Find Your Best Photos Using Lightroom Compare View

photos, coffee mugFor photographers who tend to capture a lot of photos, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which one is the best within a group of similar pictures or the photos of the same thing taken at different angles. This is where comparing the images becomes necessary. Comparison allows choosing the best images to edit in Lightroom.

If you take 500 snaps on a single shoot, you would definitely not want to develop them all. You would prefer to pick the best 20 or 25 photos and use your time and attention on developing them to their fullest potential. Adobe Photoshop’s Lightroom allows users to quickly compare the photos through the Compare View feature. Users can see the images side by side and decide which photo they want to use, edit or send to the client.

Lightroom Grid View

The starting point of using Compare View is the Grid View. First of all, you should select the photographs you are willing to compare. The first image you select is called the most selected image and it will feature a lighter frame than other images in the selection. Next, press the ‘C’ key on the keyboard to enter the Compare View. The most selected image is displayed on the leftmost. This photo is known as Select and the next photo is displayed on its right. This image is known as the Candidate.

Alternatively, users can select an image by clicking on it and then click on another image on the filmstrip to compare the first image with. Both the photos are then displayed side by side.

The Candidate photo can be changed using the arrow button to move to the next image in the Filmstrip. If you decide not to keep the Select image as the set image, it is possible to change the Select image using the Swap button. In this case, the Candidate image becomes the new Select image.

Info Overlay

Hitting the ‘I’ key on your keyboard displays the date and time the image was shot and the pixel size. Hitting the ‘I’ button again shows up other information like your camera settings, lens info and more. Press it once more and the information disappears.

If you select a photo and go to Compare View, the software uses the photo and the previously selected photo, last photo or the subsequent photo in the filmstrip. The Select image remains constant on the left while it is possible to choose different images for the Candidate. You can do this by using the left and right arrow buttons in the toolbar.

Compare View Icons

There are some icons under the images in Compare View. Here is what you can do with each of them.


An interesting feature of Compare View is the ability to zoom in on your photograph which is not possible in other modes. This can be done using the Zoom option.

You can use key combinations like Ctrl+ to zoom in and Ctrl- to zoom out. When zooming in, you can have a closer inspection by clicking and dragging the image around.


This control can be used to change the image showing up in the Select panel. Swap button changes the Select image with the one in the Candidate panel. It is possible to swap the images by clicking on any of the photos in the filmstrip.

Make Select

Clicking on this option moves the currently selected image to the Select panel and make the next filmstrip image as the Candidate.

Clicking on the arrows for previous and next lets you move through the photos in the Candidate panel.

Link Focus

Resembling a clock in appearance, the Link focus option is quite useful for comparing images with a somewhat different composition. When you scroll through a zoomed image, the other image also moves. You can unlock the photo using the lock option to scroll around only one photo at a time.


When the Link Focus is unlocked, you can zoom into any of the images without touching the other. The Sync button can be used to bring the other photo into sync with the current one you are moving or zooming.

How to Use Lightroom Compare View

One of the major purposes of using Compare View is comparing similar images to figure out which photos you want to develop in the Develop Module. Another purpose can be comparing the photos that you have partly or fully developed before.

You can use the arrow buttons to move through the photos in your selection and Make Select and Swap options to compare various images. The learning curve is minimal and you can quickly work your way through tons of images using Lightroom Compare View.

Photographers use rating methods like star rating, flagging and color label to organize the images. This can be done in Compare View as well. Flagging is one of the simplest ways to rate the photos. Here is how you can do it. If you decide to develop an image, you can click the grey flag icon beneath the photo to flag it as a Pick.

You can leave the photos unpicked when you decide not to develop them. When you are done, you can return to the Grid View and select the Flagged option to delete all the useless photos and stop seeing them in the filmstrip.

Next, choose the Select All option from the Edit menu to select the flagged photos and send them to a collection which contains only those photos you want to develop using Lightroom.

Benefit from Lightroom’s powerful and handy features to filter through lots of photographs at a time. Getting rid of photos which are not useful or images which you have rejected is quite easy and quick. Doing this frees up a lot of memory and makes life convenient when it comes to going through filmstrip and searching for the right photos.

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