Why Lightroom’s New Video Editing Is Great for Photographers

Make videos look great without learning anything new

  • Lightroom users can now edit videos.
  • Use Lightroom’s color-grading tools, effects, and batch-apply presets.
  • Videos are supported in desktop and mobile versions.
Someone working in Adobe Lightroom on a Mac computer, editing a video and still images.

Pexels / Mockup Photos & Adobe

Adobe Lightroom users can now edit videos without learning anything new.

A movie is just a series of still pictures, and while movie editing is a whole different game, when it comes to color-grading or manipulating those moving images, it's all the same thing. Adobe's photo editing suite now lets photographers grade their videos using many of the same tools they already know and—presumably—love.

"Not all of Lightroom's color controls are working for video, but it's enough to be useful," says movie FX professional Stu Maschwitz on his Prolost blog. "Not every video workflow requires a full […] edit with dedicated color tools, so I welcome these features."

Moving Pictures

The new video feature is straightforward. You can lop the beginning and end of a clip off to remove extraneous footage, but that's it for the video-chopping part. If you want to edit your movie, you should move to Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. Adobe has also added a set of video-focused presets, including AI-powered presets that adapt to the image they're being used on.

But the aspect that will have photographers most excited is the fact that you can use all your usual photo-editing tricks on video. That means you can adjust colors, contrast, and curves, apply presets, add effects like vignetting and grain, and use Lightroom's deep color tools.

If those color tools seem almost purpose-made for video, that's because they are. In October 2020, Adobe added a new movie-style color-grading tool, replacing the old split-toning tool. Color grading is how movie makers give a specific, consistent look to their films, shifting the mood with tints, colored blacks, and so on. An extreme example might be sepia toning, that old faded, brownish-black and white look we know from old photographs. Another might be the teal-n-orange obsession of modern moviemakers.

It seemed odd—but cool—that Adobe added these tools to their photo editing app, but now that we can also edit movies, it makes total sense. But what is this good for, exactly?

Not That Kind of Pro

If your job is grading colors for the movies, you may be looking at this and thinking, "there's no way I'm using that when I already have Premier, Final Cut Pro, etc." But maybe you will be tempted by Lightroom's amazingly intuitive interface.

Photographers who occasionally shoot video, on the other hand, might love this precisely because they don't have to learn a new way to do the same tasks.

Take a wedding photographer, for example. It's likely that they also shoot video alongside photos as a part of the whole package. That's especially likely now that most stills cameras shoot pretty high-end video.

Adaptive Presets in Adobe Lightroom.

With this new Lightroom update, those photographers (or their assistants) can take their existing long-earned skills and tricks and apply them to video. Then, once the clips are graded to match the still images, they can be exported into a more capable editor for arranging the clips, adding captions, music, etc.

"I don't think Adobe intends this to be a fully-fledged video editor, but could be useful for people who produce a couple of short videos and shoot stills that need to apply a consistent look," said photography enthusiast Greg Edwards in a photo forum participated in by Lifewire.

And this is even easier because Lightroom lets you copy and paste edits between clips and create your own presets, which can be bulk-applied with a few taps or clicks.

Mobile Movies

Yes, taps or clicks. Another amazing feature of Lightroom is that it’s really the only pro-level photo-editing suite that can not only be used on all your devices but can sync your library and your presets between them. Based on Adobe’s cloud subscription service, Lightroom can run on iPads, iPhones, Macs, Windows PCs, and Android. That means you can offload those videos to the iPad in the field, and any edits you make are just part of the catalog, synced to all your other devices.

Lightroom’s mobile version doesn’t have all the features of the desktop version, but it’s close, and the portability, Apple Pencil support, and sheer speed of the app on the iPad more than makes up for those shortcomings. And the iOS versions get all the video features from this update.

This is a curious move from Adobe, but after a bit of thought, it makes total sense. If nothing else, it’s going to make your iPhone video selfies look a whole lot better.

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