Raw Bank Petrol Pumps Yorkshire Dales on the Mono Take > Select > Edit Masterclass – see the 2020 dates
I was last writing about this subject nearly a year ago. See the current penultimate post in the series here
I was alerted to thinking about potential alternatives to Lightroom (Lr) by a recent article by Dan Wells on the Luminous Landscape website. The piece is called “Adobe why have you forsaken us?”. I you have not got a subscription to the site you may not be allowed to read the whole thing.
Reasons why Lightroom Classic maybe on its way out
The release of Lightroom Classic 9.0 was a minor tinkering around at the edges not adding new and better editing facilities similar to what the competition are doing. This tinkering only included Panoramic Fill Edges, Multi-Batch Export and Export Presets.
Adobe has been putting plenty of time and effort in to updating the Lr Cloud based version which got major updates. Similarly, Photoshop v21 got a whole raft of updates. So why is the desktop version of Lightroom being left behind? Part of the answer could be that Adobe do not see a need for the desktop version because they are in awe of the cloud idea. Why spend money on two systems that do roughly the same thing?
The elephant in the room
Even if I wanted to move to a cloud-based system by Adobe on a subscription, I couldn’t. My Broadband Upload speed is less than 1Mbps and 5Mbps for downloads. I have 2.6Tb of pictures on a RAID system sat on my desk and subsequently under my control. How many centuries would it take to get my Lr Catalogue of 93,000 raw files to the Adobe cloud and then download a picture to Develop it? This lack of broadband speed is a global issue. Please somebody tell the Lightroom executives not everyone has or can get the same superfast broadband as they think we all have.
Broadband speed is clearly a lottery depending on where you live and how much value you attach to a superfast speed. Not everyone thinks superfast broadband is a great idea if it’s over-priced and under maintained.
Current alternatives to Lightroom
If you might be thinking of moving away from Lightroom Classic – where would you go to?
Big problem – every photographer has different expectations and uses of Lightroom and its potential alternatives. Anybody reading this post who uses Lightroom Classic will have their own preferences. What maybe an absolute essential feature for me, could easily be of no interest to you and vice-versa.
My naïve expectation was that the competition to Lightroom each has as complete a workflow as Adobe does. With a heavy heart I have to tell you, not one of the competitors comes close to Lr for covering all the bases well enough. The operative word here is “all”. Lightroom has evolved into a jack of all trades and master of non (apart from the Library Module). All of the competition is driving ahead with more controllable picture enhancements to give better Image Quality (IQ) than Lr. It feels like to me Lightroom Classic is being left behind. IQ is not the only criteria. There are many missing facilities in the competition to make them all unusable for me.
Here is a very brief overview of my chosen potential alternatives to Lightroom Classic
On 1 Photo Raw v2020
Fuji X RAF files are supported with improved IQ over Lr. Map View and Print Modules Included. Plugins for Lightroom and Photoshop are available. A User Interface most similar to Lightroom. Lightroom Migration Assitant. Lr Library functions migrated are – Photos, Virtual Copies, Collections, Crop, Spot Removal, Basics, B&W, Point based Tone Curve, Detail, Lens Correction, Effects, Graduated Filter, Radial Gradient and Adjustment Brush.
Split Toning & Balance Control Plus Film Grain on a Layer with a Mask.
30 day free trial &198 page Online User Guide.
£99 one off payment (does not include all future upgrades). or
£122/ yr Perpetual Licence and all future upgrades On 1 Plus Premium Courses, and Priority Support Included. More Info
Limited catalogue functionality when migrated from Lr. Not Migrated from Lr – Stacks, Smart Collections, Parametric Curves, Transform, Camera Profiles, Red eye reduction, Range Mask, Moire & Defringe.
Non-customisable Highlight and Shadow Warnings.
Publish to Instagram plugin not developed SmugMug only.
Capture One – Pro 20
Fuji X RAF files are supported. A new User Interface based on customer feedback. Can look like the Lr User Interface.More consistent selections. Customisable Highlight and Shadow Warnings. 3-Way Split Toning available to Hi, Mid & Shadows.Genuine Fractals for resizing is included.
30 day free Trial & a wide range of online tutorials are available.
