I’m back from a week in the Lake District and I’ve been wondering: do I need Lightroom? The obvious answer is yes, of course. The power of Lightroom can be used to a tremendous effect. But for a week I didn’t have access to Lightroom or a computer, I just had my phone (an old one at that) and the apps I’ve downloaded to help me with some editing.

Now I must disclose, before this trip I had exclusively used Lightroom, and I had never thought it possible to edit photos to a high enough standard without it. But needs must, I wanted to upload to Instagram on a daily basis and I could easily make use of my Fuji Wifi to transfer from camera to phone. So, what should I use?

I’d seen a video from Sean Tucker a while ago, I’d actually downloaded Darkroom and Snapseed on the back of this video, but I’d never used the apps as an editing program. Until now.

Above are two images: one edited entirely in Lightroom from a RAW file, and the other edited in Snapseed from a JPEG of the RAW file (i.e. there had been no fuji film simulation applied to the image). Can you tell which is which? I think you probably can, the Lightroom edit is much ‘cleaner’. I did try and edit them both to the same style, I wasn’t trying to copy each exactly though! And this is my point. I actually found it very easy, much easier in fact, during the course of the week to edit on my phone into a style that I like for my instagram. That style is grainy and very filmic, I am not trying to reduce noise or worry about what the image would print like.

Knowing your final destination is extremely important. My instagram has a very distinct style and the process of reviewing images in camera, downloading them onto my phone/ipad, applying a very quick edit, and then uploading straight to my instagram story was so much quicker and easier than what my workflow is in Lightroom. And because these images are only destined for social media speed and ease is paramount.

Of course, as soon as I returned home from the weeks work I immediately opened Lightroom and downloaded all my RAW files safely onto hard drives. But it is interesting how much harder I have to work in Lightroom to achieve that same style for social media.

And here is a heavily edited version of the same photograph from Snapseed:

Personally I think this edit is too far, it works as a thumbnail on Instagram but I do think it struggles on an actual computer screen. But again it all depends on what style you are trying to create and where the final destination is.

After using Snapseed for a week I will most definitely be using straight to phone editing much more, exclusively for social media. I will still be using Lightroom for printing and any professional work. But I have been extremely impressed with Snapseed.

I’m intrigued, which image do you prefer? And what editing programs do you use?