-cam ev­ery time; it’ll get me there quick­er and the re­sults will be good. If I see some­thing and think “Hm, might be a neat pic­ture there”, Light­room. Be­cause I re­al­ly re­spect G-cam’s opin­ion­s, but don’t al­ways share them.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: John Dragseth (Nov 12 2016, at 10:15)

Tim: Thanks. This sort of post is great for people like me who know the technicals of taking and processing pictures, but want to see opinions on what looks good and how to get there in LR. Much appreciated.


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