Lightroom vs Bridge: When to Use Each Application

What exactly is Adobe Bridge? Can it edit? Can it catalog my images? In this article, we take a look at the major differences between Lightroom and Bridge, and help you to decide when to use each application.

What is Adobe Bridge?

Adobe Bridge has been around since 2005, yet it is often one of the most over-looked programs in the Adobe product line up.

Bridge operates essentially as an asset manager. Think of it like Explorer on a PC, or Finder on a Mac.

Adobe Bridge allows users to manage and organise all your digital files used within the Adobe Creative Cloud, including photographs, PSD and TIFF files from photoshop, and other files from Adobe programs such as inDesign or Adobe Illustrator.

Creatives working on large projects, or those who simply have very large collections of images and files and need a streamlined solution to manage their data, often turn to Bridge.

Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge Interface 

Adobe Bridge features

As mentioned above, Adobe Bridge is fundamentally a file browser, and works in a similar way to how you already navigate around your computer to find your files.

Bridge allows users to search, filter, copy, paste, delete, move and edit the metadata from digital files, without the need to use another program. Creating, naming and re-naming folders on your computer is also possible within Bridge.

Image previews are large, detailed and can be zoomed for closer inspection. Bridge does need to cache images previews, making viewing RAW files for the first time somewhat slower than most would like.

Additionally, the procedure of producing contact-sheets and PDF prints from Bridge is much more streamlined.

Adobe Bridge 

As soon as you start to add files, lightroom begins cataloging them by date

So why don’t I just use Explorer or Finder?

Adobe Bridge allows users to search for images and files, just like Explorer or Finder, but with the added feature of several more search parameters. In the case of images, you could search by star-ratings, exposure settings, location tag, date the image was created and even keywords from within the images metadata.

Although Explorer and Finder are capable of great things, they are lacking in features when it comes to piling through large media libraries.

Can I edit in Adobe Bridge?

Yes and no. Well, no, not really

Adobe Bridge does benefit from the incorporation of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). ACR allows users to import RAW images in to Bridge, adjust basic settings such as exposure, edit metadata, and then save them on to your computer for later use.

This is a benefit to those users who want to import and correct images and store them for future editing. Otherwise, Lightroom contains far more editing controls, and also features a highly capable cataloging system of it’s own.

 

Should I use Adobe Bridge?

Well, like any question, the answer is subjective.

I’ve always thought of it in this way:

If you are someone who likes to take photos, and directly import them onto your computer for editing; then Adobe Lightroom is most likely the correct product to use. It imports and catalogs your images immediately, keeping them organized for you to edit when ever it suits. The level of organization in Lightroom and the ability so search and review images will probably be all you’ll ever need.

If you are more of a power-user with a massive collection of images, or a regular shooter, who mainly edits with Adobe Photoshop (which also imports RAW files using ACR), and needs to store and catalog images en-masse for future editing, then Bridge will probably give you the level of organization you’re looking for.

Can I Use Bridge and Lightroom?

 

Of course. However, the catalog system of Adobe Lightroom is perfect for most users requirements. Adding a second cataloging system in the form of Adobe Bridge may only lead to confusion, and worse deleting files you still need!

The fundamental difference between the two, is that Lightroom is used to organize and edit. Whereas Bridge is more intended towards organizing and cataloging assets.

If editing is your plan - keep it simple and use Lightroom to organize your files.

Adobe bridgeLightroom