When I first started processing digital pictures, I used a copy of Adobe Photoshop v7 which I acquired from a friend. I moved on to the CS versions up to v3 but then I needed to be able to process RAW pictures from my new camera which I found was not supported by v3. The workaround was to first process the RAW images in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and then open them in Adobe Photoshop for further work - double the work and double the time.
Time to switch to another program that could handle the RAW uncompressed files from my new camera. That is when I bought Adobe Photoshop Elements (first v7 and then v9). At the time I looked at Adobe Lightroom as an alternative but it was much more expensive and I could not see the advantages that I would gain by spending more money.
With v4, Adobe have dropped the price by about a third so I thought it was time to have another look at Lightroom. Within a few days, I could see why so many serious amateurs and professionals choose Lightroom. There are still some things that I need a program like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements for but for most of my tasks Lighroom will allow me to work faster and more efficiently.