Subscribe from £9.99/Mth or buy see here
Limited catalogue functionality when migrated from Lr. Plugins are supported but a Lr, Ps and Nik plugin have not been developed. Film Grain can be added globally on Background Layer only, ie NOT Maskable to the Mid-tones and Shadows only for a true Lith look. No Instruction books in English available.
DXO Photo Lab 3
Fujifilm X RAF file format is NOT supported.
Imagine Management Integration Failure
For me, all the potential alternatives all fail in Library Module integration. It may be possible to migrate your Lr catalogue to On 1 or Capture One but there will almost certainly be limited transfered functionality. In the case of Capture One, the following aspects of the Lr Library may work: Collections, Star Ratings, Colour Labels, Crop, Rotate, Orientation, White Balance, Exposure, Saturation and Contrast.
The Good News From Adobe – What happens when I cancel my Creative Cloud subscription?
“You continue to have access to all your photos on your local hard drive through Lightroom for the desktop. You can continue to import and organize photos and output your edited photos through Export, Publish, Print, Web, or Slideshow. Access to the Develop & Map modules and Lightroom for mobile is not available after your membership ends.” I hear that the “quick develop” section in the Library module may still works normally.
How all of this works in the real world is to open to much debate by many writers on the forums and chatrooms. I notice Adobe does NOT say in the statement above that the Library module functions will continue to work in perpetuity. Many people are suspicious that the Library module may stop functioning if you have not logged into your account in a 30 day period. The devil is always in the detail that Adobe have not told us.
If you think you want to Delete your Adobe Account and work with one of the competition before you do so chew over the effect and cost of that decision.
Watching the Window Cleaner – December 2019
Don’t assume your camera will be supported by the competition. I took it for granted Fuji X RAF file format would be supported on DXO Photo Lab 3 until I stumbled on a post on a forum page stating the support was not there. I checked – older Fujifilm file formats are there and the GFX100 but not cameras like the X-T3 and XH-1. This is a pity because Photo Lab 3 would have been my first choice.
On the plus side for the alternatives – new lamps for old
This paragraph comes with a warning. Just because you can does not mean you have to. We are all used to seeing pictures created with HDR, Focus Stacking and the like. When these techniques are used sympathetically with a nod to real photography and how light and the eye works it can be effective. All the competition to Lightroom has been advancing at a pace expanding the potential vision and style of photography. New technology brings new artistic opportunities.
You may think that anybody who suggests Lightroom Classic desktop version is slowly on its way out is crazy. You could very well be right. However, it feels to me like Adobe see’s the future in cloud-based software and storage. To quote a cliché “follow the money”. Where is all the current Lightroom research and development money going? I would suggest into a subscription payment cloud-based model.
None of us wants the pain of learning how to use new software unless it is absolutely necessary and beneficial to our photography. At the moment I have no inclination to start learning a new “how to” workflow. I looked online for a tutorial book for Capture One – there was one for Pro 10 in German on Amazon. However, the Capture One Website has 17 pages of an index to the Detailed User Manual. It would appear to be up to date if you can find exactly what you are looking for.
An alternative view of this issue maybe that there is potential (at a greater cost) of harnessing the benefits of the Lightroom Library and the higher IQ produced by the compettition. This is only a mid-term solution and not a good allround fix for the longer-term.
There will be further articles on this subject by Dan Wells on the Luminous Landscape website in the near future.
Real life feedback wanted
There could very easily be errors in my research for this blog post. I have not had any real experience of the competition to Lightroom. About a year ago I downloaded a free trial version of Capture One then version 10 and Affinty Photo. Both of these raw editors got very little use from me and were not tested to destruction.
So, if you are using On 1 Photo Raw 2020, Capture One Pro 20 or DXO Photo Lab 3 with a Fuji X RAF file format and can use Silver Efex Pro 2 (or similar) and upload pictures to Instagram please let me know.
“Thank you, Andy, for an enjoyable and enlightening time. Your ‘ABC’ organises the fundamentals of good photographic practice and makes it accessible and memorable. An excellent blueprint for advancement.” Kevin Scott – Glastonbury
“I have the ABC manual and have read it. Most excellent.” Dave Straker – Abergavenny