GIMP vs Lightroom Know Comparison of 2021

Whether you are a full-time or a part-time photographer, you need photo editing software to get the best results. 

Technology is evolving every day. Now we can capture photos with our smartphones that get close to a Digital SLR snap. After having some beautiful shots, you need software to organize, optimize and edit your photos.

Mobile applications have limited options in this area. An image editing software can make it easy for you.

If you are looking for good image work, there is no alternative to specialized editing software. Your default editing software is nothing comparing to these tools.

Here we are looking into the comparison of two famous software. The comparison will help you to choose the best-suited one for your regular work.

Let us get started with our GIMP vs Lightroom comparison.

GIMP vs Light

GIMP and Lightroom are both image editing software. Professionals use these two tools for their manipulation and adjustment works.

Two of them do not have the same features, but they are unique in their way. So let us jump into our comparative review of these tools.


GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP is an open-source image manipulation tool. GIMP is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

As it is open-source, anyone can access the source code and make changes. It has a great set of tools that can quickly fulfill the need of any professional photographer, graphic designer, illustrator. It allows users to use 3rd party plugins to increase the overall functionality.
You can do high-quality image manipulation, create graphic design elements efficiently with this tool. Gimp has some particular tools that entirely resemble some significant tasks in photoshop.

Professionals use it for photo retouching, editing, composing and some other advanced works. Graphic designers use this tool for logo design, banner design, artwork, and other graphic designing tasks.

GIMP requirements are fascinating. They support desktop platforms with a RAM size of only 250 MB.


These features listed below give GIMP a place among the famous manipulation software.

Third-party plugins: Some tools or features may not be there inside the toolbar of GIMP.

But you can use a plugin for that. It is extensible. There are more than 100 available plugins for GIMP.This feature can enhance your productivity.

Lightweight: One thing is engraved in our mind that photo editing software requires a high-end computer. But that is not always the case. GIMP is very lightweight. So it consumes fewer resources and runs smoothly on an average computer.

Animation: It supports energy and allows to create one, layer by layer, from scratch. You can import animations to tweak them also.

PSD file import: We know that most designers have to deal with PSD files. You can easily import a file of this default photoshop format. The layers will be there also. 

Linux Compatibility: GIMP is available on Linux. While other famous software does not come in Linux, GIMP does.

Retouching tools: GIMP has some particular tools for retouching an image. You can use the same image manipulation techniques you do in Adobe Photoshop.

Clean Interface: It has an interface that beginners find easy to navigate.  And there is a tutorial guide for those who are new to the interface.

Source Code access: It allows access to the source code. So anyone can tweak it according to their personal preference.


This software will not give you the ultimate freedom of editing. GIMP has some great tools, but it also has some disadvantages too.

Development: The open-source software has a slow bug fixing time. And the updates are also quieter. So it takes a while to see some new features.

Tool Functionality: There is limited functionality for the available tools. Some tools work more than enough when others lack options. GIMP, compared to Photoshop, is not that versatile.

Not all the tools are great here, but it has some excellent ones.

PSD File Handling: The most common problem with PSD files is layer distortion. This problem occurs during a PSD import.  


We all know that all open-source software is free. In this area, GIMP beats all its counterparts. Although it is not the ultimate editing tool, it gives its excellent set of tools for free.


Lightroom is a photo organizer and adjustment tool for Windows and macOS.  Adobe first introduced it to professionals in 2007. Since then, professional photographers use it to make quick adjustments and organize their photos. 

This one is not an advanced editing tool. It is more of an adjustment tool. So comparing it with GIMP is pretty much unfair. Although you can do the Lightroom tasks in GIMP, Lightroom makes it much easier for you.

The exact process performed in Lightroom involves multiple processes in GIMP.

It gives you a better image organization option. You also get AI-Powered face recognition, raw file support, and live editing preview.

Adobe provides free cloud storage with the purchase for accessing your files from anywhere.


It has some genuinely admirable features that make it a good image adjustment tool. There are a few available software like Lightroom.

Live Preview: Sometimes, people get confused about which one is better, edited or untouched. In this area, Lightroom has various options to see the changes. You can place both pictures in a side-by-side comparison. There are a few other options to see the changes in real-time.

Cloud Storage: You get up to 1 TB of cloud storage with your Adobe subscription. Storing your file is much easier, and you can access them anytime from anywhere.

Easy Organization: When you deal with a large batch of photos, Lightroom can help you organize them. It has a very well-crafted media library where you can quickly navigate among your folders and files. You can find your desired one much faster. You can also access all the previously used images without importing them again.

Third-party plugins: Lightroom also allows users to add third-party plugins. So when you require some additional features, you have the option.

Instant Photo Adjustment: You can adjust the photo properties instantly after importing that on Lightroom. You can make a quick adjustment right off the bat.

Apply Saved Adjustment: You can apply the same set of adjustments for multiple pictures. You might have taken a batch of photos at the same place. In this case, the saved adjustment comes in handy.

Effects: Lightroom has a good number of ready effects. You can directly apply them from the collection.


Like we mentioned before, this is not an advanced image manipulation tool like Photoshop and GIMP. It is bound to the image adjustment section.

No Advanced Editing: Lightroom does not have the tools for doing advanced editings like retouching and advanced manipulation. You don’t have something like the healing brush tool you get in Photoshop. So don’t think of blemishes and unwanted things removal. It is just one example among many.

If we say more specifically, you cannot make changes to any of the photo elements. You can adjust the appearance only.

Does not support older Windows: The latest edition of Lightroom does not support older edition of Windows. Many people are still using windows 7, 8 on their daily drivers.

Also, there is no version of Lightroom for Linux. As everyone moving to the newer operating systems, it will be an issue for a minority of the people.

Heavy: Latest Lightroom edition requires more resources to run. It will run smoothly in a powerful machine. If you are using Lightroom on a lower-end one, you may face problems like freezing and crashing.  As you see the real-time renders as preview, it uses your GPU. So you get a smoother performance if you have a good GPU installed.


There is no open-source Lightroom available out there. Programs like Lightroom come with paid packages. You can purchase the Photography package from Adobe which includes Lightroom and Photoshop.
It will cost 13.14$ per month. You will get 20GB of cloud storage with the package.

Only Lightroom comes at the same price with 1 TB of cloud storage.

How to choose between them?

From our Lightroom vs GIMP comparison, you already know that both of them do not serve the exact purpose. You can make almost all of the Lightroom adjustments in GIMP, but you can not do the GIMP editing in Lightroom.

Choosing between them is easy when you know your workflow.

Lightroom is the perfect tool if your work involves only simple adjustments like colour, saturation, straightening, brightness, contrast, effects, crop, and things like these. Lightroom is the best adjustment tool. 

But when you require advanced editings like retouching and image manipulation, you have to use tools like GIMP or Photoshop.
If you deal with both the advanced editing and adjustment, then GIMP is suitable. GIMP can do all the tasks you perform in Lightroom apart from photo organizing.

You can find a free alternative to Adobe Lightroom, but they will not be up to the mark.  

Final Words:

Both of the tools mentioned above belong to the best ones in their fields. One is an adjustment tool, and another one is for both the adjustment and advanced editing work.

We hope you got a good overview of both of them from our GIMP vs Lightroom comparative review.

Now choose between them according to your regular work.

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